I decided that I would use this little blog to tell some of those tales from time to time. Today I am going to tell you a story as it was told to Lance Benzel of the Colorado Springs Gazette:
Battle decorations were the last thing on 1st Lt. Mark Zambarda’s mind as he sized up an ambush that left his platoon trapped and nearly defenseless on an
The young platoon leader was one of two soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment who were recognized in January for reversing the course of the July 15 attack. Underscoring the chaos of the war in
The two soldiers were awarded the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest award for valor in battle, in a Jan. 11 ceremony in
The other man, Sgt. 1st Class James M. Goodin, was decorated in part for taking control of the trapped platoon and exposing himself to enemy fire to reach two injured comrades while Zambarda made his daring, solitary scramble to re-establish contact with supporting units.
Zambarda directed the other platoon’s vehicles to where they could fire on the enemy positions. Then he used their radios to call in mortar attacks and supporting fire from OH58D attack helicopters that drove the insurgents up the mountain. Goodin led the platoon’s escape across the same deadly path Zambarda traveled, this time with the benefit of covering fire, Army documents said. The award citations for Zambarda and Goodin paint a harrowing picture of a routine mission gone bad, complicated by eastern
As the battle wore on, exhaustion and dehydration began to take a toll. Zambarda estimated the July day exceeded 100 degrees, and the soldiers wore gear ranging from 60 to 80 pounds while negotiating a descent on par with
The fact that everyone made it home alive — with the munitions and insurgents they set out to capture — was more important than any official recognition, he said. Back at base, the platoon members felt lucky to be alive. Comrades in their fifth tour told Zambarda, now on his first, that they’d never seen anything like the firefight they had survived. “What got us through,” he said, “was really just the adrenaline. A lot of guys, as soon as they got to quote-unquote safety, they passed out. They just went down.” At this point it is easy to close by saying something like "Support Our Troops" -but I am going to ask a little more of you. I have asked it before and you'll hear me ask it again. The next time you see one of our soldiers, sailors or marines, just smile and say "Thanks for your service, we appreciate it". - It only takes a minute and, as corny as it may sound, it really does make them feel better knowing we do appreciate what they are doing.