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CAMP RAMADI, Ar Ramadi, Iraq (April 23, 2005) - Private First Class Bryan J. Nagel, a squad automatic weapon gunner with 2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, is responsible for saving the lives of his fellow Marines during an organized attack insurgents launched on a observation post in the city here April 20. The 20-year-old from Jamestown, N.D., engaged the driver of a suicide vehicle born improvised explosive device from his observation post with his weapon placing well-aimed rounds in the vehicles windshield. The 2003 Jamestown High School graduate destroyed the rolling bomb and prevented the martyr from reaching the Marines' position. Photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan

Photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan

Jamestown, N. D., native stops enemy attack, saves Marines

23 Apr 2005 | Cpl. Tom Sloan

Insurgents launched an attack against one of 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment’s observation post in the city here the evening of April 20 but they didn’t count on one Marine; Pfc. Bryan J. Nagel.

While receiving sporadic enemy fire, the Jamestown, N. D. native stood his ground and took out a suicide truck bomb and fought off an insurgent attack, preventing major property damage and casualties to the Marines and civilians in the area.

The 20-year-old squad automatic weapon gunner with 2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon, Company B, was responsible for thwarting the attack and preventing a potential disaster that day, according to his company first sergeant, 1st Sgt. Scott A. Van De Ven.

“His quick thinking and actions under fire clearly foiled the enemy’s plans,” said the 36-year-old from Grayling, Mich. “Nagel’s initiative destroyed the enemy vehicle before it reached the Marines’ position.”

Nagel was manning an observation post in downtown Ramadi and being fired at by insurgents when a mid-sized passenger car detonated near his position injuring two Marines.

“I was getting shot at so I started returning fire,” said Nagel, who disregarded his own safety and moved above the protection of the position’s bulletproof glass to engage the enemy. “Then the first SVBIED (suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) hit.”

The blast breached the OP’s main entrance.

“There was smoke everywhere,” recalled the 2003 Jamestown High School graduate. “I was reloading when, through a patch of the smoke, I saw the second vehicle coming our way. I knew what I had to do.”

Nagel employed his weapon with precision, hitting the yellow sewage tanker truck’s windshield and killing the driver.

"I shot about sixty or seventy rounds at him,” said Nagel. “I never thought I would have to make a decision like that.”

Other Marines were alerted by Nagel’s fire and engaged the vehicle as well.

“The truck swerved to one side of the road and detonated,” he said. “It all happened so fast.”

No one was injured by the second blast; but it left a large crater in the main street. 

According to Van De Ven, Nagel’s heroic actions are a testament to his character.

“He’s hard working, polite and is someone who cares for his fellow Marines,” he said.

Though, Nagel’s command is recommending him for an award for his courage under fire, he is just happy his comrades are all okay.

“I’m overwhelmed knowing that I saved the lives of my Marines.”