The Soldiers Say? Subject: Letter home from Fallujah

What are the soldiers sending to one another:

("Dad" is a retired Marine Lt. Gen.)

> Dear Dad -
> Just came out of the city and I honestly do not know where to start. I am
> afraid that whatever I send you will not do sufficient honor to the men
> who fought and took Fallujah.
> Shortly before the attack, Task Force Fallujah was built. It consisted of
> Regimental Combat Team 1 built around 1st Marine Regiment and Regimental
> Combat Team 7 built around 7th Marine Regiment. Each Regiment consisted of
> two Marine Rifle Battalions reinforced and one Army mechanized infantry
> battalion.
> Regimental Combat Team 1 (RCT-1) consisted of 3rd Light Armored
> Reconnaissance Battalion (3rd LAR), 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (3/5); 3rd
> Battalion, 1st Marines (3/1)and 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry (2/7). RCT-7
> was slightly less weighted but still a formidable force. Cutting a swath
> around the city was an Army Brigade known as Blackjack. The Marine RCT's
> were to assault the city while Blackjack kept the enemy off of the backs
> of the assault force.
> The night prior to the actual invasion, we all moved out into the desert
> just north of the city. It was something to see. You could just feel the
> intensity in the Marines and Soldiers. It was all business. As the day
> cleared, the Task Force began striking targets and moving into final
> attack positions. As the invasion force commenced its movement into attack
> positions, 3rd LAR led off RCT-1's offensive with an attack up a peninsula
> formed by the Euphrates River on the west side of the city. Their mission
> was to secure the Fallujah Hospital and the two bridges leading out of the
> city. They executed there tasks like clockwork and smashed the enemy
> resistance holding the bridges. Simultaneous to all of this, Blackjack
> sealed the escape routes to the south of the city. As invasion day dawned,
> the net was around the city and the Marines and Soldiers knew that the
> enemy that failed to escape was now sealed.
> 3/5 began the actual attack on the city by taking an apartment complex on
> the northwest corner of the city. It was key terrain as the elevated
> positions allowed the command to look down into the attack lanes. The
> Marines took the apartments quickly and moved to the rooftops and began
> engaging enemy that were trying to move into their fighting positions. The
> scene on the rooftop was surreal. Machine gun teams were running boxes of
> ammo up 8 flights of stairs in full body armor and carrying up machine
> guns while snipers engaged enemy shooters. The whole time the enemy was
> firing mortars and rockets at the apartments. Honest to God, I don't think
> I saw a single Marine even distracted by the enemy fire. Their squad
> leaders, and platoon commanders had them prepared and they were executing
> their assigned tasks.
> As mentioned, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry joined the Regiment just prior to
> the fight. In fact, they started showing up for planning a couple of weeks
> in advance. There is always a professional rivalry between the Army and
> the Marine Corps but it was obvious from the outset that these guys were
> the real deal. They had fought in Najaf and were eager to fight with the
> Regiment in Fallujah. They are exceptionally well led and supremely
> confident.
> 2/7 became our wedge. In short, they worked with 3rd Battalion, 1st
> Marines. We were limited in the amount of prep fires that we were allowed
> to fire on the city prior to the invasion. This was a point of some
> consternation to the forces actually taking the city. Our compensation was
> to turn to 2/7 and ask them to slash into the city and create as much
> turbulence as possible for 3/1 to follow. Because of the political
> reality, the Marine Corps was also under pressure to "get it done
> quickly." For this reason, 2/7 and 3/1 became the penetration force into
> the city.
> Immediately following 3/5's attack on the apartment buildings, 3/1 took
> the train station on the north end of the city. While the engineers blew a
> breach through the train trestle, the Cavalry soldiers poured through with
> their tanks and Bradley's and chewed an opening in the enemy defense. 3/1
> followed them through until they reached a phase[line deep into the
> northern half of the city. The Marine infantry along with a few tanks then
> turned to the right and attacked the heart of the enemy defense. The
> fighting was tough as the enemy had the area dialed in with mortars. 3/5
> then attacked into the northwest corner of the city. This fight continued
> as both Marine rifle battalions clawed their way into the city on
> different axis.
> There is an image burned into my brain that I hope I never forget. We came
> up behind 3/5 one day as the lead squads were working down the Byzantine
> streets of the Jolan area. An assault team of two Marines ran out from
> behind cover and put a rocket into a wall of an enemy strongpoint. Before
> the smoke cleared the squad behind them was up and moving through the hole
> and clearing the house. Just down the block another squad was doing the
> same thing. The house was cleared quickly and the Marines were running
> down the street to the next contact. Even in the midst of that mayhem, it
> was an awesome site.
> The fighting has been incredibly close inside the city. The enemy is
> willing to die and is literally waiting until they see the whites of the
> eyes of the Marines before they open up. Just two days ago, as a firefight
> raged in close quarters, one of the interpreters yelled for the enemy in
> the house to surrender. The enemy yelled back that it was better to die
> and go to heaven than to surrender to infidels. This exchange is a graphic
> window into the world that the Marines and Soldiers have been fighting in
> these last 10 days.
> I could go on and on about how the city was taken but one of the most
> amazing aspects to the fighting was that we saw virtually no civilians
> during the battle. Only after the fighting had passed did a few come out
