Someone wrote to tell me about his personal connection to the battle seven years ago in Mosul, Iraq and I thought I’d share some of that day with y’all. From the Silver Star citation of SFC Peter Lara;
At 0450 hours on November 19, 2005, 2nd Platoon, C Company, 2-1 Infantry Battalion was on patrol in Mosul, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom when they received a report that Iraqi Police had received small arms fire and grenades from a house in the Al Sukar neighborhood. Sergeant First Class Peter Lara, as platoon leader, was on patrol with his platoon when they immediately responded and moved to the site of the attack. The platoon arrived within several minutes and assessed the situation. As they cordoned the house, Sergeant First Class Lara led his 1st and 2nd Squads to conduct the initial assault to destroy the enemy, leaving 3rd Squad in reserve. As the lead stack approached the house, the terrorists engaged them with a grenade thrown down the central hallway into the doorway. The platoon immediately took a casualty from this grenade. The remainder of the assault element, led by Sergeant First Class Lara, continued through the door to gain a foothold. As they entered the house they encountered heavy small arms fire from seven terrorists executing a prepared defensive plan. The rate of enemy fire in the hallway forced them into a kitchen on the left. The kitchen had two entry/exit points through which the terrorists could engage the trapped squads from prepared firing positions.
The assault element continued to take casualties in this room from heavy small arms fire and fused 82-mm. mortar rounds with the tail sections removed that were being used like grenades. As the assault element suffered casualties, to include Sergeant First Class Lara, they quickly became combat ineffective. Only two members were not wounded. 3rd Squad, the reserve force, was unable to enter the building due to the high rate of enemy fire. Likewise, the assault element was unable to advance further or withdraw. With his assault element severely attrited, Sergeant First Class Lara along with Specialist Metteba attempted to push through the hallway and eliminate the enemy threat. In doing so Sergeant First Class Lara was shot in the face.
Despite this life threatening wound, Sergeant First Class Lara cleared his shattered jaw bone and teeth from obstructing his throat, quickly regained his feet, and raised his weapon to return fire. The shot that struck him in the face had passed through his weapon, rendering it inoperable. Only as he again attempted to engage the enemy did he become aware of this. Unarmed, he was shot again with 7.62 caliber in his right arm that shattered his scapula in 15 pieces rendering him inoperable. As he fell, he pulled Specialist Metteba, also wounded, back into the cover of the kitchen. While he was sitting down on the ground back-to-back with Sergeant Landis who was shot 5 time, he tried to utilize his 9-mm. pistol but could not due to nerve and muscle damage from the gunshot. Sergeant First Class Lara then realized he needed to get back to his original position where he could have better command and control so he crawled back and told Sergeant Landis to suppress an insurgent fighting position.
Moments later Sergeant Landis was shot in the head from a bullet that came through the door. Sergeant First Class Lara, realizing that he had suffered severe blood loss, maintained his consciousness long enough to conduct a battle hand-off with his senior squad leader and assist him in the command and control of the fight until the 3rd Squad was able reinforce and begin casualty evacuation. At this time, one of the platoon’s Stryker vehicles breached the wall of the house into the kitchen to allow for the withdrawal of the squads inside. The vehicle commander and air guard immediately began suppressing the enemy with a .50 caliber machine gun, firing over the heads of the squads inside and allowing them critical moments to disengage.
As the casualty evacuation began, Sergeant First Class Lara refused assistance, not wanting his men exposed to enemy fire just in order to evacuate him. He managed to maintain consciousness long enough to extract himself through the rubble of the house back to the Stryker under his own power, all while under direct enemy fire. Only upon arriving in the Stryker did he succumb to blood loss and lose consciousness. Sergeant First Class Lara’s platoon survived this fierce fire fight through his exemplary leadership, courage and tenacity.
By the time they redeployed from Iraq, his 42-man Infantry Stryker Platoon had received 1 Distinguished Service Cross, 6 Silver Stars, 7 Bronze Star with “V” for valor, 5 Army Commendation Medals with V’s and 16 Purple Hearts.