Subject: My Men Are My Heroes 1.This book is about 1stSgt. Kasal’s life leading up to his most honorable moment while in the battle of Fallujah. The book starts out by telling how 1stSgt. Kasal grew up in Afton, Iowa. He grew up on farm like most other families in his hometown. But with farming becoming obsolete in the shadow of large corporations, Brad Kasal already knew by junior high that he didn’t want to slave on a farm to barely scrape by like his father. He already had the Marine Corps in his sights. January 1984, Kasal left his hometown of Afton, Iowa and got a plane destined for MCRD, San Diego. Kasal shined right away and became a squad leader and was meritoriously promoted to Private First Class by graduation and instructed that he was going to indeed be a grunt like he wanted. After graduating as the honor graduate in School of Infantry, Kasal was stationed on Camp Pendleton with 2nd battalion, 1st marine regiment.
He was a PFC in Weapons Co. as a Dragon gunner. Two months after checking in with his unit, Kasal was again meritoriously promoted. Kasal’s first deployed to the Western Pacific on a Marine Expeditionary Unit in June 1986. Shortly after he would win an NCO of the quarter award and once again get another meritorious promotion. Kasal throughout his career would consistently pick up meritorious promotions all the way to Sergeant Major. By March of 2003 when Operation Iraqi Freedom started, Kasal was 1stSgt of Kilo Co. 3d Battalion, First Marine Regiment. While still 1stSgt of Kilo, they were part of the second attempt to take back Fallujah in November of 2004. The mission was to take back Fallujah by getting rid of any insurgents left in the city. Because there were innocents still within the city limits, rules of engagement meant to not fire unless fired upon or if the enemy is seen with a weapon.
This made things very difficult. It would have been very bad politically to go in and just blow up everything that moved, so instead Marines had to go door to door and clear houses of any insurgents. The battle of Fallujah would forever change how this is done. Come D-Day + 6, Kasal’s men had already spent a whole day of clearing houses and discover multiple caches of weapons. A 5 man team came up to one of the last houses in a corner of the city. What they didn’t know was that this house was almost more of a fortress than a mere home. With a patio on the roof and a skyline to see in from, an insurgent could stay up there and watch anything coming in or out. This house was soon to earn its nick name “house of hell.” Three of the five marines in the team breached the doors, while the other two stood guard outside.
They immediately found a hostile. After the target was killed, they pushed further into the house only to fall victim to the ambush that awaited them inside. 1stSgt Kasal, being not far away, runs into one of the Marines involved in the ambush and learns that there are still a couple marines trapped in the house. Without hesitation 1stSgt Kasal sprints to home and enters with L.Cpl. Nicoll. Immediately Kasal encounters an insurgents at point blank and empties an 8 round burst into his chest. A short while after they start receiving fire from behind them as the thought two other marines had their six. Both received multiple wounds, Nicoll slightly more serious than Kasal. Kasal dragged Nicoll into the nearest room, and using his own medical supplies he did as much treatment on him as he could. Both too injured to get up and continue the fight, Kasal posted up against a wall with his pistol and waited for help. At one point a grenade was dropped in the doorway. Already accepting that he was probably not going to survive this encounter, he covers his fellow marine with his own body. By the end of it all 1st Sgt Kasal receives seven gunshot wounds and 44 shrapnel wounds and somehow survived. 1stSgt Kasal was awarded the Navy Cross and promoted to Sergeant Major for his actions in Fallujah.
2.I found this book to be very inspiring. Even just in the beginning of the book you read about how is meritoriously promoted so many times in such a short time span. It shows how hard work is recognized and pays off. Being a hopeful career marine, it motivates me to always keep my head up and keep working hard.
3.If I had to give a class on this book but could only choose a chapter, it would probably be chapter 14 “the House of Hell.” Essentially the whole book is just a buildup to this firefight. As motivating as Kasal is, it’s this incident that made him a legend. It also speaks to his strength that he obtains so many wounds which should have killed him and he still treats his junior marine with his own medical supplies.
4.Nathaniel R Helms is a writer who lives in St. Charles, MO. He is a Vietnam Veteran and also served as a police officer. He also worked in newspapers, radio and television before retiring to become a teacher. I think the author is just a very proud veteran who has much respect for a fellow veteran and appreciates the great story of Brad Kasal. He did his service for his country, as his son is doing in the coast guard as well. He looks at all service members as American heroes and when presented with the opportunity to tell a remarkable story about a remarkable man he takes advantage of it.
5.Helms, Nathaniel. My Men are my Heroes. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2007.