Last summer, a friend gave me a copy of “My Men Are My Heroes”, the book which tells the story of Marine First Sergeant Brad Kasal, the senior NCO in 3/1’s Weapons Company in Iraq during the November 2004 Battle for Fallujah. As I had several other books I was either reading or planned to read, I put this one in the queue with anticipation of reading it in a few months. Last week as I packed for a beach vacation and brought it along.
As a Marine, I thoroughly enjoyed the book which was full of familiar stories, jargon, history, and acronyms. The author did a good job keeping the material organized and sectioned. Much of the book provided great insight into Marine training and preparation required to succeed in combat as well as the complicated logistics and rules of engagement in combat situations.
Long before you’ll read about “The House Of Hell” where First Sergeant Kasal is shot (as seen on the book cover), the author takes you briefly through Kasal’s life growing up in Iowa, his joining the Corps, and into the challenging career of a Marine Grunt.
You’ll read about how Kasal was considered by some Marines to be the toughest Marine (mentally and physically) they had met and how he could “outrun, outfight, outshoot, and outthink the much younger men he led”. Many of his Marines called him “Robo-Grunt” because he was able to run them into the ground lone before he got tired.
After being medevac’d from Fallujah, First Sergeant Kasal endured unimaginable physical pain during the many surgeries and long recovery process but he describes his greatest pain as not being able to return to the fight with his men in Iraq.
“To this day, many consider it a miracle that I lived after the severe blood loss and trauma caused by seven gunshot wounds and several dozen shrapnel wounds. I simple see it as just the love for a fellow Marine and a little bit of toughness and stubbornness. Throughout this entire ordeal from the time of being wounded until I was medically evacuated close to an hour later, and despite the multiple wounds and loss of blood, I never lost consciousness or quit my post while guarding that doorway. While some may call this heroic, I just call it loyalty. It was because I loved the Marine next to me and I was determined to do anything it took to keep him alive, even at my own risk. He would have done the same for me. It’s called being a Marine – we’re all brothers and a family.”
Kasal struggled with depression, doubt, and fear during his rehabilitation. He offers his advice to others in similar situations which includes not being afraid to ask for help, not being afraid to talk about what you’re thinking and doing, and understanding that you will succeed or fail based on your own willpower.
I was very impressed with First Sergeant Kasal’s endurance, bearing, unselfishness, courage, loyalty to the Corps, and love for his brother Marines. A true Marine leader.
“My Men Are My Heroes” should be required reading for all Marines, especially Infantry Marines and Corpsmen.
I understand that Sergeant Major Kasal is still serving. Always Faithful!
Thank you Marine for sharing your experiences and love of Corps in “My Men Are My Heroes”. Semper Fi Brother!