Sergeant Christopher Pusateri: Who was with him when he died?


We’ve been following the Pentagon’s “boiled frog” strategy related to women in combat. . . the plan has been to simply go ahead and put women into combat, present it to the American people as a fait accompli, knowing that the media would then do profiles on the women as hero(ine)s. . .

As predicted, that’s exactly how it has unfolded.

An article by Amy Scott Tyson, “For Female GIs, Combat Is a Fact: Many Duties in Iraq Put Women at Risk Despite Restrictive Policy,” in Friday’s Washington Post lays it all out. They aren’t even pretending.

Many commanders in Iraq say they see a widening gap between war-zone realities and policies designed to limit women’s exposure to combat.

Although the Army is barred from assigning women to ground combat battalions, in Iraq it skirts the ban with a twist in terminology. Instead of being “assigned,” women are “attached in direct support of” the battalions, according to Army officers familiar with the policy. As a result, the Army avoids having to seek Pentagon and congressional approval to change the policy, officers said.

“What has changed? Nothing,” said Lt. Col. Bob Roth of the 3rd Infantry Division. “You just want someone to feel better by saying we don’t allow women in dangerous situations.”

Although the Army is banned . . .it skirts the law . . .?!! And now, because what they are doing is in line with The Washington Post’s opinions, the media just goes along as cheerleaders? What happened to a little healthy media skepticism?

The article goes on to quote Lt. Col. Cheri Provancha who is the commander of a Stryker Brigade support battalion in Mosul about the assignment of Specialist Jennifer Guay as a medic for an infantry battalion. This was a direct violation of military policy which prohibits women from serving in units which engage in direct ground combat.

Provancha made the assignment — deliberately — anyway. Just because Guay wanted it:

“She wanted to be part of breaking the barrier down,” Provancha said. Provancha took full responsibility for her decision, informing superiors rather than asking permission.

“Think of the fallout if she had gotten wounded or killed,” Provancha said. “I probably would have been brought up on charges for defying Army policy.”

But now, instead of being brought up on charges, Provancha feels confident enough to brag about defying Pentagon policy to a reporter for The Washington Post and Jennifer Guay is the hero(ine) of the story.

What does Christopher Pusateri have to do with this story? He was a 21-year-old Army Sergeant who died in Iraq February 16th. Tragically, the story of his death bookends the Post story about women in combat and Jennifer Guay.

The story begins this way:

In less than five minutes, Guay was at the scene. She dashed to Sgt. Christopher Pusateri, 21, who was lying on the ground, a bullet through his jaw. “I was in charge of this man’s life,” she recalled. Pusateri had “a massive trauma injury, and I had to get him off the middle of the street.”

The story ends this way:

When the soldiers fell, as Pusateri did in the firefight that gray day in February, Guay gave them her all, even when hope was slim. Recalling how she knelt at the mortally wounded sergeant’s side, she said she would never forget being the last person with him, and the profound respect it engendered.

She quickly inserted an IV and ran a[n endotracheal] tube into his throat, pumping a bag every five seconds to put precious air into his lungs.

“Squeeze my hand,” she told him. He did. She pumped the bag again. Pusateri was stable, but slowly losing consciousness. “You’re so brave,” she said, rubbing his head as everything around them faded into a blur. “You’re amazing.”

The emphasis in the quote is mine. He’s dying and the story is about her. . . and they are using this story of his death to push women in combat?

Well, if the Post won’t ask a few questions, let me.

First. She says in the first quote: “I had to get him off the middle of the street.” Did she? Could she lift or drag him and move him to safety? The article doesn’t say.

Second. Pusateri’s obituary in the New York Times (link here; article not available for free) quotes his wife, Christine, who “said the soldiers told her that Sergeant Pusateri had been shot in the jaw and died at a hospital in Mosul.” It also reports that: “A spokesman for the division said additional information about Sergeant Pusateri’s death was not available.”

But Guay says that she was “the last person with him.” So he died there on the street in Mosul. Or in the hospital.

Maybe it doesn’t matter where, exactly, he died. Or who was with him.


Reaction to the Post article at Intel-Dump, from an entirely different perspective. He is a proponent of women in combat. One thing we do agree on: he says he “hope[s] this article informs the debate on Capitol Hill . . .” Me, too.

Thanks for the link to Mudville’s Open Post and to OTB’s Daily Linkfest.


