Sergeant Shields Student from Grenade Blast

| May 13, 2024 | 69 Comments

Marine shielded his student from grenade with his body — and survived

By Irene Loewenson

When then-Sgt. Brett Meil saw one of his students inadvertently activate a grenade during Marine infantry training in June 2023, he yelled at him to toss the grenade into the target area.

But the student froze with fear. In between three seconds and five seconds, the grenade would have exploded in the young Marine’s hand.

Meil yanked the student out of the training pit and swatted the grenade out of his hand. Unfortunately, it bounced off a wall and landed near the two of them.

So Meil covered the student with his body and prepared to die. He was sad for his wife, whom he had married 11 days prior.

Meil, 26, who survived the blast with extensive injuries, said in an interview with Marine Corps Times he acted out of a sense of obligation to his students.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Meil said the care he received at the civilian hospital was so lacking — for instance, providers refused him pain meds — that he left after four hours, and ended up embarking on his recovery on his own couch.

He had 20 pieces of shrapnel throughout his body, including two in his nostrils, and a severe traumatic brain injury, he said. It should have taken him about a year to recover.

But with support from his wife and his leaders, and with an array of therapies, Meil was back training infantry students within six months.

Marine Corps Times

But can he pass through an airport metal detector? In a testimony to now SSgt Meil’s resolve, he’s back with his students on the grenade range. Bravo Zulu, Marine.

Category: Bravo Zulu, Marines

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5JC

A man hath no greater love…

Hack Stone

Okay, somewhat related to this thread. October 1981, Hack Stone is home on leave after graduating from Parris Island. Goes to a local bar with the Stone Brothers, and the drinks are flowing freely for this freshly minted Marine. A guy comes up to Hack and tells Hack that he was a Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corps with seven, count them seven, Purple Hearts. So Hack asked how many tours did he do in Viet of The Nam. “I never went to Vietnam. I was a Drill Instructor, whenever a Recruit would drop a hand grenade, I would cover him with my body and end up wounded. That’s how I got my seven Purple Hearts.” Hack Stone responded “That’s not how it works.” Three days out of boot camp and Hack met his first poser. It was South Jersey, so maybe he knows Gunny Driveway, the guy who currently drives medical paint around South Jersey.

MustangCPT

What exactly is medical paint? It’s come up before when referencing Gunny Driveway, but what makes it “medical”?

Hack Stone

If you look up the Missing Linked profile of Ronald “Gunny Driveway” Mailahn, he works driving “medical paint” to their appointments. With a skillset like that, he should be on the fast track for a senior position at All Points Logistics.

rgr769

Maybe that is the Girene term for “patient.”

Hack Stone

The common spelling of Pretend Gyrenes.

FuzeVT

I was a freshly minted reservist boot and some guy laid this on me at a party – “Yeah, my [name the relation, I don’t recall] was a Marine. Yep – has two Medal of honors [sic].”
I replied that my drill instructors must have not known about him since they said that the only Marines with two Medals of Honor were Dan Daly and Smedley Butler. I don’t recalled we talked much more.

rgr769

I was on a wild pig hunting trip back in about 1985. Our hunting guide, who appeared to be in his mid-twenties, liked to tell his Viet of the Nam war stories at night around the campfire. According to him, he led killer-recon patrols in the “Nam” and mostly carried the .30 cal. machine gun (apparently the 1919 model), and said he never carried water cuz it makes one weak. He was told I was a Vietnam veteran. When I joined the campfire, suddenly he became quiet and said he need to hit the sack. I was dying to ask him if he was over 12 when he went to the Viet of the Nam.

Hack Stone

Every Friday night was Wild Pig Night at the Del Mar Enlisted Club. Those two chunky sisters never left alone at closing time.

rgr769

We had a pack of them at Ft. Devens. They were known as the “Fitchburg Girls.” When I left, they had already worked their way through the Group NCO’s and were working on the junior officers at the “O” club. One LT in the other battalion even married one of them.

timactual

And y’all thought he was smart enough to outsmart a pig?

