‘Never taught me to fight a battle with a cell phone’
June 14, 2008
The grim scene looked like something out of a movie — only this fight was all too real.
Deadly rocket-propelled grenades and mortars blasted all around as machine-gun and AK-47 fire whizzed overhead and pinged off armored Humvees. Burning vehicles littered the road and debris was everywhere.
The heat and dust merely added to the misery.
Staff Sgt. Jason Moyer, attached to the 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team but assigned as a liaison officer to Iraq’s 3rd Special Police Commando Battalion, was part of a quick-reaction force dispatched Nov. 14, 2004, to the Four West Iraqi police station in Mosul’s Nijar district.
A platoon of Iraqi commandos there had come under attack, and an initial relief team sent to assist got ambushed en route.
"It was intense," Moyer recalls. "When the intense fighting began, I thought that [the enemy] would have to run out of ammo eventually.
"On any given day, you never know what is going to happen to someone or yourself. The thought is that one minute you are sitting on a [forward operating base] and the next you are in a fight for your life."
His actions on this day, however, would lead him to the Bronze Star with "V" device for valor.
Conditions in northern Iraq were at a boiling point in mid-November 2004.
Three days earlier, terrorist fighters overran much of Mosul. About 3,200 of the city’s 4,000 police officers abandoned their posts, leaving five stations empty.
The 1st Iraqi Special Police Commando Brigade’s 3rd Battalion deployed from Baghdad to reinforce Mosul.
On Nov. 14, 2004, casualties mounted as Moyer and the second reaction force fought their way toward the Four West police station.
He soon discovered he was the team’s lone communications link. Using only a cell phone, he called in and directed multiple airstrikes — all while repeatedly exposed to enemy fire.
"It wasn’t that I was scared because I was just going with what I was trained to do, but there were frustrations not having a radio … to communicate with the brigade," Moyer said.
"It was pretty awkward because in all my years of training they never taught me to fight a battle with a cell phone. For a while towards the end — and before the Strykers arrived — I thought, ‘Please do not let the cell battery die on me,’ because I was on it so much."
Once the Strykers reached the scene, Moyer ducked enemy fire and joined their position, briefing reinforcement forces on the situation. He then directed efforts to treat and evacuate the wounded.
The carnage was significant. Twelve Iraqi commandos lay dead and more than 40 were injured.
Estimates placed the number of enemy killed at 25 to 30, with many more wounded.
"One of the things that I can remember smelling to this day is the burning vehicles and the gunpowder of all the weapons that had been fired," Moyer said.
Despite heavy enemy fire, Moyer made it back to Forward Operating Base Freedom unscathed. He says the thought of not returning that day never really crossed his mind.
"I was on autopilot from all the training that I received over the years," he said.
Moyer, 36, of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., now a sergeant first class, currently serves as first platoon sergeant for the 55th Military Police Company, 94th Military Police Battalion, 501st Sustainment Brigade at Camp Casey, South Korea.
Looking back, he says he doesn’t always feel deserving of the medal and was only "doing what I have been trained to do."
"I knew that others have done more and gotten less," added Moyer, who also deployed to Afghanistan for six months in 2003. "But when I received the award, I felt a pride in knowing that I completed a job well done and that the standards I made for myself were exceeded."
Sgt. 1st Class Jason Moyer
Unit: 293rd Military Police Company, 3rd Military Police Battalion (Provisional), 3rd Infantry Division
Medal: Bronze Star with "V"
Earned: Nov. 14, 2004, Mosul, Iraq