Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Justin "Dutch" Michael Estes

Sims, Arkansas

March 5, 2007

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
25 Army SSG

2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division

Fort Bragg, North Carolina

 Killed in Samarra, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their unit during combat operations.

For memorial service snapshots, Click photo below.

March 15, 2007

Photos courtesy of Diane, Gold Star Mom

NARRATIVE TO ACCOMPANY THE AWARD OF

SILVER STAR

TO

SSG JUSTIN M. ESTES

SSG Estes (xxx-xx-xxxx) distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty of 5 March 2007, while serving as a Squad Leader in 1st Platoon, Charlie Company, 2-505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, during a complex improvised explosive device (IED) attack in the city of Samarra, Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08.

SSG Estes’ platoon was tasked with conducting reconnaissance of the berm on the eastern side of the volatile city of Samarra in order to prevent the flow of insurgent forces into the city. During the patrol, the lead HMMWV struck a pressure activated IED resulting in the catastrophic destruction of the vehicle, followed by a secondary command-detonated IED targeting the casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) team. SSG Estes was the truck commander of the third truck in the patrol when the first IED was struck, placing him 100 meters behind the lead HMMWV to provide security for the patrol.

The first IED engulfed the lead HMMWV in flames, leaving burning debris scattered around the detonation site. Five Paratroopers were injured in the blast, two of whom were thrown from the truck; they were still alive, but on fire and among the burning debris. Without hesitation and aware of the imminent danger posed not only by the flames and exploding ordnance, but also secondary IEDs, SSG Estes grabbed the fire blanket and ran through the inferno surrounding the destroyed vehicle to render medical aid. SSG Estes feverishly attempted to save the life of SSG Stanley, providing medical care until the platoon medic arrived. SSG Estes then took charge of the combat lifesaver team and began moving casualties out of the wreckage and flames for treatment. SSG Estes provided calm and decisive leadership at the detonation site, directing the continuing search for Paratroopers affected by the blast, even as ammunition cooked off around him. Having cleared the casualties from the fire, and with his equipment literally melting from the intense heat, SSG Estes remained at the side of SSG Stanley as he called the stretcher teams forward to conduct CASEVAC. As the teams approached, the imminent danger at which SSG Estes had placed himself in order to save the lives of his comrades was realized, as he was engulfed in a cloud of smoke and debris as a secondary IED detonated directly underneath his feet, killing him instantly.

In an ultimate act of bravery and selfless service to his comrades in which he gave his own life, SSG Estes attempted to save the lives of five of his comrades. By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, SSG Estes gallantly gave his life for his country, upholding the highest traditions of military heroism and reflecting distinct credit upon himself, Task Force Two Panther, Task Force Lightning, and the United States Army.

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