Monday, May 31, 2010

Mettle of Honor: Part III Heroes of the 3rd LAR Co. D 2nd Platoon 2006

On July 29th 2006 in Rawah, the platoon was at their base-of-the-moment, a joint Iraqi/US vehicle checkpoint, and those off duty were taking a brief respite in their quarters. Iraqi Police guarding the gate let a loaded gasoline truck into the compound.

LCpl Tony Butterfield and Cpl. Phillip Baucus had been around long enough that their internal radar went off. Suspicious of the truck, they ordered it to stop. When the driver ignored them, Butterfield and Baucus went into action. The two Marines used everything they had to stop a fuel truck rigged with explosives, and they succeeded in forcing a stop 15 feet from the barracks.

The suicide bomber detonated the truck but Lance Cpl Butterfield and Cpl Baucus had prevented him from driving it straight through the walls of the barracks, which would have killed everyone inside as well as those around it.

Lance Corporal Anthony E. Butterfield, 19, from Clovis, California, and Corporal Phillip E. Baucus, 28, from Wolf Creek, Montana were killed in the explosion, giving their lives to save their comrades.

When the blast occurred, it collapsed the walls of the fortified barracks and the roof came crashing down on the men inside: Lance Cpl (then PFC) Jason Hason, 21, of Forks, Washington; Sgt. Christian B. Williams, 27, from Winterhaven, Fla., and on his third enlistment with the Marines, Lance Cpl Joseph T. Hand, 20, from Kansas City MO, and Cpl. Adam A. Galvez, 21, from Salt Lake City.

The suicide bomber was not alone, and a firefight broke out after the blast.

Corporal Galvez was knocked out and when he came to, Lance Cpl. Albert D. Garcia, Jr. was working to lift the rubble off of him.

Staff Sgt. Jim Goodwin reported:

Galvez told Garcia that he believed his ankle was broken, but when Garcia went to get help, Galvez freed himself from the rubble, ignored his pain, and tried to help others injured from the blast, according to Garcia.

“He grabbed his weapon, hobbled around, he helped me dig the rest of the Marines out,” said Garcia. “Even after help got there, Doc Kenyon had to force Cpl. Galvez to get (medically evacuated) on the vehicle.

Despite frantically digging out the trapped men as quickly as possible, they were unable to save two of those inside: Sgt Christian B. Williams and Cpl Jason Hanson, who were killed by the falling roof.

The 3rd LAR held a memorial service for the four Marines on Aug 10, 2006.

Lance Cpl. Anthony E. Butterfield left behind a last letter for his family to read should he not make it back home. Friends in his hometown said "Butterfield was popular, but kind to those who weren't." He was remembered by Pfc. Gary M. Cassen as:

Outgoing, enthusiastic, loving, caring, honest, thoughtful, courteous, honorable, sensible and humorous.” Butterfield ... had this big vision about getting off the bus, jumping over a fence, running through a crowd pushing people over, and running straight into his mom’s arms,” said Cassen during the ceremony.

"Butterfield had a list of goals he wanted to achieve before leaving the service, which included teaching junior Marines about the LAV (Light Armored Vehicle), run a near-perfect physical fitness test, become a martial arts instructor, and take as many correspondence courses as
possible, according to Cassen. Cassen [closed with]: “We love you buddy, and we’ll miss you.”

Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus was serving his second tour of Iraq (his first was in 2004) when he was killed. He and his wife, who met in the 6th grade, would have celebrated their first anniversary on August 19, 2006.

"[Cpl. Benjamin T. Bosse remembered ] Baucus as a good friend and loving husband, who did a “damn good job” when it came to teaching junior Marines the in’s and out’s of the Marine Corps.

"Baucus’ teachings to his subordinate Marines still shows today, as those very same Marines “are still alive,” said Bosse. “He knew what hard work was…not only on the job, but off the job,”

“It didn’t matter who you were, whether you needed a place to go on Thanksgiving or you just needed to get off base, he was the guy who’d get you off (base), because he saw Marines as ’24-7,’” said Bosse. “He was always willing to go the extra mile.”

