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Exclusive cover story: A Medal of Honor-worthy story of courage and sacrifice in Samarra (Excerpt #3)

The following is the third in a series of excerpts from the cover story of The American Spectator magazine's November issue. 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 -- Excerpt III

by Jeff Emanuel

(Click here for Parts One and Two)

JUST BEFORE 11 AM, Reaper received word that Blue Platoon had finished their search of the shop (which had yielded no evidence of illegal activity), and that they were heading back to Patrol Base Olson, three kilometers to the west. With this, the men dispersed across the top of the building, with two – Moser and Corriveau – watching the road from corners of the roof, and the other two – Morley and Willis – taking up a position by the northern stairwell, where the team’s radio had been deposited. Assigned to the southeast corner, Corriveau picked up an M4 rifle to complement his sniper weapon and vaulted the dividing wall, moving onto the southern half of the building and taking up his position, watching the base of the buildings across the road but careful to remain below the roof’s perimeter wall and out of sight from the street below. Taking a quick peek over the wall, be saw a white sedan nearing his corner of the building; however, due to the obstructed view that came along with his rooftop concealment, Corriveau never had a chance to see the situation developing on the street directly below.

On the northwest corner of the apartment complex, Moser was watching the road in front of the building through a cut in the roof wall. As he looked down, he saw a white car speed up to the corner of the building. Four men holding AK-47 assault rifles (at least two of whom had long beards – a distinctly non-Iraqi trait) emerged from the vehicle and sprinted toward the building’s entrance; seeing this, Moser immediately yelled to the others that enemy fighters were below. Morley, who along with Willis had been positioned next to the stairwell, raced to Moser’s corner of the building to assess the situation and if possible to engage, but could not move quickly enough to prevent the men on the ground from making it into the building.

Suddenly, machine gun fire erupted from both of the stairwells behind them.

AT PATROL BASE UVANNI, a kilometer and a half southwest of Reaper’s location, the four armored Humvees that made up Charlie Company’s internal Quick Reaction Force were sitting just inside the gate, its soldiers in their vehicles and ready to move at a moment’s notice, when the sound of gunfire echoed through the city streets. The sound of automatic weapons fire is as common in Samarra as traffic noise is in the United States; however, to Lieutenant Steve Smith, Red’s Platoon Leader, these shots seemed different for some reason – like they were coming from the north, instead of from the usual east-west direction. He immediately ordered radio checks to be attempted with both OPs to make sure that they were okay.

The first call went to the southern observation point, where SSG Wheeler’s team was positioned. “Do you hear gunfire?” he was asked. He replied, “It sounds like the gunfire is coming from north of me.

“It sounds like Reaper.” be continued

Second Lieutenant Steve Smith, commander of First ("Red") Platoon, Charlie Co. 2-505 PIR (82nd Airborne) makes a call on his ICOM radio. Smith's platoon was serving as the internal quick reaction force (QRF) for Charlie Company's two OPs on the morning of August 26.
(photograph © Jeff Emanuel 2007)


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