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March 12, 2008

America's Female Warriors Show Bravery, Loyalty

Here are two inspiring stories that should get more attention.

Some time this month, a nineteen year-old Army medic from the state of Texas will become the second woman to earn the Silver Star for valor under enemy fire. Spc. Monica Lin Brown, characteristically, plays down her achievement:

Brown, of Lake Jackson, Texas, is scheduled to receive the Silver Star later this month. She was part of a four-vehicle convoy patrolling near Jani Kheil in the eastern province of Paktia on April 25, 2007, when a bomb struck one of the Humvees.

"We stopped the convoy. I opened up my door and grabbed my aid bag," Brown said.

She started running toward the burning vehicle as insurgents opened fire. All five wounded soldiers had scrambled out.

"I assessed the patients to see how bad they were. We tried to move them to a safer location because we were still receiving incoming fire," Brown said.

Pentagon policy prohibits women from serving in front-line combat roles — in the infantry, armor or artillery, for example. But the nature of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with no real front lines, has seen women soldiers take part in close-quarters combat more than previous conflicts.

Four Army nurses in World War II were the first women to receive the Silver Star, though three nurses serving in World War I were awarded the medal posthumously last year, according to the Army's Web site.

Brown, of the 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, said ammunition going off inside the burning Humvee was sending shrapnel in all directions. She said they were sitting in a dangerous spot.

"So we dragged them for 100 or 200 meters, got them away from the Humvee a little bit," she said. "I was in a kind of a robot-mode, did not think about much but getting the guys taken care of."

For Brown, who knew all five wounded soldiers, it became a race to get them all to a safer location. Eventually, they moved the wounded some 500 yards away and treated them on site before putting them on a helicopter for evacuation.

"I did not really have time to be scared," Brown said. "Running back to the vehicle, I was nervous (since) I did not know how badly the guys were injured. That was scary."

The military said Brown's "bravery, unselfish actions and medical aid rendered under fire saved the lives of her comrades and represents the finest traditions of heroism in combat.

335-9-247+++Cpl+Diana+L+Kavanek+++14+x+11.jpgVia Miss Ladybug's post on combat artists, the Editorial Staff ran across this battlefield love story.

There is an old saying: "Handsome is, as handsome does." Had she done nothing else in her lifetime, Corporal Diana Kavanek, USMC would be, by any measure you care to name, a handsome woman.

A woman of substance.

How many women, for instance, can say they have traveled half way across the world and served as a member of a female search team:

“I found out I was going to be doing entry-control-point duty three days before I went out,” said Lance Cpl. Diana L. Kavanek, engineer, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Headquarters Group, II MEF (FWD). “It was a little shocking to me because I didn’t know I would ever be pulled for a duty like that. But I was ready to do my part.”

Headquarters and Service Company, II MHG, was chosen to fill spots on the ECP female search team after a vehicle-born improvised explosive device killed five Marines and a Sailor, three of whom were female, and injured several more on June 23.

Major Michael J. Corrado, company commander, H&S Company, II MHG, II MEF (FWD), knew of the empty billets only days before the females were scheduled to leave.

“My initial thought was to accomplish the mission by supporting Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division, and not let those bastards who bombed that seven-ton think they would weaken our resolve,” explained Corrado. “My next thought was ‘Where are we going to find the Marines to replace them’? Many of the H&S Company Marines are wearing two and three hats already.”

Entry-control-point duty is allowing some females a chance to fulfill their concept of women in the military.

“This is my opportunity to go out there and do my job,” said Lance Cpl. Christy Phim, supply warehouse clerk, II MHG. “I think we should be treated as Marines, not given special treatment based on our gender. I don’t mind ECP duty because I wanted to get out of my office and do what I joined the Marines for.”

The women are going out to check points trained and are required to wear full combat gear, in 100 degree plus temperatures, just as other Marines at the ECPs.

The female searchers treat every woman with respect, yet always as a potential insurgent.

