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Charles M. Evers

U.S. Marine Corps / Silver Star

Calm mind helps Marine lead men through four-day standoff

Staff Sgt. Charles Evers never saw the white Bongo—the flatbed truck that is everywhere in Iraq—which was detonated 65 feet away from the observation post.

But he heard the guttural moans of his men following the blast. Racing to help, he saw a human heart lying at his feet.

“Who the heck does this belong to?” he cried out.

Evers’ 22-man platoon had taken position in a one-story stucco house at the end of a road into the Sunni stronghold of Mudiq, once a retirement haven for Saddam Hussein’s savviest military minds, about 15 kilometers west of Ramadi.

The unit’s mission was to impede insurgents from planting roadside bombs. And in the previous year, the platoon had uncovered 736 improvised explosive devices along that stretch of “Route Michigan,” the nickname for the flat and dusty four lane highway through the area.

But, Evers recalled, it was apparent that some locals “didn’t like us being there.”

That point was driven home on the morning of June 9, 2006, when a rocket-propelled grenade tore through the flat rooftop of the observation post.

Simultaneously, machine gun fire from an estimated 60 insurgents rained down from three directions. It was the opening salvo in a four-day standoff that was as much a test of courage and guile as it was firepower.

The first order Evers gave was to himself. “Stay calm,” he said, knowing it was his first real-no-doubt-about-it-fire-fight and that his body already felt like it was moving in slow motion.

That day, a second RPG exploded near a wall where six Marines were huddled, blowing them all back.

“Just their bells were rung a little bit,” Evers said. “We got them back into the fight and kept going.”

Day 2 brought more heavy exchanges of fire. The enemy also unleashed an expert marksman, who wounded two engineers sent to fortify the house.

For his part, Evers called in an air attack that turned a nearby two-story house occupied by insurgents into a pile of rubble. Throughout the long battle, Evers directed fire, coordinated the placement of tanks and airpower, and helped treat casualties.

Day 3 produced an eerie calm. But Day 4 almost brought down the house, which was first rocked by several RPGs as insurgents cleared the way for the suicide bomber to race through in the rigged Bongo.

The initial blast tossed Evers about 10 feet. Then the truck exploded, separating the back wall of the house and sending cracks through every room. It also left a 20-foot long, 8-foot deep hole in the ground.

“I’m glad he didn’t get any closer,” Evers said.

After confirming his men weren’t taking fire inside the house, Evers ran to the rooftop, where he immediately stumbled across some of the bomber’s remains—including his heart and his arm still handcuffed to the steering wheel.

Evers’ men were dazed but held their positions until the insurgents retreated. The platoon had absorbed thousands of rounds of ammunition and a bomb too powerful to estimate. Evers said his guys “did an amazing job.”

More than 30 bullet holes were counted in the small satellite dish atop the small house, but none of Evers’ men left with any holes.

“I’m not a religious man,” he said, “but somebody was watching out for us.”

Tom Lindley is editor of Oklahoma Watch, an investigative reporting team.

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Staff Sgt. Charles Evers, then a 27-year-old platoon commander for Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, shakes hands with the father of a disabled girl in Al Hasa, Iraq, March 15, 2006. Marines delivered a new child-sized wheelchair in a surprise visit to their home after learning of her condition. USMC Photo by Cpl. Mark Sixbey


Charles M. Evers

U.S. Marine Corps / Silver Star

Born Feb. 19, 1979, in Lewiston, Idaho, and currently resides in Reno. He is not married.

Joined Marine Corps on Jan. 14, 1997. At the time of the cited incident, he was a staff sergeant and the commander of the Third Platoon, India Company, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5, Marine Expeditionary Force Forward.

Has served two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

What he did: Throughout a four-day attack on his unit's observation post, he directed counter-fire, coordinated tank and airpower responses, and treated wounded comrades.

Where he is now: He is an active duty Marine stationed on the inspector-instructor staff of Company B, Anti-Terrorism Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve. He is now a gunnery sergeant.

Why he joined the Marines: “School wasn't my thing.” He also liked the fact the Marine recruiting flyers didn't show any fat guys.

Iraq / Mudig

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