Marine0331

Hack, What platoon were you in at PI? I also graduated in October of 1981 with Platoon 2063.

KoB

BZ Marine…”…a Guardian Angel…” Indeed! “Look after your Buddy…and your Buddy’s Buddy…”

MIRanger

Great Job SSgt Meil!
Is there an equivalent Marine/Navy award as the Soldier’s Medal… I’m thinking it might be appropriate.

FuzeVT

Yep – the Navy/Marine Corps Medal:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navy_and_Marine_Corps_Medal
He has undoubtedly been awarded this already. Normally they area awarded to the Marines who save rip-tide victims out at Onslow Beach.

fm2176

I read the article this morning; he’s been put in for one but there’s no comment on pending awards.

5JC

I do recall in BCT when one of our dufus platoon mates tried to sidearm the grenade over the wall. Only missed by an inch or two. The DS grabbed him by the arms and shoulders and threw him into the safety pit. The grenade went about 70 degrees to the wall and landed in the sump pit about 25′ away like it is supposed to and went off harmlessly. What shocked me was the DS never got on the ground, just backed into the safety pit. To this day I still think he was nuts. The push ups and steam engines were legend, even for our mushy brained platoon.

Fyrfighter

“steam engines”? Not familiar with the term. are they similar to “mountain climbers”?

5JC

Last edited 14 days ago by 5JC
Fyrfighter

Thanks for the info!

timactual

Gee, looks simple enough. Think I’ll do a hundred or two.

fm2176

Little Man in the Woods and Monkey Fockers were two of my favorites. I started Air Assault School a couple of weeks after getting back from Iraq, so I was a bit salty that while my peers were getting four-day weekends and half-day schedules, I was spending five days a week shouting “Air Assault!” every time I ran across the school grounds. My disdain for SF Group Support started there. On Campbell, Air Assault School cadre, LRS-D (I think), and Pathfinders wore maroon berets, but most were worn by 5th Group Support. The ones we had in my AASLT class were prima donnas. They were “special”, alright. One E-6 had the misfortune of being at the end of my rank, so when we grounded gear and it inevitably shifted right, he’d berate us lowly junior enlisted 11Bs for not doing it right the first time.

During the classroom portion, we got a few smoke sessions. It motivated me watching the Group Support guys (only female to make it past Zero Day was an MP CPT) grunting and complaining. That was just a typical day in the Rakkasans, but I guess they were used to wearing their SF patches and feeling special without putting in much physical discomfort.

My go-to exercises were overhead hand claps, flutter kicks, and side-straddle hops. While I’d never violate TRADOC Regulation 350-6, I heard that some classes got in hundreds of reps of exercises in a single setting. Small circles to the front and large circles to the rear provide adequate rest after 250 or so.

SFC D

I had the pleasure of educating a MI DS on some advanced exercise techniques a couple weeks ago. Had a trainee pending a medical discharge with a real smart mouth. DS said “I’d smoke the shit out of her but she’s got a deadman’s profile”. So I explained the joys of the overhead clap, small circles, cherry pickers, all those good arm exercises. He wore that Soldier out and she didn’t even have to leave her chair. It was a good day.

MustangCPT

I have had the strangest luck in running across prior Air Force/Air Guard people (like me) throughout my Army career. Including one of the Drill Sergeants at Reception when my 38 year old ass had to do Army Basic as an E5. One of the knucklehead privates was talking in line so he broke it off on the entire platoon using just the clipboards we had all been issued. While this was going on, he and I were bullshitting about our respective times in the Air National Guard. Then there was the TAC Officer I ran into during my OCS a little over a year later. And several NCO’s and Officers I’ve served with over the years. Good times. 🤣

