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Enemy Sniperís Aim Foiled by Friendship
Defense News ^ | Pfc. Brian D. Jones

Posted on 06/22/2007 4:57:08 PM PDT by SandRat

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., June 22, 2007 — A good friend will share the good times with you, but a great friend will share your bad ones.

Lance Cpl. Juan A. Valdez, a Boston native and mortarman with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, had what may be the greatest friend of his life at his side during one of his greatest times of need.

A Purple Heart Medal ceremony was held here June 8, 2007, to decorate Valdez for wounds he suffered during actions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While on a security patrol through the streets of Al Karmah, Iraq, in 2006, Valdez was struck by a sniper round. This happened near the halfway point of the patrol, about 2,000 meters from an Iraqi police station the unit was based at that day.

Sgt. Jesse E. Leach, the section leader for Mobile Assault Platoon 4, Weapons Company, was positioned near the rear of the patrol, about 15 meters from Valdez when the sniper shot rang out into the street. It came from a canal across the street and hit his close friend, Lance Cpl. Valdez.

As soon as the shot was fired, the Marines reacted by securing the area while searching for lower ground to reduce the risk of being hit.

At first, Valdez didn’t realize what happened. He thought someone else had been shot.

“I didn’t even know I got hit,” Valdez said. “I thought that somebody else just got messed up, and then I realize I’m on the ground and my arm is (debilitated).”

Valdez rolled over to let others know he was hit, then tried to move before he was shot again. Leach looked at Valdez and rushed over to his side. He pulled him across the street to cover. The unit did not have a corpsman readily available, so Leach started tending to his wounds.

“I was probably the closest thing he had to a corpsman or medical personnel,” Leach said.

Leach began ripping the gear and uniform off Valdez in search of an entry and exit wound. Valdez had been struck in the arm. The bullet passed all the way through, from the top of his shoulder down into his ribcage. It punctured a lung and exited through his back.

It was getting hard for Valdez to breathe, and he couldn’t feel his hand. But he had always felt it important to set an example for the younger Marines of the unit.

He didn’t want to be seen as the guy crying on the side of the street. He wanted to be seen as the one who sucked it up and kept going as long as he could.

“It’s what we do in life that tells everybody who we are,” Valdez said.

“The thought that I was going to die started creeping in,” he continued. “After a few minutes, I thought if I’m going to die, I have to see somebody smile because of me. I always like making people smile.”

Valdez then looked up at Leach with a smile and said, “This sucks.” Leach agreed and started to laugh at his friend’s humor.

“I tried to laugh, but the pressure he was putting on my back made me wince in pain,” Valdez remembered. “I couldn’t say anything else. I was barely breathing through my nose.”

“I don’t even know what kept me alive that day,” Valdez said. “I just kept on fighting it. I gave my thanks to God and made peace with everything I had done and told myself I have to stay awake.”

“He doesn’t quit,” Leach said. “I’ll never forget the bravery he was showing while he was laying there on the ground. He wasn’t afraid at all.”

“He was actually more worried about being able to dance than he was about getting shot,” he recalled with a smile.

Leach patched Valdez up with the provisions he had. They waited for the arrival of humvees that were called in. Once the humvees arrived, he placed Valdez inside one and sent it away.

The unit continued patrolling to return to the Iraqi police station. The assailant was never found.

“I’m just so glad I was able to be there and bring him home,” Leach said.

Their bond through combat hardship leads Leach to believe that nothing has made their friendship quite as strong.

“He and I are more like blood brothers now,” Leach said. “We’re probably going to keep in touch way longer than any other guys I’ve known while in the Marine Corps.”

Valdez felt fortunate to have the ceremony with his unit and have the Purple Heart Medal pinned on him by Leach.

“These guys shed tears for me when I got hurt,” Valdez said. “It meant a lot to me to receive it in front of them and Sgt. Leach. He saved my life. Someone was trying to take something away from me and (Leach) definitely gave it back that day. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be standing here today.”

Valdez is still recovering from fractures he suffered to his back, ribs and a lung that is still out of shape. He is working toward a full recovery.

“It’s like being in the Super Bowl and you get taken out (injured) halfway through the game. Then you come back next season and you’re only half as good as you used to be,” Valdez said.

“The Purple Heart is one of those things you try not to get,” Valdez expressed. “I aimed not to get it, but it happened.”


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; US: North Carolina; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: aim; enemy; foiled; friendship; frwn; iraq; snipers

1 posted on 06/22/2007 4:57:09 PM PDT by SandRat
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To: 91B; HiJinx; Spiff; MJY1288; xzins; Calpernia; clintonh8r; TEXOKIE; windchime; Grampa Dave; ...
FR WAR NEWS!

