Monday, November 14, 2011

Corporal Tony Mullis Part Two

On April 17, 1990, a baby boy named Tony Mullis was born to “Big” Tony and Cozetta
Mullis in the Houston County Hospital. His father works in Pool Construction and his mother is a career active member of the United States Air Force. Perhaps, that had some early influence on the young boy who decided a long time ago that he wanted to serve in the military.
Just slightly before Tony was born, a pretty baby girl, Jeanie, was born to Cliff
and Christie Bush in Hawkinsville. It was a strange fate of destiny which led these two babies to meet and later to become married. Both of them wereattending school together in Hawkinsville but seemed to be too busy with otherthings to become very interested in each other.
Tony was a good student, but he was most fond of his science teacher,Hillary Barker under whom he made an “A”.
In high school, Tony, always a good athlete—something that would come in handy for him during his tour in the military—played on the Hawkinsville Red Devil baseball team and was a good infielder for a team which included childhood friends, Dustin Noles, “John-John Offenburg and Jason Lunsford, but the desire to enlist in a branch of the military kept creeping back into his mind.
Still not dating each other Tony and Jeanie were aware of each other, but seemingly
not interested enough to ask for a date.
And then, graduation time came and fate stepped in to have the two
seniors placed side by side for the ceremony.
It was convenient enough to make it comfortable for them to overcome
their shyness and talk to each other through commencement rehearsals. Sitting next to each other made it easier to
relate during those planning days for graduation. Those practice exercises made it easier to
“get acquainted.” So much so that the couple became friendly; and later even friendlier.
The friendship was enough for them to begin dating each other exclusively.
Tony worked for his father while in high school and immediately after graduation
until his dream to join the Marines began to take shape in his thinking.
As with many young boys, strength comes in numbers and one of his pals from school was also in the thinking stages of joining with him, however he later changed his mind and opted to go to college. Tony was adamant about joining the military so he could get the opportunity to travel and see more of the world outside of the confines of his hometown. Indeed, he believed the military was his ticket to do just that.
In addition, Tony was eleven when the attack on America on September 11, 2001 took place, and he remembers being scared that his mother might be killed or wounded as a result of the war on terror in her position in the Air Force, not an unusual concern for a boy of that age.
Nevertheless, in December, 2009, Tony Mullis enlisted in the Marines and headed for Camp
Lejeune, North Carolina, home for the largest number of Marines in the world—over 40,000—where he would enter Boot Camp. He was in the first three months of his new life, a Marine enlisted man. “I knew it would be a difficult time,” he said, “but I was surprised about all of the
yelling that went on during the shaping of new recruits into fight-
ing Marines.”
The job description for Combat Engineers includes construct, alter, repair, and maintain buildings and structures; lift and move heavy objects and equipment by setting up, bracing, and utilizing rigging devices and equipment; and perform various duties incidental to the use of demolitions in construction projects and destruction of objects. Personnel assigned this MOS are taught carpentry and other construction skills as well as demolitions, specialized demolitions for urban breaching and land mine warfare.
It wasn’t until after Boot Camp which lasted three months,
followed by a month’s intensive training, and finally another three month’s training at a place called Courthouse Bay where he was trained to be a Combat Engineer with emphasis in Mobility, Counter Mobility, and Survivability. It was there that Mullis learned what was expected of him in locating hidden IEDs and getting help in defusing or destroying them. It was also there after Boot Camp that he married his sweetheart, Jeanie Bush, the girl he really got to know during his high school graduation.
What did the future hold for the Marine from the city by the muddy river?
More than 1.65 million U.S. service members have been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq since September 11, 2001. More than 35,000 service members have been physically wounded.
When asked what his expectations of his first deployment? Mullis answered, “I felt that I had been trained properly, but until I started utilizing all of the preparation
training, I didn’t know what my expectations would result in during actual
Cpl. Tony Mullis received his orders in October, 2010 about ten months after his enlistment. His orders were to the Middle East in Afghanistan. “I had good training but only after getting it into action first hand did I realize what my job was and how to do it,” Mullis said. “Older and more experienced Marines looked after the new guys to make sure they handled the job correctly, as I did likewise for new guys after having been out front myself.”
Tony Mullis’s first deployment lasted from October 2010 until early March, 2011, and he learned his job well and rose to a promotion to Corporal in the Marine Corp. He returned back to Camp Lejeune in March and looked forward to seeing his new wife who was now expecting their first child. The return to America and the visit with his bride was enjoyable, but far too short. It also was a sad time for Jeanie and members of both families to see his quick return to the battlefield in Afghanistan.
His group pulled out on March 21, 2011, and little did anyone expect they would see him again so quickly—April 6 when he was tragically wounded by the very thing he was out there to locate for destruction.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Corporal Tony Mullis Story

