MARINE OF THE WEEK // He refused to leave a fallen Marine behind…
Sgt. Eubaldo Lovato
1st Battalion, 8th marines
November 11, 2004
Operation Phantom Fury, Fallujah, Iraq
Award: Silver Star (upgraded from Bronze Star)
During the second battle for Fallujah, then-Corporal Lovato and his squad was ordered to clear a house. What the Marines did not know is that insurgents had barricaded themselves behind sandbags in one room.
When a fire team entered the room, Cpl. Travis Desiato was killed immediately by a barrage of AK-47 fire and fell to the floor. The insurgents put up such a volume of fire that the other Marines could not retrieve their comrade. The Marines fired blindly, unable to see the enemy fighters behind their barricade.
Lovato and the others in his squad could see Desiato on the ground. They tried calling out to him but he didn’t answer. A group of five Marines including Lovato made several attempts to reach Desiato ’s body. They threw C4 plastic explosives into the room, but it generated so much smoke that the Marines could not see anything. Then one Marine attached part of a shattered mirror to a stick, which allowed him to see where the insurgents were.
Pinned by enemy fire, Lovato manuvered to retrieve more grenades, with bullets passing through his pants pockets and sling.
Eventually Lovato was able to crawl to reach his Marines and asked a tank to blast the back of the building. The Marines stormed the building and killed the enemy inside. Lovato retrieved Desiato’s body.