By lex, on June 10th, 2011
Two Marines will receive the nation’s second highest award for valor for their conduct during a bloody ambush * in eastern Afghanistan in 2009:
Fabayo, then a first lieutenant, is credited with pushing into a kill zone on foot and engaging enemy at close range with his M4 carbine. He braved heavy enemy fire to carry wounded Army Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook several hundred meters, treated wounded Afghan forces that his unit was training and took the gunner’s position in a gun truck with three other service members as they drove into the kill zone to recover the bodies of three Marines and a corpsman killed in the battle.
Rodriguez-Chavez was assigned to the unit’s security element during the ambush. Under heavy fire, he drove a gun truck into the kill zone three times to cover the withdrawal of the training team and partnered Afghan forces. He then made a fourth trip into the deepest part of the kill zone in another truck to recover the bodies of the fallen Marines and corpsman, positioning his vehicle to shield fellow service members from the intense fire as they left the vehicle to retrieve the bodies.
In October, the Marine Corps recommended that the gunner with Rodriguez-Chavez, former Cpl. Dakota Meyer, receive the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, sources with knowledge of the award process told Marine Corps Times. He is credited with charging into the kill zone repeatedly on foot to find the missing Marines, who had been shot to death and stripped of their weapons. No decision on his award has been announced.
Three Marines and a Navy corpsman were killed during the ambush, and a US Army officer later died of wounds. Eight Afghan soldiers and an interpreter were also killed.
The story is sadly not exclusively one * of courage and intrepidity under fire:
The training team, out of Okinawa, Japan, was pinned down without artillery and air support for hours by well entrenched insurgents armed with assault rifles, rocket propelled grenades and machine guns, prompting a joint Army-Marine military investigation.
Conducted by Army Col. Richard Hooker and Marine Col. James Werth, it determined that “negligent” leadership by three officers at nearby Forward Operating Base Joyce contributed “directly to the loss of life which ensued.” They refused direct calls for help from U.S. forces on the ground and failed to notify higher commands that they had troops in contact with enemy, the investigation found.
Two of the three negligent officers apparently received “career killing” letters of reprimand.
The Marines and soldiers on the front line in Afghanistan know they face a cruel and implacable foe. They have a right to expect better support from the rear.
** Original links gone; replaced – Ed