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Brad Kasal, 39, grew up near Afton, in Union County. Kasal has been a Marine for 20 years, including two tours in Iraq. Kasal was wounded Nov. 13, 2004, during a multiple-day military assault on insurgents in Fallujah, Iraq.During the battle, Kasal learned that three fellow Marines were wounded inside an enemy-controlled house. Kasal was shot seven times after leading his men into the house in an attempt to rescue the wounded Marines.He also suffered more than 40 shrapnel wounds when he used his body to shield a wounded Marine from a grenade explosion.
Receiving honors: Marine 1st Sgt. Brad Kasal, who grew up near Afton, gets a bit choked up after thanking the Legislature for approving resolutions in his honor. His father, Gerald, and mother, Myrna, watch their son at the Statehouse in Des Moines State lawmakers approve resolutions honoring Iowa native severely hurt rescuing fellow troops in Iraq
WILLIAM PETROSKI REGISTER STAFF WRITER
February 14, 2006
Brad Kasal, an Iowa native regarded as a hero for rescuing fellow Marines in Iraq, was choked with emotion Monday as he was honored by the Iowa Legislature.
"A lot of people ask why I did what I did. I'm a Marine. That's what I'm expected to do," Kasal told lawmakers.
Marine 1st Sgt. Kasal, 39, who grew up on a farm near Afton in southern Iowa, stood in his dress blues as resolutions were approved in the Iowa House and Senate that cited him for courage in combat and patriotic service. Watching proudly as lawmakers stood and applauded were about 20 friends and relatives, including his father, Gerald, and mother, Myrna.
Kasal, who joined the Marines after graduating from East Union High School in 1984, was shot seven times on Nov. 13, 2004, while leading a mission to rescue three wounded Marines in an insurgent-held house in Fallujah, Iraq. Also, he suffered more than 40 shrapnel wounds after he bear-hugged a fellow Marine to protect him from a grenade explosion. He killed one enemy fighter in an exchange of fire at point-blank range.
Kasal has spent the past months recuperating from his injuries, including bullet wounds that nearly required the amputation of his leg. He walked with a cane Monday afternoon at the Statehouse, and he admitted to still being in pain. But he added he's made progress toward recovery and recently ran about 50 feet for the first time since his injury. He exercises for six or seven hours a day, including physical therapy, 14-mile bicycle rides, stretching exercises and workouts with weights.
He is still on active duty with the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and has been selected for promotion to sergeant major. He said he hopes to remain in the Marines for several more years before retiring in Iowa.
Kasal's bravery in Iraq and gritty determination to recover from his wounds had already received national attention. A photo of the bloodied Kasal, still clutching his 9 mm handgun as he was helped by two fellow Marines from the Fallujah house, has been displayed on dozens of Internet sites. There has been repeated speculation that he is a candidate for the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award, but Marine Corps officials have declined to comment.
Kasal's recognition on Monday was arranged by state Sen. Charles Larson Jr., a Cedar Rapids Republican who served a one-year tour in Iraq with the U.S. Army Reserve. Larson is the founder of an organization known as Families United for Our Troops and Their Mission. He called Kasal one of Iowa's greatest heroes in the war on terrorism.
"This is a very humbling experience," Kasal said after Monday's honors. "I'm not used to standing ovations."
Thank you: Rep. Ro Foege, D-Mount Vernon, shakes hands with Kasal after the passing of a resolution in his honor. Kasal was wounded in Iraq while helping to rescue fellow Marines inside an insurgent-controlled house.