Sunday, December 28, 2008

Every Day Heroes

Major James Gant
Photo by Sgt. Nicole Kojetin, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
May 02, 2007

Maj. James �Jim� Gant recalls the events of a fierce fire fight that occurred Dec. 11 between Balad and Baghdad during an interview at Camp Liberty, Iraq April 30. Maj. Gant, the Chief of the Iraqi National Police Quick Reaction Force Battalion Transition Team, earned the Silver Star for his heroism during that fight... (here)

Meet Major Jim Gant:

'I need to be where the most danger is'

Silver Star



while serving with

3rd Special Forces Group

The convoy had been taking fire for a while by the time it came across the first roadside bomb.

Maj. Jim Gant knew he could not wait for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians to show up.

So he decided that his up-armored vehicle would have to eat the roadside bomb. He also made sure that it would explode on his side.

Gant, 41 explained that was his job as a leader.

“I need to be where the most danger is,” said Gant, team leader for the Iraqi National Police Quick Reaction Force Transition Team.

On Dec. 11, 2006, Gant was leading a convoy of Iraqi police commandos from Balad to Taji.

Iraqi police had been making regular trips to Balad, and there had been heavy fighting along the route for the past six weeks, said Gant, of Fort Bragg, N.C.

This day would be worse.

And the two F-16s that were supposed to support the convoy had been diverted, Gant said.

About 15 miles from Balad, the convoy started taking heavy enemy fire.

Two Iraqi police commandos were wounded — one, shot in the face.

Gant said he treated the Iraqi who was hit in the face and got them evacuated.

By the time the convoy got to the first roadside bomb, about 30 minutes later, it was taking fire from both sides of the road, Gant said. He knew they had to push on.

“If we would have stopped, they would have tore us up,” he said.

He also knew that if one of the police commandos’ vehicles ran over the roadside bomb, the results would be catastrophic and would tie down the rest of the convoy.

“If that IED is going to hit one of my vehicles, I want it to be mine,” Gant decided.

Gant said he had his gunner drop into the Humvee and he positioned the rest of the convoy away from the roadside bomb.

Then they drove forward until the bomb went off. The blast “absolutely rocked” the Humvee, Gant said, but everyone was OK, so they kept driving.

About two minutes later, the convoy found a second roadside bomb.

Again, Gant positioned the rest of the convoy away from the bomb as his Humvee drove toward it.

They got closer and closer to the roadside bomb, but nothing happened.

When they got between 15 and 20 feet away, the bomb finally went off.

Once again, the blast rocked everyone in the vehicle, but otherwise, the occupants were unhurt.

As soon as the bomb went off, a machine gun opened up on Gant’s vehicle with bullets hitting the windshield.

The fight was not over....

And there is more. Go here to read the rest of these incredible events on that fateful day.

Then there is this:

Soldier in Heroic Battle to Receive Silver Star

May 02, 2007
BY Sgt. Nicole Kojetin, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs

BAGHDAD - "Men, you have one second in your life where you can decide if you are going to be a coward or if you are going to fight. The time to decide is now."

That sentence is something that Maj. James "Jim" Gant, who serves as thechief of the Iraqi National Police, Quick Reaction Force Battalion Transition Team, tells his policemen all the time, encouraging them to fight for what they believe in.

Though most the time he was talking in generic terms, this time he knew the fight was waiting for them. For six weeks his patrol of three armored high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles and 23 "soft-shelled" national police pick-up trucks had been getting in fire fights with an organized insurgent force in an area between Balad and Baghdad. On Dec. 11, his patrol was finally on their way back home. Maj. Gant knew there would be a grand finale.

"We took frequent trips back and forth in the area and the engagements kept getting bigger," the Las Cruces, N.M., native said. "They knew that we were going to leave. They are a determined enemy force. They wanted to give us a going away present, and we definitely wanted to receive it."

His actions, during that gift, resulted in him earning the Silver Star, which will be awarded on May 3 at a Iraqi National Police station near Forward Operating Base Prosperity. The Silver Star is the third highest award given for valor in the face of the enemy. It is given to American heroes.

Maj. Gant knows four Soldiers who have earned Silver Stars; two died for them. He said heroes are everywhere, it just depends on if they get the chance to show it.

"There are a lot of very good Soldiers, very brave Soldiers that have never had the opportunity to show it," he said. "As good as you are, you don't control the enemy. I have been blessed since 2001, since our nation has been at war to fight with incredible warriors and heroes."

He was given his change to prove himself on that fateful day in December.

The enemy on that stretch of road was well trained and waiting, Maj. Gant said. But he knew his crew was ready. After spending 17 years in the Army, he should know.

"I had a really well trained transition team," he said. That confidence was also extended to his Iraqi brethren as well, with good reason....

"We try to maintain contact with the enemy as long as possible and kill as many as we can," Maj. Gant said. "We were going to do some serious damage that day.

"It is easy to sit in a room in safety and talk about it," he said. "I came here to fight. I came here to kill the enemy. I knew at the time what a huge engagement it was... I also had a huge concern for my team and my Iraqis, because I love these guys. I wanted to ensure that we didn't take unnecessary risks or have unnecessary casualties."...

This is when Maj. Gant received word that a woman in the civilian vehicle had been severely injured in the first blast. Still under heavy small arms fire in a hasty perimeter, he got out and tried to perform first aid on her.

"She didn't want me touch her. She was going to die and she didn't want me to touch her," Maj. Gant said. His Iraqi counterpart, consoled the woman saying, "It's OK. He is my brother."

She then allowed him to apply tourniquets to both of her severely wounded legs. There was also a little girl in the vehicle. Gant, a family man with two kids of his own back in North Carolina, Tristen, 9, and Scout, 7, wanted to keep this child safe.

"I realized that we might all die today, but this little girl will not," he said, talking about how he put the child in his up-armored vehicle. "We had some sporadic small arms fire after that, but we had broken their back. They wanted us to stop there.

"I later found out that the women lived, and the little girl," he said with a smile, "was still afraid of U.S. forces, but she was really small... maybe one. She didn't understand; (she) just knew that someone had grabbed her from her mom and dad. She didn't know that it was for her own protection. I hope that one day, her parents tell her what happened that day."...

When they finally made it back that day, they were met with a celebration. There were more than 200 Commandos singing and bathing the road with goat's blood and planting bloody handprints all over there war-torn, bullet-ridden vehicles. There were celebrating.

"I will never forget them hugging and kissing us, their brothers in arms," he said of their return. "They do this in celebration, when they think we gave our lives for them, or could be dead."

Though nearly six months has passed since that battle occurred, Maj. Gant can tell the story of the battle like it was yesterday.

Only two Soldiers remain on his crew that were with him that day, most of the American Soldiers have rotated back to the United States, but he remembers all of his team.

"On that day, there were no Americans. There were no Iraqis, no whites and no blacks. There were no Sunnis, Shias, Christians. There was just a group of warriors working and fighting together," he said. "All the men I fought with that day showed incredible courage and bravery. That was one of the highlights of my life; working with those men that day." [here]

If you read nothing else today, follow the links here, and learn all about Major Gant

and the heroic acts by all involved in that day.

Thank YOU for your service, Major Gant

No comments: