Now a 2nd lieutenant, Chad Cassady is awarded the Silver Star for his bravery in Iraq . Wounded himself, he dragged two others away from insurgent gunfire.
By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 18, 2007
CAMP PENDLETON -- As a sniper, Sgt. Chad Cassady, a quiet Texan with a master's degree in political science, helped protect his fellow Marines during the battle in Fallouja, Iraq, in late 2004.
But when insurgent mortars fell behind and in front of the Marines -- a tactic called "bracketing" -- Cassady and other Marines were forced to run across a rubble-strewn street. When another mortar landed in their midst, two Marines were knocked to the ground and Cassady was thrown into the courtyard of a home.
The explosion collapsed his right lung, lacerated his liver and kidneys, and peppered his knee and leg with shrapnel. Although he was bleeding and dazed, he immediately went back into the street to drag two wounded Marines to safety as insurgent gunfire rained down.
On Wednesday, Cassady, now 33 and a 2nd lieutenant, was awarded the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest medal for combat bravery. The ceremony had to wait until his return a week ago from yet another deployment to Iraq, his third.
Cassady did not speak at the ceremony. In a brief interview he was cordial but declined to suggest he had done anything special. "It was one of those days when Marines were doing what had to be done," he said.
Cassady enlisted in early 2001 after receiving a bachelor's degree in political science from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, and a master's from Southwest Texas State University. He could have become an officer but preferred to join the infantry in the enlisted ranks."
He wanted the full Marine Corps experience," said his father, Joe Cassady. "He's an action figure.
"When he called his family from a military hospital after being wounded, the Marine downplayed the severity of his injuries."He said, 'Compared to the guys laying next to me, I'm in great shape,' " his father recalled.
For the assault on Baghdad in 2003 and then the battle in Fallouja in 2004, Cassady was attached to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. After his injuries healed and he graduated from officer candidates school, he joined the 2nd Battalion, 5th Regiment, which just completed a seven-month deployment.
Like other new officers, he was a platoon leader. Marines who served in his Two-Five platoon were at the award ceremony on the parade deck of the 5th Marine Regiment.
"He's one of those quiet ones but very tactical," said Cpl. Dwight Bibbins.
Sgt. Aaron Beckett agreed. "He's definitely a lead-from-the-front type," he said -- which in the infantry is a compliment second to none.