June 25, 2004
Meet Brian Chontosh
In a speech to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, Marine Corps Commandant General Michael W. Hagee told several stories of Marine heroism in Iraq.
The AFPS reports:
His first story was about the heroism of then-1st Lt. Brian Chontosh, who was recently promoted to captain.
While serving as a platoon commander in an armored Humvee with a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on top in Iraq, Chontosh was caught in an ambush. His platoon came under heavy enemy fire from AK-47 assault rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars. An RPG struck one of his Humvees, killing one Marine and wounding another.
"He was in the kill zone of the ambush," Hagee noted. "He saw the only way out was to drive right toward a .50-caliber machine gun. So he told his driver to attack that machine gun emplacement. The driver drove straight at it, and the machine gunner up top at point-blank range took out the Iraqi machine gun emplacement.
"He was still receiving fire, so he saw a trench line on his left and told his driver to go into the trench line," Hagee continued. "The good news is they got to the trench line. The bad news is it was an Iraqi trench line.
"This lieutenant got out of his vehicle with an M-16 in one hand and a 9 mm pistol in the other hand, and he started working his way down the trench line," Hagee continued. "He ran out of ammunition. He picked up an AK-47 and continued working down the trench line. He ran out of ammunition again. He picked up another AK-47 and continued working down the trench line. He reached the end of the trench line and there was an Iraqi machine gun emplacement sitting up on the top. He picked up an Iraqi RPG and took out that machine gun emplacement.
I'm sure glad Brian's on our side!
General Hagee said that Brian "didn't get a scratch--not one scratch." A few weeks ago, the general awarded Captain Chontosh the Navy Cross for bravery. "When I gave it to him," General Hagee related, "and thanked him for his service and what he'd done, he said, 'Sir, I was doing it for my Marines, to take care of my Marines.'"
The Navy Cross is the country's second highest bravery citation. It seems to me though that Brian's actions merit the Congressional Medal of Honor.
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