Like hail during a thunderstorm, the bullets landed all around the Marine as he simultaneously fired two M-16 service rifles, one in each arm. Staff Sgt Ralph Scott was using his own weapon and the weapon of his platoon sergeant, who was busy carrying another wounded Marine on his back to safety. Both rifles continuously erupted as he methodically emptied magazine after magazine into the insurgent position.
It was November 12, 2004, and Scott was in the middle of his seventh deployment. He was the platoon commander for the 1st Platoon Company C, Battalion Landing Team 1/3.
On this particular day, Marines Sgt Jack Foster and LCpl Robert Carter were pinned down in an open field in Fallujah, Iraq, with no cover. Foster had gone to get Carter, who had been hit in the arm and was severely wounded.
Soon Foster ran out of bullets. That's when Scott, along with his platoon sergeant Sgt Michael Chambers and Cpl Jason Bennett ran into the open field to retrieve them.
“Bennett and I stood up in the field to draw the enemy fire to give the others a chance to run for a covered position into of a school house full of Iraqi Army soldiers,” Scott said. “In order to help Chambers lighten his load, I took his rifle and used it with mine. That is how I came to have two rifles to fire at the enemy.” It was later called a miracle that any of them survived, especially considering that two rocket-propelled grenades had also been fired upon them, the shrapnel going every which way but inexplicably missing their flesh.
“Anybody from that platoon, seeing what he did,” started Chambers, “My words can't do him justice.”
Scott, who has served in the Marine Corps since enlisting at age 17 in 1989, earned a Bronze Star Medal with Valor for his actions that day and other combat he saw between November and December of 2004.
He is a man with an unyielding sense of duty toward his fellow Marines, according to Chambers.
“When Staff Sergeant Scott first came to us in Charlie Company, all he said to us was, ‘My whole entire job — I don't care if it takes my life — is to bring you all home,'” said Chambers. “I'm here to tell you that he stood behind his word.”
“All I can say is you won't meet another man like him,” Chambers said. “Every battle we were in, while Marines would naturally and instinctively hit the deck when the first barrage would hit, Staff Sergeant Scott would be there standing, already simultaneously returning fire. We would follow his lead. There's no finer man, no fiercer warrior that the Marines have ever sent into battle than that man. I would go back to combat with him in a second.”
“In my heart, I'm still with Charlie Company,” said Scott. “Whatever job the Marine Corps gives me, I will do it to the best of my ability, but I'd be lying if I said I'd rather be here than back with the grunts.”
“I wake up every morning, and I come to work,” said Scott. “Whether work happens to be behind a desk in Hawaii or on a battlefield in Iraq isn't really the point. The point is to do your best and give your best effort at all times and in all situations.”
Excerpts from articles by Sgt Joe Lindsay, combat correspondent, Hawaii Marine, Nov. 25, 2005, and Dec. 2, 2005.Photo and information courtesy of US Marines / Dept. of Defense