WAR News at Home and Abroad You'll Hear Nowhere Else!

All the News the MSM refuses to use!

Or if they do report it, without the anti-War Agenda Spin!

2 posted on 06/22/2007 4:58:09 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: SandRat
It seems to me that the reason combat relationships are so deep is because of the no b*llsh*t,/i> factor and the imperative to trust another person to the point of death. Some marriages are able to make this same standard and true faith exceeds it, but, for most, the experience of war is the gold standard.
3 posted on 06/22/2007 5:05:01 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth (Fighting Morlocks and educating the Eloi since 1976.)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
Oops.

Reposted, this should read:

It seems to me that the reason combat relationships are so deep is because of the no b*llsh*t factor and the imperative to trust another person to the point of death. Some marriages are able to make this same standard and true faith exceeds it, but, for most, the experience of war is the gold standard.
4 posted on 06/22/2007 5:07:05 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth (Fighting Morlocks and educating the Eloi since 1976.)
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To: SandRat
Semper Fi to both of these Marines. I'm reminded of James Michener in The Bridges of Toko Ri:

Where do we find these men?

5 posted on 06/22/2007 5:08:45 PM PDT by Rummyfan (Iraq: it's not about Iraq anymore, it's about the USA!)
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To: WorkingClassFilth

You are absolutely correct. The saying, “There are no atheists in a foxhole” may be debunked by some but it is true. A soldier/Marine knows he will not be abandoned by his buddies and will make peace with his maker at any opportunity to do so when he is seriously injured. When a wounded soldier/Marine hears his buddy say “I’m here”, he knows it’s real and true. When a soldier/Marine hears his wounded buddy say, “don’t leave me”, there isn’t a crowbar in the world that will pry him away. In the end, these are just ordinary people in extraordinary times doing extraordinary deeds because they know they should.
God Bless them all and damn those politicians who have abandoned them. As Americans, we cannot let these guys down again, as we did in VietNam. They need to hear, “I’m here” from the American public.


6 posted on 06/22/2007 5:27:58 PM PDT by caisson71
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To: SandRat

Thanks. We live by lifting each other up every day. This is a great example.


7 posted on 06/22/2007 5:31:09 PM PDT by wizr (Freedom ain't free.. Common sense ain't common,. Read Jeremiah, Chapters 18 & 19)
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To: SandRat

Lance Cpl. Juan A. Valdez shakes hands with Sgt. Jesse E. Leach after Valdez received a Purple Heart Medal, June 8, 2007, at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Valdez credits Leach for saving his life after he was struck by a sniper round while on patrol with his unit in Al Karmah, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

8 posted on 06/22/2007 6:18:02 PM PDT by raybbr (You think it's bad now - wait till the anchor babies start to vote.)
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To: Rummyfan
Where do we find these men?

We need them running for office and running our country. They're the best and far superior to the political traitors they sacrifice their lives for.

9 posted on 06/22/2007 6:26:24 PM PDT by EverOnward
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To: EverOnward
We need them running for office and running our country. They're the best and far superior to the political traitors they sacrifice their lives for.

Absolutely, they are fine men and women a credit to our Nation. Currently our political leaders are (debilitated).

10 posted on 06/22/2007 6:43:48 PM PDT by rolling_stone (same)
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To: caisson71
I just don't know this statement...“I didn’t even know I got hit,” Valdez said. “I thought that somebody else just got messed up, and then I realize I’m on the ground and my arm is (debilitated).”

...I don't know, but I don't think he said anything close to "debilitated"...bwahahahaha

I shed a tear reading this story.

God Bless these fine young men. God Bless America, and God Bless the Marine Corps

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

11 posted on 06/22/2007 6:44:21 PM PDT by Dick Vomer (liberals suck....... but it depends on what your definition of the word "suck" is.,)
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To: SandRat

Damn. Just damn.


12 posted on 06/22/2007 10:07:03 PM PDT by pissant
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To: Rummyfan; SandRat
Where do we find these men?

We don't......they find themselves.
13 posted on 06/22/2007 10:23:13 PM PDT by BIGLOOK (Keelhauling is a sensible solution to mutiny.)
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To: Dick Vomer; 1stbn27; 2111USMC; 2nd Bn, 11th Mar; 68 grunt; A.A. Cunningham; ASOC; AirForceBrat23; ..
Shed a tear? I needed to breath in a bag ♥
14 posted on 06/23/2007 5:27:24 AM PDT by freema (Marine FRiend, 1stCuz2xRemoved, Mom, Aunt, Sister, Friend, Wife, Daughter, Niece)
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To: freema

Honor, duty, God, Country.


15 posted on 06/23/2007 5:35:34 PM PDT by Marine_Uncle
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