LtCol Anthony Henderson (DOD)
“We’re surrounded. That simplifies the problem,” was Chesty Puller’s famous quote at Chosin during the Korean War.
LtCol Anthony Henderson found himself in a similar situation almost sixty years later in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. In April 2008, before the Commandant of the Marine Corps successfully argued to move the bulk of the Marines from Iraq to Afghanistan, LtCol Henderson was already there.
As Commander of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Division, he was tasked with taking an old British fort used as a stronghold for the Taliban – it was called Fort Jugroom. He devised the plan of attack and on April 28, 2008 the Marines went in.
The month-long assault climaxed in late May as coalition forces closed in on the fort. As they did, Taliban fighters closed in behind them and began attacking the rear echelon. The Marines were sandwiched between the Taliban behind them and the Taliban holding the fort in front of them. The solution: push forward. These were, after all, Marines.
As they entered the fort, an intense firefight ensued. “Marines had to physically get the Taliban out of the Fort and it was the most vicious fighting I had ever seen,” Henderson told DOD (defense.gov). “There were fighters and Marines all over the place. The enemy was around everyone and everyone was around the enemy.”
As nightfall approached, the Marines withdrew to a defensible position. When they returned to the fort the next day the Taliban had left. “For them, Jugroom was the final defense and there was nothing left to defend.”
In early 2009 the Commandant of the Marine Corps told Stars and Stripes, “I believe that Marines need to march to the sound of the guns, and if there’s a fight still going on, the Marines need to be there.”
He was right.
For his actions and leadership, LtCol Henderson was awarded the Bronze Star with ‘Valor.’ He is our hero of the week.
Chesty Puller would be proud.
For the complete story of the battle for Fort Jugroom, click here.