Today we are honoring the courage, loyalty, and fighting spirit of warriors from the US Army, US Navy, one SEAL, and a SEAL team in a separate incident. Also two very old World War Two veterans being recognized just barely not too late. Plus a couple bits of information that might help some vets with finances.
On 1 June 2007, during Operation Phantom Fury, Staff Sergeant David G. Bellavia personified the word “Fury”:
“While clearing a house, a squad from Staff Sergeant Bellavia’s platoon became trapped within a room by intense enemy fire coming from a fortified position … Staff Sergeant Bellavia ultimately cleared an entire enemy-filled house, destroyed four insurgents, and badly wounded a fifth … complete disregard for his own safety, and unselfish and courageous actions …” The full details of his action read like a Superhero’s story, and resulted in Sgt. Bellavia receiving the Medal of Honor. Scroll down a little at this link to read Sgt. Bellavia’s story.There’s a more personal account here which fully describes the depth and intensity of the patriotism which motivated Sgt. Bellavia. I strongly recommend reading it.
On 4 April 2003, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Hospital Corpsman Second Class Michael J. Atkinson, United States Navy, “selflessly exposed himself to enemy fire on four separate occasions to render lifesaving medical care to two wounded Marines.” On the first occasion, he ran back to his vehicle carrying the wounded Marine. Still under fire. The enemy was shooting at him from 50 yards away. Even the AK-47 is capable of 3-inch groups at that distance. A moving target is harder to hit, and the skill of the enemy is a factor, but a rifle at 50 yards is a highly lethal threat. I’m not in the expert class, but I have owned several rifles, including an AK, and I guarantee you, if I were shooting at you from 50 yards, you’d have to be a world-class sprinter or broken-field runner to reach safety. Corpsman Atkinson obviously knew the degree of risk he was taking. He was awarded the Silver Star – and the eternal gratitude of two Marines – “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action”.
A late friend of mine once asked a World War Two veteran, “If you could have your choice of any weapon in a fight, what would it be?” The vet replied, “An endless supply of fragmentation grenades. When you start throwing those things around, people run for cover.” Not all people, as these next two warriors proved at the cost of their own lives…
On 29 September 2006, during Operation Kentucky Jumper, part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Petty Officer Second Class (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor without hesitation gave his life to save two teammates from a grenade: “Of the three SEALs on that rooftop corner, he had the only avenue of escape away from the blast, and if he had so chosen, he could have easily escaped.” Instead, Monsoor yelled “Grenade!” and threw his body on it. One suspects that the Medal of Honor is not even close to the honor Michael Monsoor earned with God and man that day.
On 1 June 2007, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, checking out four suspicious individuals with his squad, Staff Sergeant Travis W. Atkins was forced into hand-to-hand combat with one of them. That one had a bomb under his clothes. When he reached for it, “…Staff Sergeant Atkins immediately wrapped him in a bear hug and threw him to the ground, away from his fellow soldiers … With Staff Sergeant Atkins on top of him, the insurgent detonated a bomb strapped to his body, killing Staff Sergeant Atkins.” His “undaunted courage, warrior spirit, and steadfast devotion to duty” earned him the Medal of Honor. At this link
we learn that this was Sgt. Atkins’ second deployment. He deployed to Kuwait with the 101st Airborne Division in 2003 and was part of the invasion of Iraq. He was honorably discharged in 2003, but two years later re-enlisted and deployed to Iraq again in 2006. That second link lists numerous significant awards and citations. Please honor his memory by reading the list.
The two World War Two warriors are next on our list. Like too many soldiers, they had to wait disgracefully long for the recognition they earned, but at least, thank God, it came before they died:
Sgt. 1st Class Marvin Cornett served in the Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne during World War Two. His lengthy, honorable record of service included helping capture Sicily, making a night combat jump in rain, and being wounded at Anzio.
Somehow the records were lost, and Sergeant Cornett never received his Purple Heart. But when he went into assisted living, he gave his daughter, Jan Mendoza, “The Green Box”, which produced this video and with the help of retired Army Lt. Col. William Lynn, manager of Heritage Arsenal, a military museum consulting company, the whole story came to light.
And Sergeant Cornett finally got his Purple Heart and Bronze Star. The entire story, and Mendoza’s video, are fascinating! Take a look into the past at a veteran, a paratrooper, a proud American and a citizen-soldier America can be proud of.
On September 29th, 2019, “France Consul General Guillaume Lacroix bestowed the Legion of Honor medal Sunday on Jimmie H. Royer … Without the bravery, the dedication, without the courage and the heroism and the sacrifice of Mr. Royer’s generation, the French flag would be history [General Lacroix said].’ ”
The French people felt the same way at the time: ” ‘When we would go and liberate a town, the people would have a joy in their eyes and a happiness …’ Royer said. ‘They were so happy. When I went over there I wondered, “What am I doing here?” I found out, but I remember the laughter and them passing the bottle around.’ ”
After taking part in campaigns in Germany and France, a landmine nearly cost him his leg, and he was honorably discharged with a Purple Heart in 1945.
You never know who you’re talking to, do you? We are surrounded by warrior heroes.
SEAL Team Six about their business: hostage rescue in this case: “The elite SEAL Team Six carried out the rescue mission and killed all but one of the captors, according to officials with direct knowledge about the operation.”
Pass these links on to any veterans or their survivors you know who might benefit:
March 1, 2021: Disability benefits and full retirement pay for veterans medically retired due to combat-related injuries with less than 20 years service
God bless our Troops and Veterans. Have a safe day all!