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Exclusive cover story: A Medal of Honor-worthy story of courage and sacrifice in Samarra (Excerpt #4)

The following is the fourth 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 -- Excerpt IV

by Jeff Emanuel

(Click here for Parts One | Two | Three)

Sergeant First Class Rodolfo Cisneros, Red’s Platoon Sergeant (ranking noncommissioned officer), ordered an immediate radio check with Reaper. He had a bad feeling about the gunfire and explosions that sounded like they were coming from the exact direction of the northern OP. The radio call received no answer – enough reason for Cisneros to call for the QRF to move immediately, as the unit’s standard procedure regarding overwatch operations was that, in the event of a lack of communication with an OP, the QRF should assume that they have been compromised and move to their location immediately.

Lt. Smith ordered another check – again, nothing. Upon the second failed radio call, he ordered the four-Humvee quick reaction force to roll out of Uvanni and to make for Reaper’s location as fast as possible. As the Humvees sped out of the Iraqi Patrol Base, Smith continued trying to raise the sniper team on the radio. He did not know that their radio had been destroyed by a grenade, and could only hope that the sounds echoing down the alleyways from the north – which sounded like a full-blown battle at this point, complete with automatic and single-shot gunfire, as well as frequent explosions – were not coming from Reaper’s location.

ON THE ROOF of the apartment building, Morley and Moser were taking AK-47 and PKC (a 7.62mm Russian-made machine gun) fire from both stairwells. As they spun around to return fire, they saw several small, dark objects flying onto the roof from the stairwell – hand grenades. Morley recognized that the situation was rapidly deteriorating, and knew that, though his team currently occupied the high ground in the emerging battle, they could not hold out for very long due to their vast disadvantage in numbers. Seeing that Willis, who was next to the team’s radio, was busy firing into the stairwell through a window on the enclave’s north side, and not knowing that one of the first hand grenades tossed onto the roof had disabled it, Morley made a dash across the roof to call for the QRF.

He never made it there.

As Moser fired into the door from his corner in an attempt to suppress the enemy assault, he saw Morley appear to stumble and go down, his weapon skidding across the rooftop toward the stairwell door. His first thought was that the team leader had tripped and fallen; a moment later, though, his brain registered the truth: Morley had been shot. A burst of gunfire from the southern stairwell across the dividing wall had scored a direct hit, with one round striking Morley directly in the forehead. He was dead before hitting the ground.

Dogtags hang from an M4 rifle in the combat memorial for Sergeant Josh Morley, Reaper Two's team leader. Morley was killed by machine gun fire while sprinting across the rooftop toward the radio to call for the QRF.
(photograph by Paul French) be continued


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