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UNSUNG HEROES: The Navy Corpsman Who Killed The Shooter In An Afghan Insider Attack
When an Afghan commando turned on his American and Italian allies, Petty Officer 2nd Class Alejandro Salabarria, a hospital corpsman, leapt into action, treating his wounded comrades and killing their attacker, Marine Corps Times reports.
On Sept. 15, 2014, in Herat province, Afghanistan, Salabarria and his team members with 2nd Marine Raider Battalion were waiting for inbound CH-47 Chinooks to take them out on a pre-dawn mission when all hell broke loose.
One of the Afghan special operations commandos attached to their unit turned his M4 and M203 grenade launcher on his allies, launching a 40mm explosive round, followed by bursts of fire, into the closely grouped troops, sowing chaos and disorder among them.
Normally Salabarria was assigned to the main element, which would have put him directly in the kill zone, but this time his position was further back.
“I just happened to be at the right place at the right time,” Salabarria told Marine Corps Times, adding the initial burst of fire caught everyone off guard. “At first we were stunned; we weren’t outside the wire. … It took a couple seconds to realize what was going on.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a mistake.
Hearing screaming, followed by a muzzle flash, Salabarria began piecing together what was happening. Not wanting to risk a shot for fear of hitting the wrong person, he began assessing the situation, seeking out the wounded.
When he learned that the senior medic had been hit, Salabarria dashed 100 yards to the kill zone and began treating his fellow corpsman who was wounded.
Just then, he noticed the shooter closing in on him,
“He wasn’t running, he was walking real slow,” Salabarria said. “The dude’s shooting at me, at my patient.”
Reacting instantly, Salabarria threw himself between his patient and the attacker, while simultaneously raising his M4 and putting several rounds into the rogue commando. Once he confirmed the gunman was down, Salabarria returned to treating the injured.
Shortly after, a combat lifesaver-trained Marine arrived to help Salabarria treat the wounded, as the incoming CH-47s — now rerouted and tasked for casualty evacuation — made their way to the landing zone, which had to be cleared first.
Salabarria stayed with the injured, treating them on the flight until they arrived at the closest medical facility. Tragically, one of the Marines, Sgt. Charles Strong, succumbed to his wounds.
For his heroism under fire, Salabarria was awarded the Silver Star, the third highest medal for valor, on Feb. 5 aboard Marine Corps Base Lejeune, North Carolina.
“(This medal) is more for Capt. Shaw and Sgt. Strong than anything,” said Salabarria at the ceremony, referring to Stanford Shaw, one of the seven special operations Marines lost in a March 2015 helicopter crash. “It’s all for them.”
A former sailor who was busted buying firearms with his military discount and then reselling some of them to criminals is proving to be a wealth of information for federal investigators.
Julio Pino used his iPhone to record most, if not all, of his sales, court documents said. He even went so far as to review the buyers' driver's license on camera.
It is unclear how many of Pino's customer's now face criminal charges of their own. Federal indictments generally don't provide that level of detail and Assistant U.S. Attorney William B. Jackson declined to comment.
It all began with a medical check.
Carson Thomas, a healthy and fit 20-year-old infantryman who had joined the Army after a brief stint in college, figured he should tell the medics about the pain in his groin he had been feeling. It was Feb. 12, 2012, and the senior medic looked him over and decided to send him to sick call at the base hospital.
It seemed almost routine, something the Army doctors would be able to diagnose and fix so he could get back to being a grunt.
Now looking back on what happened some seven years later, it was anything but routine.
The US military now has to ask the Iraqis for permission before giving close air support to troops in combat
U.S. forces must now ask the Iraqi military for permission to fly in Iraqi airspace before coming to the aid of U.S. troops under fire, a top military spokesman said.
However, the mandatory approval process is not expected to slow down the time it takes the U.S. military to launch close air support and casualty evacuation missions for troops in the middle of a fight, said Army Col. James Rawlinson, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.
Army Spc. Clayton James Horne died in Saudi Arabia on Aug. 17, making him the eighth non-combat fatality for Operation Inherent Resolve so far this year, defense officials have announced.
Horne, 23, was assigned to the 351st Military Police Company, 160th Military Police Battalion, an Army Reserve unit based in Ocala, Florida, a Pentagon news release says.
The soldier who was arrested for taking an armored personnel carrier on a slow-speed police chase through Virginia has been found not guilty by reason of insanity on two charges, according to The Richmond-Times Dispatch.
Joshua Phillip Yabut, 30, entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle — in this case, a 12-ton APC taken from Fort Pickett in June 2018 — and violating the terms of his bond, which stemmed from a trip to Iraq he took in March 2019 (which was not a military deployment).