The Marines ‘stacked up’ outside the door of a brick and stucco building near Haqlaniyah, Iraq. The stack, a modern version of Greek phalanx where metal breastplates have been replaced with ceramic and Kevlar and rifles have replaced pikes and swords, is the formation of choice for Al Anbar streetfighters.
Marine Corporal Seamus Davey of Lowville, New York was the first man through the door. The crack of gunfire sounded across the village, but Seamus felt it.
A standout athelete at Lowville Academy, Seamus played Lacrosse for the school 60 miles Northeast of Syracuse.
“I think that was the way to describe him is an all American type kid that everybody enjoyed being around him, friendly and respectful to everyone. He treated other people in a positive way and I think that’s why people enjoyed him,” said Robert Goss, Athletic Director at Lowville Academy.
Seamus took the Marine Corps and excelled in infantry tactics, leading him to the Marines elite Reconnaissance units and eventually the 4th Force Reconnaissance Co., Reno, NV, a Marine Reserve unit.
While training with the 4th Force Recon once a month, Seamus attended college in San Diego and helped coach Lacrosse at Patrick Henry High School, also in San Diego.
Seamus, like many special operators, went to work for a military contractor in Iraq after he left active duty. He spent several months working on a Personal Security Detail for Triple Canopy where he protected State Department Officials near Tikrit.
He wrote to the students on his team saying, “We get alot of US news channels out here, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, even BBC. And what they say is for the most part correct. But the thing is, they choose what correct information to tell everyone. They only like to show the most horrific things that are going on out here, not the meetings that the State Department is having and all the money they are giving out to create jobs for the real Iraqis.”
At the time he wrote the letter, Seamus knew he was going to Iraq for duty with the Marines, “I told Steve that I wish to help out with the team again this year, but he cannot depend on me for the whole season because of this possible activation. So my plan is to volunteer and make as many practices and games as possible. But just as an assistant.”
And he closed the letter with, “a request to all the Sophomores to find all the freshman that are interested in playing this year and get them out to a field and throw some balls around. The quicker every one is up to par on personal skills, the quicker we can get down to the team skills and win a few more games this year.”
Four terrorists were lying in wait under mattresses inside the brick and stucco building, ready to send hail of 7.62 into the Marines in the stack.
“These were hardened fighters that went down swinging, not your average Iraqi who plants an IED,” said Captain M. J. McKinney.
Seamus had his rifle up, and finger ready to slip to the trigger. His eyes scanned, but never ranged far from his sights. Many Marines have described the look of going into a target house like a tunnel. Their eyes always looking over their weapon, always ready to draw a bead on the target and destroy it.
In a Close Quarters Combat environment, where a firefight takes place in one building, or one room, hitting the enemy with the first shot is not a matter of showing off but the difference between winning and losing. And in combat, there is no score, just life and death.
The mettle it takes to enter a building where there are likely to be men lying in wait to kill you is a rare commodity in the post-modern era and the men made of that mettle are a precious few.
The AK-47s blazed and the Marines returned fire.
Seamus was hit hard.
The second man in the stack, Sergeant Lee, was a veteran operator got hit.
The third man in the stack, “Sgt. Reis, next [third] in the stack was shot three times in his armor plate covering his chest, knocked backward, but got to his feet and battled with the rest of the team to recover Davey and Lee and suppress the insurgents.”
5.56 rounds flew fast and accurate killing the terrorists. In a last ditch effort, one of the terrorists set off a hand grenade, igniting the matresses and rugs in the room.
The Marines and their Navy Corpsman “Doc” Contreras ran into the room filled with the blaze of burnging rugs and hot lead to pull Seamus and Sgt. Lee out.
In a matter of seconds, it was all over. The terrorists were dead and the brilliant light of Seamus Davey had been given for a country he loved, a cause he believed in and lifted to the heavens.
At Seamus’ memorial service in Iraq, an Iraqi Special Forces unit that worked with the Recon Marines came to pay their respects.
“That their Colonel requested to attend Corporal Davey’s memorial is testament to the fact that the Iraqi people understand the cost of freedom and are willing to pay the ultimate price. The Iraqi troops have suffered casualties and deaths, just like the other coalition forces. Even thought they can’t speak our language, they completely comprehend the unwritten warrior’s creed,” McKinney said.
One by one, on a dusty base in Al Anbar, the Marines, Soldiers and Iraqis passed by and touched Seamus’ helmet and said goodbye to a national treasure.
“Every one of these reservists volunteered to come here. Like Corporal Davey and Sgt Lee, they know the risk, but also know the importance of this mission and the liberation of a people so long repressed,” McKinney said.
At his parents home in Lowville, his parents lit the candles on what would have been his birthday cake. “He was doing what he thought was the right thing. He felt we should be over there,” his mother, Lorene Davey said.
The final verse of the Marine Corps hymn sings:
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s Scenes
They will find the streets are guarded
By UNITED STATES MARINES
After the initial invasion of Iraq, Seamus posted a message on an internet memorial to his former 1st Sergeant, Ed Smith, who died from wounds received in Iraq on April 5, 2003.
“1stSgt, I can only wish that I was in Fox company a little bit longer to soak up the wealth of knowledge that I know you had to give…They all know as well as I that you were no doubt leading from the front on that fateful day. And your leadership no doubt kept other, younger marines alive,” Seamus wrote.
“1stSgt, if we have to go back there, we’ll make a place in our trucks for a seventh man a Real American Hero. And when I get extacted, I hope you’ll be on post guarding the streets to check me in.”
Corporal Seamus Davey October 1979–October 2005: Guarding Heaven’s Streets from October 21st, 2005 to Eternity.
But to many in the Media, he was merely Number 1,997.
[Special thanks to Captain McKinney who told me about Seamus and his fellow Marines. Additional material was gathered from various news sites via google search. Any factual errors or omissions are mine and mine alone. Originally published at www.facesfromthefront.com]