U.S. Navy / Bronze Star with Valor
Navy doctor moves deep into firefight to save Marines
As Lt. Commander Richard Jadick stepped out of his armored ambulance in Fallujah, two rocket-propelled grenades bounced off the vehicle without exploding and bullets hit the ground all around him.
It was November 8, 2004, and some of the heaviest fighting of the Iraq war was being waged. Earlier that day Jadick, a Navy doctor deployed with the 1st Battalion 8th Marine regiment, had operated on a badly wounded Marine brought to his unit on the outskirts of the city.
The man died, which convinced Jadick he needed to be closer to the action. He convinced his executive officer to move deeper into the fight.
Jadick confesses that he was frightened by the prospect: “The one thing that kept me going was the other fear”—the fear of letting down fellow Americans.
Now the casualties came fast and furious. Against the deafening staccato of automatic weapons fire, Jadick moved from one wounded Marine to another, treating them as best he could and then dragging them to one of two ambulances for transfer to the hospital. His uniform soon was covered in blood.
As the Marines advanced, Jadick and his team moved further into Fallujah, to an Iraqi government compound where they converted a small parking lot prayer room into an emergency room. Snipers fired at the Marines from tall buildings surrounding the exposed site.
In 72 hours, Jadick treated 60 wounded soldiers and Marines, many with missing limbs and other horrible injuries. For the next 11 days, he traveled often to the front lines to work with exhausted corpsmen.
Overall Jadick treated hundreds of wounded Marines and it’s estimated his efforts helped save 30 lives during the Battle of Fallujah.
Even more impressive? Jadick, then 38, didn’t have to go to Iraq. Moreover, his wife Melissa was pregnant.
He volunteered because he knew a lot of the men he would serve with: “I thought I could bring something to the table.”
A year later Jadick received a Bronze Star with “V” for his heroism. For a long time he had declined to talk publicly about his experiences in Iraq, not even disclosing them to his wife.
He opened up only after the press began to report and honor his actions. (Newsweek pictured him on one cover.)
Still, he downplays his role, partly to avoid reliving the horrors he had witnessed, partly because he thought many others had served far more heroically than he did.
“I didn’t do it by myself,” he says. “I just did my job.”
James C. Roberts is president of the American Veterans Center. From 1968 to 1971 he served as a naval officer aboard the destroyer USS Henderson.
U.S. Navy / Bronze Star with Valor
Born October 2, 1965, in Abington, Penn., but lived in Albany, N.Y,, for 10 years before entering the military.
Wife, Melissa, daughters Mackenzie and Eva, and son Gregory.
Deployed as Lieutenant Commander to Iraq June 23, 2004, and assigned to1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division at the time of his citation. Served two tours of duty in Iraq, and since has been promoted to Commander.
WHAT HE DID
The Navy doctor insisted on operating closer to the fighting during the Battle of Fallujah, and treated dozens of wounded soldiers and Marines. Often traveling to the front lines, he saved an estimated 30 lives.
WHY HE JOINED THE NAVY
“I was always a military kind of kid. I enjoyed the regimentation and camaraderie of military life that I observed, and I thought serving in the military would be a great opportunity to get some life experience.”
Iraq / Fallujah