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Posted: 10/19/2004 1:19:19 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/19/2004 1:21:17 PM EST by hepcat85]
Possible dupe...but I just had to post it in case it's not.

Really amazing.


Article here

Salvadoran Army Cited for Heroism in Iraq



NAJAF, Iraq (AP) - One of his friends was dead, 12 others lay wounded and the four soldiers still left standing were surrounded and out of ammunition. So Salvadoran Cpl. Samuel Toloza said a prayer, whipped out his switchblade knife and charged the Iraqi gunmen.

In one of the only know instances of hand-to-hand combat in the Iraq conflict, Toloza stabbed several attackers who were swarming around a comrade. The stunned assailants backed away momentarily, just as a relief column came to their rescue.

"We never considered surrender. I was trained to fight until the end," said the 25-year-old Toloza, one of 380 El Salvador soldiers whose heroism is being cited just as criticism is leveled against other members of the multinational force in Iraq.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said recently the Central American unit has "gained a fantastic reputation among the coalition" and expressed hope that they will stay beyond their scheduled departure.

Phil Kosnett, who heads the Coalition Provisional Authority in this holy Shiite city, says he owes his life to Salvadorans who repelled a well-executed insurgent attack on his three-car convoy in March. He's nominated six of them for the U.S. Army's Bronze Star medal.

"You hear this snotty phrase 'coalition of the billing' for some of the smaller contingents," says Kosnett, referring to the apparent eagerness of some nations to charge their Iraq operations to Washington. "The El Sals? No way. These guys are punching way above their weight. They're probably the bravest and most professional troops I've every worked with."

The Salvadorans are eager to stress their role as peacekeepers rather than warriors, perhaps with an eye to public opinion back home. Masked protesters last week seized the cathedral in the capital of San Salvador, demanding that President-elect Tony Saca pull the troops out of Iraq.

Saca, who takes office June 1, has said he will leave the unit in Iraq until August as planned, despite the early departure of the Spanish troops under which they were serving. The other three Central American contingents - from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras - have already returned home or are scheduled to do so soon.

"We didn't come here to fire a single shot. Our rifles were just part of our equipment and uniforms. But we were prepared to repel an attack," says Col. Hugo Omar Orellana Calidonio, a 27-year army veteran who commands the Cuscatlan Battalion.

The troops, El Salvador's first peacekeepers abroad, conducted a wide range of humanitarian missions in Najaf. They provided books, electricity, playground equipment and other supplies to destitute schools and helped farmers with irrigation works and fertilizer supplies.

"Our country came out of a similar situation as in Iraq 12 years ago, so people in El Salvador can understand what is happening here," said Calidonio, referring to a civil war between the U.S.-backed government and leftist guerrillas that left some 75,000 dead. The military was held responsible for widespread abuses.

"We came here to help and we were helping. Our relationship with the people was excellent. They were happy with what we were doing," Calidonio says.

Then came April 4, when armed followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr seized virtual control of the city and staged attacks on two camps - Baker and Golf - adjacent bases on the fringes of Najaf occupied by the Salvadoran and Spanish units.

When Toloza and 16 other soldiers arrived that morning at a low-walled compound of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, about 1.2 miles from their camp, they found its 350 occupants had melted away and themselves trapped by al-Sadr's al-Mahdi militia.

Lt. Col. Francisco Flores, the battalion's operations officer, said the surrounded soldiers held their fire for nearly half an hour, fearful of inflicting civilian casualties, even as 10 of their number were wounded by rocket-propelled grenades and bullets from assault rifles and machine guns.

After several hours of combat, the besieged unit ran out of ammunition, having come with only 300 rounds for each of their M-16 rifles. Pvt. Natividad Mendez, Toloza's friend for three years, lay dead, riddled by two bullets probably fired by a sniper. Two more were wounded as the close-quarters fighting intensified.

"I thought, 'This is the end.' But at the same time I asked the Lord to protect and save me," Toloza recalled.

The wounded were placed on a truck while Toloza and the three other soldiers moved on the ground, trying to make their way back to the base. They were soon confronted with al-Sadr's fighters, about 10 of whom tried to seize one of the soldiers.

"My immediate reaction was that I had to defend my friend, and the only thing I had in my hands was a knife," Toloza said.

As reinforcements arrived to save Toloza's unit, the two camps were under attack, with the El Salvadorans and a small U.S. contingent of soldiers and civilian security personnel trying to protect the perimeter and retake an adjoining seven-story hospital captured by the insurgents.

The Spanish didn't fight, and only after a long delay agreed to send out their armored vehicles to help evacuate the wounded. Flores says he cannot question the Spanish decisions that day, but with a slightly sardonic smile adds that they "could have helped us sooner."

U.S. troops have now replaced the Spanish, as negotiations continue with al-Sadr in hopes that a battle for Najaf can be avoided.

Salvadoran officers, many of whom were trained at military schools in the United States, say they're pleased to be working with the Americans.

Link Posted: 10/19/2004 1:21:22 PM EST
We haven't seen this one for a while. Its a good story. Badass mofo.
Link Posted: 10/19/2004 1:22:02 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/19/2004 1:22:20 PM EST by hepcat85]

Originally Posted By Combat_Jack:
We haven't seen this one for a while. Its a good story. Badass mofo.



I'm always the last to know......

Thanks for not crapping on me because it's a dupe Jack.
Link Posted: 10/19/2004 1:52:49 PM EST
I hadn't seen it and had not known of the heroics of the El Sals.

damn, that is an uplifting story of which we should hear/see more of (re: our allies)

thanks Hepcat85 for the story

and Thanks, Cpl. Toloza! for your bravery/ support

Link Posted: 10/19/2004 2:07:16 PM EST
Wow, thanks for the link. Those are some brave soldiers!

Interesting comment about the Spanish troops, too. hmmmm...

Just think...if John Kerry had gotten his way back in the 80's, these brave soldiers would be in a mass grave or alive & oppressed under an Daniel Ortega regime. God, I hate commies.

Scott
Link Posted: 10/19/2004 4:25:33 PM EST

Originally Posted By Bullitt3401:
Wow, thanks for the link. Those are some brave soldiers!

Interesting comment about the Spanish troops, too. hmmmm...

Just think...if John Kerry had gotten his way back in the 80's, these brave soldiers would be in a mass grave or alive & oppressed under an Daniel Ortega regime. God, I hate commies.

Scott



Sure!

Besides...............

It's just you and me Bullitt...we're the caboose on the Arfcom knowledge train!
Link Posted: 10/19/2004 4:28:07 PM EST

Originally Posted By Bullitt3401:
Wow, thanks for the link. Those are some brave soldiers!

Interesting comment about the Spanish troops, too. hmmmm...

Just think...if John Kerry had gotten his way back in the 80's, these brave soldiers would be in a mass grave or alive & oppressed under an Daniel Ortega regime. God, I hate commies.

Scott




Yeap.
Link Posted: 10/19/2004 4:31:52 PM EST
A group(don't remember which one) got together and bought/presented him with a high grade fighting knife.
Link Posted: 10/19/2004 4:38:02 PM EST
Treelander, is that Gaelic in your sig? Whats it say?
Link Posted: 10/19/2004 4:57:07 PM EST

Originally Posted By Sumo2000:
Treelander, is that Gaelic in your sig? Whats it say?




It's a haggis recipe!
Link Posted: 10/19/2004 5:16:03 PM EST

Originally Posted By Sumo2000:
Treelander, is that Gaelic in your sig? Whats it say?



[hint]And shepherds we shall be, for thee my Lord for thee[/hint]
Link Posted: 10/20/2004 8:29:59 AM EST

Originally Posted By treelander:
A group(don't remember which one) got together and bought/presented him with a high grade fighting knife.



Does anyone remember the follow up story. I think they had pics of the group presenting the knife to the Cpl.
Link Posted: 10/20/2004 8:34:08 AM EST
That man is a hero.

Link Posted: 10/20/2004 8:40:36 AM EST

Originally Posted By treelander:

Originally Posted By Sumo2000:
Treelander, is that Gaelic in your sig? Whats it say?



[hint]And shepherds we shall be, for thee my Lord for thee[/hint]



Boondock?




Originally Posted By Combat_Jack:
We haven't seen this one for a while. Its a good story. Badass mofo.




I posted the good Corporal in the "TOUGHEST" US Military Pix Thread

I spent some time in El Salvador. IMHO, they should let their troops carry their machetes from home. Out in the sticks, these guys wear a machete 24/7 and know how to "use" them.
Link Posted: 10/20/2004 8:42:37 AM EST
Nice story. This is the first time I'd heard about it. But of course that should come as no shock being the national media would not want to devote a single minute of attention in Iraq to something positive.
Link Posted: 10/20/2004 8:46:24 AM EST
Dupe or not...THAT brave warrior deserves our respect and a damn medal for his incredible heroism!

I'd love to see POTUS call him to the White House along with the El Sal ambassador to honor the man...and his compadres.

Hey...Hiram Ranger...why not?
Link Posted: 10/20/2004 8:59:29 AM EST

Originally Posted By Bullitt3401:
Just think...if John Kerry had gotten his way back in the 80's, these brave soldiers would be in a mass grave or alive & oppressed under an Daniel Ortega regime. God, I hate commies.



Very good point.

Worked a while back with a Reserve Captain Ranger qualified who spent a tour in El Salvador as an advisor during the 80s. Said that they were EXTREMELY bad-ass.
Link Posted: 10/20/2004 9:22:07 AM EST
Did anyone else notice that the author refered to the knife as a switchblade, but the knife pictured isn't? Sort of like the generic use of "assualt weapon."
Link Posted: 10/20/2004 9:41:46 AM EST

Originally Posted By hepcat85:
The Spanish didn't fight, and only after a long delay agreed to send out their armored vehicles to help evacuate the wounded.



Fucking cowards.
Link Posted: 10/20/2004 9:42:58 AM EST
MUCHO MACHO!!!
Link Posted: 10/20/2004 9:49:41 AM EST

Originally Posted By deimos:
MUY MUCHO MACHO!!!



Fixed it for ya.
Link Posted: 10/20/2004 9:57:29 AM EST

Originally Posted By BayEagle:

Originally Posted By treelander:

Originally Posted By Sumo2000:
Treelander, is that Gaelic in your sig? Whats it say?



[hint]And shepherds we shall be, for thee my Lord for thee[/hint]



Boondock?



Yep...
Link Posted: 10/20/2004 10:00:28 AM EST
Very brave soldier. Way to go!
Link Posted: 10/20/2004 10:28:47 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/20/2004 10:29:33 AM EST by painrx]
Who said you shouldn't bring a knife to a gunfight?

Screw giving the guy a new knife, give the bad mofo some ammo for next time!

Notice the big difference between the good guys and the bad guys.

Them: Capture unarmed civilians trying to rebuild your shithole. The prisoner is outnumbered, outguned, and bound before being beheaded. Somehow this is heroic?

Us: You're probably in the clear but they're probably going to get your friend. You rush upon 10 armed Iraqi wackjobs with only your 3 1/2" blade and a set of brass balls. You win while the communist Spaniards cower in fear.
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