Courtesy of Soldiers for the Truth
“We were moving down the street, clearing buildings,” Kasal recounted. “A Marine came out wounded from a building and said there were three more wounded Marines trapped in there with a bunch of bad guys (insurgents). As we entered, we noticed several dead Iraqis on the floor and one of our wounded.”
Kasal said there was no question of what to do. “If I was a general I would still think my job was to get the wounded Marines out of there,” he said. “So we went in to get them.”
As soon as he entered the two-story stucco and brick building, Kasal found himself in mortal combat. It was fighting to the death, and there was no quarter expected or given, Kasal said.
“An Iraqi pointed an AK-47 at me and I moved back. He fired and missed. I shot and killed him. I put my barrel up against his chest and pulled the trigger over and over until he went down. Then I looked around the wall and put two into his forehead to make sure he was dead.”
While Kasal and a young Pfc. Alexander Nicoll were taking out the insurgent behind the wall, another one with an AK hiding on the stairs to the second floor began firing at the Marines on full automatic. “That’s when I went down, along with one of my Marines (Nicoll). Then I noticed the hand grenade.”
It was a green pineapple grenade, Kasal said. It flew into the room out of nowhere and landed near the two downed men. Kasal now believes that other Marines who were watching their back left the room for reasons he still doesn’t know and an insurgent was able to somehow get behind him.
Kasal said his first instinct was to protect the young Marine lying bloody beside him. He covered the young man with his body and took the full brunt of shrapnel to his back when the grenade exploded. Kasal’s body armor and helmet protected his vital organs but the shrapnel penetrated the exposed portions of his shoulders, back, and legs, causing him to bleed profusely.
“I took my pressure bandage and put it on his leg,” Kasal remembered. “Then I tried to put Nicoll’s pressure bandage on a wound on his chest but it is very hard to get a flak jacket off a wounded man and I was bleeding and fading in and out.”
Nicoll survived the grenade blast and his previous bullet wounds but lost his right leg. “An artery was cut and they had to amputate his leg,” Kasal said. “I have seen him and talked to him several times since we got back to the States. He is doing OK.”
The grenade blast stunned Kasal. He floated in and out of consciousness. But in the back of his mind a voice kept telling him he had to stay alert or the Iraqis were going to come back and finish him and Nicoll off. “They weren’t going to let us live if they knew we were alive. It was kill or be killed,” he said.
Kasal wrestled his 9mm automatic out of its holster and lay on the floor waiting for help. It was thirty or forty minutes before other Marines arrived.
“That’s when I got shot in the butt,” Kasal recalled. “It was the shootout at the OK Corral – point-blank range. I was lying there shooting and somebody shot me through both cheeks. It smarted a bit.”
Kasal did not know the exact extent of his wounds until much later; all he knew was that he was badly hurt. He was floating in and out of consciousness, ultimately losing 60 percent of his blood before he was rescued. After first aid, Kasal and Nicoll were transported to a field hospital in Iraq, then flown to Landstuhl, Germany, where Kasal was hospitalized for a week before arriving at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
“I took seven rounds; five in my right leg, one in my foot and one to the buttocks area. When the grenade went off I got 30 to 40 pieces of shrapnel in my back,” Kasal said he later discovered.
What do you say to that? Makes me choke up just reading about it.