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12 Responses

  1. Grey Eagle says:

    As a woman, a soldier, a combat medic, I am not sure that I can honestly relate to your point of view on this subject, or agree with your position on the article in thge Washington Post. First to help you clarify an issue that apparently bothers you, a combat medic does not have the authority to declare anyone as “dead”. We treat them to the best of our ability, at times with gunfire or motor rounds exploding around us, and 9-line (medivac by helicopter) the soldier to the rear for treatment. It is there that a doctor will pronounce the death of the soldier. As far a Jennifer Guay goes, I do not know her personally, but I do applaud what she did. You are not a soldier, combat medic, or have you ever served in a hostile environment, so it is unfair for you to question her actions. In your highlights, I could not help to notice that you did not include the close to the article where the soldiers in her unit now embrace her as their “kick ass medic”. She obviously earned their trust and respect as the person who is tasked with savng their lives. The commander made a bold decision and accepted the risk of that decision, if it had gone wrong, but she did so because she knows that as soldiers we are able to get the mission done. She made the decision on professional judgement, and not on political merit. That showed courage in my view. As combat medics we are evaluated every quarter and one of those evaluations is the ability to transport a soldier (of 180 lbs or greater) 50 yards in a fireman carry. But make no mistake about it, combat medics regardless of gender will get that soldier out of harms way, carry, drag, or cover him with our body. By the way, female soldiers get very tired and irrate over hearing the same old argument regarding pregnancy as a motive to exclude us from combat support roles. In a small percentage of the cases it happens, but I can quote you an even larger percentage of male soldiers who are excluded from duty due to accidents resulting from male showboating. Do we exclude them from combat to because of their male behavior? Let’s be reasonable and fair. We want to do our job that we have trained for, and the only people we have to account to is the other soldiers in the unit who depend on us. That’s it.

    In closing, I would also like to point out that you did not highlight or mention the heroics of Spec. Shavodsha Hodges and the lives she saved, that was told in the article. It seems to me that you only highlighted content out of context in order to make a point.

    Grey Eagle

  2. BRENDA WEST says:

    I am not sure about all the politics on this subject, but I am Sgt. Pusateri’s mother and just want to say that I am grateful that Jennifer Guay was there with my son when he was still concious. As a mother, I will be forever thankful that my son had someone to hold his hand and say kind words to him in his last moments. I have not spoken with Jennifer Guay but her actions have helped ease some of my pain.The most important issue to me throughout this article is that someone cared for him and he knew it! I would like to personally thank Jennifer Guay for being there for him, that was a burden on my mind to think of his last moments. He deserved the compassion she gave him, I only wish it were me.

    Thank you.

  3. Cindy Swimley says:

    I am Christopher Pusateri’s Mother-In-Law. I Just want the world to know that We are very happy to know that there are both men and women doing their jobs. Women are very capable of being strong. When we need that strength, and your adrenaline is pumping you can do anything! Thank You Jennifer Guay and everyone else that was there for Christopher. We would love to meet Jennifer, I know my daughter Christine has alot of questions Pertaining to her husbands last minutes. We know that Christoper is in a wonderful place and he is now our guardian angel, he is missed so much. May God bless his soul. Cindy

  4. Tina Marble says:

    I am Christopher Pusateri’s Aunt. I just want to say that my family fully supports all the men AND women fighting for us. My father always told me “girls can do anything boys can do”. I am so grateful for Jennifer Guay. I’m glad that she was there to help and comfort my nephew at his last moments. Thank you Jennifer and may god keep you safe! I know Christopher will be looking out for you too.

  5. Anna says:

    I was very moved by the gracious words of Christopher’s Pusateri’s family regarding my daughter. Please, Please, be assured Christopher was in very good hands. I spent some time with Jen during her leave and we discussed Christopher and the compassion she shared moved me to tears. She is a very dedicated, intelligent woman who initially went to college to study biochemistry and work in medicine. She worked in restaurants to help support herself. Be rest assured she is physically fit and quite capable of doing her mission. She has been involved in fitness for many years, first when she started karate as a child. Jennifer is a person with integrity and shows much pride and professionalism in her work. I truly believe we need to stay focused supporting our troops whether they be male/female. I will continue to pray for our Lord to continue to provide his wisdom for his purpose in this war and his grace to keep their family members comforted.

