17 April 2011

"I told him to protect his Marines like a pit bull and he did just that"

Statement from SSgt Jason Rogers' Company Commander:

SSgt Rogers exemplified the term Marine. He was a true mentor to the Marines that he led, he was slow to yell, quick to correct, and happy to praise.

Young Marines respected him; his magnetic personality and smile put young men at ease in tough situations.

I am grateful to have known him and I know that I will never forget what he did for my Marines.

On the day prior to SSgt Rogers going out on the next operation, I pulled him in my office and told him "your job is to look out for the well being of your Marines, protect them like a pit bull." On that day a situation arose where he did just that.

Two of his Marines were severely wounded while clearing a compound. One of SSgt Rogers' Marines struck a pressure plate IED.

SSgt Rogers immediately recognized the gravity of the situation and rushed to the aid of his injured Marines. He rushed to their aid and arrived to find that they had sustained very serious wounds and would surely die if he didn't do something.

SSgt Rogers was a rock solid example in a traumatic situation, directing the Marines to stay calm and keep focused, while he continued to ensure that the Marines tending to the casualties were responsive and coherent.

SSgt Rogers ordered the Marines to keep the casualties responding with oral communication. Even after this group of Marines had already experienced one mass casualty situation that day, SSgt Rogers was able to provide the combat tested leadership that kept their focus on the task at hand.

Recognizing that his wounded Marines would require stretchers to be moved and that his Marines would soon die if they didn't receive higher level care, SSgt Rogers wasted no time and assigned the remaining engineers to assist the Corpsman in preparing the two wounded Marines for evacuation.

Without regard for his own life and focused solely on getting his Marines to safety, he charged across 20 meters of uncleared, IED laden terrain in order to retrieve two litters from his nearby vehicle. He unhesitatingly crossed the 20 meter IED laden area in order to make his way back to his Marines.

Once he returned, he instructed the remaining engineers to prepare the casualties for evacuation.

Fueled by a tenacious desire to evacuate his Marines to safety, SSgt Rogers once again without hesitation or regard for his own life, placed himself between the enemy's devices and his Marines by using a Vallon metal detector to sweep a lane for their evacuation.

As he cleared the lane that he had traversed twice previously, he picked up a metallic signature with his metal detector. As SSgt Rogers went to confirm the IED, it detonated, and he succumbed to his wounds instantly.

Through his heroic actions and ferocious desire to save the lives of his critically wounded Marines, he paid the ultimate price and ensured that every last Marine came out of the compound alive.

Had SSgt Rogers not taken the point man position in order to provide freedom of movement to the litter bearers, the lead litter team would most certainly have struck the IED and led to the lost lives of most if not all of the engineer squad.

SSgt Rogers is a hero in the truest sense of the word. I can't tell you how proud I am to say that I knew him and I will tell my children and grand children of the Marine who guarded the lives of his Marines with ferociousness tenacity.

On the day he left I told him to protect his Marines like a pit bull and he did just that.

Capt John Shubeck D Company
Commander/ RCT-8 Engineer
1st CEB, 2d MarDiv (FWD)

Rest easy, Staff Sergeant. Your Marines are safe.

Update, 21 April. Please take a few moments to watch this interview with Jason's mom, Jenny Smith.

Part 2 is here. For some reason I can't embed both of them, so make sure to click through and watch the second half.

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