Capt Brian Stann (DOD)
Throughout American history, battles have been fought over bridges. The North Bridge at Concord, the pontoon bridges at Fredricksburg, the Ludendorff Bridge over the Rhine in WWII, the bombed out bridge near Hill 1081 in the final stages of Chosin, among others.
So it was, and so it is.
In 2005, Captain Brian Stann and his platoon were operating as part of 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines when he got the order to secure the Ramana Bridge near Karbala, Iraq – first to fill a gap until relieved, and later to stay. What ensued was a seven day firefight against an entrenched and experienced group of insurgents.
On March 10th, on his second trip to the bridge, his convoy was ambushed. “The insurgents hit Stannâ€™s platoon with roadside bombs, rocket-propelled grenades and suicide car bombs, destroying a Humvee and a tank recovery vehicle that was hauling wounded (Marines).” (DefenseLink)
Similar to the breakout at Chosin, the fight was all around him. â€œSecond Lieutenant Stann personally directed two casualty operations, three vehicle recovery operations and multiple close air support missions under enemy small arms, machine gun and mortar fire in his 360-degree fight.” (From his Silver Star citation)
The Marines fought on until they eventually beat back the enemy. None of his men died, a credit to training and the composure of his young troops. In his words, they didn’t panic. “Because of that, the casualties that we did take did survive. Guys that lost limbs lived. Guys that took shrapnel and things of that nature to the head lived, and they wouldnâ€™t have lived if we hadnâ€™t have done that.”
He refused to take credit or describe his own actions. Instead, he credited his Marines. “They executed flawlessly, and weâ€™re talking 19- to 20-year-old kids, and these are tougher situations than 90 percent of Americans will face.” (DefenseLink)
He told the Pentagon Channel, “The way you win that battle…is having Marines.”
Captain Stann and his Marines are our heroes of the week.
For the complete story, read his story in DefenseLink, and in Stars and Stripes: “It’s not about awards.”