Excerpt Of The Day: A Real American Hero

Who says there are no heroes anymore? What about Sgt. Leandro F. Baptista? Who is Leandro F. Baptista you ask? A Marine who won a Silver Star for heroism under fire in Fallujah. And just in case you’re wondering, oh yeah, he earned it:

With six men wounded and two vehicles out of action, Baptista “sprinted across a shallow canal, climbed a 10-foot berm, and charged towards the enemy.”

Under fire, he knocked out one gun emplacement and grabbed three other Marines to help continue his charge.

After disarming an improvised bomb that threatened backup forces, Baptista split his men up, and the ad hoc team charged a group of 11 insurgents from two angles. Baptista killed at least four of them himself “at close range,” while his team attacked the other seven, the citation said.

Marines at the ceremony said at least one Marine was killed during the 30-minute ambush and firefight.

The citation concluded that by his “bold leadership, wise judgement and complete dedication to duty” Baptista upheld the “highest traditions of the Marine Corps.”

After pinning the heavy star on Baptista’s shirt pocket during the ceremony Friday, Maj. Gen. Richard Natonski, the 1st Marine Division’s commanding general, said that hearing the events of that day recounted “brings chills to my spine.”

He said Baptista’s actions were “part of the legacy of our Corps, of this division,” and ranked him alongside heroes from World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

So is all that praise going to Baptista’s head? No, he handled it the right way:

Baptista, who only left the side of his fiancee long enough to shake the hand of his former 1st Recon comrades, said he was “just doing my job.”

“I’m thankful, but I really didn’t want to make a big deal of this,” he said after the ceremony.

“Everybody out there should be recognized,” he said. “People died out there. People got wounded. Everybody did their part. I was just in the position where I had to make a decision and take charge.”

Now that is a real American hero…

Hat tip to the Mudville Gazette for the story.

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