Sunday, May 4, 2008

The "Gunny" Salute

February 14, 2008..ONE FINGER SALUTE

Leading the fight is Gunnery Sgt Michael Burghardt, known as 'Iron Mike' or just 'Gunny'. He is on his third tour in Iraq. He had become a legend in the bomb disposal world after winning the Bronze Star for disabling 64 IEDs and destroying 1,548 pieces of ordnance during his second tour.

Then, on September 19, he got blown up. He had arrived at a chaotic scene after a bomb had killed four US soldiers. He chose not to wear the bulky bomb protection suit. 'You can't react to any sniper fire and you get tunnel-vision,' he explains. So, protected by just a helmet and standard-issue flak jacket, he began what bomb disposal officers term 'the longest walk', stepping gingerly into a 5 foot deep and 8 foot wide crater.

The earth shifted slightly and he saw a Senao base station with a wire leading from it. He cut the wire and used his 7 inch knife to probe the ground. 'I found a piece of red detonating cord between my legs,' he says. 'That's when I knew I was screwed.'

Realizing he had been sucked into a trap, Sgt Burghardt, 35, yelled at everyone to stay back. At that moment, an insurgent, probably watching through binoculars, pressed a button on his mobile phone to detonate the secondary device below the sergeant's feet. 'A chill went up the back of my neck and then the bomb exploded,' he recalls. 'As I was in the air I remember thinking, 'I don't believe they got me.' I was just ticked off they were able to do it. Then I was lying on the road, not able to feel anything from the waist down.'

His colleagues cut off his trousers to see how badly he was hurt. None could believe his legs were still there. 'My dad's a Vietnam vet who's paralyzed from the waist down,' says Sgt Burghardt. 'I was lying there thinking I didn't want to be in a wheelchair next to my dad and for him to see me like that. They started to cut away my pants and I felt a real sharp pain and blood trickling down. Then I wiggled my toes and I thought, 'Good, I'm in business.' 'As a stretcher was brought over, adrenaline and anger kicked in. 'I decided to walk to the helicopter. I wasn't going to let my team-mates see me being carried away on a stretcher.' He stood and gave the insurgents who had blown him up a one-fingered salute. 'I flipped them one. It was like, 'OK, I lost that round but I'll be back next week'.'

Copies of a photograph depicting his defiance, taken by Jeff Bundy for the Omaha World-Herald, adorn the walls of homes across America and that of Col John Gronski, the brigade commander in Ramadi, who has hailed the image as an exemplar of the warrior spirit.

Sgt Burghardt's injuries - burns and wounds to his legs and buttocks - kept him off duty for nearly a month and could have earned him a ticket home. But, like his father - who was awarded a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts for being wounded in action in Vietnam - he stayed in Ramadi to engage in the battle against insurgents who are forever coming up with more ingenious ways of killing Americans.


Die with your boots on.....


1 comment:

Natalie Rosen said...

If you comment on my comment with a no reply email I must confess I am not sure how to perfect the response. So I am responding here:

There simply CANNOT be perpetual war for perpetual peace. This is IMPOSSIBLE to sustain. Our army is stretched to the breaking point. This war has gone on longer than WWII. I believe our foreign policy as of the last especially eight years (and in some cases longer) has been a disaster. Fighting terrorism, as Gore Vidal once said, is like fighting dandruff and the success you say we have achieved in Iraq no matter who the apologist for our conduct is although I will peruse the author you talk about, is an utter absolute disaster in every way. It has achieved quite the opposite of what it intended.

Even you admit our conduct in the beginning was in error. I believe it was in COLOSSAL error and you cannot separate our errors from the present condition and horrendous mess that is Iraq today. Apologists for the egregious policy that was and is Iraq are nothing less than dilusional and I might even say unpatriotic because it has put the US at significant risk not only in the Middle East but around the world. Our reputation is at an all time low and it is low for a reason.

We need to assume leadership in the world again and it cannot be done repetitively through the barrel of gun. A new foreign policy must be carved out which is why I am 1050 million percent behind Obama. I want to save our country from a disastrous defeat which all the surges and military actions in the world will not rectify. Iraq is a political problem. We indeed could be there for a thousand years trying to sort the whole disaster out and we still would not do it.

As for nuclear Iran and their meddeling in South America, I submit that IF after 9/11 things were handled presciently Iranian power would have been curtailed. Sadam was a good deterent as loathsome a piece of cellular construct he was. The Iraians are in places they should not be BECAUSE we gave them the power by dismanteling a Sunni regime and enabling the Shites to become in part allies to one another. We look like the infamous paper tiger who cannot fight its way out of a a paper bag or a quagmire. We look NOW weak the very opposite of what the so called "conservatives" would like us to appear.

We were the ONLY nation to have exploded a nuclear bomb on another country albeit arguably a necessary deed. Even a Democrat says we could obliterate Iran if it posed a threat to Israel. Do you think the Iranians are insane? Do you think the world knows this country probably would not hesitate to use that insane weaponry once again? How would YOU feel if YOU were Iranian? Would you feel safe?

Israel is a nuclear power. Who is going to perfect a policy against it that would threaten its existence? If one thinks that the US would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons, well the Israelis would not hesitate a second to use them either. Perhaps the Iraelis would use them even more quickly than that if its existance were at stake.

Military might is necessary ... at times. The Solomon-like wisdom is to have the brilliance and understanding when that time is appropriate and when it is not. It was NOT in Iraq and it surely at this time is NOT in Iran.

I do not believe in God but I believe in some Biblical tenets. Indeed, often we reap what we sew. We have sewn the wind and reaped the whirlwind. We need to change course before it is utterly too late. Just my opinon.