Sunday, February 15, 2009

Every Day Heroes

Meet Staff Sgt. Logan Cortes :

Bronze Star with "V"



while serving with

Batallion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit

'Wrong place at the right time'

Staff Sgt. Logan Cortes wasn’t concerned about the bullets flying to his left and right. His Marines needed him.

Cortes, 31, twice went into a hail of enemy small-arms fire to rescue wounded Marines during the Nov. 16, 2005, battle in New Ubaydi, Iraq, a warren of one- and two-story buildings that had become a last stand for insurgents.

He braved the bullets once again to retrieve more ammunition.

For his actions that day, Cortes, now deployed to Okinawa as part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, received the Bronze Star with “V.”

In Iraq, Cortes was with Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. A few days before the firefight, the unit had begun clearing the Euphrates River town in Anbar province, about 12 miles from the Syrian border, as part of Operation Steel Curtain.

They were expecting trouble, said Cortes, who then was a machine gun section leader.

They got it.

Cortes didn’t have to be in the fight that day, but he insisted he was going to be where his Marines were, said 1st Lt. Chris Southard, then weapons platoon commander.

Cortes set up a machine gun team on a roof as platoon mates prepared to clear a nearby single-story building.

That’s when the enemy sprung an ambush, firing from several well-fortified positions. Cortes and a second machine-gun team rushed to the street to return fire.

As the battle raged, Cortes saw three Marines hunkered down against a nearby building.

One of Cortes’ troops, Lance Cpl. Roger Deeds, called to the three Marines to see what was happening. They responded that the enemy was in the next building and there were wounded Marines.

Cortes rushed from his covered position, dashing through enemy fire and into the enemy-fortified position to search for casualties. Deeds was hot on his heels.

Cortes “knew there were Marines in trouble, and all he thought about was helping those Marines,” Southard said. “He had no regard for his own safety.”

Cortes and Deeds found a Marine with severe leg injuries, the result of a grenade. They pulled him to a staging area where corpsmen waited.

Cortes then became separated from Deeds. When Cortes returned to the building he found the machine gunner he positioned pinned down by enemy fire, he said....

This is an amazing story, that ends:

Cortes received his Bronze Star in a May 15 ceremony at Camp Hansen on Okinawa. He says he doesn’t deserve the medal.

“I was just in the wrong place at the right time,” he said. “I was just doing what any Marine would have done.”

A real hero, he explained, is someone who displays courage over the long haul.

Like his mother.

“She raised five children on her own,” he said. “She could have dumped us in an orphanage or escaped through alcohol or something, but she didn’t.

“That’s a hero. Not me.”

Go here to read the rest of this.

THANK you for your service, Staff Sgt. Cortes!

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