View Full Version : Marines saved during battle at An Nasiriyah

Phantom Blooper
08-12-04, 05:21 PM
August 12,2004

The fight lasted two hours.

On March 23, 2003 Marines from 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment came under heavy fire near the Iraqi city of An Nasiriyah. Gaining control of the Saddam Canal Bridge would be integral to the successful push for Baghdad.

One of the Marines' Amphibious Assault Vehicles was ablaze - five troops were still inside.

Navy Seaman Louis Fonseca Jr. got them out.

In fact, the young corpsman is credited with saving numerous lives that day. For his bravery and heroism, Fonseca, 23, was presented with the Navy Cross - the Navy's highest recognition next to the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Navy Secretary Gordon R. England made the presentation Wednesday outside the Naval Hospital aboard Camp Lejeune.

"It's a terrific day - a great day to serve and honor somebody who exhibited extreme valor and courage," England said. "Corpsmen have a long tradition, and (it is one of the) most valuable ratings in our service.

"You are the finest of the finest," England told Fonseca.

As grenades detonated and bullets whizzed through the air, Fonseca moved the injured Marines to a safer vehicle. He applied tourniquets to at least two amputees and dosed them with morphine to dull the pain.

Later, when his own AAV was immobilized by enemy fire, Fonseca braved "a wall of enemy machine gun fire," organizing and directing teams with stretchers to rescue four other wounded troops. He personally carried one to safety.

A humble Fonseca said he didn't think about what he was doing at the time.

Hospital commander Capt. Richard C. Welton wore a broad, proud smile Wednesday, but it was a small group of Marines - some in dress blues, others in camouflage - who knew first-hand of Fonseca's actions.

"Our track got hit - blew up - and I was knocked unconscious," said Cpl. Noel Trevino, who suffered a head wound in the battle near An Nasiriyah. "I saw a big flash, and the vision in my right side was gone.

"I was pulled to safety, but I blanked in and out. First I was in a house, then on a tank and then put into a helo."

Sgt. Nick Elliot, 23, from New Castle, Del., suffered severe injuries to his neck and arm. He lost much of the back of one leg. Still, he vividly remembers hearing reports of Fonseca's actions.

"I heard over the radio that he was going here and there," Elliot said.

"Even though he's in the Navy, I consider him a Marine."

Contact Eric Steinkopff at esteinkopff@jdnews.com or 353-1171, Ext. 236.

08-12-04, 11:22 PM