UNSUNG HEROES: The Marine Who Rescued His Men From A Cave Full Of Snipers

Unsung Heroes
Marine Corps photo

On June 3, 2004, Sgt. Anthony Viggiani was deployed with Company C, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit to the Zabul province of Afghanistan.

What started out a routine patrol for the Viggiani and his platoon soon turned into a nightmare.

“We were rolling through and got intel reports to sweep a village, and we got reports that they had spotted some guys,” Viggiani told Stars & Stripes.

They had just passed through the a village when they heard that a large group of armed insurgents were pushing through the valley. While on the lookout for the reported insurgents, he and his men ended up in dangerous, mountainous terrain, which rendered their radios useless.

“We had no idea where our second squad was because of the mountains,” he said. “The radio transmissions were pretty jacked up.”

With only the sound of heavy fire to guide their direction, Viggiani’s group approached a fortified ridge line. Enemy snipers were firing machine guns at them from a cave, pinning down Viggiani’s team and wounding two fellow Marines.

Armed with a fragmentation grenade and a rifle, Viggiani and another Marine looked for an opening in the cave.

Noticing a piece of fabric moving between rocks, he saw a small gap in between some stones.

“I saw a cloth in there and fired three or four rounds inside. The cloth moved, and I saw skin,” he said. “I fired about three, four more rounds. Then I pulled the pin on the frag, dropped it down, took two steps and plastered myself against the rock.”

The explosion blew up the cave and exposed three now-dead Taliban snipers.

Because of his decisive action in the cave, Viggiani and his men were able to continue up the ridge line to battle more insurgents who were still firing off machine gun rounds.  

It was then that Viggiani took a ricochet bullet to the leg from a machine gun, but it didn’t stop him from fighting. Over the four-hour firefight, he and his squad killed 14 more combatants.

For his heroism that day, Viggiani was awarded the Navy Cross, the highest honor in the Marine Corps, in 2006.

“If somebody does their job, brings the boys home alive and accomplishes the mission, that’s it to me. All of my boys, I wouldn’t trade them for anything,” he said.

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller congratulates Chief Warrant Officer 3 Anthony L. Viggiani during the 13th Annual Ground Dinner Awards at the Crystal Gateway Marriot, Arlington, Va., May 5, 2016.Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Gabriela Garcia

In 2011, Viggiani was also awarded the Mustang Spirit Award when he graduated from The Basic School. That award is presented to the prior-enlisted Marine who shows qualities of leadership.

In May 2016, Viggiani, received the Marine Gunner Henry Lewis Hulbert award — named for a prior-enlisted Medal of Honor recipient who served in Samoa and World War I and is considered the Marine Corps’ first gunner — for outstanding leadership for his contributions at Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry – West, where he trains Marines responsible for creating the next generation of infantrymen.


Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested on Jan. 29, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Wilmington Police Department, North Carolina.)

A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston (Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)

Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.

So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.

Read More Show Less

R. Lee Ermey was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.

Best known for his iconic role as the Marine Corps drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the war drama Full Metal Jacket, Ermey died April 15, 2018 at age 74 due to complications from pneumonia, Task & Purpose previously reported.

Read More Show Less
A B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing fly near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, during a interoperability training mission Jan. 15, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

The U.S. Air Force has two of its most elite aircraft — the B-2 Spirit bomber and the F-22 Raptor — training together in the Pacific, reassuring America's allies and sending a warning to strategic competitors and adversaries about the sheer power the U.S. brings to the table.

These stunning photos show the powerful aircraft tearing across the Pacific, where the U.S. has increasingly found itself facing challenges from a rising China.

Read More Show Less