Soldier Braves Gunfire in Attempt to Save Friend | The Battle of Tal Afar

Soldier Braves Gunfire in Attempt to Save Friend | The Battle of Tal Afar

[Gunshots] The fear of imminent death is different from other types of fear. Knowing that one of those bullets could find its mark, it grips you. You can’t shake it. No matter how many times I experienced it, the first time or the hundredth time, it’s just as bad as the first time. I was born in Mexico in 1970. A lot of my family had already come to the United States. We ended up going to Santa Cruz, because that was where my father’s side of the family had settled. Pretty much lived in a small shack behind my grandmother’s house. My mother was amazing, and I don’t know how we did it, but we survived. Out of seven kids, I was the only one that graduated high school. I got a job as a security guard at the mall, but let’s face it, my job wasn’t going anywhere. In 1991, the Gulf War was going on. It was a very successful campaign. The liberation of Kuwait went off as planned. Soldiers were stepping off the plane. They were being greeted with lots of fanfare, and I wanted to do something with my life that was meaningful. So I walked next door, and there was the Army recruiter. I saw a poster next to her desk: a big soldier, all camouflaged up, in full battle rattle. And I said, “That’s what I want to do.” She said, “Are you sure? That’s a tough lifestyle.” I said, “I don’t care, I want to do that.” It was a noble calling, in my eyes. George Bush: My fellow citizens, at this hour American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger. On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein’s ability to wage war. I arrived into Iraq in late February 2005. It was my second deployment. We found ourselves on the road going to Tal Afar. The primary concern about Tal Afar is that it was a smuggling route that was bringing in weapons from Syria, weapons and fighters. We could see plain as day that a lot of the buildings had bullet holes in them. It was pretty concerning, I guess you could say, to see that there had been a lot of fighting going on in that town. June 7 was our first major operation as a squadron. We had in Tal Afar the exact location for approximately 30 insurgents. The task was to conduct simultaneous raids. The plan was to hit them at first light and nab or kill them. Nobody’s really talking. Everybody just doing last-minute mental checks. And as time gets closer, things start to get a little more tense. It’s going to be do or die. We pull up as quick as possible, drop the ramp, everybody runs out. [Bomb blast] We blow the gate, we stayed in the courtyard until they said the house was clear. There was no enemy there. We started hearing machine gun fire, and the helicopters were reporting that they were taking some hits. The decision was made to start sweeping these neighborhoods looking for the enemy that were firing and engaging the helicopters and other vehicles. We selected about 13, 14 Iraqi soldiers. Myself and Colonel Crowe were going to direct them. Colonel Crowe took the lead. We had to go inside an alleyway. The alley was not straight, it was kind of crooked. And as we came around the first bend in the alleyway, Colonel Crowe was in the kill zone and he caught the brunt of four or five AK-47s firing simultaneously. [Gun shots] I did my best to suppress the enemy so they would stop shooting at Colonel Crowe. [Gun shots] It sounded like there was AK-47 fire behind me and above me. Most firefights only lasted a few minutes, but this one was different. The constant sound of gunfire, I didn’t know if it was going to be my last day. My fire was just hitting this wall that they were behind, and the wall was probably a foot and a half thick. There’s no way my weapon could get through that wall. I’m probably not even thinking straight. I’m just reacting. But I remembered I had a grenade. And so, I pulled out that grenade and I had to push pretty hard. I had to put some oomph into it, but the grenade had the desired effect. So I was able to go out there and evacuate Colonel Crowe. We stayed there for about two seconds to see if the enemy was going to continue to fight, but they were not there anymore. They broke contact. We rolled back to the FOB. I remember that evening I ran into my commander, and at this time I didn’t know if Colonel Crowe had survived or not. So I asked him and he told me that Colonel Crowe didn’t make it. Colonel Crowe was a real easygoing guy. A good friend of mine. I patrolled with him quite a bit. He would go on just about every mission that I went on. He talked to you like a man. Treated me with dignity and respect. I think part of the reason that I feel guilty is because I was not in the front, where I should have been. He should have been in the rear, or somewhere in the middle, maybe, but not point man. I was normally in the lead. Just, I don’t feel right. The Silver Star is the one award that I really care about. It represents to me the sacrifice that Colonel Crowe made. I don’t see it as something I earned. I just wanted to stay alive. I just wanted to get Colonel Crowe out of there. I think a hero is someone who pays the ultimate sacrifice. They will never again get to come home and enjoy a sunny day, a walk in the park, the embrace of a wife or a spouse, children. Those men and women who didn’t come home, those who give up all that is good in life, those are heroes. I’ll never forget the Battle of Tal Afar.

100 thoughts on “Soldier Braves Gunfire in Attempt to Save Friend | The Battle of Tal Afar

  1. This is exactly why all good Americans and all good people of the world love the American soldier. God's deepest blessing to you Sergeant Villalobos and Colonel Crowe of the United States Army. Blessings to you and Colonel Crowe's family forever more. Your sacrifice shall never be forgotten and I shall let no one dishonor your memory.

