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Paying tribute to Jeb Seagle’s memory

This painting hangs in the Pentagon to symbolize the Oct. 25, 1983, heroic act of Jeb Seagle before he was captured and killed by enemy forces in Grenada.

MARTHA K. SEAGLE, STAFF WRITER

Marine Corps League Detachment 1265 will honor Marine Corps Capt. Jeb Franklin Seagle at 7 p.m. today at their headquarters in the old Howards Creek School west of  Lincolnton.

The Lincoln County native lost his life in Operation Urgent Fury, the U.S. invasion of Grenada, on Oct. 25, 1983, while serving as a Cobra attack helicopter pilot. He was posthumously decorated with the Navy Cross, the first recipient since the Vietnam War.

His medal citation reads (in part):

“While conducting an armed reconnaissance mission in support of ground forces, Captain Seagle was hit by multiple anti-aircraft artillery projectiles and forced down behind enemy lines.”

Seagle was knocked out by the blast, but his co-pilot, Capt. Tim Howard, managed to navigate the damaged Cobra to the ground.

Seagle awoke to an aircraft on fire, with Capt. Howard critically wounded and trapped.

The citation continues by stating that Capt. Seagle, with complete disregard for his own safety, courageously pulled Capt. Howard from the aircraft: “As unexpended ordnance from the Cobra began to cook off all around them, Seagle carried Howard away from the downed helicopter to safety.”

However, the two Marines found themselves in trouble once more when Cuban forces began firing upon them with small arms and machine guns.

“Seagle ignored the danger and remained to attend the wounds of the injured pilot by wrapping a tourniquet around his severely bleeding arm.

“Realizing that enemy soldiers were approaching, Capt. Seagle fearlessly distracted them away from the helpless pilot and ultimately sacrificed his own life in an effort to buy time for the rescue helicopter to arrive.”

Seagle was shot in the back by pro-Cuban forces while trying to signal another Cobra for support. The pilots of the second Cobra, Major John “Pat” Guigerre and 1st Lt. Jeff Sharver, also lost their lives as their gunship was shot down.

Capt. Howard survived, receiving an artificial forearm and taking months to recover from severe wounds to his leg. He was the first Marine with an artificial limb to be allowed to serve active duty in the Marines. He later advanced to the rank of Colonel.

Seagle is buried at Trinity Lutheran Church in Vale. The Capt. Jeb F. Seagle Marine Corps League Detachment 1265 honors his service to the nation annually.

Image courtesy of Illustration by Mike Leah

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