I had just begun to know of Cannon Cargile and his wife Tami after he was wounded in Iraq. The day after he was wounded I received an email from Vince, a 101st Airborne Veteran and father of a fellow Marine, asking for prayers for Cannon and his family.
It was at this time that I began to receive glimpses of CW04 Cargile. Glimpses of Strength, Courage, and Leadership.
(from Cannon’s wife Tami)
On Saturday March 10th Cannon was traveling in an up-armored Humvee, riding in the front passenger’s seat. His vehicle was 4th in a convoy driving through Fallujah Proper heading to OP Shock. As they were passing the mosque’s, Cannon saw an insurgent jump put of hiding and run towards the road carrying an RPG on his shoulder. The insurgent was dressed all in black and wearing a ski mask. Cannon yelled to his machine gunner in the turret, “RPG! RPG!” But before the gunner could swing the turret to the right side of the vehicle, the RPG had been launched. Cannon recalls seeing it coming at him, spiraling like a football. He thought surely it would go over the bow, as most do since they are very inaccurate. But this one kept coming, dipping towards him. There was a deafening explosion.
Cannon looked down at his arm in his lap to see it smoking and bleeding. He thought he had lost his hand, for sure. But he stayed with his men and yelled to them to see if they were alright. When he found that they were OK, he let them know he was hit. The gunner of the vehicle received shrapnel in his legs, the driver got shrapnel in his face, along with a grade 3 concussion and the two passengers in the rear of the vehicle also received concussions from the explosion.
Fortunately Cannon had arranged for a corpsman to ride in his vehicle that day. So, he was there to immediately treat Cannon’s injuries. He applied a tourniquet and pressure dressing to Cannon’s arm. The Humvee was disabled by the blast so the vehicle ahead of them immediately hooked them up for a tow back to Fallujah Medical. Cannon recalls his CO, (commanding officer) LtCol JD Martin steering and braking the disabled vehicle as they were being towed back to camp. A miserably painful ride, which took about 25 minutes but LtCol Martin was there, doing his best to keep Cannon talking and his spirits up.
In the months that followed, I received updates and more stories conveying a deep appreciation of Cannon’s service. My radar peeked. Who exactly is this man? I began to dig, to make phone calls and send out emails. I knew this Marine had a story (or two) that should be shared.
I received this beautiful tribute from a fellow Marine Gunner, Nick Vitale of which I will share in part:
Thank you for writing to me concerning my friend Cannon. He is indeed a great Marine, a great husband and great dad. The fact that that I am one of only 52 Marine Gunners (Infantry Weapons Officers) in the entire Marine Corps, is directly attributable to Cannon – also a Marine Gunner.
… within the context of describing “Cannon the man,” that he consistently puts the needs of his family, his friends and the Marine Corps above his own personal needs. He is tireless in his professional efforts to ensure that the implied and specified duties of his job are carried out. This of course translates into multiple combat tours spanning 25+ years, decorations for valor, countless hours away from his family and unimaginable, self and institutional induced stress. Through it all he has managed to “crack the code” so to speak on maintaining his humanity, humor and dignity.
Countless Marines, of all ranks and jobs, are alive today because of his technical and tactical competence, his warrior ethos, his dedication and his love of Corps and County. Besides my immediate family there are not many people who I would willingly take a bullet for – Cannon Cargile is one of those people.
and Nick’s kind words for Cannon’s wife Tami:
I have been in the Marine Corps over 22 years and I have never seen a more supportive, informed and savvy military wife than Tami. This is all the more interesting because she is by no means a “camp follower” or a “text book” military spouse. She is supportive of him without being sucked into the maelstrom of officially “key volunteering” but is always ready to assist anyone who needs help. (Additionally, she does a great job of ensuring that the stress of work does not follow Cannon home.)
Her almost daily updates on his condition, disposition and prognosis often leave me baffled and running to a dictionary to figure out what she is saying. Not many wives’ would be able to force doctors and nurses to conduct tests and procedures that they did not feel were warranted.
Furthermore, her demeanor and formal nurse training allows her to do many non-traditional “things” such as change bloody bandages, argue with staffers about pain management and coordinate the logistical concerns for a never ending stream of well-wishers and other visitors. I do not think she has had a decent nights sleep (or a sleep of longer than four hours) since Cannon was wounded. She is an amazing lady.
The deep pride and love that those around him have for Cannon is evident. The fact that not one person will give a “personable” story, just amplifies my feelings that they want to ensure nothing is printed that would make Cannon appear anything but the excellent Marine he is.
Every single Marine I have emailed say basically the same two things:
“He is an elite Marine.”
“Besides my immediate family there are not many people who I would willingly take a bullet for – Cannon Cargile is one of those people.”
Something deep down keeps telling me that this is a very special man and deserves to be represented with nothing but the best in my writing. I have held onto this post for quite some time now. Hoping for a moment of brilliance to give Cannon proper recognition for all he has accomplished.
The simple description is perhaps the best;
CW04 Cannon Cargile is a Marine in every sense of the word.
God Bless the Cargile family
Pictured above: Cannon, Sec. Rice, His wife Tami on the far right
Today, I cannot think of a better person to honor.
Sir you make us all proud of those, such as yourself, who put on the uniform and step up and serve for each and every one of us.