What is more outrageous than what Capt Brian Chontosh did on March 25, 2003 on Highway 1 toward Ad Diwaniyah while a platoon commander with the Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, is that some of you are hearing about this here for the first time.
At any other time in our nation’s brilliant military history, Brian Chontosh would not be serving in anonymity somewhere in a state side duty position. Rather he would be telling his story and selling war bonds, while Hollywood executives fought over the honor of telling his story. Some may have recognized Captain Chontosh from Greg Palkot’s feature story on Fox News’ coverage of the November 2004 battle of Fallujah. There Chontosh prowled the deadly streets with his rifle company, crushing the terrorists who had –until then- laid siege to the city.
However, Chontosh’s first battlefield heroics occurred in his first deployment to Iraq during the invasion and liberation of the country. On March 25, 2003, then First Lieutenant Chontosh, recognized his unit was caught in a “kill zone” on Highway One leading to Ad Diwaniyah in the initial campaign to Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom. After punching his vehicle through a breech, he was immediately taken under withering machine gun fire from a crew served weapon in a trench. Chontosh plowed toward the machine gunner, trusting his .50 caliber gunner to silence the enemy, which was done almost immediately.
Chontosh then dismounted his vehicle and armed with only his M16A2 and a M9 pistol began to systematically clear the trench that his vehicle was now inside. With a complete disregard for his own personal safety, Chontosh twice picked up discarded enemy rifles and continued his ferocious attack.
When one of his Marines following behind found an RPG, Chontosh decided to personally use it to destroy another unlucky clump of enemy soldiers thinking they could overpower the brazen Marine. Essentially any Saddam loyalist in the way of Brian Chontosh that day was extremely unlucky.
When his dedicated and bold personal attack had ended, he had cleared over 200 meters of the enemy trench and lying behind him and at his feet were the remains of over 20 enemy fighters. For these actions, Brian Chontosh was awarded the second highest award given for combat valor, The Navy Cross.