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Old 09-05-2007, 05:35   #31
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Sgt.Joshua Morley

Rest in Peace Sgt.Joshua Morley and my sympathy to his family.....Tom Kelly
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Old 09-05-2007, 13:21   #32
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RIP Paratrooper. My deepest condelances to the family and friends.
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Old 09-05-2007, 20:11   #33
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I was left feeling somewhat anxious after reading the morning paper last week which contained a small blurb about an OP from the 505th 82nd airborne being attacked by some 30 insurgents in Samarra. My son is one of the sniper team leaders in the battalion scout platoon for the 505th and I felt the OP was probably from his platoon. Once at work, my mind was pretty much occupied with the various tasks at hand, but it occasionally drifted back to the small article. When I got home and checked my email, there was one from my son talking about the death of SGT Josh Morley and SPC Tracy Willis.

My son was a very good friend with Josh and was his roommate during sniper school. The death of these two paratroopers has hit the whole platoon very hard and my son in particular. He gave the eulogy in Sunday's memorial service and told his mom it was one of the hardest things he's ever done.

According to my son and the newspaper accounts, the intent of the insurgents was to capture this team much like the guys from 10th Mountain were captured recently. It is rumored that the same insurgents prosecuted the Samarra attack. This OP was hopelessly outnumbered and apparently receiving fire from 360 degrees. Sgt. Morley was killed at the beginning of the attack as was Spc.Willis. The remaining team member, Spec. Corriveau returned fire with his sniper rifle until he ran out of ammo. He then picked up a machine gun dropped by an insurgent he had previously killed and fired on the insurgents as they were coming up the stairwell to assault his position.

The defense provided by the team apparently was sufficient to repel the attack. It is rumored that they killed at least 15 insurgents. The insurgents who were mostly comprised of foreign fighters fled the location in trucks whose progress was monitored by our personnel in little birds. They followed the escape of the insurgents until they saw them enter a building whereby they called in CAS which dropped a 500 lb bomb on their friggin insurgent heads.

When you read eulogies about our men and women who are killed in action, it seems that there is a tendency to overstate their characteristics, to make them seem larger than life. I personally believe this is a mistake. What makes these men and women so special is that they are normal Americans who willingly put themselves in harm’s way and perform duties above and beyond on our behalf. I do not know much about Sgt. Morley except for the following:

1) He willingly led a three man team on a mission to provide over watch for fellow Airborne soldiers despite the great inherent risks. In addition he had led this same team on countless dangerous missions during his deployment.

2) My son was proud to consider him one of his friends.

The above is enough for me to consider him a hero and worthy of our highest praise. I would like to offer condolences to his family and the thanks of an American who hopes he can be worthy of Sgt. Morely's sacrifice.

It should also be noted that Spec. Corriveau is rumored to be put in for the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions that day.
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Old 09-05-2007, 20:16   #34
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Dennis:

Great story, thanks for sharing.

Gents, thank you for your service, and your sacrifice. SPC Corriveau, thank you for your efforts on behalf of your teammates, above and beyond the call of duty.

TR
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Old 09-05-2007, 20:53   #35
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Thank you for sharing this with us Dennis, it is always humbling to read about the actions of our bravest. May your son continue to stay safe.
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Old 09-05-2007, 21:36   #36
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Dennis:

Thanks for sharing Cole's story with us. Our prayers go out to Sgt Morely's family and to your son. Where do we get these young men? God Bless them one and all.
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Old 09-06-2007, 22:34   #37
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Rest in Peace brothers.

H-Minus. Airborne.


