Lance Corporal Brady A. Gustafson fought off nearly 100 Taliban fighters from the turret of an MRAP… after his leg was blown off.
In July 2008, the 21 year old Marine manned his M240B in the MRAP turret. The vehicle took point of a mounted column patrolling through Shewan, Afghanistan. Suddenly, a complex ambush hit the column from all around, initiated by an RPG aimed at Gustafson’s MRAP. The RPG penetrated the vehicle’s hull and detonating inside. Flames shot up through the turret, searing his face. He stood to take aim at the surrounding muzzle flashes, but his right leg buckled beneath him in excruciating pain. Gustafson looked down and found his leg mangled beyond recognition, with bone exposed and his booted foot dangling by a shred of muscle.
Despite the injury, Gustafson resumed shooting all around. As he fired, a Marine inside the MRAP applied a tourniquet to his leg. Gustafson finished a 200 round belt, loaded another, and returned to his war. An RPG struck the vehicle behind Gustafson, bursting it into flames. He shouted to the driver of the MRAP, who had just regained consciousness, to reverse direction. They pushed the flaming vehicle backward out of the kill zone, allowing the occupants to safely exit. Gustafson blew through another 200 rounds and reloaded once more before finally relenting to medical treatment and allowing another Marine to take over the turret. His fearless resolve and courageous initiative saved the column from destruction, and ensured not a single Marine was lost that day.
For his actions, LCpl Gustafson received the Navy Cross. He left the Marine Corps the following year as a Corporal.
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