If you want the definition of the word “leader”, you need look no further than the U.S. Marine Corps. Marines learn early not only to trust their NCOs, but to follow their orders without hesitation. This trait has earned the Marine Corps its reputation as a fierce fighting force, and the respect of the rest of the world.
During an eight hour firefight in 2004, Gunny Courville led a team of multi-purpose vehicles in support of K Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division’s operations in Fallujah. Their mission: to provide casualty evacuation and heavy machine gun support. Toward the end of the fight, a 7-ton vehicle crashed into a river. The Marines were thrown from the vehicle and were vulnerable to heavy insurgent machine gun fire.
The Gunny led his team to the disabled vehicle and extracted all the Marines – they all survived. In an interview, he gave all the credit to his Marines who immediately jumped into the river to pull out their brothers in arms.
Later, when an Iraqi family was trapped in a burning house as the firefight continued, Gunny Courville led his team to the site and extracted the family members one-by-one. He personally carried two children to safety as machine gun fire erupted all around him.
For his efforts he was awarded the Bronze Star.
As you read the story and listen to his account (links are below), even though he doesn’t say it, you can feel his leadership throughout. He made the right decisions, saved lives, and continued the traditions for which the Marines are famous.
His complete story and verbal account can be found on the DefenseLink website. Gunnery Sergeant Jean-Paul Courville is our hero of the week.