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Old 09-06-2007, 23:19   #38
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Rest in Peace Sgt Morley. Thank You for your service & sacrifice. My prayers of support & comfort go out to his family.
Thank you Dennis for your story. I pray that your sons may remain safe.
Thank you PS.com administrators for providing a forum that allows people of like mind to share their awe & respect of these selfless, freedom loving warriors. I am humbled in the presence of these great americans that have backed up their words & convictions with actions.
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Old 09-07-2007, 14:51   #39
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RIP, Sergeant.
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Old 09-07-2007, 20:24   #40
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You are at peace now Sergeant Morley. Well see you again some day. Prayers are outgoing to his Dad.
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Old 09-15-2007, 16:55   #41
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My friend who was one of the members of that team in the incident just sent me this link with some more details of the story.

http://www.hcnonline.com/site/news.c...d=574060&rfi=6

Eric Moser, a 2003 Tomball High School graduate, became a hero in the eyes of many following a firefight in Iraq on Aug. 26.

On that Sunday morning the Department of Defense reported, "Coalition Forces shut down an attack attempted by approximately 30 masked insurgents, killing at least a dozen insurgents and pursuing the rest in Samarra (60 miles northwest of Baghdad). Over the course of the morning, [Coalition Forces] pursued and attacked the masked insurgents with ground forces, attack helicopters and U.S. Air Force close-air support, which included a precision-guided bomb dropped on an insurgent getaway vehicle beneath a carport. In addition to the insurgents who were killed, fourteen insurgents were detained along with the confiscation of four enemy AK-47s, one sniper rifle and one machine gun."

Clearly a victory for Coalition Forces. But what the news did not detail was the heroic actions by U.S. Army Specialist Moser that contributed to the triumph. Moser, a sniper with the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division, fought off terrorist for 15 to 20 minutes until help arrived in the form of two platoons, about 40 soldiers in all.

After seeing his partner, Sgt. Joshua L. Morley, 22, of Boise, Idaho, killed Moser believed he was the only survivor of the four-man unit and engaged in the fight for his life. Fighting from the roof of the four-story apartment building where his team had been positioned early that morning Moser returned fire, threw grenades and engaged his enemy at point-blank range.

"I was engaging up to eight enemy personnel at a time in the northern stairwell of the building," Moser said.

During that critical quarter-hour plus, Moser discovered his remaining team member, SPC Chris Corriveau, fighting at the other end of the building. Corriveau's partner, Cpl. Tracy C. Willis, 21, of Marshall, Texas, was killed after being shot in the back and falling on his own grenade.

"Corriveau and I each thought we were the last man standing," Moser said. "We linked up and I suppressed the enemy while Corriveau recovered the radio from Morley's FLC (load bearing vest) and called for help."

Together the two marksmen took on 24 terrorist, killing 10. Moser reported fire eventually ended when one final grenade was thrown at the pair by insurgents while the Quick Response Force en route.

"The QRF said they could easily identify the building while en route because the roof was smoking," Moser said.

Moser's company executive officer, Nick London, praised him as an "amazing" soldier, in an e-mail communication he sent to Ken Moser, Eric Moser's father, after the firefight.

"I commend you on raising such an amazing young man," London wrote. "You should be extremely proud of your son. What he did that day is nothing short of incredible and it is an absolute honor to be able to serve with him and Specialist Corriveau."

But the victory was not without its toll. Ken Moser said his son and other surviving soldiers of the Samarra attack were in shock for days following the battle. Moser has lost 25 to 50 percent hearing in his left ear and ultimately the incident has altered his perspective on life.

"Everyone is surprised we held off 24 terrorists for 20 minutes with just the two of us," he wrote in an e-mail to his parents, Aug. 26. "We are lucky to be alive."

On the Friday following the firefight, Moser discovered three bullet holes in his helmet. The unit held a memorial service for Morley and Willis in Iraq before their bodies were flown to the U.S.



WELL PREPARED:
Ken Moser said his son was well prepared for the battle. Moser's father cited his son's experiences following Hurricane Katrina with the 82nd Airborne rescue missions and before that, with Boy Scout Troop 469 in Tomball.

"Soon after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, Boy Scout Troop 469 of Tomball held a solemn flag retirement (burning) ceremony," he said. "During that ceremony I talked about the U.S. flag as a symbol of our nation, a nation that is great because it is good and free.

