A wounded warrior who was awarded the nation’s third highest honor for valor last week is the same injured Marine Delta Airlines issued a public apology to in December after staff members embarrassed him on a flight.
Cpl. Christian Brown, a former squad leader with 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, was awarded the Silver Star aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Friday. He is credited with heroic actions during the unit’s 2011 deployment to Afghanistan.
On Dec. 7, Brown responded when a designated marksman was critically wounded in the head, calling in a medevac and leading his squad to where it was safe for the helicopter to land. Under heavy fire, he carried the wounded Marine on his back the final 300 meters to the landing zone, his citation states.
Brown said the morale of his young, inexperienced team members and the life of the wounded Marine, Lance Cpl. Christopher Levy, depended on him staying cool and thinking fast.
Levy died of his wounds a few days later in Germany. But Brown’s actions allowed Levy’s parents to see him one last time.
“At that point in time, I didn’t really have time to give a pep talk,” Brown said. “I called one of my junior guys over, I told him to hold my weapon, and I started moving. I was talking to Levy and telling him that we had him. … I just started running until I couldn’t run anymore. My legs were just on fire.”
Six days later, Brown lost his legs in an improvised explosive attack – one leg at the knee and the other at the hip. He’s now with Wounded Warrior Battalion East.
About a year later, the Washington Post reported that Brown was “humiliated” to the point of tears on a Delta flight from Atlanta to Washington after being clumsily wheeled to the back row of the plane, according to a complaint sent to the airline by an outraged fellow passenger. Other veterans on the plane offered to switch seats with Brown, the report states, but the flight attendant refused and wheeled Brown through the aircraft.
“Tears ran down his face, but he did not cry out loud,” an observer said.
A retired Army lieutenant colonel on the flight told the Post the Delta crew treated Brown worse than anyone should ever be treated.
“I have seen a lot of things and have seen a lot of guys die, but I have never seen a Marine cry,” he said.
During Friday’s Silver Star ceremony, the crowd gave Brown an ovation when he stood to receive his award, according to a Marine Corps news release.
“Brown had only been a squad leader for about a week at the time of the action,” said Brig. Gen. James Lukeman, commanding general of 2nd Marine Division. “He got the squad leader job by just being the guy — being the one people naturally follow. He is a natural leader with physical courage and competence.”
A Facebook page dedicated to Brown’s recovery can be found here.
Staff writer Hope Hodge contributed to this report.