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EVERYDAY HEROES: RYAN PITTS

August 1, 2014

 I write once a month about someone or something that has, by his or its behavior, sets a courageous example for the rest of us.

I have written in past blogs about soldiers, Marines, private citizens, dogs, and even a bear. In every instance, the subject of one of my blogs has shown courage in the face of adversity, and has been an example for all of us. Although the subject of this month’s blog, Ryan Pitts, was a soldier who did extraordinary things under horrendous conditions, my EVERYDAY HEROES do not need to be members of the military. EVERYDAY HEROES come in all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life.

I don’t just write about EVERYDAY HEROES in these blogs. All of my novels feature ordinary people who, when confronted by obstacles, rise to the occasion and take actions worthy of EVERYDAY HEROES. These everyday people do extraordinary things. Ryan Pitts is just such an individual. The following about Ryan was taken from a CBS News report on the Congressional Medal of Honor awarded to Pitts on July 21, 2014.

For his outstanding heroism in one of the bloodiest encounters in the Afghanistan War, former Army Sgt. Ryan Pitts on July 21, 2014 became the ninth living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Sgt. Ryan Pitts Medal of Honor Ceremony

Joined at the White House ceremony by his family and many of his former fellow servicemen, Pitts received the nation’s highest recognition from President Obama for his exemplary “selfless service.”

While serving in the summer of 2008 with the 2nd Platoon, Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, Pitts and his team were transferred to a station on the outskirts of a village called Wanat. It was expected to be their last mission before returning stateside.

In the early-morning hours of July 13, the base was ambushed by enemy machine gun fire. Soldiers at Observation Post Topside, where Pitts was positioned, were caught in an eruption of small-arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades.

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  1. Ryan Pitts describes “intense” battle that earned him Medal of Honor

During that initial volley, Pitts was hit by grenade shrapnel in both legs and one arm. Despite his debilitating injuries and loss of blood, he continued to fight and defend his position, throwing grenades then taking up an M240 machine gun.

“I couldn’t stand because I couldn’t really use my legs,” Pitts told CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin, noting he deduced the enemy to be a mere ten meters away. “So I would pull myself up on a knee and prop my leg up, and then I would blind fire over the top of the sand bags to try and suppress anybody that might be close by or around there.”

Because machine guns typically require two soldiers to operate, he added, he “would have difficulties every once in a while with malfunctions, just because the ammo would shift. And so I would have to pull it back down, clear the malfunction and repeat the process over again, blind fire and prop myself back up.”

10 PHOTOS

Ryan Pitts awarded the Medal of Honor

After crawling out of the north fighting position, Pitts said he “looked down at a terrace to the west, and I could see the dead guys down there. And then I kept crawling south and I didn’t see anybody in the Crow’s Nest, nobody was in the southern fighting position. That’s when I realized, I thought everyone was dead. …I was the only one there.”

During the ceremony Monday, Mr. Obama lauded him for “holding the line.”

“Eight American soldiers had now fallen and Ryan Pitts was the only living soldier at that post,” the president said. “The enemy was so close Ryan could hear their voices. He whispered into the radio, he was the only one left and was running out of ammo. ‘I was going to die,’ he remembers, ‘and made my peace with it.’ And then he prepared to make a last stand.”

Nine soldiers were ultimately killed in the battle, and 27 – Pitts included – were wounded. But Pitts’ prolonged efforts staved the enemy off high ground that could have resulted in far more casualties, and allowed the U.S. to retain possession of the fallen soldiers at the observation post.

“Nine guys died so the rest of us could come home,” Pitts told Martin. “And valor was everywhere. …We did it as a team. No one guy carried the day.”

Pitts departed active-duty service in 2009. He now resides in Nashua, N.H., where he uses his business degree from the University of New Hampshire at Manchester as a developer for the computer software industry. His military education includes the U.S. Army Airborne School, U.S. Army Pathfinder Course and the Warrior Leader Course.

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 http://www.josephbadalbooks.com

http://www.josephbadal.wordpress.com


Joe writes this monthly blog to highlight Everyday Heroes who set an example for others. If you have any stories about Everyday Heroes you would like to share with Joe for consideration of inclusion in a future post, please send your suggestion to Joe at badalbooks@gmail.com.  To see the rest of his website, go to josephbadalbooks.com.

Joe is the author of thrillers, including “The Pythagorean Solution,” ” Shell Game,” “Evil Deeds,” “Terror Cell,” “The Nostradamus Secret,” and “The Lone Wolf Agenda.” “The Lone Wolf Agenda” was the winner in the Fiction-Mystery/Thriller category of the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards in 2013. He has been recognized as one of the 50 Best Authors You Should Be Reading.  His short stories have appeared in the short story anthologies “Uncommon Assassins” and “Someone Wicked.”

His seventh thriller, “Ultimate Betrayal,” was released in April 2014.

