Major E. has been our faithful correspondent from Camp Victory in Baghdad. This month Major E. commenced serving stateside after serving in theater from January through September; he expects to return to Iraq in the next few months.
Earlier this week Major E. commented on the bombing of the Palestine Hotel in a message he headed “Bombs in Baghdad–Spectacularly ineffective.” This morning he follows up on “Bombs in Baghdad” with “Troop trumps bomb”:
ABC News deserves kudos for its television broadcast last night, where Army Sergeant Darrell Green was commended as the “Person of the Week.” He is a soldier from the Third Infantry Division who was holding a security overwatch position at the Palestine Hotel the other day when the terrorists attacked with mulitple vehicle bombs–including a cement truck packed with explosives. As the smoke cleared from the first car bomb detonation, which caused a breach in the security wall, SGT Green saw a cement truck driving through the opening in the wall–heading directly toward the hotel.
Had the truck reached the hotel, there likely would have been significantly more destruction. The only thing that stopped the cement truck from reaching its target was SGT Green’s decision and ability to engage the driver’s compartment with automatic weapons fire. The video footage shows the comparment receiving Green’s fire, then the truck stopping, then detonating — behavior that is congruent with the established terror tactic wherein attackers in vehicle bombs will detonate even if they are not at their target but know they cannot or will not get any closer.
As a result of the blast, there was significant damage, but far less than there would have been had the blast occurred at the base of the hotel, which could have possibly collapsed the structure. So the difference between the two starkly different outcomes came down to one humble family man from Orlando, Florida who engaged the cement truck.
Since a common enemy tactic is to follow a barrier breaching blast with another blast aimed at the actual target, the first blast probably caused SGT Green to know that another blast could be coming at any moment. But rather than run for cover, he exposed himself to the effect from a second blast he must have known was probably coming, thereby putting himself at risk to defend the hotel and the journalists staying there.
SGT Green’s bravery and skill under fire embody the spirit of the American soldier. ABC deserves credit for bringing attention to this individual hero. I know that there are hundreds of similar stories demonstrating amazing bravery from our soldiers and marines, so I hope there are many more similar stories to come.
“People sleep peacefully in their beds at night knowing that there are rough men ready to do violence on their behalf.” (George Orwell) Those who walked away from the Palestine Hotel after the attack and, in a larger sense, the American people who saw what happened on 9/11 and understood the threat we face as a nation, can thank SGT Darrell Green for being such a man.