Video: Are our troops' sacrifices appreciated?

By Mike Taibbi Correspondent
NBC News
updated 1/23/2007 10:22:31 PM ET 2007-01-24T03:22:31

Thirty-two-year-old Todd Corbin is an Ohio deputy sheriff, a corporal in the Marine reserves and, on a May day in Haditha, Iraq, in 2005, a hero.

"It was like hell opened up — fires burning," Corbin says.

A suicide bomber, an IED, mortars, machine guns — four Marines killed right away. Corbin, a truck driver, ran to his wounded platoon sergeant.

"[I] throw him over my shoulder and I run him back to the vehicle," Corbin recalls.

Mike Taibbi: "Are you taking fire the whole time?"

Corbin: "Yes, sir."

Taibbi: "And returning fire?"

Corbin: "Yes, sir."

At least five more times, Corbin crossed the field of fire to retrieve wounded mates, and got all of them to safety. But the details of Corbin's exploits haven't traveled much beyond his home town, the reach of his local newspaper and the military insiders who have known about the story since it happened.

Former Marine Joseph Kinney told a Congressional committee it's shameful the "war on terror" has seen so few awards for valor, including only two posthumous Medals of Honor, when Vietnam produced 245 and World War II produced 464.

"If we had a few more heroes, if we had a few parades down Fifth Avenue, we'd have a human face on this war," Kinney says.

In the wake of too hasty official stories about Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman, Marine Gen. Richard Mills told that same committee "accuracy is our number one priority, as opposed to timeliness." 

Medal of Honor recipient and NBC News consultant Col. Jack Jacobs adds that Iraq is different than Vietnam.

"Very much tougher, but doesn't produce the toe-to-toe combat that produced Medals of Honor in previous wars," Jacobs says.

But Jacobs says even while playing defense against a furtive enemy in an unpopular war, there are heroes America needs to know — like Todd Corbin, who says whether it's the Navy Cross he was awarded or the Medal of Honor, it's his fallen comrades who deserve any recognition — just what you'd expect a hero to say.

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