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thedrifter
03-19-07, 04:31 PM
Feeling lucky, not heroic: Marine home after stint in Iraq
By ELAINE ALLEGRINI
SouthofBoston.com

WHITMAN - Marine Cpl. Fred Gilmetti Jr. says he is no hero even though the scar on his chin, the Purple Heart and the ribbons indicate otherwise.

‘‘I don’t consider myself a hero,’’ Gilmetti, 35, said during a visit home last week. ‘‘I’m just a Marine who did his job and got lucky. The real heroes are the eight Marines in my battalion that we lost.’’

As he was speaking, the doorbell at his father’s home rang. At the door was a local businessman; he gave Gilmetti a fruit basket and a hearty ‘‘thank you’’ for his service to the country.

Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of the day the United States invaded Iraq to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Gilmetti said the war on terrorism may never end, but the people in Iraq want to get on with their lives.

‘‘They just want to be free,’’ he said.

Gilmetti suffered a gunshot wound in the chin in January. He suffered a hairline jaw fracture and lost a tooth and a piece of bone in his chin, but he returned to his unit after surgery at a military hospital in northern Iraq.

Gilmetti, a rifleman by training, was serving with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine RCT5, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, and driving a Humvee, searching for insurgents, when he was hit.


‘‘I was close to going home, but I wanted to go back with the guys,’’ said Gilmetti, who spent his last two months in Iraq on limited duty and sporting a goatee - approved by the military - because he was unable to shave while his injury healed.

It was his second tour in Iraq, and his second injury. He suffered a concussion during an assignment on a Navy ship.

‘‘After two close calls, it was time to get out,’’ said the now clean-shaven Gilmetti.

As he prepared for his final leg of military service and more training, Gilmetti said he will return to Iraq if asked, but he is happy to be back in the U.S.

Although he is not ready to commit regarding his views of the war, Gilmetti said he is an American who is moved by the national anthem and military aircraft flying overhead, and is proud to serve his country as a Marine, as his father and older brother did. ‘‘The American people are behind you either way,’’ he said.

Ellie