Sergeant Major Bradley Kasal’s is famous Marine Corps wide for his heroic actions in the battle of Fallujah, Iraq. As a young Marine Corps recruit I was told about his heroism by my Drill Instructors. They told us that this was the Corps’ legacy and that this was the stuff Marines were made of. The following is Sergeant Major Kasal’s Navy Cross citation for his actions in Fallujah,

For extraordinary heroism while serving as First Sergeant, Weapons Company, 3d Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 13 November 2004. First Sergeant Kasal was assisting 1st Section, Combined Anti-Armor Platoon as they provided a traveling over watch for 3d Platoon when he heard a large volume of fire erupt to his immediate front, shortly followed by Marines rapidly exiting a structure. When First Sergeant Kasal learned that Marines were pinned down inside the house by an unknown number of enemy personnel, he joined a squad making entry to clear the structure and rescue the Marines inside. He made entry into the first room, immediately encountering and eliminating an enemy insurgent, as he spotted a wounded Marine in the next room. While moving towards the wounded Marine, First Sergeant Kasal and another Marine came under heavy rifle fire from an elevated enemy firing position and were both severely wounded in the legs, immobilizing them. When insurgents threw grenades in an attempt to eliminate the wounded Marines, he rolled on top of his fellow Marine and absorbed the shrapnel with his own body. When First Sergeant Kasal was offered medical attention and extraction, he refused until the other Marines were given medical attention. Although severely wounded himself, he shouted encouragement to his fellow Marines as they continued to clear the structure. By his bold leadership, wise judgment, and complete dedication to duty, First Sergeant Kasal reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.”

Still holding his 9-mm. Baretta, a seriously injured First Sergeant Brad Kasal is carried from the “Hell House” by Lance Corporals Chris Marquez and Dane Shaeffer. First Sergeant Kasal lost much of his blood and nearly lost his right leg after being shot seven times by insurgents. His back was also peppered with shrapnel after he used his body to shield an injured Lance Corporal Alex Nicoll from the blast of a grenade.

The following is the speech Sergeant Major Kasal gave during his retirement ceremony that took place last month,

Our 26th president of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt, he once stated, speak softly and carry a big stick. Speak softly is diplomacy, but diplomacy will only work if you have the strength to back it up. Ladies and gentlemen, behind me, to the right, to the left, is the big stick. The ones who do the work, who put in the sacrifice, everyday, to make sure that this country, this most beautiful, great nation, still stands.

Marines in 1st Marine division — make no mistake that when they prepare to step off a Range 400, and those infantryman load ammo in their magazines, and those tank crewman load ammo in the breaches, and the artillerymen, and the engineers, and they step off, make no mistake that they understand exactly what they are training for, and what those targets down range represent.

Make no mistake that the 3rd Marine aircraft wing, those maintainers, those mechanics, those crew chiefs, those avionics Marines, all of them understand the importance of what they do. I owe my life to the thousands of times I’ve gotten into the back of a helicopter — and put my total trust and confidence to every single one of those Marines did what they’re supposed to do and got me safely from point A to point B, in sometimes aging aircraft and make no mistake when those Marines land and they jump out the back and they run down a ramp of what they’re going to do.

1st Force Recon CO Addresses New Recon Marines

Read Next: 1st Force Recon CO Addresses New Recon Marines

And make no mistake that these wonderful Marines and sailors and our corpsmen and the Marine logistics group, who without logistics, without communication, without intel without the law enforcement support from all of the units across the MEF information group, without all of the that the whole war fighting machine would cease to exist. Ask any — look through any history book and you’ll see the importance of all of that. And make no mistake what these Marines — but these Marines are committed to it. These Marines left their home — all these great Americans left their home — signed up during a time of war and said, ‘I wanna do that.’ And we owe them so much gratitude. I am so, so proud. And they understand that in our profession there can be no second place. There can be no losing. Because the weight of our nation rests on their shoulders.

And I spoke to them yesterday and thanked them, so now I want to talk about them to each of you, but we are so indebted. So to all the veterans please know, and myself included soon, we got incredible people who picked up the torch, and they are still doing, and they are currently the authors writing the next chapter in America’s history books. And they’re going to keep us proud. And everyone here — always, always be proud that you served with one MEF. Always be proud that you are a One Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine and sailor. Once one MEF, always one MEF. Remember that.

And all the guests, shortly here, to conclude the ceremony we’re going to do a pass and review. And these Marines are going to pass by. What I’ll ask you to do is break out your cameras and your smartphones, and take their pictures. And then later when you turn on the evening news and you see negative, or if you’re just having a bad day, pull those pictures up. It’ll remind you of what is right and great about this nation. And that our nation will always have a future as long as you see great Americans like you see out here. I am so proud of all of the Marines and sailors in this organization, and I cannot say enough.

Semper Fidelis Marine and godspeed, you were the difference.

Feature image: U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bradley A. Kasal salutes during the playing of the National Anthem during the I Marine Expeditionary Force Sergeant Major Relief and Appointment ceremony aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 4, 2015. During the ceremony, Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green was relieved by Sgt. Maj. Bradley A. Kasal. | U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melissa Marnell, Combat Camera, MCIWEST-MCB CamPen/Released.