Thursday, August 25, 2005

Army Colonel wins Distinguished Service Cross 
Army Colonel James Coffman Jr. has been awarded the DSC for this action leading Iraqi security forces in repulsing an attack on an Iraqi police station in Mosul.
He accompanied a commando Quick Reaction Force with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Iraqi Special Police Commando Brigade on Nov. 14, 2004 to help a commando platoon under attack in a Mosul, Iraq police station.

As the QRF approached the station, it was besieged with rocket-propelled grenades, small arms fire and mortar rounds. Coffman and the commandos fought the insurgents for four hours before help arrived. When the initial firefight killed or seriously wounded all but one of the commando officers, Coffman rallied the remaining commandos while trying to radio for assistance, according to his award citation.

“Under heavy fire, he moved from commando to commando, looking each in the eye and using hand and arm signals to demonstrate what he wanted done,” the citation said.

When an enemy round shattered his left shooting hand, damaging his M4 rifle in the process, Coffman bandaged it and continued fighting with AK-47 rifles he collected from commando casualties until each ran out of ammunition. He also passed out ammunition to the uninjured commandos with the help of the remaining commando officer; when all that remained were loose rounds, Coffman held magazines between his legs and loaded the rounds with his good hand.

When a second commando unit arrived four hours after the fight began, Coffman led them to his position and continued to fight, refusing to be evacuated for treatment until the battle was over. Not long after the commando reinforcements arrived, air support and a Stryker Brigade Quick Reaction Force were on hand to assist to assist in the battle.

Coffman supervised the evacuation of injured commandos and led another group of commandos to the police station to make contact with the Iraqi Police inside. Once the additional air and ground support elements began attacking buildings the enemy forces were hiding in, Coffman went back to his initial position to check on the injured commandos and then agreed to be evacuated for treatment. Twenty-five insurgents were killed and dozens injured.

I'm linking to a U.S. Army publication because the PAO guys did more original reporting than did the Associated Press (which edits out the complimentary things Colonel Coffman said about our Iraqi colleagues), and of course does more original reporting than the New York Times does, which is zero so far, even though the Times usually has two or three first-line reporters in Iraq at any one time.

In fairness, the PAO guys do get a head start on the story.

The Times does mention that the Distinguished Service Cross is second only to the Medal of Honor, and mentions Medal of Honor medal Paul Smith. But somehow, the Times doesn't seem to grasp that the DSC is also equivalent to the Navy Cross, and so makes no mention of USMC Captain Brian Chontosh, who was awarded the Navy Cross last year.

A look at Google news reveals that the only news service which has covered the DSC award at all is the Associated Press. Even the Army Times is so far relying on the AP story. It's still only a day into the story, though. The New York Times really sucks at this, but the Washington Post is pretty good at coming up with good follow-up stories, when they set their minds to it.

One other question:

It took four hours for help to arrive. What's up with that?

Strykers? What's the deal? Is it an active duty thing? Was it at the end of a four-day weekend or something?

Splash, out,



Saw this on Fox News at 08:30 CST; the quality of the interview w/ Col. Coffman was poor as it was filmed in one of the cheesy Saddam palaces; crappy acoustics and it looked like the Atlanta airport with people rushing around in the background. PAO should have prepared better.
The DSC is the MoH for survivors...
I was struck by the four hour delay, too. Wonder why it took so long? Thanks for posting this.
Please read www.colcoffman.com and pass ti along so people will know about this American hero. Thank you
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