Then, “all hell broke loose,” Corbin said after the attack.
A platoon was taking fire nearby and called for the marines. Corbin drove his seven-ton truck as part of hastily formed “quick reaction force” and headed toward the action. Within minutes, the 15 marines were under fire, hit by an explosion from a suicide van, followed by more explosions and intense gunfire.
By the end of the day, four marines were dead. But Corbin, a 32-year-old from Norwalk, Ohio, saved the lives of many of the men in his unit, carrying them off the field of battle under heavy fire and into the relative safety of his truck. At one point, he carried his wounded patrol leader over his shoulder while returning enemy fire with his free hand. When he drove away—in a 7-ton truck that now had three flat tires and a shot-up radiator—he had the entire remaining platoon safely inside.
“It is hard to describe,” Corbin told Beliefnet when asked why he performed so bravely. “The way I was raised is you always put yourself out for other people because there is going to come a time when you are down and are going to need someone to help you up. It is the core of my family values.”
He said all he was thinking while his platoon was under fire was getting himself and his friends home. Corbin, raised as a Southern Baptist, said he thinks of himself as “a vessel of God’s good will.
“I always say people should not credit me with what happened on May 7, but credit God,” he said. “I am his vessel and what happened happened because He allowed it to happen.”
“Due to his heroism, no Marine lost his life after the initial attack,” Corbin’s medal citation reads. “By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Lance Corporal Corbin reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.”
Back from Iraq, Corbin reports to his Marine battalion one week a month for training, drilling, and helping with the junior Marines. The rest of the month, he works as a deputy sheriff, a job he has held for almost 10 years. He and his wife, Tonya, also a police officer, are raising their first child, Tyra Olivia, born Aug. 10.
With one more year of active duty, he is taking things as they come.
“After being in Iraq, I take one day at a time.” he said. “I enjoy it to the fullest.”
Read the official citation for Corbin's medal. To learn the history of the Navy Cross, click here.
View 2006 nominees' photo gallery.