by Brad Kasal as told to Nathaniel R. Helms
Des Moines, IA: Meredith Books. Pp. 286.
Illus., map, table, glossary. $24.95. ISBN:0-696-23236-7
of the iconic images of the Battle of Fallujah in November, 2004, was that of a
Marine being assisted as he left a
house, still holding a nine-millimeter pistol in his right hand. The story behind this picture is an amazing
tale of heroism under fire, on par with past Marine heroes like Hector
Cafferata during the Korean War or Jacklyn H. Lucas during World War II. The Marine in that photo was First Sergeant
Brad Kasal (since promoted to Sergeant Major), who received the Navy Cross for
Men Are My Heroes tells the story
behind the photo, and starts at the beginning.
Kasal???s story is told ??? including growing up in Afton, Iowa. Kasal doesn???t go into many details about
boot camp. When it comes to his career
in the Marine Corps, the book tells much more, and even provides details of how
Kasal started out as a Dragon gunner, his experience in Desert Storm, and the
details of his stint as a recruiter in the 1990s (during which he earned two
book detours slightly to discuss an incident involving a terrorist attacks on
Marines training in Kuwait. Then, it
turns to discussing his participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom, including the
fighting in An Nasariyah. Kasal???s
return to Iraq in 2004 is then discussed, and he sets the stage for the Battle
Battle of Fallujah, including Kasal???s heroic actions, is described in detail
over several chapters. One gets the
sense of just what the street fighting in Fallujah was like. One of the more notable details in this
account is the discovery of stuff that Chechens were known to wear. Finally, the events of November 13, 2004,
are discussed. Kasal???s account of what
he did that day is modest ??? almost in keeping with the title of this book.
said, the reviewer must, with all due respect, disagree with Sergeant Major
Kasal. Yes, the Marines who ultimately
helped evacuate him and the other wounded Marines were heroes, but Sergeant
Major Kasal is a hero, too. Based on
this book, his conduct was in line with countless acts of heroism in the annals
of the Marine Corps. Sergeant Major
Kasal deserves every accolade he receives and more.
himself mentions the media coverage of the war. The reviewer cannot echo his sentiments more strongly. What is most appalling is that this is a
story that many outlets of the mainstream media could have run, but didn???t ???
often preferring to focus on flimsy allegations of torture at Guantanamo Bay,
the misbehavior of a small number of MPs at Abu Ghraib, or other negative
aspects, including ???milestone??? casualties (the media held a watch for the 3,000th
casualty). It is even worse when
reports that an embedded reporter???s account was heavily re-written by editors
because it made American troops appear too heroic. There seems to be a pattern of ignoring the heroes that pervades
the mainstream media in favor of death and disaster ??? and reports of the latter
may be greatly exaggerated.