“I take my job seriously because there are a lot of women that act suspicious,” said Phim, a Providence, R.I. native. “I think we must act professionally and as Marines so the women aren’t afraid, but so they know we mean business.”

“After seeing the posts [at the various ECPs], I was surprised to see the number of Iraqis [the females] were in contact with,” said Thresher, after the first ECP visit. “I, as the first sergeant, was no more concerned with their safety than any other Marine. They were in good spirits, alert, and willing to do whatever was asked of them.”

Having experienced life in Fallujah may make Corporal Kavanek's decision more understandable:

It took Cpl. Aaron Mankin six weeks after his injury in Iraq to finally look at himself in the mirror. What he saw brought him to tears.

"There's this stranger in the mirror that you couldn't imagine in your worst nightmare," he told ABC's Bob Woodruff. "I couldn't help but cry."

Mankin, a 25-year-old Marine, was wounded in 2005 when the vehicle he was traveling in rolled over an improvised explosive device and exploded 10 feet in the air. Four Marines died in the attack and 11 others were injured.

"I was thrown back inside the vehicle and I knew that I was on fire right away," Mankin said. Assuming he would die, Mankin closed his eyes and concentrated on what he thought would be the last image he would ever see — the face of his girlfriend, Marine Lance Corp. Diana Kavanec.

Then again, her choice may have had nothing to do with war.

Love is a powerful thing. What impressed me also about this story was the courage and confidence Aaron Mankin showed in proposing to Diane.

That is so Marine. So many men would have withdrawn into themselves, felt they had nothing to offer anymore, given in to self pity. But Aaron's fighting spirit could not be quenched even by the agony of burns that extended over 25% of his body or the anguish of his ruined face. He saw through to what was important and respected Diane enough to let her make her own choice. She chose wisely.

What a priceless wedding gift. We women are so used to being overprotected and patronized. And Diane responded to Aaron's confidence and trust with love.

I wish them all the best.

Women are doing good things in Iraq. They perform jobs that would be difficult for men due to cultural constraints:

A team consisting of five female Marines from the 1st Marine Logistics Group and two female interpreters recently conducted a census patrol in a nearby town here.

The Iraqi Women’s Engagement Team (IWET) was able to meet and talk with the local Iraqi females one-on-one, segregated from men.

“It was an eye opener,” said Sgt.Veronica Deleon, 26, a member of the IWET, from Bassett, Calif. “We realized Iraqi people are ordinary individuals that want an opportunity at life and a future for their children, just like we do.”

As this exchange demonstrates, meetings like this are vital in the effort to win Iraqi hearts and minds:

Another woman, whose two sons had recently received jobs in Tourist Town cleaning, said things are looking much better in Iraq. “With the American’s help, Baghdad is even getting better.”

“I am really thankful for the projects in Habbaniyah. Both my sons have jobs because of you. The Americans always help me. The Americans care for us more than our own people. They give us mercy.”

“(The visit) made us aware of why we are here and how important it is to conduct these missions so we can continue to earn and keep their trust,” said Deleon.

Deleon is right. Every Iraqi we win over is one who will not be siding with the insurgency and that's all part of fighting smarter, not harder.

Posted by Cassandra at March 12, 2008 07:09 AM

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The Iraqi Women’s Engagement Team (IWET) was able to meet and talk with the local Iraqi females one-on-one, segregated from men.

It is necessary not to just to respect different social groups inside a culture, but to also cultivate those groups and their interests. Only in this way can political or military grassroots recruitment be successful in the presence of kinetic operations. Such recruitment enlarges your potential energy reserve, which can be depleted by kinetic strikes.

Kinetic is the twin of potential. Kinetic energy is derived from potential and potential from kinetic. To use one but not the other is to rebel against the physical laws of the universe. And one must be a god to accomplish that, although many men and women have had the audacity to make the attempt in failure.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at March 12, 2008 09:11 AM

And one of the best ways to cultivate a women's group is to have women meet with women, without the men present.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at March 12, 2008 09:12 AM

Deleon is right. Every Iraqi we win over is one who is not siding with the insurgency, and that's all part of fighting smarter, not harder.

