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Exclusive cover story: A Medal of Honor-worthy story of courage and sacrifice in Samarra (Excerpt #1)

The following is an excerpt from the November issue of The American Spectator magazine's cover story. More excerpts will follow, leading up to the magazine release of this exclusive recounting of a chilling tale of heroism, courage, and loss one morning six weeks ago in Samarra, as a small US sniper team was set upon by dozens of al Qaeda terrorists who had but one goal in mind: to humiliate America in front of the world, only days before General Petraeus's internationally televised testimony before Congress, by kidnapping and slaughtering these American soldiers.

Four U.S. paratroopers faced impossible odds, against dozens of dedicated enemy fighters.

Not all would survive -- but all would become heroes.


"The Longest Morning": Heroism, Courage, and Loss on a Rooftop in Samarra

by Jeff Emanuel

Samarra, Iraq

THE DAY OF August 26, 2007 began like any other for the soldiers of Charlie Company, 2-505 Parachute Infantry Regiment (from the 82nd Airborne Division) – with a mission in the city. Over a year into their deployment to Samarra, Iraq and now working on the three-month extension announced by Secretary of Defense Gates in the spring, the company knew the city like the back of their collective hands, and had their operational routine down to a science, whatever mission they might be tasked with.

On this morning, that mission was to establish a defensive perimeter around a block in central Samarra, so that Charlie Company's 3rd ('Blue') Platoon, led by Lieutenant Scott Young, could search a shop where they had information that Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were being manufactured.

Due to the insurgents' penchant for placing IEDs behind Charlie Company's vehicles so as to ambush them the next time they came through an area, two separate rooftop observation points (OPs) would be established, one to the north and one to the south of the shop, to watch the roads which were serving as Blue Platoon's infiltration and exfiltration routes for enemy activity. The southern OP, led by Staff Sergeant Jason Wheeler, was manned with paratroopers from Charlie Company's 1st ('Red') Platoon. "Reaper Two," one of the sniper teams from 2nd Battalion's scout platoon, would man the second OP, almost a kilometer to the north. Reaper would be overwatching the area from the roof of a large apartment building, which was laid out with the long axis facing north-south, and which was bordered – across the surrounding streets and alleys – by several other buildings.

The three-man Reaper team, known as the best in the unit, was led by Sergeant Josh Morley, a 22-year-old paratrooper from North Carolina. Morley was known within Charlie Company as a consummate professional, and the men in the unit knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they could always count on him and his team to come through whenever they were needed. Morley was affected even more than most of his fellow soldiers by the additional three months that had been added on to his unit's combat tour, for he was a new father, and was counting the days until the end of the deployment, when he would finally get to see his infant daughter for the first time – something he had already been waiting for months to do.

The rest of Morley's team was made up of Specialist Tracy Willis, a 21-year-old from Texas, and Specialist Chris Corriveau, a 23-year-old from Maine. Willis was well known within Charlie Company as a friendly, laid back, permanently smiling young man who was always good for a laugh and for conversation, regardless of the person and the situation. Corriveau was a quieter person, but had earned the immense respect of his peers at Patrol Base Olson not only for his talent as a sniper, but also for his abilities as a natural leader. The team had been together in Iraq for well over a year, and the three young men were as close as soldiers could be. They knew everything about each other, from their backgrounds, to information about their families, to the punchlines of Willis's tiredest jokes. Further, they had worked together so closely, and for so long, that they could read each other's body language and tone of voice, and were able to function as an extraordinarily effective unit.

For this mission, the three-man Reaper Two sniper team was rounded out by a fourth man (and a second Texan), 23-year-old Specialist Eric Moser. The company armorer, Moser was not a member of the Battalion Scout Platoon like Morley, Willis, and Corriveau, but was a competition-caliber shooter, and had gone along on several OPs with Reaper in the past, serving as a 'designated marksman.' His skill with firearms would end up being critical that day.

23-year-old Army Specialist Eric Moser, the company armorer for Charlie Co. 2-505 PIR (82nd Airborne), fires his M4 on the range at Patrol Base Olson in Samarra. Moser was attached to the three-man Reaper Two sniper team on the morning of August 26 to serve as a 'designated marksman.' (photograph by Alexi Scalco) be continued


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At 1:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

can't wait to read the rest!


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