Carrie Prendergast has never met Travis Manion, the ambitious Marine 1st. Lt. who was killed by enemy sniper fire in the Al Anbar province of Iraq on April 29, 2007. But she shares several common attributes. A former Marine, who comes from the same hometown of Doylestown, PA., Carrie also believes strongly in the core leadership principles of Courage, Loyalty and Integrity.
Travis graduated from the US Naval Academy in 2004 and finished at the top of his class in Quantico. As part of 1 Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Pendleton, Calif., Travis deployed to Iraq in 2005.
Shortly after returning home, Travis was selected to become part of a military transition team that would be attached to an Iraqi Army Battalion in Fallujah.
The following excerpt is attributed to Travis' Hero Card:
"Manion and his fellow Marines labored diligently to change the outcome in Fallujah, building a brotherhood with the Iraqi Army units and setting the example with strong leadership.
He and his fellow Marines aggressively took the battle to the enemy on multiple missions while mentoring their Iraqi counterparts. On March 19, 2007, his vehicle was attacked by an improvised explosive device. Though disoriented from the attack, Manion checked for secondary devices, and then led the pursuit to the triggerman. Once identified, he personally apprehended the suspect. On March 27, 2007, he exposed himself to enemy small arms fire on multiple occasions in order to physically position and direct the return fires of his Iraqi soldiers during a complex enemy attack. On March 28, he immediately responded to a suicide vehicle-borne IED attack on the Iraqi Barracks at the Fallujah Government Center. Despite ongoing enemy small arms fire, indirect fire, two suicide vest attacks, a second suicide-vehicle-borne IED, and the heavy presence of chlorine gas, he repeatedly endangered himself by entering the damage barracks to remove casualties, and then by positioning and directing the fires of Iraqi soldiers on the rooftop of the Government Center.
Manion and his fellow Marines fought courageously to change the tide in this critical battle ground. As a result of their efforts, Al Anbar Province is now recognized as one of the more significant successes of the surge in Iraq.
On April 29, 2007 during his final patrol mission, Manion made the ultimate sacrifice.
His patrol was concluding a search of a suspected insurgent house when it came under precision small arms fire attack. With the corpsman seriously wounded by enemy fire and the attack developing in to a full-scale ambush, Manion and a fellow Marine exposed themselves to increasing fire to pull the corpsman out of the kill zone.
After recovering the corpsman and administering first aid, Manion led his patrol in a counter attack personally eliminating an enemy position. As he continued to direct the patrol, another Marine was wounded. He again moved across the kill zone, under fire by five insurgents, to recover the wounded Marine. Iraqi Army reinforcements were halted by an IED and were unable to advance on the flank of the insurgents, leaving Manion and his patrol to take fire from three sides.
While fearlessly exposing himself to gain a more advantageous firing position and drawing enemy fire away from the wounded Marines, Manion was fatally wounded by an enemy sniper.
His courageous and deliberate actions inspired the eventual counter attack and ultimately saved the lives of every member of his patrol, according to his medal citation.
“He wouldn’t put anyone in a situation he would not be in himself first,” said David Borek, his brother-in-law and close friend.
Manion was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with Valor and the Silver Star for his heroic actions in Iraq.
As a true testament to how much Manion was admired, the Iraqis named their new headquarters Combat Outpost Manion in honor of him.
Keeping the spirit of his selfless nature alive, The Travis Manion Foundation was created and continues his mission to assist the families of Fallen Heroes and wounded veterans, according to Janet Manion, his mother and executive director of the foundation.
“He was a kid with a big heart, never had a bad word for anyone,” said Tom Manion, his father. “He was all heart; that is who he was.”
Excerpts from articles by Gary Weckselblatt, Bucks County Courier Times, Nov. 29, 2008; by Kenneth Harbaugh with MissionContinues.org; and The North Shore Journal.