RAMADI, Iraq --
RAMADI, IRAQ (May 27, 2008) – Not too long ago, Ramadi was torn apart. Al-Qaeda had control of the city and fought daily skirmishes with coalition forces. Everyday, firefights, suicide bombers, rocket-propelled grenades and improvised explosive device attacks devastated the city giving it the nickname, “Wild West.” Marines, sailors, and soldiers were often attacked within seconds of leaving their camps.
On October 21, 2006, three Marines were killed by an IED attack at an intersection in the heart of Ramadi. Two other Marines received life-threatening injuries.
A year and a half later, the brother of one of the two wounded Marines, 1st Lt. David A. Moran, the executive officer of Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant on May 26, 2008, Memorial Day, at that exact intersection where the attack occurred. Moran chose that site to honor the fallen Marines while also paying tribute to his brother, Marine 1st Lt. Daniel P. Moran, who was seriously injured during that IED attack.
“I decided to get promoted at that intersection because that’s where my brother, 1st Lt. Daniel P. Moran, (Weapons Company, 1st Bn., 6th Marines, 1st Mobile Assault Platoon Commander), was hit,” David said. “He was on a night patrol with an Army IED sweeping team and while he was on that mission he was hit by a catastrophic IED. In that attack, his driver, his gunner, and his radio operator were killed. My brother and the vehicle commander survived.”
Before the promotion, David called his only brother and told him his plans.
“I told him ‘Hey man, I’m going out there to honor your Marines, it’s all about them.’”
And Daniel said, “That’s what it’s all about bro, it’s about them--it’s always about the Marines.”
After the promotion, the Marines gathered around David and listened to him as he gave a poignant personal speech. He said the event wasn’t about him, but for the Marines who sacrificed their lives for freedom and democracy.
“I’ll tell you what, when I was out there talking to the Marines, it was for them,” David said in a quiet, emotional tone. “I told everybody out there, that neither the promotion ceremony nor the events of the day were about me and it wasn’t about my brother; it was about Lance Cpls. Nathan R. Elrod, Cliff Collinsworth and Nicholas J. Manoukian. Those were the three Marines that gave the ultimate sacrifice at that intersection on the twenty-first of October. I was there to honor them and honor all of the Marines that have given their life over the past five years and to show their sacrifice was not in vain because of the increased security situation here today.”
The number of attacks in Ramadi is significantly lower now than what they were during Daniel’s tour of duty in 2006. The reduced violence is mostly credited to the Anbar Awakening Movement. The movement consisted of tribal leaders, or sheikhs, forming together against al-Qaeda and denouncing their ruthless and violent ways.
“Nothing happened during the entire ceremony,” David pointed out. “If it wasn’t against the rules to drop our gear, then we would’ve dropped our gear. It was surreal. If you think back to a year and a half ago, we would’ve received contact within 30 seconds of ‘leaving the wire.’ Now we can go out there, and do a promotion in the middle of Ramadi, in the spot where his vehicle was blown up. It’s crazy.”
Before Daniel was severely injured, he was hit by an IED ten days earlier, but no Marines were seriously injured or killed during that attack. David said he knew instantly the second attack was more serious and did not know the severity of his brother’s injuries.
“The next morning my wife and I drove down to Camp Lejeune to be with my sister-in-law,” David recalled. “I remember the uncertainty of the whole situation. We didn’t know if he was going to make it or not. Just the thought of him not being around, not having him tore me up. My family and I knew we had to have faith, and we did. When I first saw him, he was helpless because his body had been put through so much trauma.”
The sight of seeing his brother in so much pain was initially difficult to handle, but once he was able to look into his older brother’s eyes as his brother stared back at him, he knew everything was going to be okay. Daniel was unwavering and refused to give up.
“After seeing him, I could just see the determination and perseverance in his eyes and I knew everything was going to be alright,” David said.
Because of the hard work and sacrifice of many service members just like 1st Lt. Daniel P. Moran, Ramadi is being rebuilt, making progress and leading the way for the rest of al-Anbar Province and Iraq.
“We’re absolutely making progress here,” David said. “You can see it out in the streets. I saw it when I went out to the promotion site. The neighbors came out and were spectators of the ceremony. They just watched the entire time and when it was over, we started clapping and they started clapping.”