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They said it was like a World War II-era movie: A Marine rushes forward under withering enemy fire, single-handedly destroys a machine-gun nest and turns the tide of the battle for his comrades.
But they also said it was real.
Marines lined up in droves at Camp Pendleton on Friday to shake the hand of former Marine Sgt. Leandro Baptista, who was awarded the Silver Star for valor for leading a counterattack against some 60 insurgents who ambushed his platoon last year near Fallujah, Iraq.
In terms used to describe generations of heroes of American wars, the citation recounted how on April 7, 2004, 60 insurgents in fortified positions ambushed Baptista's 25-man platoon while they rode in a five-vehicle convoy just south of Fallujah.
With six men wounded and two vehicles out of action, Baptista "sprinted across a shallow canal, climbed a 10-foot berm, and charged towards the enemy."
Under fire, he knocked out one gun emplacement and grabbed three other Marines to help continue his charge.
After disarming an improvised bomb that threatened backup forces, Baptista split his men up, and the ad hoc team charged a group of 11 insurgents from two angles. Baptista killed at least four of them himself "at close range," while his team attacked the other seven, the citation said.
Marines at the ceremony said at least one Marine was killed during the 30-minute ambush and firefight.
I'm sorry to hear he's a former Marine.
No such thing as a 'former' Marine, is there? At least, that is what my brother tells me...Posted by max at June 6, 2005 05:29 PM
Not that the Silver Star is nothing, but this sounds like MoH material to me - certainly Navy Cross.Posted by The Wandering Mind at June 6, 2005 07:00 PM
The differenc between an MoH and lesser awards are often times how they are written up....Posted by armynurseboy at June 6, 2005 08:22 PM
I am so happy to read this. Thank you, Mudville Gazette, for giving me more real news than my home town paper!!Posted by American Woman at June 7, 2005 04:34 AM
There's no such thing as an ex-Marine.Posted by corrie at June 7, 2005 08:43 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(5) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)