Friday, May 28, 2004


Ernie Pyle, however, likely would not have overlooked Marine Capt. Brian R. Chontosh. What's amazing, to me, is that we all can name at least three of the Abu Ghraib prison abusers, because their pictures and names have been in the news for weeks now. But nobody knows Capt. Chontosh, because his name hasn't been in the New York Times or the Philadelphia Inquirer, or my newspaper. Here's his story:

While leading his platoon north on Highway 1 toward Ad Diwaniyah, Chontosh's platoon moved into a coordinated ambush of mortars, rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons fire. With coalitions tanks blocking the road ahead, he realized his platoon was caught in a kill zone.

He had his driver move the vehicle through a breach along his flank, where he was immediately taken under fire from an entrenched machine gun. Without hesitation, Chontosh ordered the driver to advanced directly at the enemy position enabling his .50 caliber machine gunner to silence the enemy.

He then directed his driver into the enemy trench, where he exited his vehicle and began to clear the trench with an M16A2 service rifle and 9 millimeter pistol. His ammunition depleted, Chontosh, with complete disregard for his safety, twice picked up discarded enemy rifles and continued his ferocious attack.

When a Marine following him found an enemy rocket propelled grenade launcher, Chontosh used it to destroy yet another group of enemy soldiers.

When his audacious attack ended, he had cleared over 200 meters of the enemy trench, killing more than 20 enemy soldiers and wounding several others.

Ernie would have told it straight, not much more than that. But he would have found a twist here and a touch there and brought a tear to your eye even as he took your breath away.