On July 18, Cpl Wrightsman was part of a patrol crossing the Helmand river when an ANP (Afghan National Police) was swept away in the river behind him. Without hesitation, Cpl Wrightsman, in full personal protective gear, dove into the water in an effort to rescue the ANP. He was last seen about 50 ft downstream when he surfaced briefly. Four other Marines had dropped their gear and went in after him but were unable to find anything. From what I understand the entire Marine Expeditionary Force threw its efforts into recovering Cpl Wrightsman. Every type of asset, aircraft, equipment, and personnel were employed. Taliban forces were beginning to move in from the north in an effort to capture Cpl Wrightsman’s body before the Marines. They were thwarted after two days when both bodies were recovered by the Americans.
|Then Lance Corporal Wrightsman as my guidon bearer in Iraq 2008.|
I remember Wrightsman had a tattoo of the Green Lantern symbol. Many young men have joined the Corps with dreams of doing exploits. No doubt Wrightsman was no different, hoping to emulate the valor of his childhood heroes.
Upon hearing what happened on July 18 nearly every one of us that knew him immediately thought: “But Wrightsman can’t swim!” Fortunately, America still breeds men with a bias for action who don’t dwell on what they can’t do. I imagine Cpl Wrightsman thought to himself: “I can’t let this guy down!” Then he heedlessly went after a man who wasn’t a fellow Marine or even an American.
One of my last acts as Kilo Company 1stSgt was to submit Wrightsman for meritorious promotion to Corporal. At the time of his death his current 1stSgt had submitted him for meritorious Sergeant. It was recently remarked to me that all Cpl Wrightsman cared about was being a Marine and taking care of his squad. Yeah, that’s just about my breed of Marine I’d say.
” And each man stands with his face in the light of his own drawn sword. Ready to do what a hero can.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning