View Full Version : U.S. Willie Copeland , Navy Cross, Iraq

08-05-2009, 06:41 PM
Authorized February 4, 1919, the Navy Cross was the Navy's third highest award for combat heroism and other distinguished services. On August 7, 1942, Congress made the Navy Cross a combat only decoration with precedence over the Distinguished Service Medal, making it the Navy's second highest award ranking below only the Medal of Honor. It shares its position with the Army's Distinguished Service Cross and the Air Force Cross

Willie Copeland , III

* Place of birth: Logan, Utah
* Home of record: Smithfield, Utah

The wounded officer Willie Copeland used his body as a shield to protect was his Commanding Officer, Captain Brent Morel. Captain Morel subsequently died of his wounds and was himself awarded the Navy Cross, Posthumously, for his own heroic actions on this date, and four members of the platoon were awarded Silver Stars. It is a record unmatched by any Marine Corps Company, much less by any platoon, in the Global War on Terrorism.

Awards and Citations

Navy Cross

Awarded for actions during the Global War on Terror

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Sergeant Willie L. Copeland, III, United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism as Team Leader, Second Platoon, Bravo Company, First Reconnaissance Battalion, FIRST Marine Division, First Marine Expeditionary Force, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 7 April 2004. Tasked as the Main Effort to lead a convoy to a Forward Operating Base, Sergeant Copeland's platoon was ambushed by 40 - 60 insurgents in well-fortified and concealed positions near the province of Al Anbar. After observing a rocket-propelled grenade instantly crippling the lead vehicle and having mortar and machinegun fire disable his own, Sergeant Copeland led five Marines out of the heaviest zone under attack and made an assault across an open field. They continued the assault across a deep and muddy canal, working their way up to firing positions on the far side within hand grenade range of the enemy. The vigor of this first assault eliminated ten insurgents at close range while forcing other enemy positions to flee. During this valiant effort, his commanding officer fell wounded at his side. Unwilling to subject any more Marines to danger, he signaled others to remain in covered positions. While placing himself in a position to shield his wounded officer, he applied first aid. Without regard for his own personal safety, Sergeant Copeland stabilized, then evacuated his Captain to a safe area. He then conducted the withdrawal of his team from their covered positions through the use of hand grenades. By his bold leadership, wise judgment, and complete dedication to duty, Sergeant Copeland reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Service: Marine Corps

Presented at Camp Pendleton, California, by Assistant Secretary of the Navy Richard Greco, on April 21, 2005

08-05-2009, 06:42 PM
The Story:

The brave are those who recognize the path ahead and yet drive forward undeterred. On April 7, 2004, Sgt. Copeland exemplified such bravery as he and his team were traveling through the dangerous Sunni Triangle. As their 15-vehicle convoy headed toward a forward operating base in the Al Anbar Province, a large group of insurgents ambushed the convoy. Suddenly, about 40 to 60 insurgents embedded in concealed positions along the Euphrates River attacked the Marines, instantly halting the lead vehicle.

Taken aback by the sudden attack, Copeland had no time to regroup. Insurgents began raining heavy fire down upon the entire convoy, using mortar- and machine-gun fire. One shot found its mark, disabling Copeland’s Humvee. Forced to flee, Copeland led five Marines out toward the enemy fighters through an open field. Exposed and with no back-up, they trudged through a deep and muddy canal, rushing toward the enemies. Slowly, methodically, the Marines covered ground, eventually getting within hand grenade range of the enemy.

The vigor of the first assault eliminated 10 insurgents at close range while forcing others to flee. During the firefight, Copeland’s commanding officer was hit. Unwilling to subject any more Marines to danger, he signaled others to remain in covered positions as he exposed himself to fire and moved the captain to a safer location. Shielding his officer from further attacks, Copeland applied first aid and waited with him until an armored Humvee arrived to evacuate the injured Marine to a hospital.

08-05-2009, 09:12 PM
good shit....never mind outstanding job.