"I also told the Scouts that their Scouting experience was significant and that some of them may ultimately serve our nation in defense of the freedoms we enjoy. At that time, I had no idea my son Eric would ultimately feel the call to serve."

Moser joined the U.S. Army in 2005, two years after he graduated from THS. His high school economics teacher, Paula Temperilli, remembers her student well.

"Eric Moser is one of the finest young men that I have had the pleasure to teach," she said. "I was not at all surprised to learn that he volunteered to serve our country or that he has distinguished himself in battle. Eric is one of those steady under pressure, quality kind of people."

And, it was probably Moser's ability to remain steady under pressure that helped earned him the nickname, MacGyver in elementary school. Boy Scout Troop 469 Chaplain Bill Jensen recalls the days when Moser, an Eagle Scout, was in his troop.

"He got the name because he often had gadgets in his backpack," he said. "When we went on outings, Eric was always prepared."

Author's note: The city of Samarra where Moser's unit was on special operation has become a critical area in the war on terrorism. On Sept. 2 the Islamic State of Iraq issued a special message to the people of Samarra to be the "bows of the Mujahideen" - to fight Coalition Forces and inform insurgent soldiers of any movements or deployments in the area as they adapt to "fluid circumstances."

Last edited by gits; 09-15-2007 at 17:04.
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Old 09-21-2007, 18:15   #42
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Blue Skies...
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Old 11-01-2007, 14:09   #43
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Damn.

TR

http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=12233

The Longest Morning
By Jeff Emanuel
Published 11/1/2007 12:08:23 AM

This article is the cover story of The American Spectator's new, November 2007 issue. To subscribe to our monthly print edition, click here.

Samarra, Iraq
THE DAY OF AUGUST 26, 2007, began like any other for the soldiers of Charlie Company, 2-505 Parachute Infantry Regiment (from the 82nd Airborne Division) -- with a mission in the city. Over a year into its deployment to Samarra, Iraq, and now working on the three-month extension announced by Secretary of Defense Gates in the spring, the company knew the city like the back of its collective hands and had its operational routine down to a science, whatever the mission it might be tasked with.

On this morning, that mission was to establish a defensive perimeter around a block in central Samarra, so that Charlie Company's 3rd ("Blue") Platoon, led by Lieutenant Scott Young, could search a shop where it had information that Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were being manufactured.

Due to the insurgents' penchant for placing IEDs along the routes used by Charlie Company's vehicles in order to ambush them on their way back, two separate rooftop observation points (OPs) would be established, one to the north and one to the south of the shop, to watch for enemy activity on the roads that were serving as Blue Platoon's infiltration and exfiltration routes. The southern OP, led by Staff Sergeant Jason Wheeler, was manned with paratroopers from Charlie Company's 1st ("Red") Platoon. "Reaper Two," one of the sniper teams from 2nd Battalion's scout platoon, would man the second OP, almost a kilometer to the north. Reaper would be overwatching the area from the roof of a large four-story apartment building, which was laid out with the long axis facing north-south, and which was bordered -- across the surrounding streets and alleys -- by several other buildings.

The three-man Reaper team, known as the best in the unit, was led by Sergeant Josh Morley, a 22-year-old paratrooper from North Carolina. Morley was regarded within Charlie Company as a consummate professional, and the men in the unit knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they could always count on him and his team to come through whenever they were needed. Morley was affected even more than most of his fellow soldiers by the additional three months that had been added on to his unit's combat tour, for he was a new father and was counting the days until the end of the deployment, when he would finally get to see his infant daughter for the first time -- something he had already been waiting months to do.

The rest of Morley's team was made up of Specialist Tracy Willis, a 21-year-old from Texas, and Specialist Chris Corriveau, a 23-year-old from Maine. Willis was well known within Charlie Company as a friendly, laid back, permanently smiling young man who was always good for a laugh and for conversation, regardless of the person and the situation. Corriveau was quieter, but had earned the immense respect of his peers at Patrol Base Olson not only for his talent as a sniper but also for his abilities as a natural leader. The team had been together in Iraq for well over a year, and the three young men were as close as soldiers could be. They knew everything about each other, from their backgrounds, to information about their families, to the punchlines of Willis's tiredest jokes. Further, they had worked together so closely, and for so long, that they could read each other's body language and tone of voice, and were able to function as an extraordinarily effective unit.