The day, April 6, started out like all other days for Cpl. Tony Mullis and his fellow Marines, with the exception that Tony had learned the day before on the fifth that he had become a father to a

The due date for his wife, Jeanie was to be April 6, but little Cason Mullis had a different idea and came quickly into his new world, a few hours before. His father, a Marine Combat Engineer found out around eight o’clock that night which was around noon in Hawkinsville. He was able to call his wife on her cell phone and talk to her right away. In addition, he got another treat as she held the phone near her newborn son so Tony was able to hear him making baby noises. Admittedly, Mullis said it was one of the greatest thrills of his life to hear his son across thousands of miles.
It was a happy thought for Tony to sleep on that night. The group of Marines fell out for chow prior to going on their duty assignment of locating and destroying IEDs which means Improvised Explosive Devices, the number one weapon of choice of the Afghans and Iraqi forces. Primarily, it is made up of unexploded bombs or newly created ones and then hidden from sight in well traveled places by the Marine Forces.
On April 6 in 2011, Cpl. Mullis was on point—meaning the first of his group—marching determinedly ahead to try to locate IEDs which had been planted in the dirt of the roads or huts they were inspecting based on intelligence they had received showing an extra amount of activity around the huts which were usually occupied by farmers.
To get a better understanding of the geography, one must realize that Afghanistan huts may be located within mud walls which may be as large as a city block. The huts, themselves, usually are small, about one or two rooms, and the land is shared with other hut owners for the purpose of raising crops and animals. The walls are their way of saying to others, including our military forces, to keep away and leave them alone.

But on this day, the troops had information that there had been an unusual amount of suspicious activity and it required some on site investigation. As a Marine Combat Engineer, Tony Mullis took the first moves toward the mud walls and quickly, but carefully scaled it to begin his probing search. In his hand was a long probe which he used to try to safely locate a hidden IED. “So far so good,” Mullis thought as he walked stealthily around the hut and inside, finding nothing. Just before walking out to give the thumbs up sign to his comrades, something caught his eye on the dirt floor near a window. He walked slowly inspecting the ground carefully before he both felt and heard a click. Before, he could move, the IED exploded throwing him upward to the ceiling and just as quickly casting him down to the floor. Instantly he knew he was injured, but not to what extent. He looked at his right arm and noticed it had been ripped open with shrapnel, leaving bone and flesh exposed from his elbow to his hand. The next sound was his voice yelling as loud as he could, “I’m hit! I’m hit!” It was then he took a quick look to inventory himself. His legs felt like they were in a hole, unattached. He could see that his left leg was ripped away and his right leg was broken and turned to a right angle from his body.
By this time he was located by one of his colleagues who looked at the extent of his injuries and uttered an expletive. “They have called a bird (helicopter) and it shouldn’t be long.
Struggling to keep himself calm, Mullis asked, “How long before the bird gets here?”
“About five minutes!” he was told. He was also told that an officer was injured on the other side of the mud wall, but it may only be a concussion.

Outside of the wall, his Marine leaders affixed a bomb in the mud wall to blow an opening which would be large enough for them to carry Mullis out to the helicopter. Only moments later, they had him aboard the chopper and began treatment immediately. Morphine was administered for pain and blood transfusions started right away. The helicopter would head to Camp Leatherneck, a small Marine base used for stabilizing the wounded Marines, before sending him to Germany to a hospital within hours. Altogether, he had taken approximately a dozen pints of blood already. In today’s warfare, the speed of getting treatment right away has increased the chances for survival and lessened the Killed in Action fighters. For one thing, the Marines are all equipped with a card in the pocket of their shoulder which shows not only what type of blood as was the case of the old dog tags, but a chip which tells about the entire medical history of the fallen Marine, which increases his chance of survival tremendously.
In Germany for only a day or so, Mullis asked an on duty Contract Nurse if she could send his wife an e-mail requesting a picture of his newly born son. She went off duty before she could complete the request, but Tony asked a second nurse for the favor, and she was successful in retrieving a picture of his son. After a day or so, he was flown to Bethesda Naval Air Station Hospital where he would begin numerous surgeries over the next few months.

Meanwhile, Jeanie, her mother, and some others accompanied her to Maryland where she was able to see her wounded husband. It was the miracle of modern warfare care-giving which literally carried Cpl. Tony Mullis from battlefield injury to his family in four days.
Please read Part Two