Cardenas and Sgt. Randy M. Roedema were on a routine early morning zone reconnaissance patrol with the quick reaction force last year in Western Anbar province in Iraq. They happened upon a vehicle which crossed their sector, so they moved in to check it out, according to Cardenas.
After repeated attempts to get the driver and passengers of the truck to submit to a search, three men burst from the top of the vehicle and opened fire. The Marines quickly attempted to bound back to their vehicles for cover, and to allow their turret gunners an open line-of-fire.
Three Marines were hit. Lance Cpl. Christian Vasquez was killed, and Cardenas was hit in the neck. After he hit the deck, he looked up and saw that Roedema was on the ground.
“I saw my sergeant laying down and I said, ‘Not today,’” Cardenas recounted after the ceremony.
Already injured, Cardenas began dragging Roedema to safety, but they had more than 50 meters to cover, so Cardenas alternated dragging Roedema with applying suppressive fire with his squad automatic weapon.
“’You’re going to see you’re daughter,’ that’s what he said when he was pulling me,” said Roedema, 25, from Denver, Colo. “He saved my life.”
Cardenas was again hit with a round from the insurgent’s weapons, but he continued pulling Roedema until they we both safely behind cover, and only later, after a corpsman arrived, did Cardenas receive attention for his wounds. USMC