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August 28, 2005

You've never read anything like this about Iraq

Michael Yon's latest from Iraq, Gates of Fire, is stunning, an in-your-face account of combat the likes of which I've never seen from a modern journalist.

Yon captures on film the instant LtCol Kurila, the CO of Deuce Four, is hit three times and keeps on fighting. According to Yon, in the photo below, "The Commander rolls into a firing position, just as a bullet strikes the wall beside 2nd lieutenant's head (left)." Click on the photo for a better look at the action.

Kurilla was running when he was shot, but he didn't seem to miss a stride; he did a crazy judo roll and came up shooting.

BamBamBamBam! Bullets were hitting all around Kurilla. The young 2nd lieutenant and specialist were the only two soldiers near. Neither had real combat experience. AH had no weapon. I had a camera.

Seconds count.

Kurilla, though down and unable to move, was fighting and firing, yelling at the two young soldiers to get in there; but they hesitated. BamBamBamBam!

Kurilla was in the open, but his judo roll had left him slightly to the side of the shop. I screamed to the young soldiers, "Throw a grenade in there!" but they were not attacking.

"Throw a grenade in there!" They did not attack.

"Give me a grenade!" They didn't have grenades.

"Erik! Do you need me to come get you!" I shouted. But he said "No." (Thank God; running in front of the shop might have proved fatal.)

"What's wrong with you!?" I yelled above the shooting.

"I'm hit three times! I'm shot three times!"

Amazingly, he was right. One bullet smashed through his femur, snapping his leg. His other leg was hit and so was an arm.

With his leg mangled, Kurilla pointed and fired his rifle into the doorway, yelling instructions to the soldiers about how to get in there. But they were not attacking. This was not the Deuce Four I know. The other Deuce Four soldiers would have killed every man in that room in about five seconds. But these two soldiers didn't have the combat experience to grasp the power of momentum.

This was happening in seconds. Several times I nearly ran over to Kurilla, but hesitated every time. Kurilla was, after all, still fighting. And I was afraid to run in front of the shop, especially so unarmed.

Folks, there's so much more to read, with incredible photos too. I defy you to read of the incredible courage of these men and not be moved. And proud, too.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Mike Lief at August 28, 2005 10:47 AM