Citizens For A Better Norwood

Friday, September 07, 2007

Norwood native & hero Spc. Brandon Rork: “I’m still standing”

Now he has the Bronze Star, too

We want to thank Norwood resident Cassandra Brown for sending us something extraordinary this week to share our readers. It’ s the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division’s blog where an article by Lt. Col. John Valledor describes in great detail the events of the day Spc. Brandon Rork saved his Iraqi base, a nearby town, and hundreds of lives from a truck loaded with explosives driven by a suicide bomber. Spc. Rork was honored for his heroism at our 2007 July 4th Fireworks at Shea Stadium.

Brandon’s mother emailed the article to Ms. Brown with a note telling her, “The week before last, Brandon called stating that there was a lot of excitement on the base because the general had arrived, and the Rolling Stone magazine was there as well, and he was trying to figure what it was all about. Well, it turns out that it was all for him! The General awarded Brandon the Bronze Star, and Brandon will be featured in an upcoming Rolling Stone’s article.” Congratulations, Spc. Rork!

Mrs. Rork says this article is the best one she’s seen yet about her son’s split-second decision to fire on the truck, which had 8 times the explosives used in the Oklahoma City bombing:

"I'm Still Standing"
By Lt. Col. John Valledor

On any given day, thousands of Soldiers are manning static gun positions all over Iraq as part of cohesive, forward-based force protection measures.Radical Shiite militants taught our nation a painful lesson in 1983 with the high-profile suicide truck bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks at the Beirut, Lebanon, International Airport. Fast-forward to 2007 in Iraq, and the threat of suicide truck bombings is all too real and pervasive.Very few Soldiers burdened with the task of securing their bases will ever face the reality of having to make on-the-spot life saving decisions of applying deadly force in a suicide attack scenario. For Spc. Brandon Rork, a 24-year-old mortarman from Norwood, Ohio, that life-altering moment occurred one hot Sunday afternoon in a small village on the banks of the Euphrates River.June 10, 2007 started out like any typical day in the Iraqi farmstead of Sadr Al-Yusufiyah. Rork began his shift on the machine gun position located on the rooftop of Patrol Base Warrior Keep. Most days are spent fighting boredom and wiping the sweat from one’s eyes as the machine gun shelter, made of sheets of plywood, sand bags and thick wooden beams, swelters in the searing 112-degree heat. From his vantage point, Rork overlooked a narrow stretch of asphalt road directly in front of the patrol base, known as Route Pinto. On an average day, Rork counts more than 80 Kia Bongo trucks, three to five dump trucks and about 60 locals’ vehicles slowly meandering along the gentle curves in front of the patrol base. This day seemed slightly different.

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