Monday, October 6, 2008

Another Hero!

Here's a story about another real-life hero from the Army Times. (Anyone seeing a trend here today?)

Spc. gets Silver Star for hand-to-hand combat

By Gina Cavallaro - Staff writer

The Rangers were wading through chest-high grass and deep irrigation ditches.

Spc. Joseph Gibson, 23, felt something odd underfoot. It turned out to be an armed man wearing a suicide vest. What happened next earned Gibson a Silver Star medal.

“He was kneeled down in one of the irrigation ditches. I actually stepped on him and just because of how the terrain was I really didn’t even think anything of it. I took about two more steps before I thought, ‘I’d better see what that was,’ ” said Gibson, of A Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

Gibson received the Silver Star at a ceremony Sept. 26 at Fort Lewis, Wash., where his unit is headquartered.

It was April 26, and Gibson, who joined the Army in 2005 “to get as much action as I could,” had already been to Iraq three times on the night he and his squad were moving through the ditches.

The man in the ditch was the last thing he expected to see, Gibson said, and because he had been pushing through the grass to see the ground, he didn’t have his rifle aimed.

“He was fixin’ to shoot me and there’s no way I could have shot him first, so I just got in front of his weapon ... and he fired it off right next to my face,” Gibson told Army Times. “I tackled him to the ground and grabbed hold of his weapon ... and I started hollering for help. While I was doing that he ripped my helmet off.”

Before help could arrive, Gibson was in a full-scale hand-to-hand fight with the man, who was on his back and tenaciously fighting to get control of his AK47 assault rifle.

There was no room to maneuver in the ditch, and Gibson gained superiority by getting on top of the man and wrestling his rifle away. The man grabbed Gibson’s rifle, which was slung around his neck, and tried to keep Gibson from shooting him.

“He’s got my weapon, so I start to hit him in the face,” Gibson said. “He wasn’t trying to aim my weapon at me, he was in no position to do something like that.”

While Gibson was throwing punches, he could feel the man’s hand reaching down to “grab a knife or something to attack me and then he told me in English he said ‘bomb’ and I realized he had a bomb on him and he was trying to clock himself off.”

“It definitely dropped my morale, but it didn’t slow me down or anything,” he said.

“I kept control of his hand and he ... used his foot to push my chest plate up into my throat and it was beginning to choke me so I let all my weight down on him and I hit him in the face as hard as I could and knocked him out for just a second.”

With no time to waste, Gibson opened enough space between himself and the man to shoot.

“I buried my weapon into his gut and fired one off and he hollered and then that’s when I got off of him and neutralized him,” Gibson said.

Gibson’s close encounter with the suicidal enemy took place only minutes after he had risked his life under fire to help evacuate a Ranger buddy who had been shot when the squad assaulted enemy-held territory by helicopter.

After the hand-to-hand fight, Gibson continued to press on with his fellow Rangers to secure the area, fighting for about another hour.

After the close combat, Gibson said, “I was in a pretty good mood, I was ready to go. I was kind of discombobulated, running around a little shaken up, but I got it together and got my stuff and carried on.”

After the exhilaration of the action he said he joined the Army to see, he re-enlisted for six more years.

“I’ve thought about it, and I know it could have played out a lot of different ways, I’m just glad the guy did what he did and wasn’t thinking very smart,” Gibson said. “As long as I got out of his weapon’s reach, he didn’t have a chance.”

h/t Blackfive


Susan Katz Keating said...

I love these kinds of stories. Thanks for calling this to our attention!

Ky Woman said...



Not only to him, but to you too.

Grama36 said...

This is a great story of courage. It just goes to show what our young people are made of..We need more stories like this about them instead of the negative stuff. Thanks for sharing thi.
Thanks to Spc. Gibson for his service and to you and your family!!!

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