Ultimate Betrayal cover

JoeBadalphoto

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Everyday Heroes – THOSE WHO SERVE

JUNE 10, 2014

I wrote in this blog last month about the television series titled The Pacific. Under the title Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things, I highlighted the members of the 1st Marine Division who served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. This week we’ve celebrated the 70th anniversary of the “D” Day Invasion. As a nation, we have lionized the men and women of the WW II era as The Greatest Generation. These people who were our parents and grandparents deserve all of the accolades given them. Perhaps that generation was the greatest because they all came together—warriors and civilians—to fight a great battle for freedom and the triumph of good over evil. But, unfortunately, most people, when they hear the term “The Greatest Generation,” think only about the warriors. The adulation they place on this generation of warriors has a negative side to it. It comes at the expense of the admiration and adulation that other United States generations of warriors deserve.

Shortly after the end of WW II, many U.S. citizens were assigned to fight in Korea. These men and women suffered hardships that were difficult to fathom by their fellow Americans. Our nation was tired of war and needed a much-deserved break. That’s not what the people sent to Korea received—a break. Many of those sent there had served in WW II. An assignment to Korea was a double whammy of physical and emotional hardship. It was not easy on the families they left behind.

In Vietnam, as well as in other assignments around the world, I had the privilege to serve with men and women who performed honorably, bravely, and selflessly. And they did so without the gratitude of their nation or of their fellow citizens. In fact, they were frequently denigrated by the nation and its people. But they didn’t serve with any expectation of pats on the back. They served because their country called them to serve. They served because their country needed them.

Over the last almost two decades, men and women from every part of the United States have volunteered to serve on behalf of their country in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of these individuals have been deployed multiple times to godforsaken parts of the world. They have suffered wounds, separation, illnesses, financial hardship, and emotional trauma. And many have lost their lives.

The men and women who served during the Korean War Era, the Vietnam era, and those who have served—still serve—in Iraq and Afghanistan have worked in environments dramatically different from the environment in which the warriors of WW II served. During WW II, all Americans were affected by the war. All Americans paid a price. For those who were not deployed overseas, that price was nowhere near as dear as the price paid by the Soldier, Sailor, Marine who served in a combat zone. But every man, woman, and child’s life was affected by that war.

But in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East conflicts, civilians have essentially been unaffected. Sure, we debate the validity of war and we realize that these wars deplete our national wealth. But that’s not sacrifice. Sacrifice is what the men and women do who go to places like Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. And as they accept these assignments they are aware that the countrymen they leave behind and for which they risk their lives are basically oblivious to what they do. These countrymen continue to shop, work, and play as though nothing has changed. That’s because, for them, nothing has changed.

It is for this reason that I admire all those who serve. I see no reason to label one generation of warriors as “The Greatest” because I see Americans of all generations as GREAT. Men and women who will serve in hellhole locations while their fellow Americans go about their lives without sacrifice are exceptional individuals.  I recently spent a week along with 150 other civilians at the U.S. Army War College, at the end of the 11-month stint served by about 350 men and women from all our military services and 77 officers from foreign nations. The American officers were all Lt. Colonels and Full Colonels, or the equivalent, and most had served at least one tour in a combat zone. Some had served as many as five tours of duty in combat zones. I came away from my week with these individuals with an enhanced level of respect and admiration for the people who serve.

It’s easy for us to become cynical about events in our country: The capital markets meltdown, financial fraud, political conflict, high unemployment, etc. Pessimism seems to confront us from every direction. But I found little of this cynicism and pessimism among the military attendees at the War College. Of course, they were concerned about military budget cuts and their ability to complete their mission of protecting the United States in light of those budget cuts and the imposition of political correctness on military policy. But despite the obstacles placed in front of them by the political class, they expressed unmitigated dedication to their individual and collective roles as defenders of the Constitution and of their fellow citizens.

While civil society seems to be in a state of perpetual flux, the men and women at the Army War College exhibited the same character, ethics, gentility, dedication, and patriotism that defined the military in prior periods of American history. I found great reason to become less cynical about our future and to become more positive about that future. The men and women of the military are national treasures and we civilians should recognize that fact and honor each and every one who serves.

I came away from my time at Carlisle Barracks in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, amazed at the extraordinary intellect, talent, and commitment of these men and women. Maybe I was incorrect when I titled my May post “Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things.” Perhaps “Extraordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things” would have been more accurate. In any case, the men and women who have served our country and who serve today are Everyday Heroes. We should all praise them as such.

For information about the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, go to this link:

http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/about/aboutUs.cfm.


Joe writes this monthly blog to highlight Everyday Heroes whoset an example for others. If you have any stories about Everyday Heroes you would like to share with Joe, for consideration of inclusion in a future post, please send your suggestion to Joe at badalbooks@gmail.com.  To see the rest of his website, go to josephbadalbooks.com.

Joe is the author of thrillers, including “The Pythagorean Solution,” ” Shell Game,” “Evil Deeds,” “Terror Cell,” “The Nostradamus Secret,” and “The Lone Wolf Agenda.” “The Lone Wolf Agenda” was the winner in the Fiction-Mystery/Thriller category of the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards in 2013. He has been recognized as one of the 50 Best Authors You Should Be Reading.  His short stories have appeared in the short story anthologies “Uncommon Assassins” and “Someone Wicked.”

His seventh thriller, “Ultimate Betrayal,” was released in April 2014.

Ultimate Betrayal cover

JoeBadalphoto

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