Sgt Christian B Williams had enlisted for his third term of service after only a few months of civilian life following the end of his second term. He was engaged to be married to a young woman who graduated Marine Boot Camp in April 2006. The son of a Navy man, Williams' mother said "He was Marine to the bones". He served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and five in Iraq.

A quiet man, he had been with the platoon only a short time and had already earned respect from his brothers in arms.

" Cpl Bosse was Williams’ “gunner” on a light armored vehicle. [He remembered Williams as a friend and Marine.]

"Williams often volunteered to stand the dreaded “turret watch,” which required Marines to stand guard duty behind one of the machine guns mounted to the eight-wheeled light armored vehicle. He did so to give junior Marines a break from the duty.

“He’d actually jump up in there and stand two hours, three hours, four hours, it didn’t matter,” said Bosse. “He kept to himself, but he was a Marine, and he was a friend. He... had a good heart.”

Lance Cpl Jason Hanson (then PFC, he was posthumously awarded the rank of Lance Corporal) was unscathed by a bullet to the chest in June thanks to his body armor. He had also survived 3 car accidents in Iraq.

Hanson's mother said "It took the whole universe coming down to stop him."

[Hanson] was remembered as a tough and hard-working Marine, who never complained about anything,” said Pfc. Travis J. Henzler.

"Henzler said he knew Hanson “a little over a year,” though it “felt like a lifetime.”

"“The only time I heard Jason complain was when he got shot in the chest, but even then he wasn’t afraid to take point and risk getting shot again,” said Henzler, speaking to the assembled crowd while the fallen’s dog tags could be heard ‘clanking’ together, caused by the light morning breeze."

Cpl Bosse said of the four Marines: “They all gave their lives for one thing – for love of their country and for the men and women back home who will never understand why we do it.”

When the memorial service was over, the platoon saddled up again and went back to work thwarting insurgents and searching for roadside mines.

Cpl. Joseph T. Hand was hospitalized briefly following the blast. “I don’t remember hearing the blast,” said Hand. “I just remember the roof collapsing and thinking about my parents and my girlfriend.”

“He found his way back to us and went on patrols even while he was still hurt,” said Cpl. Jonathan G. Almeida, 21, from Beeville Texas

Cpl. Adam A. Galvez was also injured in this attack and after he assisted with rescuing the other trapped Marines, he was medivac'ed to hospital.

While recovering in Al Asad [hospital], [Galvez] was given the chance to return to the United States. He declined and insisted on rejoining his platoon. [Galvez] returned to Rawah on August 10th, in time for the memorial service for his four friends. After taking it easy for a few days, [Galvez] requested to join his platoon. [He] returned to Delta Co. 2nd Platoon as a scout.

Ten days later, the Dragoons' luck with roadside IEDs ran out.


  1. Thank you so much for this posting. You honor them all greatly.

    I am working with others to create a lifesize bronze statue to commemerate Jason Hanson. I am hopeful that someone may be able to help us out with Jason's radio call name while in Iraq. If anyone can help us out, we would be very appreciative.

    Thank you!

    Cheri Fleck
    Forks, Washington

    1. I was the Scout squad leader and later Platoon Sgt when SSGT Scott was wounded Hansons call sign was "white sierra" white was the platoon and sierra stands for scouts sometimes a number was added for the team if calling to each other within the platoon

    2. Thank you, usmcalexswife, for this information. If they have not seen this post yet, I will show it to Ms Fleck. I am grateful that you've added to the information here. God bless you for the job you did for our country and for us.

  2. Cheri, I so appreciate your comments. I will share this with Ethan (Sgt. Ethan Arguello, my son, who served with Jason and the others), in case he knows, or perhaps can pass the word to someone who will. He will be so glad to know about the monument, that others in years to come can know Jason's story, and what he did for America.

    Please let me know if I can help with a blog post about this endeavor.


  3. Thanks for writing this. I was there that day.I still remember that very morning Cpl Baucus told me to "Be careful and watch out for serious" when I went on my patrol with my platoon right by TCP 3. He really did care about the safety of his fellow Marines because he didn't even know me. It was a very surreal day and hopefully one day the full story can be told.

