Sgt. Anthony Viggiani, USMC
FORWARD OPERATING BASE RIPLEY, Afghanistan, June 14, 2004 - To
many of his fellow Marines in Company C, Battalion Landing Team,
1st Battalion, 6th Marines, Sgt. Anthony Viggiani is the ideal
In the eyes of subordinates and seniors alike, the Strongsville,
Ohio, native embodies those qualities that make Marines special:
dedication, professionalism, strength, commitment, strong morals,
and bravery. Now they have an additional quality to add to that
list -- tough as nails.
During a recent firefight with anti-coalition militia in
south-central Afghanistan, Viggiani's actions further elevated him
in the eyes of the rest of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit
(Special Operations Capable).
When a pair of Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopters spotted
approximately 20 heavily-armed militia fighters fleeing into the
hills during a cordon-and-knock operation in a nearby village, Co.
C immediately pursued on foot. Leading his squad over a steep,
rock-strewn mountain, Viggiani was at the head of the advance when
they came under heavy enemy rifle fire.
"The rounds just started pouring in," he said later that day,
"and we weren't really sure where they were coming from."
On the slope opposite the valley below him, approximately 100
meters away, Viggiani and his Marines watched as two other Marines,
Cpl. Randy Wood and Lance Cpl. James Gould, were wounded by enemy
Aware that the fire was coming from the slope in front of him,
Viggiani pressed forward cautiously when he and 1st Sgt. Ernest
Hoopii came under concentrated fire themselves.
The 24-year-old Viggiani then found he was mere feet from the
cave housing the enemy sniper still firing at Wood and Gould, who
had since taken cover behind a too-small rock.
"I was able to look down a break in the rocks and saw a bit of
cloth move, so I got off three or four shots and then dropped the
[fragmentation grenade]," said Viggiani.
Combined with rifle and machine-gun fire from Wood and Gould's
squad, the grenade explosion silenced the enemy position, which was
later found to have housed three militia fighters.
Sometime during the fight, Viggiani was struck in the lower left
leg by an enemy bullet, fired by fighters further up the valley.
Seemingly unmindful of the wound, Viggiani continued to engage the
enemy with rifle fire until the area was cleared and a total of
four dead and one wounded enemy fighters were found.
Mere minutes after the fight, with typical Marine élan, Viggiani
dismissed the wound that stained the front of his trouser leg a
"It stings a bit, but it's nothing," he said as he paused for a
photograph in front of the cave he helped clear mere minutes after
Despite recommendations from his fellow Marines, Viggiani
refused to leave his platoon and seek aid at the battalion landing
team's mobile command post. With a small dressing and a few
aspirin, Viggiani shouldered his rifle and trudged further into the
rugged mountains in pursuit of Taliban and militia fighters.
||By U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Keith A.
22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit