IDGA's Most Memorable Military Heroes

Mike O'Brien
Posted: 06/17/2013

Everyone loves a hero – those courageous men and women who make extraordinary sacrifices for the benefit of others.

In honor of IDGA's grand tradition of staging leading defense industry events, four members of the team reveal their favorite military hero.

Tyler BaylisIDGA Staffer: Tyler Baylis

Program Director

Hero: George Patton

"Patton was a graduate of West Point and was a central figure in the development of armored warfare doctrine in the U.S. Army, serving on numerous staff positions throughout the country.

"He rose through the ranks and commanded the U.S. 2nd Armored Division at the time of the U.S. entry into World War II.

"Patton led U.S. troops into the Mediterranean theater with an invasion of Casablanca during the North African Campaign in 1942, where he later established himself as an effective commander through his rapid rehabilitation of the demoralized U.S. II Corps.

"He commanded the Seventh Army during the Invasion of Sicily, where he beat British General Bernard Law Montgomery to Messina but was embroiled in controversy after he slapped two soldiers under his command. Patton returned to command the Third Army following the Invasion of Normandy in 1944, where he led a highly successful, rapid drive across France.

"He led the relief of beleaguered U.S. troops at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, and advanced his army into Nazi Germany by the end of the war. Patton was the military governor of Bavaria after the end of the war before being relieved of this post, then he commanded the Fifteenth United States Army for a time. He died following an automobile accident in Europe on December 21, 1945.

"Patton's colorful image, hard-driving personality and success as a commander were at times overshadowed by his politically inept statements in the press. But his philosophy of leading from the front and his ability to inspire his troops with vulgarity-ridden speeches, such as a famous address to the Third Army, led to new leadership philosophies in the U.S. officer corps.

"His strong emphasis on rapid and aggressive offensive action led to new strategies in combined arms warfare. While Allied leaders held differing opinions on Patton, he was regarded highly by his opponents in the German High Command. A popular, award-winning biographical film released in 1970 helped transform Patton into an American folk hero.

"Patton is my American military hero because he truly embodied the American fighting spirit. He was a true patriot and a hero who rescued the surrounded American troops at Bastogne. His lasting image, as an American war hero, has transcended the ages and his philosophies are leadership style is still embodied by the Army today."

IDGA Staffer: Matthew Gordon

Marketing Manager

Hero: Marcus Luttrell (Special Warfare Operator First Class – U.S. Navy SEALs)

"Marcus Luttrell was one of 4 members of SEAL Team 10 assigned to find and either kill or capture Ahmad Shah, a Taliban leader responsible for killings in the eastern Afghanistan and the Hindu-Kush mountains.

"Upon stumbling upon a group of goat herders, the team decided to let them go free. It is believed these goat herders then alerted local Taliban forces and the team was quickly thereafter ambushed by an estimated group of 80-100 men.

"The four SEALs managed to use their extensive set of skills to hold off the ambush, but unfortunately Luttrell’s three compatriots, as well as a Chinook holding 16 men sent to rescue them, all perished in the battle. Though severely wounded, Luttrell managed to walk and crawl seven miles and seek refuge with an Afghan tribe before ultimately being rescued.

"Marcus penned a best selling book chronicling the events of this attack as well as his journey becoming a Navy SEAL entitled ‘Lone Survivor’.

"Reading this book had a profound effect on me, augmenting an already deep seeded respect for our armed forces and U.S. Navy SEALs in particular. What these four men were able to achieve under extreme duress was truly remarkable and all of them are heroes."

IDGA Staffer: Katrina Savarino

Marketing Manager

Hero: Dave (Katrina’s brother)

"When asked who my hero was I felt extraordinarily lucky to have 16 family members come to mind from my parents, uncles, cousins and then finally my brother – whom I have chosen for this piece.

"Not for the battles that he was in, but for the battle he fights everyday. Dave was an all American California boy who surfed and played high school football, but then came the Vietnam War.

"My brother signed up because he felt it was his duty to his country; he came back a very different person.

He returned to a country wrapped in turmoil, to a country where he was the villain and called a baby killer. He also came back as a man with PTSD.

"My brother fights everyday with memories most of us would find in horror movies.

"He is silent, reclusive and pretty much a loner, but I still see glimpses of the California boy. Dave struggles and perseveres and that is why he is my hero."

IDGA Staffer: Anthony LaRocca

Senior Program Director

Hero: Corporal Dakota Meyer

"Meyer maintained security at a patrol rally point while other members of his team moved on foot with two platoons of Afghan National Army and Border Police into the village of Ganjgal for a pre-dawn meeting with village elders.

"Moving into the village, the patrol was ambushed by more than 50 enemy fighters firing rocket propelled grenades, mortars, and machine guns from houses and fortified positions on the slopes above. Hearing over the radio that four U.S. team members were cut off, Corporal Meyer seized the initiative.

"With a fellow Marine driving, Corporal Meyer took the exposed gunner's position in a gun-truck as they drove down the steeply terraced terrain in a daring attempt to disrupt the enemy attack and locate the trapped U.S. team.

"Disregarding intense enemy fire now concentrated on their lone vehicle, Corporal Meyer killed a number of enemy fighters with the mounted machine guns and his rifle, some at near point blank range, as he and his driver made three solo trips into the ambush area.

"During the first two trips, he and his driver evacuated two dozen Afghan soldiers, many of whom were wounded. When one machine gun became inoperable, he directed a return to the rally point to switch to another gun-truck for a third trip into the ambush area where his accurate fire directly supported the remaining U.S. personnel and Afghan soldiers fighting their way out of the ambush.

"Despite a shrapnel wound to his arm, Corporal Meyer made two more trips into the ambush area in a third gun-truck accompanied by four other Afghan vehicles to recover more wounded Afghan soldiers and search for the missing U.S. team members.

"Still under heavy enemy fire, he dismounted the vehicle on the fifth trip and moved on foot to locate and recover the bodies of his team members. Corporal Meyer's daring initiative and bold fighting spirit throughout the 6-hour battle significantly disrupted the enemy's attack and inspired the members of the combined force to fight on.

"His unwavering courage and steadfast devotion to his U.S. and Afghan comrades in the face of almost certain death reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service."

(Carousel artwork: Joseph Kaufman)

(Staff photographs: Paul Michael Kane)

Mike O'Brien
Posted: 06/17/2013