Retirement Day

 

Photo: United States Marine Corps

In the Second Battle of Fallujah First Sergeant Bradley Kasal discovered Marines pinned down inside a house by an unknown number of enemy combatants. After entering the house and dispatching an insurgent he discovered a wounded Marine in the next room. While moving toward him Kasal and another Marine were shot multiple times in the legs. The enemy tried to finish them off by lobbing grenades into the house. Kasal rolled on top of the other wounded Marine and took the brunt of the explosion himself.

All told Kasal took seven rounds from an AK-47 and was hit by 43 pieces of shrapnel. Refusing medical treatment until the other wounded were evacuated, he continued to give orders and encouragement to his men and killed at least one other insurgent with small arms fire. When he was finally extracted photojournalist Lucian Read was there to capture the moment and it became an iconic image of the war and was turned into a sculpture called No Man Left Behind by artist John Phelps. (Phelps, whose son Chance was KIA in April 2004 in Ramadi was the subject of the HBO movie Taking Chance starring Kevin Bacon.) It now sits at Camp Pendleton.

For his heroics, Kasal received the Navy Cross and a promotion to Sergeant Major. He lost 4″ of bone in his right leg and to date has had 21 surgeries. Still, he returned to active duty, first to recruit and then to teach new Marines at the School of Infantry West.

On Friday the Sergeant Major called it a career after 34 years of service to the Corps and to the country. Fair winds and following seas, Marine.

Published in Military
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  1. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Dang.

    • #1
  2. Nanda Pajama-Tantrum Member
    Nanda Pajama-Tantrum
    @

    Semper Fidelis and Thank You, Sergeant Major Kasal!

    • #2
  3. dajoho Member
    dajoho
    @dajoho

    I saw some leadership principles from General, now the Honorable Mr., Mattis.  One of them was to the effect of “I was not in the Marines, I was the Marines” in reference to doing your job in DoD.  This man epitomizes that credo.  Take a knee Sergeant Major and rest now, you gave a full measure, Semper Fi.  

    • #3
  4. Patrick McClure Coolidge
    Patrick McClure
    @Patrickb63

    Damn. A man in full.

    • #4
  5. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    His actions have Medal of Honor written all over them . . .

    • #5
  6. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Top you are a hell of a man.

    • #6
  7. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    Wow. Just Wow.   What incredible bravery, courage and the fortitude to survive.

    • #7
  8. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

     Thank you for giving us the gift of this true story.

    • #8
  9. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    Great post. May I add that the film Taking Chance is one of the most inspiring movies I’ve ever seen. Highly recommend it.

    • #9
  10. Nanda Pajama-Tantrum Member
    Nanda Pajama-Tantrum
    @

    Songwriter (View Comment):

    Great post. May I add that the film Taking Chance is one of the most inspiring movies I’ve ever seen. Highly recommend it.

    Just bought it; watching now…

    • #10
  11. Mountie Coolidge
    Mountie
    @Mountie

    A fine man.  God Bless him. 

    • #11
  12. Nanda Pajama-Tantrum Member
    Nanda Pajama-Tantrum
    @

    Nanda Pajama-Tantrum (View Comment):

    Songwriter (View Comment):

    Great post. May I add that the film Taking Chance is one of the most inspiring movies I’ve ever seen. Highly recommend it.

    Just bought it; watching now…

    Finished it…Whoa! The idea of being someone’s witness is a powerful one, indeed…Gonna powder my nose and see if I can find what my high-school classmate-retired Marine-NCIS agent-cardiac surgical nurse- brother in the Corps calls my “happy Marine face”.

    • #12
  13. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    The man standing beside Chance Phelps when he was killed? Gen. John Kelly. Yes. THAT Gen.  Kelly. 

    • #13
  14. Nanda Pajama-Tantrum Member
    Nanda Pajama-Tantrum
    @

    EJHill (View Comment):

    The man standing beside Chance Phelps when he was killed? Gen. John Kelly. Yes. THAT Gen. Kelly.

    Whoa, EJ!

     

    • #14
  15. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Top you are a hell of a man.

    I know you meant well, but a first sergeant or sergeant major of Marines takes great offense at being called “Top.”   We reserve that title for master sergeants, at least in the modern Marine Corps. 

    • #15
  16. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Fair winds, indeed.

    • #16
  17. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Skyler (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Top you are a hell of a man.

    I know you meant well, but a first sergeant or sergeant major of Marines takes great offense at being called “Top.” We reserve that title for master sergeants, at least in the modern Marine Corps.

    I always had my  suspicions about Marines. In the Army Top was used for Command Sergeants Major E-9, sometimes for a first sergeant E-8 if a E9 wasn’t around.

    • #17
  18. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Top you are a hell of a man.

    I know you meant well, but a first sergeant or sergeant major of Marines takes great offense at being called “Top.” We reserve that title for master sergeants, at least in the modern Marine Corps.

    I always had my suspicions about Marines. In the Army Top was used for Command Sergeants Major E-9, sometimes for a first sergeant E-8 if a E9 wasn’t around.

    We have E-8 Master Sergeants and E-8 First Sergeants.  Master Sergeants are often called top.  Master Sergeants are the ones who have mastered their MOS.  First Sergeants are the ones who haven’t.  

    First Sergeants can be promoted to E-9 Sergeant Major, and Master Sergeants can be promoted to E-9 Master Gunnery Sergeant.  

    It’s a curious phenomenon.  The 1st Sergeant’s duties are almost purely administrative, as is the Sergeant Major.  But they have prestige and the ear of the commander.  And often have no idea how the unit does things.  For instance, a Gunnery Sergeant whose MOS is in Explosive Ordinance Disposal can be promoted to first sergeant and assigned to a logistics company.  An infantry company first sergeant could have worked in an F/A-18 squadron for his entire previous career and never made a forced march since basic training.  It’s all very strange, and the result is that most of them have little idea as to what they’re doing since most hate paperwork too.  

    But they have the prestige and they really hate being called Top.  It just isn’t done.  

    Personally, I rarely had much use for them.  Good ones are rare and worth their weight in gold.  Sounds like this man was one of the rare ones.

    • #18
  19. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Outstanding.  Thank you, EJ.

    • #19
  20. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    EJHill: When he was finally extracted photojournalist Lucian Read was there to capture the moment

    Wow, check Read’s site…..very impressive work

    • #20
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