For this mission, the three-man Reaper Two sniper team was rounded out by a fourth man (and a second Texan), 23-year-old Specialist Eric Moser. The company armorer, Moser was not a member of the Battalion Scout Platoon like Morley, Willis, and Corriveau, but was a competition-caliber shooter, and had gone along on several OPs with Reaper in the past, serving as a "designated marksman." His skill with firearms would end up being critical that day.


EARLY IN THE MORNING, after dropping off SSG Wheeler's team, Red Platoon's four Humvees rolled up to the predetermined dismount point for the second OP and came to a stop, allowing Morley, Willis, Corriveau, and Moser to get out. Upon departing the area, the trucks would make their way to Patrol Base Uvanni, an Iraqi National Police outpost in the center of the city (about 1.5 kilometers southwest of Reaper's OP), where they would wait until it was time to pick up the overwatch teams, while also serving as a Quick Reaction Force in the unlikely event that anything should go wrong at either of the overwatch sites.

The four-man sniper team hustled to the northern gate of the apartment building, cut the lock, and quietly moved into the courtyard. Morley instructed Moser and Corriveau to remain behind to close the gate and remove other signs of the team's presence, while he and Willis made their way into the building and up the stairs. Moser pulled security while Corriveau quietly closed the gate and replaced the lock, and then the two followed the others inside, clearing the stairwell as they ascended, but not going into the hallways of the apartment building, as they didn't want to alert the inhabitants of their presence.

The four-man team emerged onto the northern half of the roof and surveyed their surroundings. The building was set up with two staircases, one on the north side and one on the south side, both of which opened up onto the top of the building facing west. Dividing the north and south halves of the roof was a four-foot high, east-west running wall. The entire perimeter of the building's top was lined with a wall of the same height.

Once the area had been secured and the OP established, there was little to do but watch the street around the building. The team took turns keeping watch and sleeping; they had done hundreds of these before, and, while things could get hairy at times, their job involved far more boredom than excitement -- especially if they were careful, as they always were, to keep their heads down and not let anybody below know that they were there.

Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the four men of Reaper Two, one of the building's occupants had seen them enter and had passed the information along.


JUST BEFORE 11 A.M., reaper received word that Blue Platoon had finished its search of the shop (which had yielded no evidence of illegal activity) and was heading back to Patrol Base Olson, three kilometers to the west. With this, the men dispersed across the top of the building, with two -- Moser and Corriveau -- watching the road from corners of the roof, and the other two -- Morley and Willis -- taking up a position by the northern stairwell, where the team's radio had been deposited. Assigned to the southeast corner, Corriveau picked up an M4 rifle to complement his sniper weapon and vaulted the dividing wall, moving onto the southern half of the building and taking up his position, watching the base of the buildings across the road but careful to remain below the roof's perimeter wall and out of sight from the street below. Taking a quick peek over the wall, he saw a white sedan nearing his corner of the building but due to the obstructed view that came along with his rooftop concealment, Corriveau never had a chance to see the situation developing on the street directly below.

On the northwest corner of the apartment complex, Moser was watching the road in front of the building through a cut in the roof wall. As he looked down, he saw a white car speed up to the corner of the building. Four men holding AK-47 assault rifles (at least two of whom had long beards -- a distinctly non-Iraqi trait) emerged from the vehicle and sprinted toward the building's entrance. Seeing this, Moser immediately yelled to the others that enemy fighters were below. Morley, who along with Willis had been positioned next to the stairwell, raced to Moser's corner of the building to assess the situation and if possible to engage, but could not move quickly enough to prevent the men on the ground from making it into the building.

