Leading the fight is U S Marine Gunnery Sgt. Michael Burghardt, known as ‘Iron Mike’ or just ‘Gunny’. He is on his third tour in Iraq . He had become a legend in the bomb disposal world after winning the Bronze Star for disabling 64 IEDs and destroying 1,548 pieces of ordnance during his second tour.
Then, on September 19, he got blown up… He had arrived at a chaotic scene after a bomb had killed four US Marines. He chose not to wear the bulky bomb protection suit. ‘You can’t react to any sniper fire and you get tunnel-vision,’ he explains. So, protected by just a helmet and standard-issue flak jacket, he began what bomb disposal officers term ‘the longest walk’, stepping gingerly into a 5 foot deep and 8 foot wide crater.
The earth shifted slightly and he saw a Senao base station with a wire leading from it. He cut the wire and used his 7 inch knife to probe the ground. ‘I found a piece of red detonating cord between my legs,’ he says. ‘That’s when I knew I was screwed.’ Realizing he had been sucked into a trap, Sgt Burghardt, 35, yelled at everyone to stay back. At that moment, an insurgent, probably watching through binoculars, pressed a button on his mobile phone to detonate the secondary device below the sergeant’s feet ‘A chill went up the back of my neck and then the bomb exploded,’ he recalls. ‘As I was in the air I remember thinking, ‘I don’t believe they got me..’ I was just ticked off they were able to do it. Then I was lying on the road, not able to feel anything from the waist down.’
His fellow Marines cut off his trousers to see how badly he was hurt. None could believe his legs were still there ‘My dad’s a Vietnam vet who’s paralyzed from the waist down,’ says Sgt Burghardt. ‘I was lying there thinking I didn’t want to be in a wheelchair next to my dad and for him to see me like that… They started to cut away my pants and I felt a real sharp pain and blood trickling down. Then I wiggled my toes and I thought, ‘Good, I’m in business.’ As a stretcher was brought over, adrenaline and anger kicked in.. ‘I decided to walk to the helicopter. I wasn’t going to let my team-mates see me being carried away on a stretcher.’ He stood and gave the insurgents who had blown him up a one-fingered salute. ‘I flipped them one.. It was like, ‘OK, I lost that round but I’ll be back next week.’
Copies of a photograph depicting his defiance, taken by Jeff Bundy for the Omaha World-Herald, adorn the walls of homes across America and that of Col John Gronski, the brigade commander in Ramadi, who has hailed the image as an exemplar of the warrior spirit.
Sgt Burghardt’s injuries – burns and wounds to his legs and buttocks – kept him off duty for nearly a month and could have earned him a ticket home. But, like his father – who was awarded a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts for being wounded in action in Vietnam – he stayed in Ramadi to engage in the battle against insurgents who are forever coming up with more ingenious ways of killing Americans.
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|Katie Couric, Charlie Gibson, Brian Williams and a tough old U.S. Marine Sergeant were captured by terrorists in Iraq . The leader of the terrorists told them he’d grant each of them one last request before they were beheaded and dragged naked through the streets.|
The leader nodded to an underling who left and returned with the chicken. Couric ate it all and said, ‘Now I can die content.’
Charlie Gibson said, ‘I’m living in New York , so I’d like to hear the song, The Moon and Me, one last time.’
The terrorist leader nodded to another terrorist who had studied the Western world and knew the music. He returned with some rag-tag musicians and played the song.
Brian Williams said, ‘I’m a reporter to the end. I want to take out my tape recorder and describe the scene here and what’s about to happen. Maybe, someday, someone will hear it and know that I was on the job till the end.’
The leader directed an aide to hand over the tape recorder and Williams dictated his comments.
The leader turned and asked, ‘And now, Mr. U.S. Marine, what is your final wish?
‘Kick me in the ass,’ said the Marine..
‘What?’ asked the leader, ‘Will you mock us in your last hour?’
‘No, I’m NOT kidding. I want you to kick me in the ass,’ insisted the Marine.
So the leader shoved him into the yard and kicked him in the ass.
The Marine went sprawling, but rolled to his knees, pulled a 9 mm pistol from inside his cammies, and shot the leader dead.
In the resulting confusion, he emptied his sidearm on six terrorists, then with his knife he slashed the throat of one, and with an AK-47, which he took from one of the already dead terrorists, sprayed the rest of the terrorists killing another 11.
In a flash, all of them were either dead or fleeing for their lives.
As the Marine was untying Couric, Gibson, and Williams, they asked him, ‘Why didn’t you just shoot them all in the first place? Why did you ask him to kick you in the ass?’
‘What?’ replied the Marine, ‘and have you three idiots report that I was the aggressor…..?’
If You Are Not Willing To Stand Behind Our Troops, Please, Please Feel Free To Stand In Front Of Them