fm2176

I had a few experiences where I’d cross paths with people I’d previously served with, or who’d served in my unit before or after I got there and knew many of the same people. There was a guy who’d been in my company in the 101st, who was in my BNCOC class. My fellow SAW Gunner in my squad in Iraq was selected for recruiting before I was, and both of us ended up in the same Drill Sergeant Academy class seven years after exchanging USAREC.mil emails and 13 years after FARP Shell and Baghdad. My recruiting company had a fellow C/3-187 vet, who’d left for 3-75 RGR just before Afghanistan (PVT Me reported a few months later) but knew many of the same Soldiers. One of the instructors from my PLDC class was in a sister recruiting company; he was a SFC and I a SSG by then. Just a few years earlier, he threatened to kick me out of class because I was “just plain crazy”, but we had a good time in New Orleans at the Annual Training Conference.

Even after retirement, this is the case. One of the guys from my recruiting company works for the parish government and stops by my work every now and then, and a fellow E/2-54 Drill Sergeant is with the LSU ROTC program. It’s a small Army, a small military, and a Small World After All… 🫡

Last edited 14 days ago by fm2176
MIRanger

Not to pick on you, but I have a little OCD when it comes to unit nomenclature/naming. For units that have a heraldic linkage to a Regiment but their headquarters is now a Brigade subordinate to Division (i.e. 1-508th in the 82nd ABN DIV, or 1-506th in the 101st ABN DIV) use a dash because their higher HQ is a Brigade Combat Team not their regimental HQ.
Ranger Regiment does in fact still exist so 1st BN, 75th RGR RGT should be written 1/75th RGR RGT not 1-75th (unless you are talking about the 1st Brigade under the 75th INF DIV… which is still probably written 1/75th INF DIV)

Jimbo

I remember going through Security Specialist school at Camp Bullis and the instruction was giving us a discussion on arming M-40 grenades at an outdoor range. He set the M-40 down on the table and it rolled across the table and fell into the sand. Everyone saw what was happening and started diving for cover. Luckily nothing happened. He called for EOD to come get the round. As no one wanted to pick it up.

Jimbo

Thats instructor

Hack Stone

Who caught the Agent Orange in Viet of The Nam. 🤪

Jimbo

Leukemia, IHD. Not really caught, I like to think of as reminders. Like souvenirs.

Last edited 14 days ago by Jimbo
rgr769

Caught the peripheral neuropathy, likely from the Agent Orange. My company spent almost two weeks in heavily defoliated jungle along Highway 19 hunting an NVA heavy weapons company.

e.conboy

My cousin. Army. Two tours, volunteered for third but sent back to States. Caught ca. went to VA but it didn’t help much. Had to go private hospital for advanced treatment. Lost him a year later. S happens.

e.conboy

Yeah, our friend A. O.

President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

(sigh………..)

David

Most likely auto-distort changed to the first alternative alphabetically.

Jimbo

I use AI to Write. I write what I want and AI writes what it wants. Sometimes we argue about it.

Hack Stone

Skynet approves. Don’t worry about the robots taking over the world, Skynet purchases all of their software from a proud but humble woman owned business formerly located on Wilson Lane in Bethesda, Maryland.

Speaking of which, Psul of The Ballsack reminded his employees that Mother’s Day was this past weekend, and if your mother is still with us, treat her like Psul treated his mother. That means borrowing tens of thousands, then blow off paying her back by hiding behind a bankruptcy. When Bank of America came around looking to be paid back, Psul told them “If I didn’t pay my mother back, what makes you think I’d pay you back?”

A Proud Infidel®™

Is he still Psulmer, or has he gone back to Psul?

Hack Stone

It depends who is asking. Are you a process server slapping him with another lawsuit claim for failure to pay his debt?

Jimbo

Made a mistake. It wasn’t Security specialist school. Memories take longer after so many years. It was called AZR School. Asian Zone Readiness Combat School.

