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Special Mission - Overview
Freedom's Heroes: The Road to Baghdad

It is March 25, 2003, only six days into Operation Iraqi Freedom, when then-Lt. Brian Chontosh and two of his men face a brutal gun battle, earning a Navy Cross, a Silver Star, and a Navy Commendation Medal with "V" for Valor.

After an early attempt at a decapitation strike fails, it becomes clear that even with Special Forces laser-painting targets to give our bombing runs 3-meter accuracy, Saddam's regime will have to be taken down the old fashioned way. Troops backed up by heavy armor will have to drive north into Baghdad and send Saddam fleeing.

During this drive, on Highway 1, just south of Ad Diwaniyah, Chontosh's weapons company, serving in the 3/5, takes fire from a group of mortar launchers, RPGs, and automatic weapons. Iraqi fighters, probably from the Fedayeen, have placed machine gun nests by the side of the road, luring Chontosh's unit into a trap. Instead of trying to flee, he orders his driver, Cpl. Armand McCormick, to steer straight into the hornet's nest. Cpl. Thomas Franklin blasts the Iraqis away. The HMMWV crashes into the enemy trench, and Chontosh, McCormick, and Cpl. Robert Kerman leap out, shooting down the fighters with their own rifles and picking up enemy guns as they run out of ammo. By the time the rattle of gunfire quiets, they've swept hundreds of feet of enemy trench clean and killed almost two dozen Iraqi fighters.

How do men under fire respond to extreme danger and what drives them on? Capt. Brian Chontosh, Cpl. Armand McCormick, and Cpl. Thomas Franklin sit down with Jacki Schechner to talk about the battle that earned them the Navy Cross - the second highest decoration in the military, the Silver Star, and the Navy Commendation Medal with "V" respectively. They also discuss the stories you aren't hearing from the mainstream media, and as Capt. Chontosh prepares to head back to Iraq, what they anticipate lies ahead.

Experience firsthand what it means to be a true American hero as you play through the incredible actions of three brave Marines on the road to Baghdad in the name of Operation Iraqi Freedom.


Freedom's Heroes: The Road to Baghdad

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