By Pfc. Nathaniel Smith
4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs
BAGHDAD – When Pfc. Joshua Philippus got his first taste of combat, it wasn’t a nice and easy introduction. The danger of it all hit him right in the head. Literally.
Philippus, a cavalry scout with Troop A, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division from Houston, received an Army Commendation Medal with “V” device for valor July 20, for his actions in southern Baghdad’s Rashid District April 9.
Philippus and his platoon were on a presence patrol like any other that day. They had never even seen combat, in fact. When the platoon took fire, Philippus was in one mindset: to take action.
“We’d been training for this for a while,” he said. “Until that point it was boredom; we were just driving around in a city that I didn’t know.”
When word reached Philippus’ truck that their dismounts had been trapped by enemy gunfire, he told his driver to drive through a fence into the fight.
After positively identifying the enemy, Philippus returned fire. On his second box of ammunition, an enemy round struck his helmet, sending him flying against the glass in his turret and down into the Humvee.
“I don’t know if I thought I was dead or what, but I was scared,” he said. “There were guys on the ground and they were still under heavy contact so I stood back up and kept firing.”
Sgt. 1st Class Troy Murray, Philippus’ platoon sergeant from Augusta, Ga., said his Soldier’s reaction was uncommon and awe-inspiring.
“I thought he was gone. I saw him go down, about a minute-and-a-half later he was back on the gun,” he said. “That made me proud. A lot of guys wouldn’t have gotten back up there.”
For Philippus, his reason to get back in the fight was a simple yet profound one: his fellow Soldiers still taking fire.
“When you’re out there, it’s either you, your friends, or the bad guy. I’m not gonna let one of my brothers go down because I’m scared,” he said. “So I stood back up.”
As for the recognition he’s received for his actions that day, Philippus is appreciative, but keeps it in perspective.
“It means a lot, but I’ve had some really good friends die here,” he said. “In all honesty, I did my job-they gave everything.”
The friends he has lost in Iraq have motivated him to continue his mission, Philippus said.
“It’s people like that, that give their life for their country that make it worthwhile. It gives you a reason to fight. If they gave their lives and we just give up then it’s all in vain. Then my friends, my best friends, died for nothing.”
By Pfc. Nathaniel Smith