The heroes who make us proud

At the close of his Pentagon teleconference yesterday, Multi-National Corps-Iraq commander, Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno spoke some inspiring words about Sgt. 1st Class Adin Salkanovic, B Troop, 6th Sqdn, 9th Cavalry Rgt, Ist Cavalry Division, one of many heroes now serving in Iraq.  Here is what he said:

We enjoy these freedoms because of generations of Americans have defended our way of life, many making the ultimate sacrifice we can never forget. The memories of our fallen and their families are never far from our thoughts, and their examples always fortify our will.   

Our troops here in Iraq today exemplify what is best about America -- courageous and honorable volunteers dedicated to preserving freedom and our way of life.   

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to patrol with one of our many heroes in the theater -- Sergeant 1st Class Adin Salkanovic, a cavalry platoon sergeant. I think he's pictured in front of you. Sergeant Sal, as he's known by everyone, was wounded in early March of 2007 while leading a dismounted reconnaissance team when 15 to 20 insurgents wielding grenades, sniper rifles and AK-47s started attacking from three different directions. In a span of 15 minutes, Sergeant Sal was struck by three enemy bullets -- one to his left index finger and shoulder, and one to his right shoulder and bicep. Two more enemy rounds nearly struck him but were stopped by his body armor. Sergeant Sal's team fended off the attack and killed two insurgents. His wounds caused him to lose two liters of blood and be evacuated back to the United States. After two months of healing and rehabilitation, he was ready to head back to Iraq. And this is what he told me: "As soon as my doctor cleared me to come back, I was on the first flight out," said Sergeant Sal. He's a native of Bosnia- Herzegovina. Although returning to Iraq was entirely his choice, Sergeant Sal said the decision was not up for debate and rejoining his unit was his goal from the start. He said, "It's like a family, especially being a platoon sergeant. You get attached to these soldiers," he said.   

Today Sergeant Sal is serving in Diyala province on a patrol base to defeat AQ. A hero among many, and a true testament to the incredible men and women of our armed forces, and a testament to one who wanted the freedom of being an American, one who started in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and one who truly cherishes his freedom as a United States citizen. 

There are thousands of Sergeant Sals that have the fortitude and resilience to stare down uncertainty and endure our losses, and this is what makes our Army and Marine Corps so special, and makes me so proud to serve every day.
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