    Also it should be noted Garcia is a hero. He was the only one capable of radioing anything in I heard him scream to grab shovels and basically remained as calm as possible and helped us dig out the guys as fast as we could. After seeing what happened to his platoon right in-front of him and also taking some of the blast it was not an east thing to do.

    I have a hard time remembering everything so hopefully someone with a better memory than me can tell the full story someday.

    Rest In Peace

    Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus
    Lance Cpl. Anthony E. Butterfield,
    Sgt. Christian B. Williams
    Pfc. Jason Hanson
    Cpl. Adam A. Galvez
    Lance Cpl. Randy L. Newman
    HN Chad Kenyon
    Lance Cpl. Shane P. Harris

  4. God bless you, Marine. Thank you for sharing more of this important story. The families & brothers of these men, and others like you who were there, will be grateful for the details you have added. Although you have chosen not to leave your name, please know we all value you - I thank God each day that we live in a country that is peopled with men and women who do those hard things that really do keep us safe and free.

  5. I was a Vehicle Commander with the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) at Rawah. We had to respond to both incidents with Delta Co. It was a terrible scene to see. I remember they had a local one-eyed dog that the Marines at the post would feed. It would run around the perimeter and bark at Iraqis that came too close to the wire. I think they called him One-eyed Jack. I remember pulling up to the site and seeing that the dog was killed in the attack, too. Strange what sticks with you.

    1. Good people appreciate dogs, don't they? Thank you for adding your memories to this thread. Those little details make a difference, they help bring things whole again. I appreciate your post, and so will others who were there, and their families. God bless you for the work you did, and may your future be blessed with contentment.

    2. 4 of my brothers in arms/ platoons Marines were killed on this day 8 years ago. Sgt. Christian Williams(Winterhaven, FL.), Cpl. Phillip Baucus(Wolf Creek, MT.), LCpl. Anthony Butterfield( Clovis CA.)and LCpl. Jason Hanson(Forks, WA.). It was when my platoon experienced their first KIA's. While we had experienced some injured in action prior to this, it was nothing like this.

      Sgt. Williams:

      We were bedding down in Kharma, Iraq, and we got machine gun fire from the river. Christian was hanging out at my vehicle when it happened and he immediately ran through the gun fire to get to his vehicle. He started shouting, "Let's go, Let's go get em!" He was the go getter type!

      Cpl. Baucus:

      On a patrol through Kharma, Iraq, on a clear quiet day there was a loud "Snap!" For a split second everybody paused not knowing exactly what it was. Phillip was walking near me and my vehicle. Phillip, being an experienced combat veteran knew exactly what it was and shouted out loud, "Sniper!" He alerted everybody and they immediately took cover.

      LCpl. Butterfield:

      While we were in Habaniyah, Iraq, in search of a known sniper. For three days straight as we patrolled through this town we got shot at by this sniper. Hitting Sgt. Adams, LCpl. Hanson and Pfc. Dean of our platoon, a Marine with tracks and killing 2 soldiers we needed to catch this sniper. On a 120+ degree sunny day, we needed a fire team to move up to a ridge that overlooked the town. The team consisted of volunteers and Tony was right there beside me ready to go!

      LCpl. Hanson:

      We stopped in K.V., Iraq, to rest and recover for a couple days. We typically operated 16 hours a day and slept on the dirt under the stars with no luxuries, so rest on a base was like vacation! While we were there, Jason didn't just want to rest, he wanted to help the team. Our vehicles had a reoccurring issue with the "Planetaries"(wheel bearings), and rather than rest, Jason spent hours working on a Planetary and Control Arm with Matthew Cornett and I.

      These Marines are my hero's, they kept me safe every night as I slept. And as you read one small story of each of them, you can easily understand they all had exactly what was needed to be a Marine. The hard charging and unselfish attitude of these fine men is the reason I consider them to be my personal hero's.

      There's nothing you can do to prepare yourself or others for a tragedy of this magnitude.

      God Speed.



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