CHESTER HAS MOVED!: From a Marine Lieutenant in Fallujah

Monday, December 06, 2004

From a Marine Lieutenant in Fallujah

Thanks to an Alert Reader, who has sent me the following email. I've edited it slightly for content. No date of its origin was given, so I'd say sometime in the past two weeks. --------------------- We have been really busy out here lately and therefore I haven't had the opportunity to write too many updates.  Sorry. As many of you know I have been involved in the Battle of Fallujah (Operation Phantom Fury) for the past few weeks.  It has been the wildest experience of my time in the Marine Corps. My Battalion was the Main Effort during the attack.  We were given the Jolan District and the southern suburb we call "Queens."  These two areas, without a doubt, were the insurgency stronghold in the city. We cleared every house (3 times) (bulldozed over a hundred with a D-9) and faced the insurgents one-on-one.  This is the way they preferred it.  For these guys, there is no honor in being martyred by a Abrams Tank or a Bradley.  They want the opportunity to take out an American Marine.  That was fine with us! We were led into the city by the Army's 2/7 Cavalry.  They had the Tanks and Bradleys but only had about 90 dismounted troops who were capable of clearing out the small areas these guys hide.  They did a great job though. We have about 900 Marines in my Battalion.  Every single guy performed like a seasoned professional and all did so with honor.  They really gave it their all.  22 Marines in my Battalion gave their lives for our country during this fight and over 200 Marines earned the Purple Heart.  Without a doubt, Third Battalion, First Marines (3/1) had the toughest mission for a reason.  We did the dirty work no one else wanted to do.  Thousands of dead insurgents will back me up on that statement. We had been prepping for this fight for the past few months.  We made numerous "feints" or false attacks into the southern portion of the city where all of their bunkers and fighting positions were located. We would act like we were moving in for a large attack (with tanks, air strikes, lots of troops and trucks, etc...) and take pot shots at the city.  After doing this a few times it was obvious they thought this was the direction we would do our major attack when the time was right.  This was the side of the city that the Marines attacked back in April.  Closer to the actual attack date, we dropped leaflets, passed messages over the radio, television and mosques speaker systems warning the "good citizens" to leave the city.  Furthermore, we shut off all the electricity, water, cell phones, etc.. a few days prior to the attack.  Finally, we continuously sonic boomed the city with jets at the speed of sound (this really pissed them off), played Rap/Rock 'n Roll Music and taunted them over loud speakers (this really! , really pisses them off!!) and began to shape targets with bombs and artillery. We attacked the city from the North, under the darkness of night, and took them by surprise.  For the first day or two the insurgents were exposed outside of their houses while trying to get to alternate fighting positions in the North of the city.  Our pilots picked these guys off one by one.  Once we entered the city and started to move south, the fighting was up close and personal and the use of mortars, artillery and air support was really limited.  It is too complicated to know where all of the friendly units are within the city. Booby trapped doors, car bombs, trip wires, dropping grenades through spider holes in the rooftops, pre-positioned machine guns, RPGs, snipers from the rooftops and minarets (mosque steeples), mortars, and land mines.  These were their means of fighting (we encountered all these types at some point in time).  They knew the houses they were hiding in and where the most complex hiding spots were located.  The spots that gave them the best geometry to fire on us without us seeing them.  These guys were smart, well trained and worst of all, willing to fight to the death. These were not the nickel and dimers we have been facing on the outskirts during the months leading up to this. They knew how to fight us in an urban environment.  They didn't challenge the tanks and armor and blended in the city without obvious signs to target.  They would move house to house and fall back as we approached.  They had weapons/ammo staged in every house.  It was really complex. After clearing the houses (over 3000) 3 different times and still finding insurgents, we just started to bulldoze the houses with D-9's. It was awesome.  They were not expecting it and it was hilarious to watch.  I have some great photos.  I have great photos of the whole attack.  A ton of good stories too.  You will have to buy me a beer or two to get the good ones out of me though. Bored yet? My Battalion is the unit that had Kevin Sites (NBC Reporter) attached. We had the guy who allegedly murdered a wounded insurgent (I think he is faking it!).  There is an investigation and I am sure the military will come to the correct conclusion.  Not much else to comment on there. We also found/searched Zarqawi's house (it was really shabby), tons of propaganda, money, weapons, ammo, torture chambers (sickos out here), videos of suicide bombings and beheadings, and the list goes on.  We killed Chechnyians, Syrians, Moroccans, Saudis, you name it.  This was the "show" for all of the weirdo terrorist/jihadist in the world.  We found other things that are still classified and I hope will be made public someday soon.  You wont believe it.  Bottom line is, this was a necessary mission. The day before we step off on the attack, my Battalion had the 1st Annual Ben Hur Thundering Third Chariot Race.  You might have seen a few pictures on the news.  It was the tension breaker we all needed. We had confiscated some horses and carts a while back.  We dressed up a number of Marines to look like chariot drivers (Spartans, Romans) and race the horses.  These horses were in terrible shape.  One was named "Ribs" -- for obvious reasons if you had seen the horse up close. Eventually only one horse would race so we had time trials to determine the winner.  It was hilarious.  I will never forget it. I am just back to get a shower and change of uniform (it's been 17 days) and then I am heading back into the city.  We should be there until the elections are done with and then we can come back home.  We haven't let the people back into Fallujah yet.  That is when it will get interesting.  I am sure we will see roadside bombs, car bombs and suicide bombers by the truck load.  We are trying to clean up the dead bodies and clear the streets of rubble before they can come back in. Hopefully we will not be pressured to let them in anytime soon.


Blogger Jeff Kouba said...

Terrific stuff. Once again, sheer gratitude and admiration for what our military do on our behalf.

I was a bit surprised when I first heard the insurgents might have thought the attack would come from the south. Most of the troop positions I heard about were in the north, didn't hear much about the south. I thought that meant the anvil was being put in place in the south, and they were keeping quiet about what was there exactly. I thought the attack would come from the north, pushing the insurgents against the wall in the south.

Also, you'd think the insurgents would have been at least a little leery of all those feints in the south. Before the 1991 Gulf War, the US used similar tactics on a grander scale, to gain intelligence on radar positions, etc... With some study, you'd think the insurgents would at least be aware of US tendencies.

Not that it would've mattered much. The US was going to dictate the terms of the battle regardless.

December 7, 2004 at 11:09 AM  

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