The following story combines stupidity with bravery, which is, has been and will be, a feature of all war. Sometimes the combination results in tragedy or defeat. Sometimes such a mix results in victory. The story of SSGT Patrick Maloney is one of bravery and salvation and should be known by all who treasure our freedom and American fighting spirit. It is a story in which the stupidity was rightly neutralized, and bravery sealed the outcome. The fight against ISIS forces took place in the city of Mosul, Iraq on August 27, 2017.
What’s with the decorations from Susan Hogan? What do they mean to me? Well...not every story has a happy ending but this one does. If you don’t mind, I’ll share it. My apologies but I want Susan and Patrick to know the full story.
Let me be clear...all I did that day was talk on the radio...
The Battle for Mosul was an urban slugfest: the most dangerous kind of war. The Iraqi Special Forces tasked with retaking it were ill-equipped, inexperienced and undisciplined by Western Standards but it was their fight. Eventually U.S. and Coalition Special Ops Forces were given the “Green Light” to go into the city and help them along. This was the biggest urban fight since Fallujah. Snipers, car bombs and IEDs were everywhere. A group of Marine Raiders found themselves in one hell of a gunfight. The SOF K-9 handler saw their best chance of survival was to jump in the machine gun turret and start rocking and rolling. Suppressing fire and well-aimed bursts into enemy positions were giving the Marines the momentum they needed. But now he was sky lined...in an urban fight...and an ISIS sniper found his mark. His Team now had to win the gunfight, get him to an LZ and secure it long enough for a DUSTOFF to get there; a tall order. They were outnumbered and could be easily surrounded. His very life depended on what they did next. And what they did next...
50 miles away I was sitting around the picnic table with my buddies. I was waiting to come off shift so we could eat, hit the gym and take a shower. 24 hour “Alert” status meant you slept in your clothes and were married to the radio should the call come in. A MEDEVAC call doesn’t care if you’re tired or hungry. YOU volunteered for this. I ran to the TOC to get the 9Line request. Garrick Turner ran to the chopper to crank up. Jared Belisle got the weapons ready while Ashley Lauren and Natsuki Hama grabbed blood and other gear they would need. I would meet them on the ramp in a minute or so. The aircraft wouldn’t start...neither would our sister ship. One of the Apaches broke on startup...this was bad. We needed 2 Hawks and 2 Gunships to make this happen. Mosul was no joke. Garrick calmly and professionally worked though the problems...never stopping. I can’t say the same about the PC of the other MED bird but I will leave out the negatives in this story. Dom Ollie (airline pilot and former medic) and his Air Assault crew, Darrell Busquets , Sean Woolever and Stephen Waller saw what was going on and against policy and the RAW jumped in their bird, cranked it up and said they were with us. They have never received official recognition for their actions, yet their decision was directly responsible for us departing on time. Time was not something those Marines had a lot of. One Apache was broke hard. It is a very complex aircraft and not really meant for this. As fate would have it the lone working Gunship was being flown by Stephen Frazee and his Battalion Commander. Steve had flown MED escort in Afghanistan and knew instinctively the importance of doing something now and doing the paperwork later. He advised the Commander and LTC Eddy Lee agreed. “Yes...bring everybody...we’ll sort out the “who’s and what’s” later.”Keith RB was in the TOC as the S3 Air. It was his job to coordinate at the upper levels with Generals, Air Force CAS and a multitude of other elements that always seemed to come up with a reason to turn down a mission. Many officers in his position would simply cower in the face of Generals and their staff but he had been shot down twice in one week on a previous deployment. He had been the man on the ground hoping for a rescue force. He knew what “Immediate Needs” meant, refused to take “No” for an answer and cleared us “Hot.”
Hearing the tone of the JTAC I knew this time was probably different. “Are you lost!? Where the F@@k are you?!!!!!” This man was an Air Force JTAC/Combat Controller: an elite commando known for bravery and professionalism. He wasn’t being dramatic but he was VERY CONCERNED with the situation. A year prior to this battle, a SEAL had been gravely wounded. The DUSTOFF helicopter’s navigation computer failed giving the crew erroneous data. They were nearly shot down but kept looking until they found the Team. They were later assured by the SEALs that they knew the wound was fatal. Still the “Customer” had requested support and it wasn’t there in the timeliest fashion. With this in mind, we were determined not drop the ball in any way, shape or form.
So, his concern was our concern. I double checked the navigation and told him we were just a few minutes out. He wouldn’t hear us until we were right on top of him. The 18D/SARCs ran the wounded Marine out to the chopper. Ashley and Natsuki worked their magic/witchcraft while Jared started pulling out the gear they would need. They have asked me not to talk about the details of what happened in the back of the helicopter. What I will say is that I saw them save a man’s life several times. From the Aviation side they were definitely the heroes that day. ISIS was known for rushing positions with car bombs so Steve and his Commander orbited high looking for suspicious vehicles, 30mm cannon and Hellfire missiles at the ready. Dom and his crew flew low and fast, his machine gunners looking for mortar teams and snipers. Those were a real concern and could be hiding anywhere. They could wreak havoc on a Landing Zone.
Garrick flew us back and the Marine was transferred to the Forward Surgical Hospital. Our part was largely over. I made sure to tell everyone what a great job I thought they did. No sooner had we landed than my Commander pulled me aside and reprimanded me for “Taking off too fast.” He did the same thing to Dom but said “You weren’t even on the Risk Assessment! You weren’t supposed to fly that mission!” If you think this was the same person who jumped up and down, screaming at his LT, unable to crank up his helicopter you would be correct. Sorry for the negatives but he’s part of this story too.
Susan Hogan got very spotty news about her son’s condition. Nobody seemed to know much. The Marine Recon/Raider/Scout Sniper Community is very small. It didn’t take long for someone to say “Hey there’s an Ex-Recon guy up there flying DUSTOFF. Maybe he knows something.” And so a retired Marine Officer named Jim Robinson reached out to me and asked if I would talk to the mother and put her mind at ease. “Don’t violate OPSEC or anything but please talk to her. Give her some good news: Semper Fi brother, always Beside You!” Can you even imagine what this woman was going through...can you imagine? I knew this man was a father and would be telling this story to his children one day. I mailed him the actual 9 Line I received, the notes I took on my knee board and a stick on “Dual Cool” the symbol of Recon Marines. I thought it appropriate that the Raiders knew that even in the middle of the desert the Brotherhood was there for them.
Always Beside You
Patrick was awarded the Bronze Star with V for his heroism that day. He was referred to as the “Audie Murphy of Mosul.” He has since left the Marine Corps. Susan and her family wanted to put a face on what happened that day. They chose me to be that face and I guess I’ll play the part. I wanted her to know what really happened and who really did heroics. I’ve named them in this post.
All I did was talk on the radio but I was glad to be a part.
Staff Sgt. Patrick H. Maloney receives the Bronze Star with "V" device at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, on Oct. 30. (Sgt. Salvador R. Moreno/Marine Corps)
A Marine Raider who laid down a barrage of gunfire Audie Murphy-style after his unit was ambushed in Iraq has received a Bronze Star with “V” device.
Staff Sgt. Patrick Maloney‘s “bold actions further contributed to the immediate withdrawal of enemy forces,” according to his award citation.
On Oct. 30, Maloney received his Bronze Star with “V” device from Maj. Gen. Carl Mundy III, commander of Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command.
Maloney, a dog handler [K9 unit], and other Marines from the 2nd Raider Battalion were on a reconnaissance mission with Kurdish fighters on Aug. 27, 2016.
Suddenly three of Maloney’s team members were pinned down by enemy machine gun fire, the citation says. Bullets struck the vehicle they were using as cover.
Showing his bias for action, Maloney attacked. He charged across open ground, grabbed ammunition and reached a Peshmerga heavy machine gun in the back of a truck.
“Remaining deliberately exposed to withering fire, he laid deadly suppressive fire on the enemy fighting positions,” his citation says.
Twice during the firefight, the machine gun stopped working. With enemy rounds landing within feet of him, Maloney got the machine gun back in action, allowing his teammates to reach cover.
“By his extraordinary courage, zealous initiative, and total dedication to duty, Staff Sergeant Maloney reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service,” his citation says.
Maloney is currently assigned to the Wounded Warrior Regiment, said MARSOC spokesman Maj. Nicholas Mannweiler. He was wounded on Dec. 30 during his fifth combat tour to Iraq, according to an online fundraiser organized by his family at the time. A family acquaintance told Marine Corps Times in January that Maloney had suffered a head injury.
Tadpole now flies Apaches. He's part of the crew on this page and goes by @RamadiTaxiDriver60M. Thanks for the story, brother. Below is a picture of him in his sweet ass gunship.
9 Line--the military version of calling 911
18D/SARC-18D is the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) for Special Forces combat medic. SARC is Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsmen, indicating Green Berets, SEALs or Marine Recon
COIN—Counter Insurgency operations
Dual Cool-- Marine slang for the USN/USMC gold jump wings and Combat SCUBA bubble worn on the uniform to designate a Force Recon Marine
DUSTOFF—call sign for Army airborne casualty evacuation (CASEVAC). Actually an acronym developed during Vietnam for “Dedicated Unhesitating Service To Our Fighting Forces”
JTAC—Joint Terminal Attack Controller—the modern version of the Forward Air Controller, responsible for coordinating and directing aircraft in support of ground combat operations
K-9—typically German shepherds, retrievers or Belgian Malinois trained for various mission specialties
Marine Raiders--train, advise, and assist friendly host nation forces. Raiders come under the Marine Special Forces Command (MARSOC)
RAW—Risk Assessment Worksheet—document to be filled out by a mission commander to take account of all risk factors prior to a mission.
ROZ—Restricted Operating Zones
S3-Air—Command Staff officer who submits requests for close air support to the chain of command
SOF –Special Operations Force-generally refers to all services Special Forces, with each branch having their own units and commands
TOC—Tactical Operations Center, a unit’s command and control hub