If the African-American community and the rest of the dupes of the Democrats ever knew a scintilla of this truth, the ones with consciences would have a very hard time not changing their view of the war and the men and women that fight in them.

And therein lies the difficulty. Our ancestors primary challenge was acquiring enough power to win. Our problem is acquiring enough of an interest in winning. And those that don't see what the benefits of victory are, won't really be motivated to acquire it, now would they.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at March 12, 2008 09:14 AM

God bless their fierce Marine hearts.

Posted by: Semper Fi Wife at March 12, 2008 10:17 AM

"Handsome" is not the word I would use for this woman. Having read the story and seen the photos, this woman is gorgeous, stunning, attractive beyond words.

Oh yeah, and she looks pretty too.

Seriously, this couple is a pair of profiles in courage. Cpl Mankin for his bravery in combat, and in confronting his fears on meeting his now bride at the airport and proposing. In fact, I'd say the latter took more courage. In combat, at least he could supress his fears by not wanting to let his buddies down. But at the airport? I cannot believe I would have had the courage to do the same. And LCpl Kavanek for her courage in standing by the man she loves.

Most marriages fail (in my mind) because the couple does not take their vows seriously. When things get rough, they give up. I remember that I made a promise to my wife and my God NOT to give up. This couple provides the strongest example of "for better or worse" that I have ever seen.

Clearly not only is she a hell of a woman, he's a hell of a man to inspire such love an loyalty.

Posted by: MikeD at March 12, 2008 11:34 AM

Well here I sit, humbled again...

Profiles in courage, indeed. Salute!

Posted by: bthun at March 12, 2008 06:26 PM

Well darlin', we womyn are just humbling kinda people, as the following story will demonstrate:

Eleven people were hanging on a rope under a helicopter, 10 men and 1 woman.

The rope was not strong enough to carry them
all, so they decided that 1 had to leave,
because otherwise they were all going to fall.

They weren't able to choose that person,
until the woman gave a very touching speech.

She said that she would voluntarily let go of the rope, because, as a woman, she was used to giving up everything for her husband and kids or for men in general, and was used to always making sacrifices with little in return.

As soon as she finished her speech,
all the men started clapping.

Posted by: "Splash" Kennedy, the Chesapeake Water Spaniel at March 12, 2008 06:41 PM


Posted by: Homer at March 12, 2008 07:49 PM

Mr. Kennedy: Heh. :)

Cass: Fine piece.

Posted by: Grim at March 13, 2008 12:10 AM

It is the existence of people like Kennedy that will forever convince me that Central Planning is as idiotic as it is evil.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at March 13, 2008 12:47 AM

This doesn't impress me. Though in peace-time, I served with female soldiers from the day I entered the Army to the day I left. Female soldiers acting like soldiers just seems ... normal.

Posted by: Eric Chen at March 15, 2008 11:04 AM

Excellent article, and the artist DEFINETLY caught Diana's looks. I'd know, she's my daughter. She was always a little on the fiesty side. Both Diana and Aaron are recently retired from the Corps but still living in San Antonio. She's expecting her second child this September and wants to work with the V.A. Aaron is hopefully finished with his surgeries. Diana's mother died last 4rth of July after an extended illness. Her grandfather was a WWII veteran and he passed away this January, so I try to take care of her grandmother on the farm up here in Connecticut. Brother Danny leaves the Submarine Service later this year. Iraq was no fun for Diana and Aaron, but the Corps has really helped them out. She's had quite a life so far.......

Posted by: Bill Kavanek at March 25, 2008 08:49 AM

Having known Diana for many years,having taught her in Sunday School,I saw in her then something wonderful and powerful! I always told her how lovely she was! When I saw her with her husband at her Mom's funeral,it made me very proud to have been a small part of her life and I could only thank God for protecting her and for sparing her remarkable husbands life. They are an inspiration to us all!

Posted by: Keith Walters at March 25, 2008 08:00 PM