Lance Cpl. Eric P. Valdepenas, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher G. Walsh and Cpl. Jared M. Shoemaker were memorialized at a cermony held at Camp Baharia Sept 16. Hundreds from the battalion showed up to pay their respects and remember their fallen brothers.
Marine Corps photo
In late June 2006, a routine insurgent patrol in Fallujah’s Anbar province turned into a different mission for Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Walsh.
A hidden bomb went off during the sweep and Walsh, along with the rest of his platoon, set off to find the triggerman by going door to door in the nearest village.
From one of the houses, a woman emerged carrying an infant, alerting the Marines that she had a sick baby.
The child, known as “baby Mariam,” was born with a rare intestinal abnormality, called bladder exstrophy, where her bladder had developed outside of her body.
Though he had served as an EMT in his hometown of St. Louis, Walsh had never seen anything like this. He and the division took photos to send back to their base to determine how serious the condition was, and what needed to be done to save her life.
They knew she would need the kind of treatment that wasn’t available in her small village. Walsh decided right then that his new mission was to save baby Mariam, and his platoon — the 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment — vowed to help.
Each week when after dark, Walsh and a dozen Marines would drive Humvees within a mile of Mariam’s home, and walk there to treat a dangerous infection that could kill her.
In the meantime, Capt. Sean Donovan, a doctor assigned to 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, attempted to find a way to get Mariam out of Fallujah for a life-saving surgery. He finally managed to make contact with St. Mary's Church in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, which helped Donovan connect with 16 companies that offered to pay for her trip.
Donovan then enlisted the help of Dr. Rafael Pieretti, a Venezuelan surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital who specialized in the condition, and offered to perform the surgery pro-bono.
The only issue then was whether or not the team could keep Mariam alive long enough to make it to Massachusetts. She was one among thousands of Iraqis in need of transport and medical care.
Unfortunately, during another routine patrol on Sept. 4, Walsh’s Humvee encountered a roadside bomb that killed him and two other team members.
With their deployment nearly over, the remaining Marines decided the best tribute to their fallen comrades would be to ensure that baby Mariam survived.
That October, Mariam was flown to Boston.
When she and her grandparents — who went in her mother’s stead — were finally approved to go to the United States, Donovan sent a letter to Walsh's mother Maureen, who had no prior knowledge about the baby or her son’s role in saving her life.
Maureen got on a plane and flew to Boston, knowing she had to see Mariam.
“It made me feel like Chris was there,” she told ABC News. “He wanted something like this. He wanted to make a difference in somebody's life.”
The surgery was a success, and a malnourished Mariam gained two pounds shortly after recovering.
In the hospital, Maureen was able to hold Mariam, whose grandparents thanked her in Arabic for her son.
“There were too many coincidences for it to be coincidence,” she said. “Chris was waiting his whole life for something like this.”
U.S. Air Force officer passes in front of a MQ-9 Reaper drone, one of a squadron that has arrived to step up the fight against the Taliban, at the Kandahar air base, Afghanistan January 23, 2018. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. military MQ-9 drone was shot down in Yemen's Dhamar governate, southeast of the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa, two U.S. officials told Reuters on Wednesday.
A Houthi military spokesman had earlier said that air defenses had brought down a U.S. drone.
The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the drone was shot down late on Tuesday.
An E-2D Hawkeye assigned to the Bluetails of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121 lands on the flight deck aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Will Hardy)
Nobody can be told what The Matrix is; you have to see it for yourself.
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Sailors from Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) 1 conduct category III qualifications on the M2A1 heavy machine gun at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. CRS-1 is qualifying for future mobilization requirements. (U.S. Navy/Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Kenji Shiroma)
The Navy is considering giving Ma Deuce a quiet new update.