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“The rounds were just kicking over my head,” Nagel said Tuesday. “It was intense. But that did the job. We pounded ’em back. That’s kind of what we do.”
For the next 45 minutes or more, Nagel and comrades worked to keep Vose alive. As they administered first aid, other special forces soldiers and Marines doubled back to help, too, and air support was called in.
“We weren’t going to leave him behind,” Nagel said of Vose. “We wanted to make sure nobody took him, even if it cost us our lives.
“We kept working on him until the medevac helicopter came. We never quit.”
Always a leader
Hours later, after beating back the Taliban and returning to his base, Nagel learned that Vose had died.
“Every day I think about it,” he said Tuesday. “He was a great soldier. He was a great guy. And he deserves this award more than me, because he made the ultimate sacrifice.
“I’m proud and I’m humbled,” he added, speaking of the Silver Star. “But there’s more to the story. It’s not just all me. There are other guys there who helped out and who performed amazingly.”
Mike Nagel said Ethan wanted to be a Marine “ever since he was little.” Both grandfathers were Marines, he said, along with Ethan’s older brother, Anthony.
Nagel, who captained his high school football and wrestling teams, joined the Marines in the summer of 2005 after graduating from Lutheran High School in Bloomington. He served two stints in Iraq before heading to Afghanistan in 2008.
He left the Marines in 2009 and joined the Minnesota National Guard in August.
“What actually happened today is hard to believe,” Mike Nagel said. “But my son’s actions weren’t. It’s not hard to believe he would step up like that. He’s always been a leader.”
Said Edith Allen, Nagel’s grandmother, as she ate celebratory cake: “He’s quite a boy.”
Richard Meryhew • 612-673-4425