The Battle of Fallujah, Iraq is destined to go down in Marine Corps history. Marine Recruits will soon be learning about this battle along with the other historic battles of the Corps. The battle began with an aerial bombardment on November 8, 2004. A Force Recon team was inside the city limits calling targets and providing R&S for the assault force.
I remember reading an LA Times article about this Force team back in ’04 and to my surprise, one of my good buddies and former team mates was mentioned and quoted. Even though all of the Marines quoted asked to be identified by first name and last initial only, the reporter published their full names. So, I’ll honor their request in the excerpts from the article shown here, though I can’t do anything about the LA Times Archive.
Out of the 24 man platoon, 13 of the operators received Purple Hearts, and the Assistant Team Leader of one of the Teams gave the ultimate sacrifice. This battle was hard fought by all involved, and I think the article is a good look back.
My buddy wanted to me to clarify one thing in the article. The paragraph below states that “its muzzle protruding through a punched-out hole in the wall”, and Mark told me “I assure you, my muzzle was not sticking out of the wall. My hide site was a good 10 feet back in the room.”
“In one of the rooms, Staff Sgt. Mark D. lay on his stomach in classic sniper position, his rifle balanced on a tripod, its muzzle protruding through a punched-out hole in the wall. “They don’t have a clue what’s coming,” D. said, scanning the ruins of the city to the south, where unseen combatants were still dug into the rubble and moving about. ”
Here’s an excerpt from the original article published December 6, 2004 in the LA Times by Patrick J. McDonnell.
FALLOUJA, Iraq — Soon, the Marines would be marching forward in Great War-style formations on a chilly, rainy evening imbued with a sense of the apocalyptic. But for now, the troops crouched in foxholes gouged from the desert north of Fallouja, scanning the fireworks.
An immense barrage of air and artillery strikes rained down on the rebel-held city, and the Marines roared with every blast. Force Recon was at work.
Almost two days before the battle for Fallouja, the Marines’ elite Force Reconnaissance units had infiltrated the northern periphery of town. They had dug into “hide sites” and “shaped” the future battlefield, calling in guerrilla positions for the spectacular bombardment that preceded the invasion.
” ‘Shaping’ the battle is making the enemy do what you want him to do,” said Marine Gunnery Sgt. Ed McDermott, 35, of Force Recon. “You drop bombs on him. You make him pull back. You subject him to direct and indirect fire. You cut off his supply lines.”
The prevailing narrative of the fight for Fallouja was the dominance of 12,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops over a spirited but outgunned and outmanned insurgent army.
Little noticed outside Marine circles was the important role of the several dozen troops of Force Recon, who reported on insurgent positions, spearheaded attacks, covered advancing infantrymen and squeezed off sniper rounds at unsuspecting bands of guerrillas.
You can read the article here – http://articles.latimes.com/2004/dec/06/world/fg-recon6
Bill Janson is a former Recon Marine and is the founder of Eleven 10, a tactical gear manufacturer.
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