This is one tough Marine hombre! He had just prevented massive deaths and injuries of his fellow Marines by almost singlehandedly stopping not one but
two insurgent suicide attacks at the Marines' base, including stopping an explosive-laden fire truck with an extra help from another Marine!
Pa. native thwarts car-bomb attack
By Elliot Blair Smith, USA TODAY
HUSAYBAH, Iraq — From his tower lookout post on the Iraqi-Syrian border, Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Butler last week helped stop two suicide car
bombers who were on a mission to kill hundreds of Marines here and strike a symbolic victory for the insurgency.
The daylight attack on this remote U.S. military base fits a pattern of recent insurgent attacks on U.S. military strongholds. On Saturday, a mortar
attack at Camp Ramadi killed three servicemembers, and there was a coordinated assault two weeks ago on the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison on the
outskirts of Baghdad.
U.S. forces have repelled each attack, inflicting large losses on the insurgents while incurring few casualties. The base commander at Camp Gannon, a
former Iraqi customs and immigration post at the edge of one of its most dangerous cities, credits Butler with preventing massive deaths here.
"Butler — that day, that Marine — that's the critical error the insurgents made," Capt. Frank Diorio says. "They thought they could keep the
Marines' heads down. But he gets back up."
Butler, 21 and an Altoona, Pa., native, fired through the windshield of the first suicide bomber as he rammed a white dump truck through a barrier of
abandoned vehicles the Marines had improvised. Barreling toward the camp's wall, the truck veered off at the last moment under volleys of Butler's
"I shot 20 or 30 rounds before he detonated," he says.
Knocked down by that blast, with bricks and sandbags collapsing on top of him, Butler struggled to his feet only to hear a large diesel engine roar
amid the clatter of gunfire. It was a red fire engine, carrying a second suicide bomber and passenger. Butler says both were wearing black turbans and
robes, often worn by religious martyrs.
Amid the chaos of that first bomb blast, supported by gunfire from an estimated 30 dismounted insurgents, the fire engine passed largely undetected on
a small road that leads from town directly past the camp wall, according a Marine report.
"I couldn't see him at first because of the smoke. It was extremely thick from the first explosion," Butler says. When the fire engine cleared the
smoke, it was much closer than the dump truck had been.
As the driver accelerated past the "Welcome to Iraq" sign inside the camp's perimeter, Butler says he fired 100 rounds into the vehicle. The
Marines later discovered the vehicle was equipped with 3-inch, blast-proof glass and the passengers were wearing Kevlar vests under their robes.
Pfc. Charles Young, 21, also of Altoona, Pa., hit the fire engine with a grenade launcher, slowing its progress and giving Butler time to recover.
Without breaching the camp wall, the driver detonated the fire engine, sending debris flying up to 400 yards and knocking Marines from their bunks
several hundred yards away. Butler, less than 50 yards away, again was knocked down by the blast, which partially destroyed the tower in which he was
perched. After he crawled for cover, a third suicide bomber detonated outside the camp. That blast caused no damage or injuries. Sporadic fighting
continued for several hours.
Meanwhile, Cpl. Anthony Fink of Columbus, Ohio, 21, fired a grenade launcher that the Marine unit says killed 11 insurgents. The Marines' "React
Squad" swiftly deployed against the remaining insurgents.
"We were able to get the momentum back," Diorio says. He also says that Husaybah townspeople later reported 21 insurgents dead and 15 wounded. No
Marines were seriously hurt.
Hurrahs to the Marines!