National Guardsmen receive Combat Action Badges

Published 12:28 am Sunday, August 6, 2006

For their courage and devotion to their country, 28 members of A Company, 890th Engineers who were engaged in combat overseas were honored with the Combat Action Badge.

One such solider, Spc. Chris Couture a .50-caliber gunner who received the badge, said he was traveling to retrieve parts when their Humvee was attacked by mortar rounds. The seven-man squad took cover by a building waiting for a Special Forces Unit to come and escort them out.

“We were basically just sitting ducks sitting there in the wide open,” Couture said.

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Three other soldiers, Sgt. Darin Carter, Sgt. Van Loveless and Sgt. Brad Marerro, all of whom also received badges, were on their way to an international airfield doing route reconaissance when they were attacked. They were struck by an improvised explosive device that shattered the windshield and struck the struck the soldier manning a machine gun in the shoulder with a piece of shrapnel, Carter said. Carter said he and another soldier returned fire when they realized the other soldier was hit and went to him to apply first aid. One of the two Humvees was turned into a fighting position until the wounded soldier was cared for and loaded for transport to the airport for medical attention.

A third incident involved Spec. Patrick Garrett as he and his men were on a mail and parts pickup, he said. The group was traveling back to Fallujah after completing the pickup when an IED blew up next to a five ton troop carrier truck, Garrett said. In the incident Spc. Carl Sampson was injured at which time Garret returned fire with the .50-caliber gun he was manning. When the gun jammed, he ran to secure another and help get Sampson medical attention, Garrett said.

“He’s pretty much back to his old self,” Couture said.

After what all the men have been through, they say they’re willing to return.

“If we had to go back, I’d do it all over again. That’s what it’s all about,” Couture said.

However, the mental wounds of warfare do not heal like wounds from guns or explosions.

“It’s something you will never forget, I think about it everyday,” Marerro said about his experiences.

Other men were presented with Combat Action Badges also include Sgt. Jason B. Anderson, Staff Sgt. Charles L. Averett, Sgt. 1st Class Jory J. Babin, Sgt. James E. Barrett Jr., Sgt. Gary T. Compton, Sgt. Hulon S. Davis, 1st Sgt. Charles E. Donald, Sgt. Robert C. Fazende, Sgt. Carl L. Fullilove III, Spc. Anna M. Graham, Sgt. 1st Class James K. Jennings, Staff Sgt. Cecil A. Kennedy, 1st Lt. Gary R. Kinsey, Sgt. Leonard Lee III, Staff Sgt. Homer McGill, 1st Lt. James T. McNeese, Staff Sgt. James M. Spiers, Sgt. Lowell W. Spiers, Sgt. Leigh A. Stimler, Sgt. James H. Stockstill, Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Thompson, Spc. Chistopher S. Westbrook and Sgt. Alexander D. Zivic.