U.S. Army / Bronze Star with Valor
Battling insurgents, he saved civilians, rescued a comrade
and discovered a weapons cache
Ed Malone was ready for a fight. The veteran platoon sergeant had seen enough fighting to take ground from insurgents, only to withdraw and be forced to take it again. This time, his unit had the enemy out and exposed, and it was time to make a stand.
“Let’s draw these guys toward us,” Malone recalled telling his platoon leader. “Let’s get some support and reinforcements. And let’s kick these guys’ butts!”
So it went in the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar throughout 2005. Malone had an idea what was coming during his second tour of Iraq, which began in March of that year. His first tour kicked off just after the initial push toward Baghdad in 2003, when, despite seeing some unfriendly faces in the predominantly Sunni cities of Fallujah, Hit and Ramadi, the action was fairly light.
It would be different this time around. Campaigns in Fallujah and Baghdad had driven many of al-Qaida’s most hardened fighters north, where terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had a strong foothold. The citizens of Tal Afar were held hostage by ruthless al-Qaida fighters; shops closed, and the people hid in their homes.
“It just was really eerie for a town that size to have so little activity,” Malone said. “And a lot of it had to do with just the amount of insurgent activity in that area.”
Malone’s unit – 3rd Platoon, Grim Troop, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, nicknamed “The Blue Dragoons” – was sent to Tal Afar to clamp down on the insurgency and ease the fears of the local populace.
On June 25, 2005, Malone’s platoon was ordered to conduct a joint patrol with the Iraqi Army in the volatile Surai district of town. The men of 3rd Platoon had been there before and always were met with attacks. Malone had the feeling that insurgents were trying to protect something in that neighborhood.
As they entered the area, locals were conducting daily business, as children played in the street and adults walked about. But when the soldiers began knocking on doors, the people soon disappeared into their homes.
“That’s usually the sign that something bad is about to happen,” Malone said.
Shots rang out, and the soldiers took cover. A platoon sergeant was hit in the leg and trapped in the kill zone. Instinctively, Malone ran out and grabbed him, pulling him to safety.
Refusing to give up ground, the soldiers held firm, beating back every assault. At one point, they noticed that much of the fire came from one nearby house. Malone knew it had to be taken. Lacking confidence, the green Iraqi soldiers refused to make the assault, leaving the Americans to do it themselves. Malone gathered his men and approached the house.
After tossing a grenade into the courtyard, the soldiers rushed inside to find a wounded insurgent and a large cache of weapons. Malone immediately provided aid to the insurgent, while the men took cover. Enemy fighters streamed toward them in an effort to recover their lost munitions.
Following a four-hour battle, Malone’s unit attempted to evacuate the wounded insurgent, strapping him to a stretcher and loading him onto a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Just then, machine-gun fire erupted from another concealed position. Malone was hit in the foot as he ran to a covered position, and he was evacuated from the fight.
Malone was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor for his actions that day. He continually placed himself in the line of fire, evacuating women and children caught in the crossfire, saving his wounded comrade and, perhaps most remarkably, providing aid to the wounded insurgent who shortly before had been trying to kill him. Asked about the latter, he put it in perspective.
“What I was thinking was, ‘Well, what if this was me in the hands of the enemy?’ I gave the guy treatment that I would want to receive if the roles were reversed, because I think it’s just the right thing to do. And I think that represents what America is all about.”
Tim Holbert is program director of the American Veterans Center in Arlington, Va.
U.S. Army / Bronze Star with Valor
Born Feb. 12, 1973, in Thailand but considers the Fairfield/Suisun City area of Northern California his home. Now lives in Maryland.
Married with one child.
Joined the Army on Dec. 27, 1994, deployed to Iraq from March 2005 to January 2006, assigned to 3rd Platoon, Grim Troop, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, nicknamed “The Blue Dragoons.” He also deployed there in 2003.
WHAT HE DID
During a battle in a northern Iraq city, he evacuated civilians caught in the line of fire, saved a wounded comrade and led the charge into an insurgent safe house that resulted in the capture of a large weapons cache.
WHERE HE IS NOW
Serving with the Asymmetric Warfare Group in Maryland.
WHY HE JOINED THE ARMY
“As a kid, I grew up playing G.I. Joe, running around in the woods, playing with my buddies there and pretending we were soldiers. I grew up with the idea that as a military brat I would always join the service."
Iraq / Tal Afar