He watched as five Marines beside him dropped, struck by the sheer force of insurgent machine gun fire. Within seconds, Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Cole joined his brothers as a three-round burst lifted his 200-pound frame and 80 pounds of gear completely off the ground, moved him five feet in the air, and slammed him into the dirt– all in less than half a second.
The Woodstock, Ga., native had taken three rounds into the ceramic plates protecting his body from small-arms fire. He was down, but not wounded. The injured Marines made their way into a nearby canal for cover as Cole provided suppressive fire with his rifle. With half of the Marines on the patrol wounded, they tried calling for extraction on the radio, but couldn’t reach anyone. No help was on the way and approximately 20 insurgents entrenched only 30 meters from their position were headed in their direction and they were out for blood.