“X” was not the only target that the MCSOCOM Detachment One Marines took down in May. On May 17th (though it had been discussed for several days prior), Objective “Rambler” went on the target board.
The information for Objective Rambler came from 2nd Bn, 5th Special Forces Group. The target was actually three individuals, an HVT and two of his associates, all of whom had been instrumental in moving foreign fighters into and around Iraq. The identifying photos were of three older, established men, going a little fat, but their record was one of facilitating the insurgency. The primary target was the HVT’s house, with a secondary at his farm a mile north. Both were near the bend in the Tigris River at the southeastern edge of Baghdad.
Augmented by Special Forces soldiers and their sources, Teams 2, 3, and 6 launched to the primary target on the night of May 18th. Team 2 and Team 6 formed the outer cordon, while Team 3 approached the target building on foot. They scaled the wall and found a single guard, who promptly surrendered as soon as the Marines leveled their weapons at him. Securing him, they breached and flowed into the house. There was no resistance, and they caught the HVT, briefcase in hand, trying to get out the back. In the follow-on sensitive site exploitation, they found upwards of several hundred pounds of documents, including 50 passports. It was a serious blow to the coordination of the foreign fighters in the Iraqi insurgency, as well as an excellent case of coordination and cooperation between Det One and other SOF units in-theater.
Two days later, again in conjunction with the soldiers from 5th Group, Det One went after a new set of targets, these being three Iraqis suspected of involvement with the murder of Nick Berg. Aptly code-named “Operation Revenge,” the operation had the Marines pretty pumped to go. MSgt Wyrick said, “This is one we were pretty amp’ed to do.” The brutal nature of Berg’s murder had the American SOF troops looking for some payback. Furthermore, according to intel collected by other agencies, the targets had been raided before, and were expected to fight.
Faced with information that the target was surrounded by a fence, rather than a wall, and with the expected resistance, the three teams drove their IFAVs through the fence simultaneously, moving rapidly up to the side of the building. Two teams dismounted and made for the front door to breach, while the third put ladders up against the side of the house to get to the roof and upper floor, in order to keep the targets from fleeing by climbing to the roof and jumping off, as had reportedly happened on a previous raid. The construction of the house and the layout of the yard prevented one of the ladders from reaching all the way up, so, as his teammates threw flashbangs through the windows to cover him, SSgt Alex Conrad, in full kit, jumped several feet from the top rung of the ladder to the balcony slightly above him. The shock and surprise of the assault prevented the expected fight from materializing, and all three HVTs were captured.
On May 26th, still working with 5th Group, the Det hit Objective Ricochet, a former Iraqi intelligence officer who was believed to be instrumental in a ring of former Baathist officials working in and around Baghdad. He was expected to put up a fight if given the chance, so the Marines went in ready for stiff resistance.
MSgt Wyrick’s team was the lead assault team, with SSgt Kingdon as lead breacher. The assault team scaled the wall and got in against the house, with a short section of wall shielding them from the front door. Kingdon moved forward, attached the explosive breach, then moved back to the rest of the team. As he moved, he thought he heard part of the charge come loose, and went back to check. It appeared to be still in place, so he backed up again, called “Breaching, breaching, breaching,” and triggered the initiator. The subsequent blast knocked him flat, and while he didn’t know how badly he was wounded, he knew he was. HM1 Bryan started working on him, while MSgt Wyrick checked the door, and saw the charge still there, the door unbreached. Thinking the charge had been a “low-ord,”–having somehow not gone off all the way–he called up the secondary breacher, who attempted to mechanically breach the door with the Halligan tool. It failed, so they tried a second explosive breach, which opened the door. The element of surprise gone, the assaulters rapidly moved in over Kingdon to flood the building.
MSgt Wyrick swept a room with his white light, seeing no one in it, but the target was hiding in the shadows, and started shooting, hitting HM1 Tyrell in the leg. Wyrick threw a flashbang into the room, then entered with SSgt Cedarholm, who killed the armed target.
SSgt Kingdon was casevaced from the site, then sent on to Landstuhl, Germany, then back to Camp Pendleton. While he had initially feared he’d blown his arm off, as it had taken the brunt of the blast, he eventually recovered completely and returned to duty with the Det. What had happened was, the initiator system had fallen out of the charge as he moved away, and had been trapped against his chest by his M4. When he’d hit the initiator, it had detonated the blasting caps, which proceeded to cause one of his flashbangs to sympathetically detonate on his vest.
The raid on Objective Ricochet was a good example of pushing the objective in spite of setbacks. It was also the only case of casualties the Det incurred the entire deployment, and the only raid where shots were fired.
It was also the last raid. Just after Ricochet, Det One received orders changing their mission and ending Direct Action missions.