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Friday, May 6, 2016

Guardsmen tell of fallen man's heroism

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

One day before his death, Tull's rapid-fire response helped save a platoon

SGT Gregory Tull of Pocahontas, posthumously promoted from corporal after he was killed by an insurgent bomb Nov. 25, was remembered by his fellow Guardsmen following a welcome home ceremony Friday night at the Storm Lake High School gymnasium.

CPT Andrew Russell of Spencer said Tull had been out on a patrol that had faced off with insurgents the day before his death. Just 20, and a volunteer in going to Iraq, Tull did not hesitate under fire.

"Greg had laid down suppressive fire to keep the insurgents' heads down" and helped save members of a platoon, CPT Russell said.

That was not the first time Tull had risked himself to help save other soldiers, though, CPT Russell remembered.

"Greg Tull put himself on the line hundreds of times," CPT Russell said. "Greg Tull was an absolutely great soldier."

For a moment, CPT Russell spoke of Tull as though he were still present, which in a sense he was, with his picture resting on an American flag atop an empty chair as his six fellow Guardsmen stood in "the missing man formation" during the formal welcome home ceremonies.

"He is a big guy with a big smile and a big heart," CPT Russell said. "He was a great soldier. You couldn't ask for better."

Tull's fellow Guardsmen agreed.

"To pack up and head home without him has been hard," said SGT First Class J.J. Sorensen, formerly of Storm Lake. Sorensen recalled that last time he saw Tull.

"We told him the same thing we did every morning," Sorensen said. "Have fun and be safe."

SGT First Class David Musselman remembered Tull for one thing.

"The thing you've got to remember about Greg is his smile," Musselman said.

SGT Tull's memory lives on in the memories and hearts of his other fellow Guardsmen who accompanied him first to Camp Shelby, Miss., then to Iraq.

They include PFC Beau Brauninger, PFC Tyler Grotewold, and PFC Brian Archer.

Tull was killed during a patrol in the Al Anbar province near Hit, when an improvised explosive device went off next to the Humvee on which he was a gunner. After a year in Iraq, he was to have arrived home in the U.S. with his compatriots just 14 days later.

He was a standout multi-sport athlete and a top student at Pocahontas High School, and had enlisted in the National Guard a year before his high school graduation, qualifying as a Forward Observer. He attended South Dakota State University before volunteering for Operation Iraqi Freedom in November, 2004.

A Greg Tull Memorial Fund has been set up, with donated funds going toward a Veteran's Monument at the Pocahontas County Courthouse, and for a new engraving at the veteran's memorial in Indian Mound Cemetery in Humbolt. Memorials can be sent to Bank Iowa, P.O. Box 37, Humbolt, 50548, or Pocahontas State Bank, P.O. Box 130, Pocahontas, 50574

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