Service & Sacrifice: Striking Back

A snapshot of the burdens being shouldered by brave U.S. troops and military families around the world.

U.S. Navy sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney are honored for shooting down 14 Houthi drones in the Red Sea during a January 2, 2024, ceremony held in Bahrain.

By Tom Sileo Published on January 4, 2024

Middle East

A terrorist believed to be responsible for attacking American troops in Syria and Iraq has been killed in a U.S. military strike, according to Fox News foreign correspondent Trey Yingst.

A “deputy” known as Abu Taqwa in the radical Shi’ite paramilitary militia group Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba was taken out on Thursday in Baghdad. Yingst reports that the operation was a “precision strike,” which his colleague Jennifer Griffin adds was “on a vehicle- not a whole facility.” The dead terrorist’s full name, according to the Associated Press, was Mushtaq Taleb al-Saidi.

While the elimination of Abu Taqwa is unquestionably good news, the Baghdad airstrike was one of just a handful of U.S. military counterattacks greenlit by the Biden administration since mid-October. As Fox’s Liz Friden pointed out earlier this week, our country’s brave men and women in uniform have been targeted by Iran-backed terrorists a staggering 118 times since October 17.

Iran-backed terrorists have also been busy attacking U.S. Navy and commercial ships in the Red Sea. Since December 19 alone, there have been “25 attacks against merchant vessels transiting the Southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden,” according to POLITICO’s Lara Seligman.

“The coalition has shot down 19 drones and missiles, including two cruise missiles and 6 anti-ship ballistic missiles, and sunk three Houthi vessels,” Seligman also reported.

The United States and 12 other coalition members officially warned the Houthis, who are launching their attacks from Yemen, to immediately stop targeting ships in the Red Sea “or face potential targeted military action,” according to Stars and Stripes.

“A senior Biden administration official declined to detail rules of possible engagement if the attacks continue, but underscored that the Iranian-backed Houthis should ‘not anticipate another warning’ from the U.S. and its allies,” Stars and Stripes added.

I fail to see the point of this warning. It’s bad enough that the Biden administration inexplicably removed the Houthis’ designation as a terrorist group shortly after taking office, but now we have to “warn” them to stop launching unprovoked attacks on our sailors and other non-military ships? When the lives of U.S. troops and other citizens are being threatened, it is not time to talk, but to act swiftly and decisively.

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The scores of injuries that have been suffered by U.S. troops since October 17 should remind every American – and every government official in Washington – that the stakes in the Middle East couldn’t be higher for the valiant men and women of our nation’s military. Three of those injuries occurred on Christmas Day, when terrorists launched an explosive-laden drone at Erbil Air Base in northern Iraq.

As The Stream reported last week, the most serious injuries were suffered by U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Garrett Illerbrunn, whose condition was listed by the military as “critical.” Thankfully, Stars and Stripes reports that the wounded soldier is now breathing on his own and in “stable” condition at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

Citing a family friend, Stars and Stripes reported that as of Tuesday, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Illerbrunn was still in a coma after “a piece of shrapnel struck Garrett in the head” during the Christmas Day drone attack. The soldier, who is from Langdon, North Dakota, is being cared for in Germany by military doctors and his wife, Lorna.

Dear Lord, please give this injured hero and his caregivers the strength they need to ensure his full recovery while also comforting his family and fellow soldiers. We humbly ask You to fill CW4 Illerbrunn’s hospital room with love, healing and hope. Amen.

Coming Home

Just before the holidays, hundreds of airmen who completed various deployments around the world received a hero’s welcome at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.

Military Homecoming Tampa

U.S. Air Force airmen welcome home their fellow troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida on December 15, 2023.

Welcome home, warriors! Thank you for your sacrifices.


Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is the author of the forthcoming I Have Your Back, the recently released Be Bold and co-author of Three Wise MenBrothers Forever8 Seconds of Courage and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on X @TSileo and The Stream at @Streamdotorg.

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