Hack Stone

Is that the training you undergo when the bartender says you owe $600 in “ladies drinks”, and you and your buddies need to fight your way out of the club?

Jimbo

That is right. Fight for beer tabs.
One of the nights we defended our position against one of the special forces groups, we were used for training the bad ass dudes in the navy and army. We were usually outgunned, out maneuvered, etc. but it helped us prepare too.

MustangCPT

There was someone here a few years back who talked about a mission to rescue platoon mates who were trapped in an Olongapo bar. Truly, heroes and men among men!🤣

Jimbo

There was a club on the base at udorn know as the golden palm. They had lots of ladies that were willing to go the extra mile. It could be rough. I was told a few words to say before learning the language. It was not the right words and a buch of ladies cussed me out and chase me to the street. I think it was some bad words I was taught.

Hack Stone

Your mission, if you chose to accept, is to conduct a raid to rescue your fellow platoon mates from the VIP Lounge of Club Florida. If captured by Shore Patrol, the 1st Sergeant will disavow any knowledge of authorizing this mission.

fm2176

Time for a confession that some might think is Reverse Stolen Valor. This 21-year “Expert” Infantryman and former Drill Sergeant never threw a live fragmentation grenade. Supplies were short when I went through OSUT, as Afghanistan had recently kicked off. In Iraq, SAW Gunners weren’t issued them (I recall we only got a few per squad in the first place). When TOG got a bunch of ordnance that was near expiration, each platoon was supposed to rotate between Claymore, AT4, and M67 grenade. My platoon started with Claymore, fortunately, since three or four out of the first case of grenades were duds. That range had to shut down until the EOD unit then stationed on McNair could drive down to blow them in place.

As luck would have it, I never went to the pits during any of my six cycles on the Trail, either. Each time, I was either CQ (chow runner and task boy during the duty day) or Staff Duty, or on recovery from one or the other. The way the Army conducts grenade training minimalizes accidents, and I only heard of one or two total during my two years there. In the lead up, while conducting rifle ranges, we Drill Sergeants would set up collateral training areas, especially including grenades. Grenades is usually a short day, with the Range Cadre ready to start training by 0800 or so. They run the Trainees through dummy grenades and primed grenade bodies, and each Trainee must demonstrate that they grasp the principles and are able to throw an adequate distance. By 1100 or so, the range is “hot”, and the live grenades go quick, after which the Trainees eat field chow and wait on Trans.

Anyway, the young Marine that’s the subject of this thread deserves the Navy and Marine Corps Medal he’s been put in for. I’m sure he’s appreciating every day he gets to spend with his wife and fellow Marines.

5JC

That’s a bummer. After BCT, I didn’t see a grenade again until we trained with the Germans in 1991. We each got to throw six there. The last one you had to drop over the side of the berm. I was a lot less sure of that one than the instructor was. Definitely got sprayed with a shit ton of dirt.

I never saw a hand held grenades in combat. I did have a few 203 AP rounds when were clearing a city in Iraq for use against technicals but never had a target worthy to let one fly. The only technical we saw the IA turned into swiss cheese with a DSKa in about three seconds.

Hack Stone

What really sucks is pulling targets on the hand grenade range.

President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

CLANK! CLANK!
How large is HIS wheelbarrow?
Does he walk on water as well?
Seriously, though, that there was a Pucker Factor of 1000.
And, as 5JC said, “no greater love…”

With all that assorted steel bits in in his body, when he walks on water, he sinks ankle deep. Close enough.

Roh-Dog

Day’m, that dude’s lucky!

……

Since we’re sharing grenade stories, mines:

After the walk over from: Hill, Sand; Benning, Fort; 1 Ea., to the grenade pits just over yonder, and our block of instruction for employment of the M67 Fragmentation Grenade, yours truly wasn’t really in the mood for explosive fun on this day (musta had a crappy fire watch time and a case of the fuckits). So they line us up to hide’way in the railroad tie waiting/staging area so this guy figures if he stands at the end o’ the line he’d get some time to steady his nerves and maybe take one them famous standing-up naps.