Suddenly, machine gun fire erupted from both of the stairwells behind them.
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"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - President Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

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Old 11-01-2007, 14:11   #44
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AT PATROL BASE UVANNI, a kilometer and a half away, the four armored Humvees that made up Charlie Company's internal Quick Reaction Force (QRF) were sitting just inside the gate, its soldiers in their vehicles and ready to move at a moment's notice, when the sound of gunfire echoed through the city streets. The sound of automatic weapons fire is as common in Samarra as traffic noise is in the United States. To Lieutenant Steve Smith, however, Red's Platoon Leader, these shots seemed different for some reason -- like they were coming from the north, instead of from the usual east-west direction. He immediately ordered radio checks to be attempted with both OPs to make sure that they were okay.

The first call went to the southern observation point, where SSG Wheeler's team was positioned. "Do you hear gunfire?" he was asked. He replied, "It sounds like the gunfire is coming from north of me. It sounds like Reaper."

Sergeant First Class Rodolfo Cisneros, Red's Platoon Sergeant (ranking noncommissioned officer), ordered an immediate radio check with Reaper. He had a bad feeling about the gunfire and explosions that sounded like they were coming from the exact direction of the northern OP. The radio call received no answer -- enough reason for Cisneros to call for the QRF to move immediately, as the unit's standard procedure regarding overwatch operations was that, in the event of a lack of communication with an OP, the QRF should assume it had been compromised and move to its location immediately.

Lieutenant Smith ordered another check -- again, nothing. Upon the second failed radio call, he ordered the four-Humvee Quick Reaction Force to roll out of Uvanni and make for Reaper's location as fast as possible. As the Humvees sped out of the Iraqi Patrol Base, Smith continued trying to raise the sniper team on the radio. He did not know that their radio had been destroyed by a grenade, and could only hope that the sounds echoing down the alleyways from the north -- which sounded like a full-blown battle at this point, complete with automatic and single-shot gunfire, as well as frequent explosions -- were not coming from Reaper's location.


ON THE ROOF OF THE APARTMENT BUILDING, Morley and Moser were taking AK-47 and PKC (a 7.62mm Russian-made machine gun) fire from both stairwells. As they spun around to return fire, they saw several small, dark objects flying onto the roof from the stairwell -- hand grenades. Morley recognized that the situation was rapidly deteriorating and knew that, though his team currently occupied the high ground in the emerging battle, they could not hold out for very long due to their vast disadvantage in numbers. Seeing that Willis, who was next to the team's radio, was busy firing into the stairwell through a window on the enclave's north side, and not knowing that one of the first hand grenades tossed onto the roof had disabled it, Morley made a dash across the roof to call for the QRF.

He never made it there.

As Moser fired into the door from his corner in an attempt to suppress the enemy assault, he saw Morley appear to stumble and go down, his weapon skidding across the rooftop toward the stairwell door. His first thought was that the team leader had tripped and fallen; a moment later, his brain registered the truth: Morley had been shot. A burst of gunfire from the southern stairwell across the dividing wall had scored a direct hit, with one round striking Morley directly in the forehead. He was dead before hitting the ground.

Moser didn't have time to dwell on Morley's death. Knowing that what had just become a three-man team could not long withstand the concerted effort by what was clearly a large enemy force to move up the stairs to his location, he took the same chance that Morley had, and crossed the roof to the radio while Willis continued to fire his .240 machine gun into the stairwell, killing at least two enemy fighters with well-placed bursts as grenades continued to be tossed up the stairs and out onto the roof. As he moved to the radio (which he found to have been disabled by a grenade), Moser was able to get a look down into the northern stairwell. Inside, he saw a number of armed men, both black and Arab rushing up the steps toward the roof -- none of whom were the individuals he had seen get out of the car moments before on the street. Apparently there had been fighters stationed in the building before the white car's arrival.


ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOF'S DIVIDING WALL, Corriveau had been watching the area to the southwest when the gunfire began at his back. Spinning around at the edge of the roof, he saw a man with a PKC machine gun emerging from the southern stairwell, and immediately moved toward him, raising his M24 sniper rifle, only to find that it wasn't loaded. Continuing to advance on the man at the top of the stairs, who was firing across the roof, Corriveau quickly loaded a five-round magazine into his rifle and fired a perfectly aimed shot into the assailant's head.

Continuing to close on the man, who was now on the ground, Corriveau fired again and again, re-charging the firing handle each time, until he had emptied his remaining rounds into the body. Following up with a swift kick to the fighter's head to make sure that he was dead, he then tossed his empty sniper rifle aside, picked up the man's PKC, and stepped into the stairwell, looking down over the railing. Seeing at least one more armed man charging up from the landing below, Corriveau held the PKC over the ledge and, firing blind, let go with a burst. A scream from below let him know that at least one of his rounds had hit home. He repeated this action three or four more times until he was unable to see any more movement in the stairwell.

Having neutralized the threat at his back (at least temporarily), Corriveau took his newly acquired PKC and sprinted back to the western edge of the roof to check the road again. As he peered over the edge, he saw several men running toward the entrance to the building from the south. Just to Corriveau's right, over the dividing wall, Willis, who had left the northern stairwell to Moser, was looking at the same scene. Looking to his left and catching Corriveau's eye, Willis, who had stepped up and taken charge after Morley had gone down, pointed at the men, pulled a grenade from his vest, and yelled, "We're going to frag them!" Corriveau retrieved a grenade of his own, pulled the firing pin, and let it fly, hitting the last man in the group running toward the building. Seconds behind him Willis pulled the pin from his own grenade, and prepared to throw it down into the street as well.

Suddenly, the morning exploded into gunfire, and bullets began flying at the rooftop from seemingly every direction. Enemy fighters had established supporting machine gun positions in the buildings on three sides (north, east, and west) of the apartment complex, and had begun firing relentlessly at the building top that had become a battleground, sending debris flying up all over the place from the walls and roof. Over the loud chatter of the supporting fire, Corriveau, who was still facing the street, heard a loud burst from his five o'clock. Looking to his right, he saw Willis disappear behind the dividing wall, the prepped grenade still in his hand.


AT THE NORTHERN STAIRWELL, Moser was holding the high ground, doing his best to lock down the access route to his half of the rooftop -- and to stay alive -- by alternately firing his M4 rifle around the northwest corner of the stairwell and taking cover behind the structure's northern wall. AK-47 and PKC fire, as well, now, as 9-millimeter pistol fire, was being steadily spewed from the doorway, and grenades were still bouncing out onto the roof and exploding around Moser at an alarming rate. Pivoting around the corner to fire another burst with his M4, he was able to see at least eight people in the stairwell, all attempting to make it up to the roof. He did his best to suppress the charge.

As he took cover behind the wall yet again, Moser saw a single enemy fighter reach out of the stairwell and grab the M4 that Morley had dropped when he had been hit. Though he immediately leaped up and began firing into the building again, Moser was too late to prevent the weapon from being taken. He had larger problems to worry about than the rifle, though. The charge up the stairs by close to a dozen men (both black and Arab) was continuing, and grenades were rolling out of the doorway one and two at a time and exploding with thunderous bangs. Shortly after the weapon had been taken, the person at the top of the staircase made a lunge for another prize on the roof -- Morley's body.

Spurred into renewed action, Moser flew around the corner of the stairwell and let loose with a relentless series of bursts at the advancing enemy. He was still in shock at Morley's sudden death, and there was no way that he was going to allow these animals to take his team leader's -- and friend's -- body. Risking his own life to remain within reach of the stairwell -- and thus to be able to impose himself and his M4 as a barrier between the attackers and Morley's body -- Moser fired again and again into the doorway, hitting insurgents inside while miraculously avoiding injury himself. The number of targets never seemed to diminish. As soon as he shot one person attempting to fight his way out of the stairwell to seize Morley's body, another would appear.
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"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - President Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

