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Honoring a fallen brother

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  • Honoring a fallen brother

    SEAL (Sniper) Falls on Grenade to Save Comrades

    Oct 13, 11:13 PM (ET)


    CORONADO, Calif. (AP) - A Navy SEAL sacrificed his life to save his comrades by throwing himself on top of a grenade Iraqi insurgents tossed into their sniper hideout, fellow members of the elite force said.

    Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor had been near the only door to the rooftop structure Sept. 29 when the grenade hit him in the chest and bounced to the floor, said four SEALs who spoke to The Associated Press this week on condition of anonymity because their work requires their identities to remain secret.

    "He never took his eye off the grenade, his only movement was down toward it," said a 28-year-old lieutenant who sustained shrapnel wounds to both legs that day. "He undoubtedly saved mine and the other SEALs' lives, and we owe him."

    Monsoor, a 25-year-old gunner, was killed in the explosion in Ramadi, west of Baghdad. He was only the second SEAL to die in Iraq since the war began.

    Two SEALs next to Monsoor were injured; another who was 10 to 15 feet from the blast was unhurt. The four had been working with Iraqi soldiers providing sniper security while U.S. and Iraqi forces conducted missions in the area.

    In an interview at the SEALs' West Coast headquarters in Coronado, four members of the special force remembered "Mikey" as a loyal friend and a quiet, dedicated professional.

    "He was just a fun-loving guy," said a 26-year-old petty officer 2nd class who went through the grueling 29-week SEAL training with Monsoor. "Always got something funny to say, always got a little mischievous look on his face."

    Other SEALS described the Garden Grove, Calif., native as a modest and humble man who drew strength from his family and his faith. His father and brother are former Marines, said a 31-year-old petty officer 2nd class.

    Prior to his death, Monsoor had already demonstrated courage under fire. He has been posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions May 9 in Ramadi, when he and another SEAL pulled a team member shot in the leg to safety while bullets pinged off the ground around them.

    Monsoor's funeral was held Thursday at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. He has also been submitted for an award for his actions the day he died.

    The first Navy SEAL to die in Iraq was Petty Officer 2nd Class Marc A. Lee, 28, who was killed Aug. 2 in a firefight while on patrol against insurgents in Ramadi. Navy spokesman Lt. Taylor Clark said the low number of deaths among SEALs in Iraq is a testament to their training.

    Sixteen SEALs have been killed in Afghanistan. Eleven of them died in June 2005 when a helicopter was shot down near the Pakistan border while ferrying reinforcements for troops pursuing al-Qaida militants.

    There are about 2,300 of the elite fighters, based in Coronado and Little Creek, Va.

    The Navy is trying to boost that number by 500 - a challenge considering more than 75 percent of candidates drop out of training, notorious for "Hell Week," a five-day stint of continual drills by the ocean broken by only four hours sleep total. Monsoor made it through training on his second attempt.


  • #2
    Present Arms.


    • #3
      i don't know if this should go here or not, but it seems fitting to the title of this thread.


      Key Iraqi colonel is killed at office
      Commander of Scorpions commando team helped bridge sectarian divide

      By Ellen Knickmeyer and Jonathan Finer
      The Washington Post
      Updated: 12:11 a.m. ET Oct 14, 2006

      BAGHDAD, Oct. 13 - Operating between the insurgent Sunni Arab suburbs of Baghdad and the Shiite militia-dominated south, Col. Salam al-Mamuri and his Scorpion commando team were a rarity among Iraqi security forces, American and Iraqi colleagues said: a police unit fighting on both sides of the country's sectarian divide.

      On Friday, a bomb blew apart Mamuri and an aide at the Scorpions' headquarters in the southern city of Hilla. The attack ended the life of a broadly respected commander who had been one of the longest-serving and longest-surviving men in a cadre of Iraqi army veterans struggling to restore law and order after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

      Mamuri's comparative evenhandedness enforcing the law may have earned him an enemy within his own sect, the Shiites. Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani in Baghdad called it a "possibility and a probability" that the assassination was at least in part an inside job, because the killer was able to gain access to Mamuri's office to plant the bomb.

      Mamuri had founded the Scorpion brigade soon after Americans arrived and had led it ever since. Though the unit, whose commandos wore the emblem of a black arachnid, was known to locals as the Scorpions, successive deployments of U.S. Special Operations members and Marines generally called it simply Hilla SWAT.

