Jim Webb was a former senator of the United States who served the office from 2007 to 2013. He was also a war hero of the war in Vietnam, awarded the Navy Cross. That medal was pinned on his uniform above a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts. During the first Democratic Primary debate on CNN in 2015, the candidates were asked to name the enemies they were most proud of making. The answers given by the other candidates ranged from Coal Companies, the NRA, Health Care insurers, Pharmaceutical companies, the Iranians, the Republicans, and Wall St(Note that almost all are domestic enemies). Senator Webb’s answer was, “I’d have to say, the enemy soldier that threw the grenade that wounded me, but he’s not around right now to talk to.” And he wasn’t lying.

In the U.S. Marine Corps

Before he was Senator Webb, Webb graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1968. Graduating first in his class from The Basic School, he was sent to Vietnam. He was assigned as a rifle platoon and later company commander of Delta Company, First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment. At that time, about 400 US soldiers were being killed in action on a weekly basis.

James Webb, U.S. politician, former Secretary of the Navy and Assistant Secretary of Defense, 1984. (Russell Roederer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Grenade Encounter

On 10 July 1969, Webb’s platoon was in a search and destroy operation in the Viet’s territory when he noticed a covert bunker complex that looked abandoned. Lieutenant Webb checked the first bunker when three enemies emerged carrying their grenades. He immediately sprung into action by grabbing the closest man and pointing his .45 caliber pistol at the others. They ended up arresting the three soldiers. But that wasn’t the end of the action. As per the citation that was presented to him on the Military Times Hall of Valor, here’s what happened next:

Accompanied by one of his men, he then approached the second bunker and called for the enemy to surrender. When the hostile soldiers failed to answer him and threw a grenade which detonated dangerously close to him, First Lieutenant Webb detonated a Claymore mine in the bunker aperture, accounting for two enemy casualties and disclosing the entrance to a tunnel. Despite the smoke and debris from the explosion and the possibility of enemy soldiers hiding in the tunnel, he then conducted a thorough search which yielded several items of equipment and numerous documents containing valuable intelligence data. Continuing the assault, he approached a third bunker and was preparing to fire into it when the enemy threw another grenade. Observing the grenade land dangerously close to his companion, First Lieutenant Webb simultaneously fired his weapon at the enemy, pushed the Marine away from the grenade, and shielded him from the explosion with his own body. Although sustaining painful fragmentation wounds from the explosion, he managed to throw a grenade into the aperture and completely destroy the remaining bunker. By his courage, aggressive leadership, and selfless devotion to duty, First Lieutenant Webb upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.

Life After Service

Created by Webb’s campaign committee more than a week after he had already dropped out of the Democratic race, but when he was still considering an independent campaign. (Jim Webb 2016, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

After serving, he attended Georgetown Law Center and got his Juris Doctor degree in 1975. He then became the first Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs from 1984 to 1987 in the Reagan administration. He was then made the Secretary of the Navy in 1987 under the George Bush administration and resigned in 1988 because he refused to reduce the size of the Navy. By 1992 the size of the Navy had been reduced by more than 20% representing some 113 ships taken off active duty along with their crews. He became a Senator in 2007  for one term before he attempted a run for President in 2016. His candidacy failed to gain any support at all from rank and file Democrats in a race in which Hillary Clinton was always considered to be the presumptive nominee of the party. Her only challenger was Socialist Bernie Sanders who nearly beat her in the primaries gaining 46% of democrat party delegates. In the end, Hillary won in large part because big Democrat party officials and officeholders serve as Superdelegates in the Democrat Party, numbering about 700 people holding 15% of the total vote in their hands. The net effect could be seen in New Hampshire in the 2016 election. Sanders won 60% of the vote in the primary, beating Hillary by 22 points.  All six Superdelegates in that state voted for Hillary erasing Sander’s win(along with the votes of rank and file Democrat voters) and awarded the state to Hillary. In a party where its establishment actually picks the candidates for its members to vote for rather than the popular vote in the primaries, Senator Webb never had a chance.

Webb has retired from public life and is a business owner, filmmaker, and author of ten books.