De Oppresso Liber 01/20/2017
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Old 11-01-2007, 14:11   #45
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As Moser was exchanging fire with the topmost fighters in the northern stairwell, and attempting to remain behind sufficient cover to avoid the repeated grenade detonations on the roof, he heard from across the building top Willis's call to Corriveau to prepare their grenades. Just then, the enemy support-by-fire positions surrounding the building opened fire on the rooftop, sending Moser scrambling for cover again. As he retreated behind the northern wall of the stairwell (crouched down to avoid the withering fire coming from the north, east, and west), he looked out toward Willis just in time to see a PKC burst from the northern stairwell catch him in the back.

Almost in slow motion, Moser saw Willis's body contort, saw him collapse onto the roof, and saw him land on his own grenade, which he had prepped for use but hadn't yet been able to throw.

A split second later Willis's body was rocked by the explosion, and Moser knew instantly that he was dead. The battle had only been raging for five minutes, but it already seemed like a lifetime to Moser -- and it had cost the lives of at least two of his fellow paratroopers. With the machine gun fire pouring in from three sides, the concerted efforts on the part of the fighters in the stairwell to reach the rooftop and Morley's body (and do who knew what from there), and the grenades exploding around him, Moser could do nothing but hold what little ground he had, and keep trying to suppress the fighters in the stairwell. From his position by the stairs, the situation seemed utterly hopeless. He could see Morley and Willis lying on the roof, unmoving, knowing that they would never move again. Further, as he couldn't see or hear a thing from the south side of the building top, due to the dividing wall and the withering gunfire coming from all sides, he had no choice but to assume that Corriveau was gone as well.

He had never felt more alone.

ON THE SOUTHERN HALF OF THE ROOFTOP, across the dividing wall, Corriveau was still very much alive. He absolutely knew this to be the case because, as he sprinted back to the southern stairwell to prevent any more enemy fighters from making it to the rooftop, he was beside himself with emotions the likes of which he had never felt before. If he were dead, there was no way that he would feel the hurt, the loss, the sheer rage that was bottled up within him now, that drove him as he fired his PKC over and over into the stairwell, cutting down armed insurgent after armed insurgent as they ran up the stairs toward him. He had seen Willis go down from the gunfire, had heard the explosion of his friend's own grenade, and knew there was no way that he could have survived such a blast. Further, he had not seen Morley or Moser since the initial shooting had begun over five minutes (that seemed like hours) before and knew -- though his mind could not accept it -- that they, the last of his team, the last of his support, the last of those who were closer to them than his own family, must be dead as well.

Fighting like a man who had nothing to lose, Corriveau moved to the southern end of the roof, staying low to avoid the continuous fire from the surrounding buildings, and, keeping an eye on his own stairwell, began to fire bursts from his PKC across the dividing wall into the northern doorway as he bounded back and forth across the end of the roof, ducking for cover between bursts. As he popped out to fire again and again, he saw one insurgent after another in the northern stairwell, trying to make it out onto the roof, many of whom, it appeared from their long beards and the color of their skin, had come all this way from some foreign land just to kill him, and to kill his friends. His insides contorted with emotion, Corriveau did the only thing that he could do in that situation: keep moving, keep taking cover, and keep fighting off his assailants as long as he had the strength and the ammunition to do so. As the last man standing, there was nobody else to turn to for help -- either he would fight, or he would die, with the two not being mutually exclusive.

But, if he was going to die, he was going to go down fighting -- and he was going to take as many of these animals with him as he could.


