View Full Version : Saluting a Marine's bravery

04-14-07, 06:27 AM
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Saluting a Marine's bravery

Despite being wounded, Christopher Adlesperger continued fighting to save fellow Marines in the 2004 Fallujah battle.

The Orange County Register

CAMP PENDLETON - Less than three months into his deployment in Iraq, Christopher Adlesperger got what he joined the U.S. Marines for: adventure and excitement.

During Operation Phantom Fury, the second battle of Fallujah in late 2004, the private first class and his platoon were in a fierce firefight inside a house full of insurgents with machine guns.

He would later tell his fellow Marines that he thought he was going to die but if that was to be the case, he wanted to do a few things first: take care of his comrades and die with his finger on the trigger.

Despite being hit with fragments from an enemy grenade, Adlesperger managed to single-handedly reach a stairwell and move three Marines and a Navy Corpsman to the rooftop, where they could get medical attention.

He returned moments later to once again face and kill the enemy, ultimately paving the way to help clear the last insurgent strongpoint in the Jolan District of Fallujah.

Adlesperger, 20, did not die that day. And even though he didn't see it that way, on Nov. 10, 2004, he became a hero.

On Friday in front of about 1,000 5th Marines, some veterans and family members at Camp Pendleton, Adlesperger joined a select pantheon of warriors when Major General John Paxton presented his parents with a Navy Cross, the second highest honor given to Marines for combat valor.

Adlesperger was fatally shot on Dec. 9, 2004, in a separate incident when he was helping clear another house, less than a month after the firefight that got him an infield meritorious promotion to lance corporal and eventually the Navy Cross.

The Albuquerque, N.M. native became only the 15th Marine to receive the Navy Cross for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Paxton praised Adlesperger's "quiet, steadfast valor," in a 45-minute sun-swept midday ceremony at which family members wiped tears.

"He made the Marine Corps better, his fellow marines better and the world better,' said the commanding general of the 1st Marine Division. "You have our undying gratitude."

Contact the writer: 949-465-5424 or vjolly@ocregister.com


04-14-07, 06:35 AM
Family of Marine killed in Iraq accepts Navy Cross <br />
Chris Adlesperger is posthumously given the second-highest award for bravery. <br />
By Tony Perry, Times Staff Writer <br />
April 14, 2007 <br />
<br />

04-14-07, 07:14 AM
General: Marine will never be forgotten; 'He made us all braver'

By: MARK WALKER - Staff Writer


Annette Griego holds a photograph of her son Lance Cpl. Christopher Adlesperger, who was killed in Iraq, after a Navy Cross presentation ceremony for Adlesperger at Camp Pendleton on Friday.
HAYNE PALMOUR IV Staff Photographer

CAMP PENDLETON -- He was only 20 and just a private when killed in battle in Iraq, but a general promised Friday that Lance Cpl. Christopher Adlesperger will live forever in the annals of Marine Corps valor.

"He made us all braver," said Maj. Gen. John Paxton after Adlesperger's parents were presented with the Navy Cross, the second-highest honor a Marine can be awarded for combat action.

Adlesperger was given the honor posthumously, having been killed in another battle three weeks after his heroics during a firefight in the insurgent-riddled city of Fallujah resulted in the citation.

"He showed us the way that day," Paxton told more than 200 Marines, sailors, family members and guests after presenting the award near the base's Camp San Mateo headquarters of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. "He represented to all of us what valor is all about."

Adlesperger's moments of valor came in 2004 on Nov. 10, the day the Marine Corps celebrates each year as its birthday.

The rifleman, who had been a Marine for less than a year, was part of a squad that entered a house in Fallujah during one of the largest and most intense battles of the war in Iraq.

The squad immediately came under heavy machine gun fire, which killed the point man, Lance Cpl. Erick Hodges, and injured Navy medical corpsman Alonso Rogero and Lance Cpl. Ryan Sunnerville.

Adlesperger immediately attacked despite suffering a slight facial wound from a grenade explosion. He is credited in the citation from the secretary of the Navy with going on to single-handedly clear a stairwell and rooftop, exposing himself to heavy fire in the process.

After helping move the wounded to the rooftop, he demanded to take the lead in the final assault on the machine gun position. He also was the first to re-enter a courtyard outside the home, killing an insurgent as he did, the Navy said.

