Corporal Brady A. Gustafson,
21, an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 7th
Marine Regiment, was meritoriously promoted to
his current grade and awarded the Navy Cross
during a ceremony March 27, 2009 aboard Marine
Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms,
||Marine Corps Air Ground
Combat Center, Twentynine Palms,
CA - (04/02/09)
“Sorry, guys, I can’t keep going.”
Those were the words of Lance Cpl. Brady A.
Gustafson to the Marines in his vehicle as he
was pulled away from his smoking machine gun
minutes after his platoon was ambushed July 21,
2008, by withering enemy fire in Shewan,
Nobody blamed Gustafson, 21, an infantryman with
2nd Platoon, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 7th
Marine Regiment, for not being able to continue
the fight, since the opening volley on the
Marine mounted patrol included a
rocket-propelled grenade that pierced the shell
of the mine-resistant armor-protected vehicle in
which Gustafson was manning the turret gun.
That RPG severed
Gustafson’s right leg, and yet he had the
presence of mind to locate the enemy positions
and place well-aimed machine gun fire on them,
providing cover fire for the Marines in his
“What I like about today is
that this is an opportunity to honor a Marine
who had the humility, courage, presence of mind
and camaraderie to keep going,” said Lt. Col.
Richard D. Hall, the former commanding officer
of 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines,
For his actions that day last year, Gustafson
was awarded the Navy Cross and meritoriously
promoted to corporal by Maj. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser,
commanding general, 1st Marine Division, at a
ceremony Mar. 27 at Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray
Field at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.
they were deployed to Afghanistan in support of
Operation Enduring Freedom – noting that
Gustafson was more concerned about the welfare
of his brother Marines than his own safety.
“He represents what is best about the
human spirit. You can’t buy that kind of human altruism.”|
The Navy Cross is the highest honor specific to the Naval
services and the second highest award in the U.S. military.
Gustafson is just the 18th Marine to earn the award since
the beginning of the Global War on Terror.
The Marines of 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines battled elements
of Taliban and Islamist extremists in the Helmand and Farah
provinces of Afghanistan.
Gustafson and Company G were patrolling in the village of
Shewan, noted as a haven for insurgents, when they were
ambushed from multiple positions by insurgents with RPGs and
small-arms fire, according to the award citation for the
After the RPG pierced the side of
Gustafson’s MRAP and struck him in the leg, causing the
severe injury, he stayed focused and identified enemy firing
positions, which he engaged with accurate machine-gun fire.
He noticed that the vehicle to his rear
had become disabled by another RPG and instructed his MRAP
driver to push the hobbled vehicle out of the “kill-zone.”
By doing so, Gustafson’s MRAP became
shrouded in fire. Through all this, Gustafson continued to
direct fire at the enemy positions, suppressing their
attacks and allowing the Marines to continue to engage the
“Of every Marine I talked to, they all said if they had been
hit in the leg with an RPG, the last thing they’d be
thinking about is staying in the turret,” said 1st Lt.
Andrew S. Bohn, 25, platoon commander of 2nd Plt., from
Davis, Calif., and an occupant of the second vehicle that
Gustafson directed to be pushed out of the line of fire.
Without that presence of mind, Bohn and the four other
Marines from that vehicle may not have made it out of the
Only after firing more than 400 rounds, and reloading twice,
did Gustafson permit combat aid-givers to remove him from
the turret to apply medical treatment to his significant
injuries. Lance Cpl. Cody Comstock, a member of Gustafson’s
platoon, applied his Combat Life Saver Course knowledge to
the situation, wrapping a tourniquet around Gustafson’s leg
and dressing the wound while Gustafson was still in the
“All of the lance corporals were going
off their training in immediate action - nobody panicked,”
said Bohn of his Marines. “There was a much-superior sized
force attacking us, and there was only one (noncommissioned
officer) in the platoon.”
After the action was over, Bohn recommended Gustafson for
the Silver Star, the third highest combat award for valor,
but Hall disagreed.
“My awards policy has always been strict (and)
conservative,” said Hall, from Mankato, Minn. The former
battalion commander noted that the deployment put all of his
Marines in harsh conditions, and yet so many of the Marines
excelled at operating at a high level that the
“extraordinary became ordinary.”
Even so, Gustafson’s actions were special.
“After reviewing what he did, even considering my awards
policy and all the actions of 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, it
was easy, to me, to submit his award as a Navy Cross,” Hall
Gustafson, from Eagan, Minn., has a
long road to recovery and walks with a pronounced limp on
his prosthetic right leg. The fact he suffered traumatic
injury made his family even more grateful for his return.
“(The Navy Cross) is the icing on the
cake for us, but we know that Brady didn’t do this for the
awards,” said Rick Gustafson, father to the Marine hero and
an Air Force retiree. “We’re very thankful we have him here
today. That’s our primary emotion.”
According to his parents, Gustafson intends to buy a home in
his native Minnesota and attend college somewhere near home.
“He recognizes the importance and honor of the award, but at
the same time, he feels funny about being recognized,” said
Gustafson’s mother, Kim, about her son’s quiet, unassuming
manner and reluctance to stand in front of the hundreds of
Marines, guests and media at the ceremony. “He was just
his guys’ lives."