AROUND THE FAR SIDE of the northern stairwell, Moser was engaged in a battle with a hand holding a 9mm pistol. Grenades were still being tossed up the stairs onto the roof, and every few seconds a black hand would reach around the wall of the structure and squeeze off a few rounds in his direction. Ducking behind cover when it appeared, then swinging his weapon around the wall and firing a burst when it went back inside, Moser could see no progress being made in his battle to keep his assailants from taking the rooftop -- and no escape in the event that they finally did. Due to the dividing wall and the fact that, entirely by chance, he and Corriveau were both suppressing the same stairwell, from opposite sides of the roof, in an exactly alternating pattern, Moser never saw that he was not alone, that there was another member of his team alive on the rooftop (and neither, on the other side, did Corriveau). However, despite his creeping sense of hopelessness, Moser continued to do all that he was able -- which, at this point, was to protect Morley's body the best that he could, and to keep exchanging rounds with the insurgents behind the door.

And then his weapon jammed.

As if more adversity were needed in a situation that was already an against-all-odds struggle to protect the body of a fallen comrade while also trying to stay alive, against the combined opposition of an assault from foreign fighters in the stairwell and a constant stream of grenades being tossed onto the roof near him -- which prevented his crossing the mere feet separating him from Morley's load carrying vest, which was in the northwestern corner and held a walkie-talkie ("ICOM"), the last undamaged piece of communications equipment on the roof -- as well as nonstop machine gun fire from the buildings on every side, now Moser's M4 was threatening to fail him. In this time of greatest need, Moser's training and experience kicked in. He remained calm, cleared his weapon, and, undeterred by the fact that now, due to a malfunction in his most precious piece of equipment, he had to charge the rifle's firing handle after every single shot, resumed the battle.

For nearly five minutes, he traded shots with the faceless pistolier on the other side of the stairwell door, all the while knowing that, in the end, he would not have enough time or ammunition to hold the rooftop himself. As the minutes crept by like hours, a renewed sense of hopelessness began to take hold. "Please God, help me," he pled time and again, as he alternated firing into the stairwell, ducking for cover from the returning fire, and searching frantically for some way out of what appeared to be a certain-death situation. Looking to the west, he saw the unmistakable form of the 52-meter tall Spiral Minaret, which stood in the northwestern corner of the city, a scant thousand meters from Patrol Base Olson -- and safety. Measuring its distance from the rooftop, Moser wondered for the briefest of moments if he could survive a jump off the building intact enough to be able to run the three kilometers back to Olson.

The situation was desperate, and Moser needed a miracle.


THOUGH HE WAS IN A SIMILARLY desperate situation on the south side of the roof, the idea of leaping off a four-story building never occurred to Corriveau. Instead, as he bounded back and forth across the building's edge, alternately firing into the northern stairwell door and taking cover from whatever return fire came his way, his mass of conflicting emotions was overridden by only one thought: Get to the radio on the other side of the roof.

Finally, running low on ammunition and facing only sporadic harassing fire from the southern stairwell, Corriveau decided it was time to make a break for it. He fired a final suppressive burst into his own doorway, as well as into the one to the north, and made a run for it, dashing across the open rooftop, vaulting the dividing wall, and racing for the semi-protected far side of the northern stairwell.


ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THE ROOF, Moser's situation was looking bleaker by the second. He had gone through five 30-round magazines with his M4 and was still defending the roof from an attempted assault up his own stairwell, while frantically searching -- and hoping -- for a miraculous escape from his present situation.

Suddenly, that miracle arrived.

Through a hail of bullets from the surrounding buildings, Corriveau bounded over the dividing wall and came sprinting across the north side of the roof and around the stairwell, almost knocking Moser over as he flew around the corner. Upon seeing each other alive, an unspeakable joy flooded the manic Corriveau, and an equal amount of relief flowed through Moser at the suddenly gained knowledge that each was not the only man left alive on this godforsaken rooftop in Samarra.

After the joyous yet indescribably brief reunion, the two Americans resumed the fight together. As Moser suppressed the enemy activity in the stairwell, Corriveau reached down and picked up the team's radio to call for the QRF. But like Moser before him, he found that it had been destroyed by one of the first grenades thrown onto the rooftop. Flinging the useless object across the roof out of frustration, Corriveau next set his sights on the survivors' last hope of a means to call for help: the ICOM on Morley's vest.
__________________
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - President Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

De Oppresso Liber 01/20/2017
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