Marine Staff Sgt. Anthony Viggiani, of Strongsville, recently was awarded the Navy Cross -- the second- highest award in the Marine Corps -- for heroism in Afghanistan.No, there's no more. That's it. According to the Plain Dealer, he just "tossed a grenade in the cave." Here's the full version, courtesy of the Corps:
A cave housing enemy fighters pinned down his squad with heavy fire on June 3, 2004. Two of his men were wounded. Viggiani tossed a grenade in the cave, killing the fighters.
Viggiani suffered a bullet wound in his leg. He is now a Parris Island drill instructor.
"On that day, we were going on convoys and were receiving intelligence reports all day," Viggiani said reflecting upon the day in Afghanistan. "It wasn't any different from the other days at all."
Viggiani ventured into details as he remembered the exciting events.
"We saw about twenty insurgents with weapons going up the valley," stated the Strongsville, Ohio native.
He knew there would be action and was just waiting for the "go" from his superiors.
"We got the word to 'go' and I said 'aye sir.' First and third squad went to the right while second took the left," Viggiani said demonstrating with his hands the route the infantrymen took.
"As we were moving up through the valley, third squad moved to the right flank while [first] squad moved straight ahead.
From there we picked up and held position while the rest of the company caught up to our position."
Viggiani then moved his second fire team to the left and first fire team to the right so that they would have interlocking fields of fire through the valley.
"The second fire team started taking fire from the enemy insurgents, the fire team returned fire and ended the enemy insurgents' firing."
Everything suddenly calmed down and Viggiani told his first sergeant that he would move to check on his first fire team just to see how they were positioned and to make sure everything was all right.
"I had finally got to my [fire team], but not even a minute later, the first sergeant was on the radio, telling me 'Get down here, I need a [fragmentation grenade] I need a [fragmentation grenade] now!'"
Viggiani quickly rushed to the first sergeant.
Two Marines were injured approximately 100 meters away, on the slope opposite the valley Viggiani and his Marines were on.
"I had got to first sergeant and I was asking him 'Where are they, where are they?' He told me my second fire team was pinned down pretty hard, then pointed in the general direction of where the machine gun firing was coming from."
Viggiani pursued in the pointed direction down the mountain in search for his team and to neutralize the threat from the enemy.
"As I was moving down, I saw a hole, it wasn't big. If you took of all of your gear maybe you could slip into it. I looked and I saw some fabric. I shot three rounds in the hole and something moved, and then I shot four more rounds and threw a grenade in the hole and pinned myself against a rock."
What seemed like a hole to Viggiani was in reality a cave where three armed insurgents were firing upon his squad from.
"I never knew the cave was right there, I didn't know anything... I just knew I had to keep a promise I made to my boys," Viggiani said affectionately, referring to his squad members as his boys. "I had promised to bring them all back home."
Viggiani said his company commander called for a medical evacuation where two of his Marines were taken into medical care, but he denied his injured status.
"I had blood on my leg, but I didn't want to leave. I did not want to leave the other Marines," he said when asked why he didn't go to the battalion's landing team command post.
In the process, Viggiani was wounded by rifle fire from the adjacent enemy position, yet he continued to lead his Marines in the attack as stated in Viggiani's citation.
After killing the three hidden insurgents, Viggiani continued with his squad and defeated the enemy by killing a total of 14 Anti-Coalition fighters.
Oh, and for those of you that think Marines are so tough, Viggiani also commented, "I didn't want to tell [my mom] because I knew she would be upset. But when I did call her, out of the five minutes I got to talk to her, three and a half were spent calming her down."