  6. SGT Soldier says:

    I am a soldier in his unit that was there in Mosul, and I have been to combat twice and know what its like. So I can comment. I also used to spend several 24 hour shifts with SGT Pusateri just talking about life and trying to pass time for when our shifts were up. I think its good that someone was there to care for him and be with him in his last moments. Regardless of what gender they might be. The only person to blame for such a controversy is the person who put Guay there. It was a direct violation of Army policy. There are ways to change policy, but violating them is not. I think for the majority, the people of America are not ready to see men and women fighting side by side on the battlefield, and since policy is a reflection of political opinion and the people’s consensus, it will take time to change. But regardless it was wrong to have put Guay in that situation. There would have been someone else there on the scene as the medic, had she not been there. Maybe a medic who has been in the with the Infantry for quite a while and maybe knew SGT Pusateri personally. Someone would have been there, I guarantee that, we all care for our comrades. The fact still remains she was there, but she was doing her job. You can not penalize her for that, she did the right thing. It was the person who put her there who needs to be penalized. That person knew what she was doing, and is one reason why women are wrongfully put into harms way. Sometimes situations can not be avoided, those are mostly chance situations, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Army as a whole can be blamed for that sometimes, but thats a much bigger problem. Isolated situations that did not need to happen like this one, are the soul responsibilty of people in command who are out for personal agendas, even if they are shared by a few. Lastly, I want to to say that despite all the controversy, people are people. And if someone is good hearted and is trying to do things right, like Guay, then I say thanks for being one of the good ones in this world.

  7. s2s2 says:

    Does all this really matter?

  8. Carlos Arce says:

    There is something I just can´t understand. If women are allowed to wear ranks, collect salaries, give orders, command their males counterparts, how come they are not send to combat? and if they are not to be sent to combat and to go through what men go then, Why are they presented as military personnel?. That’s is like wishing to be slim and fit but being able to eat as an elephant and not to take any exercise at the same time, Do you want to be in the military but don´t want to be in combat? Then How are you going to be in a position to order men to died in combat while you stay safe away?.

  9. Angela Guay says:

    I happen to know this woman very well. She is my sister, there is no bias when I say that she is amazing at what she does. It is sad to hear that in a tragic event such as this one, there are people who want to ask ridiculous questions regarding female ability in the military. Get you own asses in the field. these soldiers should be commended not picked apart. Asking questions about a females ability would also insult the intelligence of the superior who elected these women to there positions.

  10. Jack Yoest says:

    Angela, There are many unfortunate questions on “female ability.” My concern is about my sons: I expect both my boys to serve and, Lord forbid, if they are wounded on a battlefield, I want another warrior-brother to lift him up — with all his battle rattle, and carry him safely out of the line of fire. Few women have the upper body strenght to carry another man.

    Women are not expected to do any heavy lifting in our armed forces. To join the Marines, men have to do three pull-ups. Women do not have to do any: zero.

    There is a sexist double standard that hurts military readiness and destroys unit cohesion.

    My sons may someday go in harm’s way — I want them victorious on the battlefield and this will only happen without EEO interference.

    However, you are on target about the nation of wussy-boys this country is encouraging. (I am not necessarily talking about B.Obama…) Men should be fighting our country’s wars, not the mothers and daughters. The men should get, as you say, thier own @sses in the field and not the women.

    Part of this problem is the women-centric Pentagon bending rule and reg putting women in harm’s way.

    Thank you for your comment,


  11. D Co 2 PL says:

    this is BS Guay came in a stryker long after the fact, she never left the vehicle. Chris died in Balad and Guay was not there, she was not in the 82nd. The first medic on the scene was my medic in second platoon ( i will not submit his name wiothout his permision). Medic Guay was a a valuablke asset to our team but this is not what happened and chris deserves better than you using his death to benefit your cause. stop exegerating the role of women it is extremely disrepectfull to a hero like Chris and equally disrespectfull to Guay. there are thousands of times when she was there and when you lie for your cause you just make it less legitmate. so stop telling storries Guay and Pusateri are heros and deserve better.

  12. Jack Yoest says:

    D Co / 2 PL,

    Your analysis deserves a wide audience — it would have been helpful for the reporter to actually interview you — someone there who knows — than to manipulate a story to fit the political agenda of placing women in land combat.

    During my first aid training we were required to lift a 160 lb dummy without battle-rattle and carry to safety — no woman could do this — goodness, most of the men had trouble.

    Women in land combat: something Obama promises to do…

    Thank you for commenting,


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