Just a memorial speech

On 22 February 2005, in Mosul, Iraq, LTC Kurilla, commander of the 1st
Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division,
conducted a memorial service for SGT Adam Plumondore and SPC Clint
Gertson in Mosul, Iraq.

LTC Kurilla’s comments during the ceremony provided a glimpse of what
incredible Soldiers, friends, and heroes they both were. His comments
also echo the thoughts of many leaders who have lost Soldiers within
their command. Below are some excerpts from his comments during the

To the men of Deuce Four, we now honor our seventh warrior to die
defending the freedom of a people we neither know nor completely understand.
But such action is truly the nobility of our profession – We sacrifice
all for a people that do not fully understand the extent of our
sacrifice, a people that had never tasted the sweet waters of freedom until 30
Jan of this year. And it is because of your valiant actions, the
valiant actions of heroes like SGT Adam Plumondore and SPC Clint Gertson. I
would like to tell you about what kind of men they were as I remembered
them – for these were extraordinary men that accomplished extraordinary

Clint Gertson was the first man I met from Deuce Four three weeks
before I took command of the battalion. I was visiting Deuce Four in
February 2004 conducting live fires at Yakima Training Center. I approached
the support by fire position, and this 6’4” square-jawed PFC stood up and
greeted me with that big Texas smile and asked me if I wanted a clinic
on how to shoot; he subsequently proceeded to hit a man-sized target at
500m. I immediately knew that I would love this battalion and that if
the rest of the soldiers were half as impressive as he was, I would have
the best battalion in the Army. Gerty became a mainstay of motivation
for me. If one ever needed to know why it is a privilege and honor to
command the sons and daughters of America, they only needed to meet Clint
Gertson. Clint Gertson was the kind of man that made you proud to say
that you served with him.

I remember 11 Nov like it was yesterday. What started as a raid to kill
or capture an HVT turned into a six-hour firefight with 60 insurgents,
leaving 25 confirmed enemy dead and estimates of up to 40 killed. This
was only because of men like Clint Gertson. We were taking significant
small arms, RPG, and mortar fire when we moved to the top of a building
to get better fields of fire. As we arrived at the top of the building,
I heard the distinctive bark of the .50-cal sniper rifle from the
corner and looked over to see Gerty in all his glory. Gerty and the sniper
crew were killing RPG gunners as they moved between buildings in an
attempt to reposition on Apache company.

At one point he turned around and gave that big Texas smile and turned
back to administering death to the enemy. I also remember one month
later when Gerty missed a shot on an enemy mortar team only 300m from his
hide site (I think it was closer to 250m). I teased him that he needed
more range time, but he quickly reminded me that at least it scared the
[----] out of the enemy to drop the mortar tube and we did capture it.
Good point Gerty. Clint Gertson was the kind of man that made you proud
to say that you served with him.

SGT Adam Plumondore was also such a man, an extraordinary leader that
did extraordinary things. I had the privilege to observe the actions of
SGT Plumondore on a daily basis – and stand back in awe and wonder.
Plum was a walking uniform violation – but strangely, that is one of the
things I loved about this man. I do not think a day would go by where I
did not tell him to roll down his sleeves, buckle his chin strap, or
trim up his Delta Force mustache. Sure enough, he would make the
correction, and in the thick of a fire fight there would be Plum with sleeves
up, chin strap unbuckled, a big smile on his face and a weapon that
never missed – unless he was firing 40mm from his M203, which he often
reminded me was an area weapon.

I remember 3 Dec like it was yesterday. Sixty to seventy enemy had set
up a 2km ambush along Route Tampa and the Recon platoon, and TAC found
itself running a 2km gauntlet of 15 IEDs, over 30 RPGs, hand grenades,
and significant machine gun and AK47 fire. Six soldiers were wounded
including SPC Moore, who was blown from the hatch of his Stryker that was
now running on eight flat tires. Without missing a beat, SGT Plumondore
immediately jumped up and manned the MK19 and suppressed and killed
enemy positions, allowing the platoon to get casualties to the CSH and
then launch a battalion counterattack that killed 22 enemy.

I remember 11 Dec like it was yesterday. As we were beginning to exfil
from destroying a weapons cache, a suicide car bomb slammed into the
side of Hunter 1. The entire vehicle was in flames; six soldiers were
wounded. The enemy then engaged with mortars, RPGs, and machine gun fire
from three directions. Without even thinking twice, SGT Plumondore
jumped from his vehicle with fire extinguishers in his hands and his weapon
slung on his back. Without hesitation he began to put out the Stryker
on fire and assist in the evacuation of the wounded from the Stryker.

The fire out, Plum then turned his attention to the enemy and began to
engage them with precision fires. Because of his actions, Plum saved
Soldiers’ lives and the Stryker did not burn to the ground. In fact, his
determined face was back in the gunner’s hatch of his vehicle engaging
an enemy RPG team that tried to ambush the platoon during exfil –
complete with sleeves rolled up to the elbows.

How do you honor such heroes as Clint Gertson and Adam Plumondore? You
honor them by telling the stories of their friendship, camaraderie, and
fierce bravery. You honor them by continuing to fight to protect the
man on your left and right who would lay down his life so that others
might live. You honor them by continuing in this noble endeavor providing
freedom to a people we do not know or understand the sacrifices that
are made – but that is what makes America the greatest nation on earth.

We will miss them both terribly, but I know that our Deuce Four
snipers, Gerty and Plum, are looking down from Heaven continuing to look out
for us. That voice you hear in your head is Gerty calling the winds,
Plum ensuring you have the correct distance, and both always reminding you
to always look for the positive in life.

We lost another one too, different unit, not mentioned here ... SSG. Juan Solorio. Godspeed.
Just a note about that website you referred to, because I don't think there's anything meaningful I could possibly add to such powerful stuff.

What a fantastic way of communicating with the folks back home. I wish every British Army platoon had one of those (gives the Coy watchkeepers something to do). Definitely something to emulate!

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