Yesterday, a US Marine flyboy made history when he became the first American since World War II to receive the highest military honor bestowed by Great Britain.
Without any question, Major William D. Chesarek, Jr., hailing from Newport, Rhode Island, is a hero of the highest order and his story defies exaggeration. It is bigger than life and a steadfast statement as to this man’s courage, integrity, and possessing the tenacity of a malnourished Pit Bull.
On June 10, 2006, Chesarek was part of a mission deployed near Basra area of Iraq to support British Marines searching for an insurgent weapons cache in the city of Al Amarah. The Brits found the cache, locked it up and started to leave the area. But one vehicle became disabled and fell under attack from insurgents.
In short, Hell broke out as enemy civilians started attacking from all sides, pinning the Brittish soldiers in the dead center.
For five hours, Chesarek, who was piloting a Lynx AH47 helicopter at the time, flew amazingly close to the ground over and over, trying to draw fire away from the stranded Brits. At one point, Chesarek’s crew witnessed one British Marine shot in the head.
Despite the chaos, despite the tornado of bullets and rockets, Chesarek landed his copter, his crew was dispatched to retrieve the fallen soldier, and they evacuated him from the scene to safety, with a rocket-propelled grenade barely missing the tail of his helicopter.
Queen Elizabeth II pinned the British Distinguished Flying Cross on his lapel yesterday afternoon in a formal ceremony at Buckingham Palace and strongly commended him for his courage and valor. He was credited with saving the live of this wounded officer, as well as aiding in the safe extraction of the entire British company.
During the same ceremony, British Pvt. Michelle Norris, 19, of the Royal Army Medical Corps., became the first woman in British history to be awarded the Military Cross for her actions in administering care to the wounded officer.
Chesarek has been serving as part of an exchange program between the US and Great Britain as a weapons and tactics instructor with the British 847 Naval Air Squadron. In his off-time away from his British Naval Air Squadron duties, Chesarek is an AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter pilot for the US Marines.
A Press Release from the United States Marine Corps is here: http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/0E82ACE21BF7090F852572A50069AE5E?opendocument