Popasmoke Wreath Laying, an Invitation

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Popasmoke Wreath Laying, an Invitation

Postby Fasst1 » Sat Nov 04, 2006 8:08 pm

Popasmoke is holding a major wreath laying ceremony on the 10th beginning at Noon, forming up beginning around 1130 at their tent near Constitution and 20th. One of their senior members, Larry Zok, asked me to invite 2/9ers in his name. Consider it done. The news article below tells part of the story of the speaker at the event, Captain Chris Ayres, and his men, including Gunny Sagredo being awarded the Silver Star, as a result of the battle of Fallujah. Some of you may also seen the story of these men in Leatherneck Magazine a few months ago.

Semper Fi,

CAMP PENDLETON ---- Flanked by hundreds of 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment, Marines on Wednesday, Lt. Christopher Ayres limped slightly forward and pinned a Silver Star on Gunnery Sgt. Ismael Sagredo ---- the man who risked death to save Ayres' life nearly two years ago in Iraq.

In a Spartan ceremony punctuated by the occasional beat of passing helicopters, and while their wives shared an emotional hug and tried not to cry, Ayres and Sagredo completed a story Wednesday that began April 13, 2004.

On that day, Sagredo, 37, organized Ayres' rescue after their unit's armored vehicle was attacked by grenade-wielding insurgents in Fallujah, and Ayres, 35, with the back half of his right leg nearly blown off, was trapped in the line of fire.

Among the handful of audience members at Wednesday's stoic presentation was 23-year-old Cpl. Abraham McCarver, who helped Sagredo rescue Ayres. He was also awarded a Silver Star ---- the nation's third highest combat award for valor ---- in October.

Addressing the assembled troops dressed in their digital-print combat fatigues, Col. Larry Nicholson, the commanding officer of the 5th Marine Regiment, began the presentation tersely: \"Everybody have your ears open and pay attention. This is a once-in-a-lifetime event.\"

The presentation featured a reading of the Silver Star citation, signed by the secretary of the Navy, that cited Sagredo's \"conspicuous gallantry\" for assuming command when Ayres was wounded; risking being shot while rescuing his platoon leader; leading 10 other Marines to a safe refuge inside an Iraqi home; re-establishing radio contact; and leading a defense of the home even as the Marines were running out of ammunition.

At the end of the presentation, each of the assembled Marines marched, in single file, past the smiling Sagredo, to shake his hand and extend congratulations.

Renee Ayres, who said her husband spent 74 days in hospitals after losing all of his right hamstring, had trouble controlling her emotions.

During the presentation, Ayres wrapped her arm around and laid her head on the shoulder of Sagredo's wife, Estela Sagredo, who was holding the couple's 4-week-old daughter, Isabella.

\"How do you tell someone 'thank you' for saving your husband's life?\" Renee Ayres said in a halting voice.

Ayres, meanwhile, who is facing the probable end of his 10-year Marine Corps career because of his injuries, said of Sagredo, \"He's got a lifelong friend. He knows it. If he ever needs anything from me, I'll always be here for him. Because that's what we do as Marines.\"

Sagredo and Ayres said their unit was attempting to find and disperse insurgents who had been attacking resupply convoys in the Fallujah area on April 13, 2004. Their armored vehicle, filled with 13 Marines, was one of two that had been sent into the town's streets to find and push back the enemy. Sagredo, in a voice so soft that it was difficult to hear, said Wednesday that they had received word that the other vehicle had been attacked and disabled shortly before they came under fire.

Riding in the turret area in the front of the armored vehicle, Ayres was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, which destroyed much of his right leg, killed one Marine and badly damaged the vehicle's engine.

Sagredo said the streets were too narrow for the 38-ton vehicle to turn, and insurgents attacked at every street corner. So the vehicle limped through a dangerous gauntlet until the engine finally gave way.

Sagredo and another Marine spotted a nearby house, and evacuated the rest of the Marine crew inside as they dodged small-arms and grenade fire. Sagredo and McCarver then returned to try to get the groggy Ayres out. But he was stuck, with part of his protective vest caught on a hook. Exposing himself to enemy fire, as the vehicle burned, Sagredo tried to lift Ayres free, and he finally fell into their arms.

They raced back to the house and defended it. They repelled three attempted break-ins, including a grenade that bounced off the front window, and killed several insurgents, fighting for more than an hour as their ammunition ran low.

Just as Sagredo said he was deciding he would have to have the Marines \"run for it\" because \"no Marine officer was going to be captured by the insurgents, dead or alive,\" reinforcements arrived and helped beat back the attacks.

Sagredo said he was overwhelmed by being honored when other Marines saved his life that day.

\"I really didn't go (to Iraq) to achieve any honor,\" he said. \"We just swore to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, to the best of our abilities.

\"I was just doing my job,\" he said.
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