Sunday, October 25, 2009

Every Day Hero

Meet First Lieutenant Travis Manion:

First Lieutenant Travis L. Manion

Travis Manion

Many believe that leadership is an innate quality rather than something learned. If this is a valid belief then First Lieutenant Travis L. Manion was certainly born a leader. Manion began his military career early as a student at the prestigious U.S. Naval Academy where he excelled academically.

Upon graduating from the academy in 2004, Manion chose to become a Marine Corps officer. Demonstrating his intellect and leadership abilities, this servicemember was commissioned and assigned to the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force Camp in Pendleton, CA. Shortly thereafter, he was deployed to Iraq for his first tour of duty in 2005.

Manion and his unit were part of many critical events including support of the election, discovery of weapons caches throughout the region and numerous other Iraqi transition missions.

In September 2006, he was selected as an experienced Iraq veteran and was pulled from 1st Recon to become a part of a military transition team that would train with 10 other Marines that would be attached to an Iraqi Army Battalion in Fallujah.

Staying true to his commitment to public service, Manion geared up on December 26, 2006, for his second tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served as the company advisor for the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division Military Transition Team, Regimental Combat Team 6, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).

Manion and his fellow Marines labored diligently to change the outcome in Fallujah, building a brotherhood with the Iraqi Army units and setting the example with strong leadership.

He and his fellow Marines aggressively took the battle to the enemy on multiple missions while mentoring their Iraqi counterparts. On March 19, 2007, his vehicle was attacked by an improvised explosive device. Though disoriented from the attack, Manion checked for secondary devices, and then led the pursuit to the triggerman. Once identified, he personally apprehended the suspect. On March 27, 2007, he exposed himself to enemy small arms fire on multiple occasions in order to physically position and direct the return fires of his Iraqi soldiers during a complex enemy attack. On March 28, he immediately responded to a suicide vehicle-borne IED attack on the Iraqi Barracks at the Fallujah Government Center. Despite ongoing enemy small arms fire, indirect fire, two suicide vest attacks, a second suicide-vehicle-borne IED, and the heavy presence of chlorine gas, he repeatedly endangered himself by entering the damage barracks to remove casualties, and then by positioning and directing the fires of Iraqi soldiers on the rooftop of the Government Center.

Manion and his fellow Marines fought courageously to change the tide in this critical battle ground. As a result of their efforts, Al Anbar Province is now recognized as one of the more significant successes of the surge in Iraq.

On April 29, 2007 during his final patrol mission, Manion made the ultimate sacrifice.

His patrol was concluding a search of a suspected insurgent house when it came under precision small arms fire attack. With the corpsman seriously wounded by enemy fire and the attack developing in to a full-scale ambush, Manion and a fellow Marine exposed themselves to increasing fire to pull the corpsman out of the kill zone.

After recovering the corpsman and administering first aid, Manion led his patrol in a counter attack personally eliminating an enemy position. As he continued to direct the patrol, another Marine was wounded. He again moved across the kill zone, under fire by five insurgents, to recover the wounded Marine. Iraqi Army reinforcements were halted by an IED and were unable to advance on the flank of the insurgents, leaving Manion and his patrol to take fire from three sides.

While fearlessly exposing himself to gain a more advantageous firing position and drawing enemy fire away from the wounded Marines, Manion was fatally wounded by an enemy sniper.

His courageous and deliberate actions inspired the eventual counter attack and ultimately saved the lives of every member of his patrol, according to his medal citation.

“He wouldn’t put anyone in a situation he would not be in himself first,” said David Borek, his brother-in-law and close friend.

Manion was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with Valor and the Silver Star for his heroic actions in Iraq.

As a true testament to how much Manion was admired, the Iraqis named their new headquarters Combat Outpost Manion in honor of him.

Keeping the spirit of his selfless nature alive, The Travis Manion Foundation was created and continues his mission to assist the families of Fallen Heroes and wounded veterans, according to Janet Manion, his mother and executive director of the foundation.

“He was a kid with a big heart, never had a bad word for anyone,” said Tom Manion, his father. “He was all heart; that is who he was.”

Excerpts from articles by Gary Weckselblatt, Bucks County Courier Times, Nov. 29, 2008; by Kenneth Harbaugh with; and The North Shore Journal (here)

Semper Fi, Sir!

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