Yeah, no.

We get walked in as a company, 4 abreast with the head tucked into the deadend of the RR tie fort. I glance over at the door midway on the wall facing the pits and next to it is trays of grenades and Instructors with shit eating grins.

We’re given an About Face.

There’s Staff Sergeant Range Guy yelling at me, ‘Are you ready Private?’ as he picks up and tosses the green spheroid at my chest from 8 feet away.

If there was coal in any of my sphincters I’d have diamonds to remember…

I catch the thing and snap into the just-briefed ‘carry/prepare to throw position’. He grabs me and before I know it, that Comp-B baseball is downrange.

….

Didn’t work the pits while at Benning as an Instructor but hung out there a couple times with buddies who did.

As a ‘hardened’ NCO, that look of fear/concern/excitement on Privates’ faces is kinda contagious. Gotta give them credit for being professionals, still having a little fun, and keeping dudes safe.

FuzeVT

By about the third one, I was cool with it (see photo – and that’s a film selfie, mind you). I was still always impressed with just loud those damn things are – each and every time. Fortunately, no one every had any issues at the range when I was there, although I had heard some stories.
I carried a couple of those happy little fellows in Iraq for 9 months, but was fortunately never in a position to need to use one.

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fm2176

I wear double ear-pro even when shooting my little guns. Even as the CQ DS setting up the chow line, those things were loud, and I was wearing both plugs and over-the-ear Peltors a couple of hundred meters away.

I don’t like getting rocked, whether it’s someone firing their M4 next to my unprotected ears, an anti-tank mine detonating under an Abrams 100 meters away, or a “controlled detonation” sending a large chunk of metal a few meters from me. Loud noises take me from having a nice day to having a not so nice day instantaneously. Anchorman – “I don’t know what we’re yelling about!” + “Loud noises…” (youtube.com)

Prior Service

Last time I threw a live frag, I was a butter bar. I’d torn my shoulder up and it needed surgery, but I deferred it. The BN tasked me to run hand grenade and Claymore ranges. You can bet I was going to throw my two at the end. First one is like an ice pick in my shoulder. I don’t want to throw the second one and, when I do, it barely makes it past the berm. The pit NCO (who I’d personally trained by using my former 11B skills) has eyes like saucers as he pulls me down. BOOM!! Grenade pops closer to me than any ever has. “Sir, did you do that on purpose?” (I’d trained them so much, he thought I’d test them live.)

rgr769

IMHO, our military should create a training grenade with a half charge of explosive and no shrapnel. It would completely eliminate the possibility of severe injuries from these type on accidents. The training program could require multiple throws of these training grenades before the trainee is given a full power live grenade to throw. I recall there was a grenade throw of dummy grenades in the old PT test; a good way to develop a muscle memory for throwing grenades accurately.

George

The Marine annual CFT involves throwing a blue body grenade 20 feet.

Surprised no one told the urban legends about the Lt or boot who threw a grenade and killed a deer/coyote which splashed up blood and caused a battalion stand down to get accountability thinking a Marine was killed.
Heard versions of this that happened at Lejeune, Quantico or 29 Palms and some included a UA Marine that added to the confusion.

SFC D

Maybe a flash-bang modeled after whatever the current grenade is. Same weight and shape. Still a pretty damn good boom. Only time I used one was 2002 in Bagram. My unit sponsored a 5k/10k fun run, “The first annual Bagram minefield run”. Anyway, we had a good crowd at the starting line, my commander is standing at the line with his pistol raised, counts down 3… 2… 1… and SSG D drops a flashbang behind the assembled masses…

rgr769

I carried both the baseball grenades and the old football grenades in the Viet of the Nam. We also had the mini-grenades, V-42 IIRC. I threw some of the mini’s off a FSB to see what they do.