The courage and leadership shown that day was something his platoon members said Friday they were not surprised to see from the New Mexico native they knew as "Sperge."

"He would tell me he was just doing his job," said Cpl. Carlos Batista, who joined the battalion, known as the Darkhorse, at the same time as Adlesperger. "He was the greatest Marine I ever met."

The man who led the platoon, 1st Lt. Michael Cragholm, now works as an instructor at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. Before coming to the ceremony, he said, he watched as 188 new Marines, all of whom he said knew the name and story of Adlesperger, graduated from the course.

"He is the warrior that the Marine Corps will remember," Cragholm said of the graduate of Albuquerque's El Dorado High School.

Adlesperger was killed by insurgents Dec. 9, 2004, while searching a building in Fallujah. He was given a posthumous promotion to lance corporal.

His parents said Friday that they were taken aback when they learned what their son had done shortly before his death, a story he only hinted at in messages to them after the battle.

"I don't know where he got the courage from," said his father, Gary Adlesperger. "I was shocked at first to hear of his bravery."

His son would have been very humbled, he said, but pleased to receive the Navy Cross.

"He would have been embarrassed but proud to know of the impact he had on his fellow Marines."

Wearing her late son's dog tags, his mother Annette Griego said her only wish was that her son could have been present to receive the award himself. His decision to join the Marine Corps surprised her, she said, but he explained he wasn't interested in just getting an education and paycheck from a job in the civilian world.

"He said he wanted his life to mean something," she said of her son, who had been nominated by his battalion commander for the Medal of Honor.

Maj. Gen. Paxton reminded those present that a Marine doesn't "win" the Navy Cross.

"You earn the cross for service above and beyond the call of duty," he said. "He wasn't, 'We gotta do this.' He was, 'Follow me.' "

Lance Cpl. Maxine Cooper, one of Adlesperger's high school classmates, attended the ceremony because, she said, she needed to honor his memory.

Her mother, Lou Filanosky, drove from New Mexico to attend the event.

"When she joined the ROTC in high school a lot of kids treated her pretty badly," Filanosky said. "He didn't. He was always checking with her to make sure she was all right. Chris was a good kid."

The "good kid," Paxton said, is now a member of an exclusive fraternity of past and present Marines whose acts in battle exemplify the credo of the Marine Corps -- honor, courage and commitment.

-- Contact staff writer Mark Walker at (760) 740-3529 or mlwalker@nctimes.com.


04-14-07, 08:44 AM
Steadfast valor, and a Navy Cross
Marine Corps honors fallen infantryman
By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Apr 14, 2007 8:50:05 EDT

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — He had just turned 20, a young rifleman from New Mexico who was meritoriously promoted to lance corporal in a break between intense firefights in battle for Fallujah in late 2004.

But the action of Lance Cpl. Christopher S. Adlesperger on Nov. 10, 2004 — his reaction and response after his squad’s point man, his best friend, was shot and killed as they entered a building — already has become part of the Corps’ combat lore.

On Friday, Adlesperger, who died in Fallujah one month after that ill-fated battle, joined an elite brotherhood when the Marine Corps posthumously awarded him the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest for valor in combat.

The medal is the 15th Navy Cross awarded to Marines for their combat actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. Adlesperger is the fifth member of the Camp Pendleton-based 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, to receive the Navy Cross, the most service crosses given to members of any unit that’s fought in Iraq or Afghanistan so far.

Adlesperger “demonstrated courage above and beyond the call of duty,” Maj. Gen. John Paxton, who commands 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, told a crowd during an afternoon ceremony after he presented Navy Cross medals to Adlesperger’s parents.

“There were five phases of the gunfight that day¬… [and] Chris was there all five times. He was there out at front,” said Paxton, his voice cracking slightly at times as he spoke about the young rifleman.

After forcing their way into the building, he noted, Adlesperger single-handedly cleared a stairway — a job that often requires a fire team if not a full squad, secured an evacuation site for the wounded, moved the wounded to safety and fought insurgent fighters, even knocking out an enemy machinegun.

Adlesperger, the two-star general said, represented “what valor was all about. Quiet, steadfast valor.”

Adlesperger, who hailed from Albuquerque, N.M., had followed his best friend, Lance Cpl. Erick Hodges, into a house as they cleared buildings in Fallujah’s Jolan district, a hotbed of insurgent activity, in the early days of the fall incursion to retake the city. The enemy machinegun that killed Hodges also wounded two other Marines, and Adlesperger immediately went into full combat mode, firing at insurgents in the house even as an enemy grenade exploded nearby, wounding him with shrapnel.