  2. God bless you marines.wish u knew how proud we patriots are of you.were praying for Jesus to protect you.we love youall. Couldn't thank youall enough we ask the holy be spirit to guide lead.protect bless comfort deliver u from evil save heal.forgive..amen

  3. Don't beat yourself up son, your colonel made his decision for whatever reason to be front man when he could just as easily ordered you or someone else to take that position. He knew what he was doing. Bad things happen to good people sometimes.. I thank you for your service son. You're a hero in my eyes.

  4. Let these following  famous  words ring in your minds and hearts forever.

       "  I like people that weren't captured "      This is from a man that used his daddy's money and influence to save him from serving but has the gall to denigrate the memory of countless brave soldiers that were captured while fighting and many who died while in captivity. 
       And remember the people that didn't have the guts to call him out on such an insult.  You know who you are.

  5. Hand on heart and with UTMOST RESPECT I salute you and every member of the armed forces… From the lowly clerk to the Airborne and to the lonely legs, to the Pilots that answer that FRANTIC CALL from a soldier on the ground, to the dust off pilot for doing what it takes….. And to all those I missed I salute you and thank you..

  6. Outstanding soldier that deserves more. I see on the news giving Medal of Honor for some moral political show during Obama’s time . This’ is a real joe that deserves it . Not a football player that got killed for shooting at other U.S. soldier and gets all the glory, a sniper that lied in his book and had a movie about a sniper . This man is a true hero.

  7. And Cadet Bone Spurs calls our wonderful neighbors rapists and drug dealers and some I'm sure are fine people…..

  8. My sincere condolences for your loss, your heroism and selflessness are an inspiration. Sending the upmost respect and gratitude from a British Army ally! veteran Iraq 2003 and 04/05

  9. I was in Tal Afar from Nov 04 to May 05 with 2-14 Cav 1st BDE 25th ID OPDET Nomad and trained and led the Iraqi Army Battalion on FOB Sykes…The incoming units didn't listen to us when we told them how to handle Tal Afar when they took over. They paid the price. We took fire or IEDs nearly every day in Tal Afar. I was hit by an IED on Route Corvette and took shrapnel in February 05 along with my team XO then Lt Sacra.

  10. We should of never been in iraq and I think god both my father and older sister retired from the military my dad was forced to retire in 1993 because he got cancer from his army career and my older sister was forced to retire from the air force after 8 years in 1998

  11. Every person killed in Iraqi freedom was because of a fucking lie George W. Bush is a fucking war criminal and guilty of treason.

  12. It’s not coincidence the raid turned up nothing, they had a lot of troops on ghost missions , just watch green zone

  13. Colonel on point….wow. That's usually reserved for the lowest ranking grunt because of the danger.

  14. Hey all; please don't comment unless you served, fought, and understand what it's like to kill or be killed. War is ugly. We appreciate your support but commenting on something you don't understand is really heart breaking; for me anyway!

  15. Who the fuck has a colnel on point. They was ate up. I'm guessing the colnel put himself on point. My platoon sgt. 1/506 would have never let that happen.

  16. What kind of helicopters are resistant to gunfire? Like strong enough to resist machine gun rounds? Is that a thing?

  17. I remember as a combat infantryman (3 tours) that we all said we need to earn our right to go home. You definitely did and that day, the cards fell where they did. We signed up to fight and unfortunately never could have imagined both how it would play out and living with it for the rest of our days. If more people in this country could share your courage and integrity, we’d be in an amazing place.

  18. What I see is the enemy calling us to war with a plea for help and to send soldiers where they are all at.

  19. I also lost a brother in arms in Tal Afar – SSG Ioasa Tavae April 2, 2005. His company (A.Co.) was sliced off my battalion 1/5 Infantry to help in Tal Afar while the rest of us were in Mosul clearing that mess after Fallujah. RIP T, I miss you bro.

  20. Wasn’t even a battle it was just a contact with an enemy and only one casualty making it seem like it was a big even like an invasion it was just a patrol with like 15 people

  21. Oh, you did earn that Silver Star and you are, beyond any shadow of a doubt, a real true American Hero! Please don't feel guilty, God meant for you to come home, we need men like you, heroes here at home too. We need men like you here to teach our next generation the meaning of things like honor and integrity, sacrifice, how to earn respect. You said only those who gave the ultimate sacrifice are heroes but you were willing to make that same sacrifice, for the rest of us, for me. Words cannot express the depth of my gratitude for what all of our military personnel, both living and dead, have sacrificed. Also the sacrifices their families make. I have a brother who was a Vietnam Marine, I remember what that was like. I can't imagine what it must be like to be the one that is there. Thank you, THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart for what you have done, for what you have lived through so we don't know it first hand here at home. You didn't loose your life, thank you God, but you did lay it down that day and probably others. In the Lord's own words there is no greater gift that a man can give.

  22. Yes heroes …
    How your country repays them ?!
    They end up without money for food or homeless …
    Now , you tell me how that looks soldier !?

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