      The Scorpions were made up of about 800 men, most of them Shiites from Hilla. The unit, which Bolani called "one of the most important and vital of the Ministry of Interior," has remained relatively stable and cohesive since its early days, as other U.S. efforts to build Iraqi security forces have collapsed.

      "The way I look at it, I am not here to serve Sunnis or Shiites. I am here to serve Iraq," Mamuri said in early May, in an interview in the office in which he was killed Friday. His close-cropped salt-and-pepper hair made him look a decade older than his 35 years.

      His expression of neutrality was indistinguishable from those issued up and down the ranks of Iraq's predominantly Shiite police forces, many members of which are accused by Sunnis and Americans of a role in the country's escalating Shiite-Sunni killings. The difference, many Americans and Iraqis said, was that Mamuri acted as if he meant it.

      ‘Everyone else ... is playing ball for somebody’
      "They are literally the only Iraqi unit under arms in the south that is completely independent of the political parties and the militias," a Special Forces intelligence specialist and medic said this year. "Everyone else — the police, the army — is playing ball for somebody. They won't."

      An American Special Forces team leader who worked with the Scorpions for several months said, "We look at them as peers, we don't look at them as below us." As a matter of policy, Special Forces soldiers speak only on the condition of anonymity.

      In Hilla on Friday, the commando leader's funeral dirge was the rattle of automatic-weapons fire, as the Scorpions shot into the air to mark Mamuri's death. Many residents of the flat, sprawling market town stayed indoors, taking shelter from the gunfire and fearing the killing would spark retaliatory violence.

      "Ninety percent of the people are so sad about what happened, because the colonel was a very good man with the good people, but he was an iron hand against the outlaws," Hayder Foaud, a lawyer in Hilla, said by telephone Thursday.

      Seven other officers were wounded by the bomb that killed Mamuri.

      Capt. Muthana Ahmad, a spokesman for the provincial police force there, said the bomb may have been attached to a window of Mamuri's office. Others, including Abdul Kareem al-Kinani, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Baghdad, said investigators believed the wreckage indicated that the bomb had been placed under his desk.

      "This is correct," Ahmad said, asked whether authorities suspected that one or more of the commando leader's aides collaborated in the killing. "As you may know, infiltration has taken place" in Iraq's security forces.

      Bolani told reporters that he had ordered an investigation.

      Hilla, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, is markedly more peaceful than the towns on the capital's southern outskirts that serve as strongholds for Sunni insurgents. Shiite schoolchildren today sing the Sunni towns' names, such as Latifiyah, in chilling songs equating them with hell.

      On the other side of Hilla is the almost entirely Shiite south, free of the brunt of Sunni insurgent attacks but the scene of growing clashes between militias and security forces loyal to rival Shiite religious parties.

      Hilla residents said Friday that local forces of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr especially disliked Mamuri, more than ever after the Scorpions raided a Sadr office in mid-September. Sadr's militia, known as the Mahdi Army, is one of the most powerful forces in Iraq.

      Shiite politicians and officials from the Shiite-run Interior Ministry frequently threatened to have Mamuri replaced. Several attempts were made on his life, including a roadside bomb attack on his convoy in late April that was blamed on the Mahdi Army.

      Equal opportunity crackdowns
      Because of its makeup and the fact that it fought al-Qaeda in Iraq and other Sunni-led insurgent groups, Hilla SWAT swiftly earned a reputation as a feared anti-Sunni force. It was heavily involved in the operations around Yusufiyah in April and May that led to the capture of several top al-Qaeda lieutenants and, the military later said, the eventual killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

      But the unit cracked down as fiercely on Shiite militias, which Mamuri blamed this spring for what by then amounted to at least a half-dozen attempts to assassinate him. He barred militia members from serving in his brigade, despite intense political pressure from the provincial governor, who Mamuri said repeatedly pressured him to accept more militia members into his ranks.

      "The militias consider us the only thing preventing them from completely taking over the south," Mamuri said in the spring interview. "They are bad for the country."

      Mamuri rejected the idea of giving up in the face of the assassination attempts. "You can get killed in Iraq even if you sit all day in your house," he said. "What should I do, sit around and wait to die, or try to stop the people who are killing?"

      Finer reported from New Haven, Conn. Special correspondents Naseer Nouri in Baghdad and Saad Sarhan in Najaf contributed to this report.
      © 2006 The Washington Post Company
      There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov