Joel Mowbray

  Staff Sgt. Andrew R. Pokorny was one of two men manning machine guns in the rear of a 25-ton armored personnel carrier as it was on a routine patrol along the Euphrates River on June 13.  When the vehicle went down a four-foot drop, the driver lost control, and the carrier flipped.  As the vehicle began to flip, Pvt. Randall Funderburk was falling out—but Pokorny grabbed him and threw him back inside.  The hero, who thought not about himself but his fellow soldier, was struck by the vehicle and killed.  The 30-year-old, who was not even supposed to be out on patrol but insisted on going that day, left behind his wife, Martha, and their son, Kodi, and two daughters, Kristen and Andie.

  Pfc. Jesse Halling enlisted in the Army following his high school graduation last summer.  On June 7, his squad under guerilla attack from Saddam loyalists positioned on the rooftops, Halling went out with two other soldiers to engage the enemy.  The 19-year-old from Indianapolis was firing a machine gun from atop a Humvee while telling the others inside the vehicle to take cover from the rocket-propelled grenades.  Even under intense incoming fire, Halling chose to stay at his post rather than taking shelter inside the Humvee.  Shrapnel from an exploding grenade ripped through the hero’s jaw.  Halling died soon after at the hospital.

  At the funeral, Brig. Gen. Randal Castro told Halling’s family. “There are three to five soldiers alive today because of Jesse’s heroism.”

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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