OK, So Here's The Deal...

A Marine Major, Running Fool, and All-Around Smart-Ass.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

This Makes My Eagle, Globe, and Anchor Glow

The Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant in the picture is Michael Burghard, part of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team that is supporting 2nd Brigade 28th Infantry Division (Pennsylvania Army National Guard).

Leading the fight is Gunnery Sgt Michael Burghardt, known as "Iron Mike" or just "Gunny". He is on his third tour in Iraq. He had become a legend in the bomb disposal world after winning the Bronze Star for disabling 64 IEDs and destroying 1,548 pieces of ordnance during his second tour.

Then, on September 19, he got blown up.

He had arrived at a chaotic scene after a bomb had killed four US soldiers. He chose not to wear the bulky bomb protection suit. "You can't react to any sniper fire and you get tunnel-vision," he explains. So, protected by just a helmet and standard-issue flak jacket, he began what bomb disposal officers term "the longest walk", stepping gingerly into a 5ft deep and 8ft wide crater.

The earth shifted slightly and he saw a Senao base station with a wire leading from it. He cut the wire and used his 7in knife to probe the ground. "I found a piece of red detonating cord between my legs," he says. "That's when I knew I was screwed."

Realizing he had been sucked into a trap, GySgt Burghardt, 35, yelled at everyone to stay back. At that moment, an insurgent, probably watching through binoculars, pressed a button on his mobile phone to detonate the secondary device below the Gunnery Sergeant's feet.

"A chill went up the back of my neck and then the bomb exploded," he recalls. "As I was in the air I remember thinking, 'I don't believe they got me.' I was just ticked off they were able to do it. Then I was lying on the road, not able to feel anything from the waist down."

His colleagues cut off his trousers to see how badly he was hurt. None could believe his legs were still there.

"My dad's a Vietnam vet who's paralyzed from the waist down," says GySgt Burghardt. "I was lying there thinking I didn't want to be in a wheelchair next to my dad and for him to see me like that. They started to cut away my pants and I felt a real sharp pain and blood trickling down. Then I wiggled my toes and I thought, 'Good, I'm in business.' As a stretcher was brought over, adrenaline and anger kicked in. "I decided to walk to the helicopter. I wasn't going to let my team-mates see me being carried away on a stretcher."

He stood and gave the insurgents who had blown him up a one-fingered salute.

"I flipped them one. It was like, 'OK, I lost that round but I'll be back next week'."

Copies of a photograph depicting his defiance, taken by Jeff Bundy for the Omaha World-Herald, adorn the walls of homes across America and that of Col John Gronski, the brigade commander in Ramadi, who has hailed the image as an exemplar of the warrior spirit.

GySgt Burghardt's injuries - burns and wounds to his legs and buttocks - kept him off duty for nearly a month and could have earned him a ticket home. But, like his father - who was awarded a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts for being wounded in action in Vietnam - he stayed in Ramadi to engage in the battle against insurgents who are forever coming up with more ingenious ways of killing Americans.


Just two quick comments:

1. Are you proud to be blissfully ignorant of THIS, George Clooney? You and your Hollywood assbags don't rate to be in the same airspace as this Gunny.

2. Even after being wounded (especially, in fact), I would have loved to see this Gunny go hand to hand with the insurgent who pushed the button.

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  • At 6:10 PM, Blogger Killjoy said…

    Loved the story, but damn I'm getting scared. Deployment day is drawing near...12 days.

  • At 2:57 PM, Blogger Viper said…

    Oh, knock it off, Girl. I'm sure he won't get blowed up or anything. Now if he was in the business this Gunny is, then there is cause for worry. But even this Gunny is coming home (pissed but OK).

  • At 3:04 PM, Blogger Killjoy said…

    Well, I was meaning that one had anything to do with the other outside of good guys vs. bad guys. Think simple, Man, think simple.

  • At 3:15 PM, Blogger Viper said…

    Girl, did your medication prescription run out? That made no sense.

    Think coherent, Girl, think coherent.

  • At 5:50 PM, Blogger Killjoy said…

    Yeah, what you said. I MEAN that one DIDN'T have anything to do with the other. And yes, I'm coming down from the meds.

  • At 5:51 PM, Blogger Killjoy said…

    And I like him standing there in just his Marine Corps version of the fig leaf.

  • At 6:12 PM, Blogger Viper said…

    Girl, dear, that's a Kevlar groin protector.


  • At 5:59 AM, Blogger Killjoy said…

    I know what it is. Brian and I had a time with one...wait. Nevermind.

  • At 6:39 PM, Blogger Killjoy said…

    Pickler sucks!

  • At 2:10 PM, Blogger Viper said…

    Be that as it may, oh wait, you mean she's untaleneted. I beg to differ. Unlike Bucky, her hickiness is adorable.

  • At 2:57 PM, Blogger Killjoy said…

    Hickness is never attractive.

  • At 3:14 PM, Blogger Viper said…

    Says the woman who has a half-Arkansasian daughter.


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