Adlesperger fought through the stairway, clearing it and the rooftop, where he moved the wounded men to safety. He continued to battle insurgents, firing at them from different locations, and he rejoined the platoon to lead point on a final assault on a machinegun position in the nearby courtyard. He’s credited with knocking out a major insurgent position in Jolan.

Adlesperger’s platoon commander, 1st Lt. Michael Cragholm, recalled him as “a model Marine: Clean-cut, muscular, lean.”

“He is the warrior that the Marine Corps will remember,” said Cragholm, now a series commander training recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

Adlesperger — known as “Sperg” to friends like Cpl. Carlos Batista — will long be remembered for his leadership, bravery and unending energy.

“He was the kind of person everyone looked up to,” Batista said. “He’s always the first one in the door, the most motivated Marine I’ve met.”

“He was always the motivated one, always the one in the front,” Sgt. Justin Hannah told the crowd. “I’m proud to say I fought with Christopher Adlesperger.”

If he could ask him today, Hannah noted , “he would just tell me that he was doing his job.”

Adlesperger’s family, including his mother and stepfather, father and siblings, listened intently as the Marines spoke. The camouflage-clad men of 3/5 stood in formation in front of a large U.S. flag and waved in the steady breeze.

“He was just a very special young man,” said Annette Griego, Adlesperger’s mother. Her husband, Phillip Griego, added: “He set a very good example for his brothers and sister.”

Gary Adlesperger said his son would have appreciated the ceremony but preferred less attention. “He was very humble. He would be embarrassed by it,” he said. “But he would have been honored.”

Adlesperger’s medal is the fifth Navy Cross awarded to men with 3/5, the most service crosses given to members of any unit that’s fought in Iraq or Afghanistan so far. The others:

** 1st Lt. Brian R. Chontosh, combined anti-armor platoon commander with Weapons Company, for his actions after his platoon came under a coordinated ambush south of Dawaniyah on March 25, 2003. After leading an assault on a machinegun, he cleared a trench of Iraqi fighters with his weapons and grabbed and fired Iraqi weapons and an Iraqi rocket-propelled grenade launcher against enemy fighters — single-handedly clearing more 200 meters of trenches of enemy fighters.

** Lance Cpl. Joseph B. Perez, a rifleman with India Company, for clearing and leading his squad in a fight to take an enemy Iraqi trench south of Baghdad on April 4, 2003. At one point, he continued to lead and direct his squad despite getting shot in the shoulder and torso by Iraqi fighters, and he silenced a machinegun bunker by firing an AT-4 rocket into it, killing four enemy fighters.

** Sgt. Jarrett A. Kraft, a squad leader with Weapon’s mortar platoon, for his actions organizing and leading three counterassaults over two hours during a battalion push through Fallujah on Dec. 23, 2004. Several times, Kraft, of Fresno, Calif., was knocked down by enemy grenades, wounding him, and the blast of a U.S. Abrams battle tank’s main gun, but continued to lead the men and help the wounded.

** Cpl. Jeremiah W. Workman, a squad leader with Weapon’s mortar platoon, for his actions in Fallujah on Dec. 23, 2004, as he provided covering fire in a heavy firefight that allowed Marines isolated in a building to move to safety. Twice, he led assaults into the building to battle insurgent fighters and rescue wounded Marines. As he provided additional covering fire, a grenade exploded by Workman, of Richwood, Ohio, sending shrapnel into his legs and arms, but the corporal continued to fire. Despite his wounds, he led a third assault into the building to help the Marines before reinforcements arrived. He’s credited with killing 24 insurgents during that battle.


04-15-07, 08:23 AM
The Herald - Everett, Wash. - www.HeraldNet.com <br />
<br />
Published: Sunday, April 15, 2007 <br />
Navy Cross honors Marine <br />
Not present is a jailed Mukilteo man, who was close friend <br />
<br />
Los Angeles Times <br />

10-06-08, 09:18 AM
One hell of a Marine!

10-09-08, 02:10 AM
that motivates the hell out of me. its marines like that, that make me wish i had never gotten hurt in ITB. SEMPER FI DEVIL DOG