In the Viet of the Nam, I never heard of a grenade accident. It was SOP in every unit that grenades carried in the field had their pull rings taped down, but in a fashion that the tape could be easily removed when it was time to throw one. That Congress rat that was a multiple amputee was the only one I ever heard about being wounded in a grenade friendly fire incident. Oh, I forgot “Lurch” Kerry who was wounded with a sliver of M-79 grenade shrapnel; it was fired by another sailor in his boat (first PH) on his first mission, two weeks after he arrived in the RVN.

timactual

Max Cleland. Also head of the VA under Carter.
“Cleland reached down to pick up a grenade he believed had dropped off his flak jacket. It then exploded, the blast slamming him backward, shredding both his legs and one arm.”
(Wikipedia)

A similar accident happened to a guy in my platoon. Fortunately, the fuze assembly became unscrewed and came out of the body of the grenade (probably why it fell off his flak vest) and only the blasting cap exploded. He lost a finger, don’t remember which.

As I recall, the safety lever and safety pin would rust and sometimes become bent and weakened from wear and tear. I turned in a couple when I could wiggle the safety lever (carefully) and watch the striker move.

If we had been smarter, we would have adopted the same SOP, or at least fastened them to our ammo pouches (for M-14 mags) with the strap provided.

George

That would be a Medal of Honor in a war zone but probably just a NAM for him. The man is a hero regardless

ANCRN

That deserves a medal! When I did my time on the Trail, Range Cadre managed the throw pits. I liked to work the issue station. I’d give the Joe’s their grenades, tell them to hold them close to their chest , and “For God’s sake DONT DROP THEM!” That last part got their eyes real wide.

Graybeard

OK, I will share my CIB father’s grenade story.
Dad had been the WWII equivalent of a SAW gunner from Marseille to the Eagle’s Nest, then due to not having enough “points” was occupation forces for a while longer.
There were a few “die hard” Nazis still around as well.

He and some others had been given leave, as so they all headed into town in their Class A’s.
Returning late, most of them “3 sheets to the wind”, Dad thought of a prank. He removed powder and blasting cap from a pineapple, and connected the pin to a tripwire just in front of a mudpuddle.
Of course when the guys heard the “ping” instincts kicked in and they went face down in the mud.
In their Class A’s.
Unfortunately for Dad, he and those men were the last ones out.
I think that was the 2nd or 3rd time he made buck private for his sense of humor…

e.conboy

I’ve missed you Graybeard.

Graybeard

Thanks, brother.
Been up to my neck in gators lately. Actually had some time at work today to jump on the phone and check in remotely.
A rainy Monday makes life slow the store, and I nigh ’bout caught up with the backlogged chores there.

Fyrfighter

Hang in there GB!

timactual

“the “ping” instincts kicked in…”

Yeah, that can be embarrassing.

MIRanger

I never had a reason to throw a grenade in war time, but I threw plenty in training.
As the #2 man in a room clearing stack it was my job to toss in the grenade to soften them up as the #1 man covered the door. I also got the path of “a little more resistance” so it would behoove me to throw it well.
From my failed basketball career I had a tendency to add a little finger flick at the end of my underhand or sideways toss. Which irritated my Platoon Sergeant to no end as he observed from above in the shoot houses. Thankfully we only threw live grenades in the Tire House, which has no observation deck. I distinctly remember taking his advise and aimed low, the grenade buried in the sand in the corner (yeah I lingered a bit long looking), after the blast we went in to service the targets which we had already done two other times (crawl, walk,….). There was so much sand dust in the air that I walked all the way up to the target before I saw it. If it had been a person they would have had powder burns all over the face! Instead it was just balloons…bang…bang

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[…] this week, Ed directed our attention to the valorous actions of Staff Sergeant Brett Meil (USMC). If he’d done what he did in combat, he’d more than likely be given a Medal of Honor. […]