Sergeant Major Grace Carle

Sergeant Major Grace Carle served in WWII, Korea, AND Vietnam.  It’s rare for a Veteran to have served in all three wars, let alone a female Marine! AND, this beautiful young lady turned 96 today!!  Can We get an Oohrah for her?

Sergeant Major Carle was 20 years old when she enlisted in the Marine Corps.  In her time, that was the age requirement and she had to have her parent’s consent.  When World War II broke, she had heard about the WACs and she didn’t care to enlist amongst them.  She also heard about the WAVEs and she decided that she didn’t like being on the water.  When she had heard about the Marines, she decided that is the branch of service that she wanted to enlist.  She was born in Yankton, South Dakota on 2 September 1922 and grew up in a small town named Pendor, Nebraska.  She was sworn into the Marine Corps Reserves on 23 April 1943 at the Marine Corps Recruiting Station in Des Moines, Iowa.

She had no idea that she would end up being the SgtMajor of the Women Marines. Her job was to travel with Col. Brewer to different bases talking to Women Marines. Another part of her job as a Sergeant Major that she enjoyed was being a part of the discussions that advised the Marine Corps about their thinking on what women could and could not do.

SgtMaj Carle officially decided to retire on 31 October 1976 and was transferred to the Fleet Reserves.  She had her retirement parade at 8th and I and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for playing a role in shaping how Women Marines would seamlessly integrate without any incident with Male Marines.  SgtMaj June V. Andler and she were the only Women Marines to have such a distinction of a parade at 8th and I.  SgtMaj Carle most memorable Marine Corps moment was her retirement dinner.  The Marine Corps held a mess night for SgtMaj. Carle at the Sheraton Hotel on 29 October 1976.  It was an occasion attended by Women Marine officers and enlisted from all East Coast posts.  “I felt a special tug in my heart to be included in an old Marine Corps tradition – mess night — where the most senior male sergeant at the affair would cut the meat,” SgtMaj Carle stated.

 

Navy corpsman ran through a wall of fire to save his Marines during ambush in Iraq

By: J.D. Simkins

The deadly battle of Nasiriyah reared its ugly head on March 23, 2003, when the Marines of 2nd Assault Amphibious Battalion were ambushed as they advanced to secure the Saddam Canal Bridge, the northernmost bridge in the Iraqi city.

The elaborate attack of small arms and indirect fire claimed the lives of 18 Marines that day, a number that could have been significantly higher had it not been for the bravery and instinctive actions of their corpsman, then-23-year-old Seaman Apprentice Luis Fonseca.

“As we came up and over the bridge, we ran right into an ambush,” he said in a 2008 Department of Defense release. “They threw all they had at us — small arms fire, heavy machine gun fire, rocket propelled grenades, mortars and artillery rounds.”

With all hell breaking loose, an amphibious assault vehicle to Fonseca’s front was struck by a rocket propelled grenade, inflicting five casualties.

Seeing the vehicle beginning to catch fire, the platoon sergeant, then-Gunnery Sgt. David Myers, called for Fonseca, and the young corpsman on his first deployment sprung into action, grabbing his medical bag and sprinting through a wall of small arms fire on his way to the disabled vehicle.

When he arrived, he saw all five Marines were grievously wounded. Fonseca got to work immediately.

“I noticed I had two patients with partial lower-leg amputations, one with flash burns to his eyes, and all had shrapnel wounds,” the corpsman said. “I applied tourniquets on the two Marines with the partial leg amputations and instructed the other Marines around to apply battle dressings on the others that were wounded.”

Fonseca then coordinated the removal of the wounded Marines from the kill zone to a vehicle where the enemy ambush was less concentrated. After administering morphine to the two with the most urgent medical needs, he received a call that another vehicle had been hit.

Because the convoy had broken up at the outset of the firefight, the disabled vehicle he was looking for wasn’t where it was supposed to be. Exposed and unsure where it was, Fonseca ran through more fire to get back to his vehicle.

Just as he arrived, four direct hits blasted the amtrak, creating havoc and dust-filled confusion.

“Two of them were on our right side,” he said. “One was on our center top hatch. All three were … 122 mm mortar rounds. The fourth and final round that disabled the truck was a recoilless rifle round that blew up our transmission.”

All wounded Marines from Fonseca’s vehicle, except one, were quickly transferred out of the kill zone at the direction of the corpsman.

“I picked up the last Marine … and carried him to a ditch,” Fonseca said. “The Marine and I sat in the ditch for about 30 minutes before I could get another vehicle to pick us up and drive us out of there.”

Once that Marine was picked up, Fonseca rejoined his platoon in the fight, a brutal clash that would wind up lasting over six hours.

On top of the 18 killed, “fifteen others were wounded and left the battlefield, and about 10 others [who] were wounded … stayed,” Fonseca said.

The corpsman treated and coordinated the evacuation of nearly a dozen Marines that day. For his bravery, he was awarded the Navy Cross, the service’s second highest award for valor.

“The Navy Cross means to me honor, sacrifice and loyalty,” Fonseca said. “Honor because it is my honor to wear the Navy Cross for my brothers that gave their lives in that fight. So, it’s my honor to wear their Navy Cross that honors them. A lot of men sacrificed that day. Unfortunately, some families and friends had to sacrifice their loved ones.”When the fighting finally slowed, Gunnery Sgt. Myers, who once told Fonseca, “I’m only going to tell you this once. I don’t like corpsman. Stay out of my way,” approached the exhausted 23-year-old “doc.”

“He came up to me and gave me a big hug,” Fonseca said. “With pride in his voice, he said ‘Doc, you did one hell of a job. Oorah Marine!’ He became one of my biggest mentors.”

Fonseca would go on to complete additional deployments and see combat with the Marines in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but that day in March 2003 is what showed him the true meaning of being a combat medic.

“The job of a corpsman is to go through hell and back for your Marines,” Fonseca said in a release. “My brothers needed me, so I was going to be there for them. As long as I was alive, I would keep working, even if it meant my life. I wish I could have done more.”