Marines don't leave Marines behind. Neil Frustaglio is the perfect example of that oath and creed. The section leader for mortars and vehicle commander for Lima's Mobile platoon, Neil exemplified the honor that is so famous among United States Marines.The year was 2005, in the heart of Al-Anbar, the most dangerous province in Iraq. With cities like Ramadi, Fallujah, Al-Qaim, Haditha, and Rawah, Al Anbar was the most dangerous place on earth at the time. At least that's what the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment were told when they took over the city from 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. Every day there were firefights and mortar attacks. To cap it all off, the ground was littered with IED's. Places like Firecracker and Checkpoint 342 were literally covered with them.Checkpoint 342 was Lima Company's responsibility and Checkpoint 342 needed to be cleared. Lima Company, Mobile 2 was tasked with providing security for EOD on November 1st, 2005, as EOD cleared out the pivotal checkpoint. The mission was routine, EOD clearing IEDs left and right. That is until an extremely well-hidden IED was detonated right underneath the EOD team's hummer.When it went off, the world descended into total anarchy as insurgents lit up the intersection with coordinated machine gun and RPG fire. Smoke choked the breath out of everyone as bodies lay motionless in the intersection.The call for the Quick Reaction Force from Weapons Company was put out to reinforce Lima Company. The QRF that day was Weapons Company's Combined Anti-Armor Team Red. They flew out of the gates with reckless abandon to help their brothers in arms.Upon arrival, the two commanders coordinated their ground forces to utilize CAAT Red's highback up-armored humvee as cover to recover the bodies. Neil Frustaglio was one of the team leaders on the ground.
Neil and his team walked steadily behind the Humvee as it made its way towards one of the downed Marines. As RPGs and machine guns blanketed the intersection, the return fire intensified from the Marines as well. Neil provided covering fire over the hood of the humvee as they made their way to the bodies. The Marine and Corpsman in the intersection were dead. Everyone knew, but they weren't getting left behind. The Humvee pulled up and the Marines loaded them into the back. As they did so another IED went off behind the Humvee. Neil checked to ensure the safety of his Marines and Corpsman as they finished loading up the fallen Marine and Corpsman.For his actions and leadership that day, Neil Frustaglio, was awarded the Bronze Star with V device for valor. Marines never leave their brethren behind and they will brave hell to ensure that oath is upheld. Semper Fidelis Neil.
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