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William Lenard A Marine's Journey of Loss and Grief in Fallujah

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
May 27, 2023 3:05 am

William Lenard A Marine's Journey of Loss and Grief in Fallujah

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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May 27, 2023 3:05 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, William Lenard led Marines in combat - including in Fallujah. Hear stories of loss, of service... and even spots of dark humor among friends.

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So grab your phones, raise your tray table and relax with I Heart Radio and Southwest Airlines. And we continue here with our American stories and with our Memorial Day special. Up next, Joey Cortez brings us a story about the second battle for Fallujah in Iraq. This one back in November through December of 2004.

Here's Joey. Following 9-11, US Marine Corps Sergeant William Leonard was deployed to Iraq three times on his second deployment before becoming a sergeant. His unit was at the center of Operation Phantom Fury, the second battle for Fallujah. This battle lasted roughly a month and a half and resulted in ninety-five American deaths and 560 wounded. William was one of the wounded and several of his friends were killed.

Here's William recounting his experience after entering the city. I heard some fire coming from a couple of houses over and so I take one of my guys and we go over. I said, I'm going left. You go right. I kicked the door open. I went left. He went right. I heard two gunshots behind me as soon as he went right. I didn't feel anything so I figured it was fine and I knew there was a guy in this little room off to the left and as I came around the corner, it was like a little eight by eight little sunken room.

I'm coming around the corner. He starts firing and I start firing and so I'm just we're both creeping our way around. You know, we're going to finish this one way or another and he ends up shooting me in the wrist and he shoots my gun.

Crap. Well, he won. Uh knocks my gun out of my hand, knocks me to the ground. He blows up the hits the brick on the side of the building.

Whenever he shot the brick on the wall, that completely peppered my face and I was I was bleeding from my forehead down the side of my neck and I still have like purple dots in the side of my face from it and shoots me through the wrist and I'm on the ground laying on the ground. He throws a grenade out. Land right beside me.

It doesn't go off. I come back out and I grab my Corman shotgun because my gun was still laying out in front of the little doorway and so I grabbed his shotgun. Go back up there.

Toss two or three grenades in there and come around the corner. Finish him off with a shotgun. I come to find out the guy who went right. There was a guy right behind me.

As soon as he went right, he shot him and he was kinda drawn down on me so luckily he went right and got off two shots real quick. So that it could have been a bad day but turned out to be alright just got a little shrapnel. They made it back to me out and they said it'll we can't remove any of the brick out of your face.

It'll work its way out eventually. So we'll get me back to my unit. They sent me back to Fallujah and we continued on clearing houses. We kept moving up, kept back clearing and one night we were kinda at our we're gonna settle in for the night and I think it was an old school, old elementary school. I think it's what it was and so there's still a patrol out and we hear gunfire and whenever Marines hear a bunch of gunfire, they run towards it. So I grabbed my team. We took off, took off running towards the towards the gunfire. Finally found it in a kind of a row of houses but the south side of it was just a field.

It's like a soccer field. So it was all open and so we called in our CAT team. They had all the all the big guns, their Mark 19s, their 50 cows and everything on top of their vehicles. They lined up in front of them and they were kinda soft in the houses that none of our guys were in and we would kinda coordinate with them, go in and clear and as I was headed into heading to my first house, me and my squad leader, I stepped over a guy as I was going in. His name was Melvin Blazer.

So kinda going back to when this all started, Melvin Blazer was my recruiter and he came to my unit because he knew we were about to deploy and so he ended up getting killed on that day, December 12th, 2004 in Fallujah and I remember stepping over him going into this house to go upstairs. It never, it didn't really sink in with me until later on that day. Just kinda came, I guess, full circle for me, you know.

That's where I started and that's where it kinda ended for him. We went through, got to the front door. I went left, he went right. We cleared down, got to the stairwell. Kinda getting ready to go upstairs. We were hollering at guys to come help us. We finally got guys coming in and we started up the stairs.

Sergeant Jason Arviano, he was my squad leader. He led us up the stairs. As we got to the top of the stairs, a grenade came rolling out in front of us and it blew, I wanna say about three foot in front of him, just right between his legs. Blew him up. Blew, I was right behind him. Caught my legs with the shrapnel as well and we had a stack of people up the stairs and blew us, literally blew us all the way back down the stairs.

We got to the bottom. He's on top of me and I kinda squirm out from underneath. You know, there's blood everywhere. He has tore up tremendously and you know, you got all the all the bad things running through your mind. It's just a terrible place where he got hit just right there in his thighs and you don't know how bad it is and get him, get him down to the bottom of the stairs and you know, he's looking at me. We're, you know, we're real tight. He was like, you know, we got his, got his pants down trying to figure out what we needed to do and he said, is it, is it gone? I said, yeah, man, it is and he started to tear up and I was like, man, I'm just joking.

Not everything's still there. He should be good. So, he kinda had like a laugh cry going on there almost for a minute and until I told him it was all good and I carried him out to the track and got him loaded up and that was the last time I seen him for a long time. Turned around, went back in and another pulled another one of our Marines out, Lario Lopez dragged him out. He was still kinda kinda guppy breathing and he he couldn't talk.

He was just barely able to breathe and so held him until he passed. So, then go try and find another house to go in and just kind of turn into pulling more bodies out than it was fighting. So, it almost kinda turned into more of a recovery than a firefight. So, I just kept kinda finding guys as I was trying to go in and get into the fight. Kept finding guys to pull back out.

We ended up losing quite a bit of our platoon and uh quite a few other guys I knew. By the time I was kinda trying to go back in, they kinda pulled everybody out and backed us all up and they just started dropping dropping artillery on it and decided that'd be it. We got everybody out, dropped artillery, kinda went through and let the dust clear. We set up security on this to make sure nobody else got out. None of the bad guys anyways. You know, I went back for the night, loaded up all the bodies on the back of a truck and they hauled them off. We uh you know, we kinda hunker down for the night.

Nobody got much sleep that night. Here's William reflecting on the men he lost. Staff Sergeant Melvin Blazer, he was my marine recruiter. He's the one who got me into the Marine Corps. If you were to talk to him away from the recruiting office, away from the Marine Corps, you never know he was a marine. He was the absolutely nicest guy you'd ever meet in your life.

Just as wholesome, genuine, nice guy. Sergeant Kirk, he was our platoon sergeant. Me being the tall guy that I am, he was about a foot shorter than me but he had this voice and he was a little guy too. He wasn't very big but he just had this demanding voice and kinda this aura about him that he knew what he was doing.

He was confident in everything he did. For whatever reason, he uh he was just one of those guys. He was a great leader and he was a leader of Marines. Hilario Lopez, he came into the Marine Corps with me. You know, I still keep in touch with his family.

Just such a good dude. He was super young. I mean, compared to me, I went in old. Uh I think he went in at seventeen or eighteen. Had his whole life ahead of him. He was just um you know, he was going hard and wrong place at the wrong time. Jason Clarede, he was in our platoon also. He was just a country boy from Arkansas. You know, a hell of a shot.

We wouldn't be able to talk about hunting and fishing because we both kinda grew up in that type of area. Him growing up in Arkansas, he had this southern drawl about him and he was just just nice as can be. I named one of my last horses after him. You know, it's they leave a lasting impression on you.

You know, they're the guys who strive to make sure that you live so that their memory isn't lost. And great work is always by Joey and a special thanks to William. Our Memorial Day special here on Our American Stories.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-27 04:27:06 / 2023-05-27 04:32:42 / 6

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