UNSUNG HEROES: This Soldier Killed 11 Insurgents While Bleeding From A Severed Artery

Unsung Heroes
Army photo

On Aug. 8, 2007, then-Spc. Jeremiah Church was assigned as a reconnaissance platoon machine gunner with the 82d Airborne Division.

The group’s mission was to restore the flow of water to a village near Baqubah, Iraq; however, they were met by an insurgent ambush.

Church told journalist Tim Holbert, “It might sound a little crazy, but the hair on the back of my neck was standing up, and something didn’t feel right in my stomach.”

As his 11-truck convoy moved out, Church was manning the .50-caliber machine gun on the second truck, following an Iraqi police pick-up truck.

The vehicle was carrying the local village mayor and his armed escort.

As they drove down a small canal road, Church spotted a machine gun nest between two buildings. The convoy was then attacked by heavy fire from a Soviet-era Russian machine gun mounted in a technical vehicle 200 meters away.

Rounds impacted on and around his vehicle, destroyed the pick-up truck and killed one of the Iraqi police instantly. Because of the terrain, Church was the only gunner in position to accurately fire at the insurgent forces. But soon after, a barrage of fire came from the trenches surrounding the convoy.

More than 30 insurgents were firing around the platoon.

As bullets flew in all directions, one went right through Church’s wrist and severed his artery.

“I had never been shot before,” Church added. “When I got shot I looked at my arm, and some pretty colorful language came out of my mouth. I guess the thought I had going through my head was, ‘You [son of a bitch]! I shoot you, you don’t shoot me!’”

He quickly tourniqueted the wound and fired an entire magazine at insurgents holding positions around the convey’s escape route.

Church continued to shoot, even leaving the Humvee to gather more ammunition. He put his hand inside the turret so the forward observer could apply pressure to his to the hole in his wrist, according to his citation.

He began firing at the mounted machine gun, which allowed the convoy to turn around on the canal road.

The citation reads, “Now reloaded, with rounds bouncing inside of his turret, Specialist Church began again engaging the [machine gun] that now had his platoon pinned down.”

What he didn’t realize, however, was that while the tourniquet and pressure helped with his wrist, it didn’t take care of the artery that had now severed up to his elbow.

Eventually, Church hemorrhaged and passed out, but not before he took out 11 enemy fighters.

When he came to, he immediately began handing the new gunner ammunition.

Church's efforts were directly responsible for destroying an enemy machine gun, in addition to killing 11 insurgents and helping to free up an escape route for his unit.

For his efforts, he was awarded the Silver Star in December 2007.

Church told Holbert that he was surprised to receive the award for his actions that day, “until I realized just how much it actually meant to the people around me.“


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DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday to receive the remains of four Americans killed in a suicide bombing in northern Syria.

Trump, locked in a battle with congressional Democrats that has led to a nearly month-long partial government shutdown, announced his trip via a pre-dawn tweet, saying he was going "to be with the families of 4 very special people who lost their lives in service to our Country!"

Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House prior to departure that he planned to meet the families, a duty which he said "might be the toughest thing I have to do as president."

He was greeted by military staff at Dover Air Force Base after a short flight from Joint Base Andrews, but did not speak to reporters before entering his motorcade.

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Trump filed down the plank and saluted while six service members clad in fatigues and white gloves carried an American flag-draped casket carrying Wirtz to a waiting gray van.

The Dover base is a traditional hub for returning the remains of American troops abroad.

The United States believes the attack that killed the Americans was the work of Islamic State militants.

Trump announced last month that he planned to speedily withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, but has since said it does not need to go quickly as he tries to ensure safety of Kurdish allies in northern Syria who are at risk of attack from neighboring Turkey.

Trump told reporters on Saturday that his Syria policy has made progress but that some work remained in destroying Islamic State targets. He defended his plans for a withdrawal.

"It's moving along very well, but when I took over it was a total mess. But you do have to ask yourself, we're killing ISIS for Russia, for Iran, for Syria, for Iraq, for a lot of other places. At some point you want to bring our people back home," he said.

In addition to Wirtz, those who died during the Wednesday attack in Manbij, Syria, were Army Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida, and Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician Shannon Kent, 35, identified as being from upstate New York, the Department of Defense said in a statement.

The Pentagon did not identify the fourth person killed, a contractor working for a private company. U.S. media identified her as Ghadir Taher, a 27-year-old employee of defense contractor Valiant Integrated Services.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Writing by Steve Holland and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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