“Ambush Alley.” That was what they called this side street. It was nestled in the Sangin district of Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, a Taliban stronghold. The street was just 8 feet wide, with 10-foot brick walls lining either side.
It was where Pfc. Richard Weinmaster would prove his mettle.
Weinmaster and other members of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment were conducting a dismounted patrol through Ambush Alley on July 8, 2008, when they were attacked by Taliban fighters. Small arms fire rained down on the Americans. Weinmaster, who had been in Afghanistan just over two months, was leading the way with his machine gun. It was his first deployment.
Unfazed, Weinmaster fired back with his automatic weapon. His award citation states that he confronted a “withering volume of fire that passed within meters of his position.”
Then, insurgents lobbed two hand grenades over the wall. One landed near Weinmaster’s team leader, Lance Cpl. Travis Wilkerson, and three other Marines.
Cpl. Richard S. Weinmaster smiles as he is congratulated by a Marine after the ceremony where he was awarded the Navy Cross.Photo by Cpl. Zachary Nola
Weinmaster reacted immediately. First, he pushed Wilkerson away from the grenade. Then, astonishingly, Weinmaster jumped toward it, intending to put himself between the blast and his comrades.
Wilkerson, the team leader, was unscathed, as were other nearby Marines. Weinmaster had saved them from the grenade’s explosion.
Incredibly, rather than seeking treatment for his devastating injuries, Weinmaster resumed the fight. He took up his machine gun and fired at enemy forces just 50 yards away. Even in his weakened state, he was effective. His award citation credits him with “engaging enemy forces with accurate automatic weapons fire and forcing them to break contact.”
Before long, Weinmaster collapsed from his injuries. He was medically evacuated and it was unclear whether he would survive.
In the end, Weinmaster pulled through. Two pieces of shrapnel remain lodged in his brain.
For his actions on July 8, 2008, Weinmaster received the Navy Cross, the second-highest award given for distinctive valor. During the award ceremony, he also was promoted meritoriously to corporal.
Weinmaster deflects the praise to his teammates, crediting them with saving his life. “If it wasn't for my Marines, I wouldn't be here,” he reflected at a Marine Corps League meeting. “I’m walking. I'm talking. With that piece of shrapnel in my brain, I should be brain dead.”
Wilkerson, for his part, feels indebted to Weinmaster. “There is nothing I can do to repay that man,” he told The Desert Trail.
“I didn't do anything special,” Weinmaster insisted at his award ceremony. “Everyone on my left and right would have done the same thing. I was just in the right place at the right time.”
(From left to right) Chris Osman, Chris McKinley, Kent Kroeker, and Talon Burton
At least four American veterans were among a group of eight men arrested by police in Haiti earlier this week for driving without license plates and possessing an arsenal of weaponry and tactical gear.
Police in Port-au-Prince arrested five Americans, two Serbians, and one Haitian man at a police checkpoint on Sunday, according to The Miami-Herald. The men told police they were on a "government mission" but did not specify for which government, according to The Herald.
They also told police that "their boss was going to call their boss," implying that someone high in Haiti's government would vouch for them and secure their release, Herald reporter Jacqueline Charles told NPR.
What they were actually doing or who they were potentially working for remains unclear. A State Department spokesperson told Task & Purpose they were aware that Haitian police arrested a "group of individuals, including some U.S. citizens," but declined to answer whether the men were employed by or operating under contract with the U.S. government.
A photo shared by Hoda Muthana on her now-closed @ZumarulJannaTwitter account. (Twitter/ZumarulJannah)
The State Department announced Wednesday that notorious ISIS bride Hoda Muthana, a U.S.-born woman who left Alabama to join ISIS but began begging to return to the U.S. after recently deserting the terror group, is not a U.S. citizen and will not be allowed to return home.
A top Senate Republican and fierce ally of President Donald Trump reportedly exploded at Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently about the U.S. military's plans to withdraw all troops from Syria by the end of April.
"That's the dumbest f******g idea I've ever heard," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reportedly replied when Shanahan confirmed the Trump administration still plans to complete the Syria withdrawal by April 30.
Later, Graham told Shanahan, "I am now your adversary, not your friend."