> of their homes. They were provided food and water and most were evacuated
> out of the city. At least 90-95% of the people were gone from the city
> when we attacked.
> I will end with a couple of stories of individual heroism that you may not
> have heard yet. I was told about both of these incidents shortly after
> they occurred. No doubt some of the facts will change slightly but I am
> confident that the meat is correct.
> The first is a Marine from 3/5. His name is Corporal Yeager (Chuck
> Yeager's grandson). As the Marines cleared and apartment building, they
> got to the top floor and the point man kicked in the door. As he did so,
> an enemy grenade and a burst of gunfire came out. The explosion and enemy
> fire took off the point man's leg. He was then immediately shot in the arm
> as he lay in the doorway. Corporal Yeager tossed a grenade in the room and
> ran into the doorway and into the enemy fire in order to pull his buddy
> back to cover. As he was dragging the wounded Marine to cover, his own
> grenade came back through the doorway. Without pausing, he reached down
> and threw the grenade back through the door while he heaved his buddy to
> safety. The grenade went off inside the room and Cpl Yeager threw another
> in. He immediately entered the room following the second explosion. He
> gunned down three enemy all within three feet of where he stood and then
> let fly a third grenade as he backed out of the room to complete the
> evacuation of the wounded Marine. You have to understand that a grenade
> goes off within 5 seconds of having the pin pulled. Marines usually let
> them "cook off" for a second or two before tossing them in. Therefore,
> this entire episode took place in less than 30 seconds.
> The second example comes from 3/1. Cpl Mitchell is a squad leader. He was
> wounded as his squad was clearing a house when some enemy threw pineapple
> grenades down on top of them. As he was getting triaged, the doctor told
> him that he had been shot through the arm. Cpl Mitchell told the doctor
> that he had actually been shot "a couple of days ago" and had given
> himself self aide on the wound. When the doctor got on him about not
> coming off the line, he firmly told the doctor that he was a squad leader
> and did not have time to get treated as his men were still fighting. There
> are a number of Marines who have been wounded multiple times but refuse to
> leave their fellow Marines.
> It is incredibly humbling to walk among such men. They fought as hard as
> any Marines in history and deserve to be remembered as such. The enemy
> they fought burrowed into houses and fired through mouse holes cut in
> walls, lured them into houses rigged with explosives and detonated the
> houses on pursuing Marines, and actually hid behind surrender flags only
> to engage the Marines with small arms fire once they perceived that the
> Marines had let their guard down. I know of several instances where near
> dead enemy rolled grenades out on Marines who were preparing to render
> them aid. It was a fight to the finish in every sense and the Marines
> delivered.
> I have called the enemy cowards many times in the past because they have
> never really held their ground and fought but these guys in the city did.
> We can call them many things but they were not cowards.
> My whole life I have read about the greatest generation and sat in wonder
> at their accomplishments. For the first time, as I watch these Marines and
> Soldiers, I am eager for the future as this is just the beginning for
> them. Perhaps the most amazing characteristic of all is that the morale of
> the men is sky high. They hurt for the wounded and the dead but they are
> eager to continue to attack. Further, not one of them would be comfortable
> with being called a hero even though they clearly are.
> By now the Marines and Soldiers have killed well over a thousand enemy.
> These were not peasants or rabble. They were reasonably well trained and
> entirely fanatical. Most of the enemy we have seen have chest rigs full of
> ammunition and are well armed are willing to fight to the death. The
> Marines and Soldiers are eager to close with them and the fighting at the
> end is inevitably close.
> I will write you more the next time I come in about what we have found
> inside the city. All I can say is that even with everything that I knew
> and expected from the last nine months, the brutality and fanaticism of
> the enemy surprised me. The beheadings were even more common place than we
> thought but so were torture and summary executions. Even though it is an
> exaggeration, it seems as though every block in the northern part of the
> city has a torture chamber or execution site. There are hundreds of tons
> of munitions and tens of thousands of weapons that our Regiment alone has
> recovered. The Marines and Soldiers of the Regiment have also found over
> 400 IEDs already wired and ready to detonate. No doubt these numbers will
> grow in the days ahead.
> In closing, I want to share with you a vignette about when the Marines
> secured the Old Bridge (the one where the Americans were mutilated and
> hung on March 31) this week. After the Marines had done all the work and
> secured the bridge, we walked across to meet up with 3rd LAR on the other
> side. On the Fallujah side of the bridge where the Americans were hung
> there is some Arabic writing on the bridge. An interpreter translated it
> for me as we walked through. It read: "Long Live the Mujahadeen. Fallujah
> is the Graveyard for Americans and the end of the Marine Corps."
> As I came back across the bridge there was a squad sitting in their Amtrac
> smoking and watching the show. The Marines had written their own message
> below the enemy's. It is not something that Mom would appreciate but it
> fit the moment to a T. Not far from the vehicle were two dead enemy laying
> where they died. The Marines were sick of watching the "Dog and Pony show"
> and wanted to get back to work.
> Dave

posted at 10:59:00 on 12/08/04 by clearpolitics - Category: War - [Permalink]

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