The Heroic Actions of Marine Lt. Brian Chontosh in IraqTruth!

Summary of eRumor:

The message says not much was in the news about it, but a Marine named Brian Chontosh fought to protect his men in Iraq by directly attacking them until he ran out of ammunition and that he killed 20 enemy soldiers in the process.  He was presented the Navy Cross as a result.


The Truth:

We don’t know how accurate this particular details account are, but we have confirmed that Brian Chontosh is real, that he did receive the Navy’s second-highest award, the Navy Cross, that he did fight until running out of ammunition, and that he did kill 20 enemy combatants.

Despite the cynical claim of the eRumor that it was not in the media, it was reported nationally by the Associated Press and by local media, including television, in Lt. Chontosh’s home territory of upstate New York.

The story circulating in this email is from journalist and broadcaster Bob Lonsberry from Rochester, New York. 

Last updated 5/11/04

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:


 Maybe you’d like to hear about something other than idiot Reservists and
 naked Iraqis.
 Maybe you’d like to hear about a real American, somebody who
 honored the uniform he wears.
Meet Brian Chontosh.
 Churchville-Chili Central School class of 1991. Proud graduate of
 the Rochester Institute of Technology. Husband and about-to-be father.
 First lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.
 And a genuine hero.
 The secretary of the Navy said so yesterday.
 At 29 Palms in California Brian Chontosh was presented with the
 Navy Cross, the second highest award for combat bravery the United
 States can bestow.
 That’s a big deal.
 But you won’t see it on the network news tonight, and all you read
 in Brian’s hometown newspaper was two paragraphs of nothing. Instead, it
 was more blather about some mental defective MPs who acted like animals.
 The odd fact about the American media in this war is that it’s not
 covering the American military. The most plugged-in nation in the world
 is receiving virtually no true information about what its warriors are
 Oh, sure, there’s a body count. We know how many Americans have
 fallen. And we see those same casket pictures day in and day out. And
 we’re almost on a first-name basis with the pukes who abused the Iraqi
 prisoners. And we know all about improvised explosive devices and how we
 lost Fallujah and what Arab public-opinion polls say about us and how
 the world hates us.
 We get a non-stop feed of gloom and doom.
 But we don’t hear about the heroes.
 The incredibly brave GIs who honorably do their duty. The ones our
 grandparents would have carried on their shoulders down Fifth Avenue.
 The ones we completely ignore.
 Like Brian Chontosh.
 It was a year ago on the march into Baghdad. Brian Chontosh was a
 platoon leader rolling up Highway 1 in a humvee.
 When all hell broke loose.
 Ambush city.
 The young Marines were being cut to ribbons. Mortars, machine
 guns, rocket propelled grenades. And the kid out of Churchville was in
 charge. It was do or die and it was up to him.
 So he moved to the side of his column, looking for a way to lead
 his men to safety. As he tried to poke a hole through the Iraqi line his
 humvee came under direct enemy machine gun fire.
 It was fish in a barrel and the Marines were the fish.
 And Brian Chontosh gave the order to attack. He told his driver to
 floor the humvee directly at the machine gun emplacement that was firing
 at them. And he had the guy on top with the .50 cal unload on them.
 Within moments there were Iraqis slumped across the machine gun
 and Chontosh was still advancing, ordering his driver now to take the
 humvee directly into the Iraqi trench that was attacking his Marines.
 Over into the battlement the humvee went and out the door Brian Chontosh
 bailed, carrying an M16 and a Beretta and 228 years of Marine Corps
 And he ran down the trench.
 With its mortars and riflemen, machineguns and grenadiers.
 And he killed them all.
 He fought with the M16 until he was out of ammo. Then he fought
 with the Beretta until it was out of ammo. Then he picked up a dead
 man’s AK47 and fought with that until it was out of ammo. Then he picked
 up another dead man’s AK47 and fought with that until it was out of
 At one point he even fired a discarded Iraqi RPG into an enemy
 cluster, sending attackers flying with its grenade explosion.
 When he was done Brian Chontosh had cleared 200 yards of
 entrenched Iraqis from his platoon’s flank. He had killed more than 20
 and wounded at least as many more.
 But that’s probably not how he would tell it.
 He would probably merely say that his Marines were in trouble, and
 he got them out of trouble. Hoo-ah, and drive on.
 “By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited
 courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty,
 1st Lt. Chontosh reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the
 highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval
 That’s what the citation says.
 And that’s what nobody will hear.
 That’s what doesn’t seem to be making the evening news. Accounts
 of American valor are dismissed by the press as propaganda, yet accounts
 of American difficulties are heralded as objectivity. It makes you
 wonder if the role of the media is to inform, or to depress – to report
 or to deride. To tell the truth, or to feed us lies.
 But I guess it doesn’t matter.
 We’re going to turn out all right.
 As long as men like Brian Chontosh wear our uniform.
 – by Bob Lonsberry C 2004