A local Cathedral City man shares his story about the Iraq War as an active United States Marine. Christopher Cerillo says his unit learned that seven Americans were captured in Samara, Home of the Tower of Babble.
Christopher Cerillo remembers he and thirty United States Marines rescued 2 American pilots and five support staff, who were kidnapped for almost a month in Iraq during the 2003 Iraq war.
He says a local man told his unit what town the prisoners of war were being held in.
Cerillo says just days before the rescue, they were ambushed and were skeptical. "Suddenly, they said, okay, this is credible intel, we're gonna roll with it," says retired United States Marine Corps Platoon Sergeant Christopher Cerillo. "We all get in our vehicles. We take point, we go in. I'm the last guy because, you know, I'm the platoon sergeant. So I'm picking up the rear."
He says word spread fast that they were sitting outside the town of Samarra.
"As soon as we turned right, that's when my gunner, Corporal Jason Flusher, saw a man with an RPG that was aimed at our vehicle," says Cerillo. "As soon as he said that, he said RPG, RPG, RPG," Cerillo says they heard explosions but kept moving toward houses in town. "We basically set up a linear defense and aimed our guns towards the main street where we thought there might, you know, be an attack or a counterattack," says Cerillo. "They run into the complex. And actually one of the (prisoners of war) pows, and I don't know which one it was, but what are the pows, said hey hey, over here. "
Twenty years later, Cerillo saw Shoshana Johnson again at the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion reunion.
She was the guest of honor, but she was treating us as the guest of honor because she was so appreciative of what we did. And she can never thank us enough.
When Cerillo is called a hero, he says," I'm not a hero; just the guy did his job." "And it was it was a good job. And there was something I would do all over again."
In 2003, Former President George W. Bush declared an end to diplomacy and issued an ultimatum to Saddam, giving the Iraqi president 48 hours to leave Iraq. When Saddam refused to leave Iraq, U.S. and allied forces launched an attack on March 20, 2003 morning.