Sheila Benjamin Randolph, Mississippi
Thank you, Colin, for your service to our Country.
RaNae Vaughn Iuka, MS
Thank you for your service!
LACY CRUM WALNUT,MS
THANKS FOR YOUR SERVICE.REST NOW AND ENJOY YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY YOU DESERVE IT.GOD BLESS YOU.
Jimmie Morton Hopkins Corinth, Ms.
What can one say except Thank you for your service. People like you make one proud to be an American.
Pam Presley Cousar New Albany MS
Thank you so much for your service ! So proud of your dedication !
Merrill Scott Tupelo, MS
Thanks SFC Fitts for your time and effort of keeping us safe in the Good Ole USA.
THE C.O. IS DEAD
SGT First Class Colin Fitts
Veteran of 3 Tours in Iraq, including the Battle of Fallujah
Colin Fitts grew up in quiet Randolph, Mississippi, ten miles southwest of Pontotoc. Nothing he ever experienced in Randolph could prepare him for what he faced in November 2004 in Fallujah, Iraq. Caught in the middle of the most intense urban combat zone since the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam, Sergeant First Class Fitts watched as his commanding officer, Captain Sean Sims, and two men entered what they thought was an abandoned house. It wasn’t abandoned at all. Gathered inside was a group of Iraqi insurgents armed to the teeth. When Capt. Sims and the two men walked through the door, the insurgents let out a burst of gunfire, immediately dropping Captain Sims to the floor. The other two men escaped badly injured.
Just outside, SFC Fitts called his men together, regrouping them in a moment that rattled them all. With a raspy voice he warned them, “The CO is dead and I’ll tell you why. They were just a gaggle walking into some house. They weren’t clearing the building properly before going in. We were doing that, and that’s why we’re living. Do not let your guard down here, or you’ll be the next one dead.”
SFC Fitts spent a total of 36 months in Iraq and never once let his guard down. 32 of those months were spent engaged in direct combat with the enemy. He has three bronze stars and a purple heart to his name, having been shot in both arms, his right knee, and taking shrapnel to his jaw. He walks with a limp but there is nothing weak about him. He is a soldier through and through.
Colin Fitts was born into an Army family. His father Mark Fitts spent 22 years in the military, most of it flying helicopters. He is now 1 of 4 helicopter pilots at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, transporting critically wounded patients on a regular basis. But in 22 years of military service, the elder Fitts never saw the first minute of combat. His son, however, saw incredibly intense warfare within his first two months of landing in Iraq. Mark Fitts knew his son could handle the rigors of being a soldier for two specific reasons. First, Colin loved to be outdoors and the environment of the Army life would be a good fit. Second, Mark said his son is fearless. He knew whatever situation Colin found himself in, he had the courage to face it.
That fearlessness is a quality many people see in Colin Fitts. He displayed it the first time he was wounded in Iraq in April 2004, just two months into his first tour. SSGT David Bellavia gives a vivid account in his book House to House: An Epic Memoir of War. His combat unit was working its way through the Diyala province of Iraq, a hotly contested region where insurgents were intermingled with civilians. It was impossible to know who the enemy was.
SFC Fitts and his men were storming the entrance of a compound as gunfire rained down on them from three sides. They were pinned down. SFC Fitts stood in the entrance way of the compound firing at the enemy when he was hit violently in the right arm by a round. Without hesitating, SFC Fitts switched the gun to his left hand and continued his fire. Moments later he was hit in the left arm. Fitts staggered to the ground. SSGT David Bellavia witnessed the scene from a vantage point just a hundred metres away, helpless to defend his friend. Amazingly though, SFC Fitts stood to his feet again, tucking the gun under his bleeding arm, and triggering the weapon with his thumb and opposite ring finger.
Moments later, machine gun fire erupted from a nearby rooftop and SFC Fitts was hit a third time. A bullet tore through his right kneecap, dropping him to the ground instantly. Thoughts of his pregnant wife back home in Mississippi ripped through his mind momentarily. He pondered for a second the possibility of not ever seeing his third child. Somehow, SFC Fitts summoned the strength to fight one more time, bleeding from both arms and his knee. Propping himself up, he positioned his weapon and returned fire once more, ordering his men deep into the safety of the compound. Using his rifle as a cane, SFC Fitts stood up and limped his way towards his men. They would ultimately survive the firefight. Fitts would receive a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
SSGT David Bellavia honored his fearless friend this way: “Fitts never shows fear. Even after he got shot three times in April, he displayed less concern than a civilian with a splinter in his thumb. That day, as he bled from both arms and a leg, he still kept his head about him, focusing on the mission before his serious wounds."
SFC Colin Fitts would be sent to three different tiers of medical treatment by the Army, including Walter Reed Hospital just outside Washington D.C. After four months of treatment, he returned to Iraq and rejoined his unit, just two months before the Battle of Fallujah began. He completed three tours of Iraq in total. The first from February 2004 to February 2005. The second from October 2005 to July 2006. The third and final tour was from August 2007 to October 2008. In that third tour, SFC Fitts was thrown twenty feet through the air when a booby trap detonated. His jaw was dislocated by the blast, getting pierced by shrapnel in the process. SFC was medically retired from the Army in August 2011.
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