View Full Version : Who says they arent Heros

04-16-2004, 10:10 AM
Stranded Marines fight to last bullets
From James Hider in Fallujah

THE 15 Marines were trapped in a house, surrounded by hundreds of Iraqis armed with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles, their armoured vehicle in flames on the street outside. Each man was down to his last two magazines.
“It was in my head, we just got to go. Whoever makes it back, makes it back, those who fall, fall,” said Staff Sergeant Ismail Sagredo, sitting in the relative safety of Bravo Company’s forward base yesterday, as mortars and machinegun fire sounded a few streets away.

“That was the decision I’d have had to make, and I’m glad I didn’t have to do it.”

It was one of the most dramatic actions of the war.

Sergeant Sagredo, 35, had been in one of two Amphibious Assault Vehicles running out from the Marines’ frontline close to the centre of Fallujah, trying to trap insurgents who had ambushed a supply vehicle.

But as they headed down the narrow, parallel streets of Fallujah, where Sunni tribesmen have battled the Marines for more than a week, their vehicle came under fire from rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), the guerrillas’ weapon of choice.

Unable to turn the large vehicle around, the squad charged their attackers, but lost contact when they hit a bend in the road. They were driving into unknown territory. Then they turned another corner and saw hundreds of guerrillas.

“I’ve never seen so many RPGs. A lot of them were propped up against the walls with extra rounds,” said the sergeant.

The Iraqis, not expecting a lone American vehicle so far behind their lines, ran frantically for their weapons as the Marines opened up with M16 rifles and machineguns.

Rockets started smashing into their vehicle. One pierced the armour at the front, taking a large chunk out of the leg of Lieutenant Christopher Ayres, the officer in command. The rocket did not explode, but hit the engine, setting it ablaze.

Still under intense fire, the driver swerved south along a route known to the Marines as “Sh**head Alley”, desperate to find a turning to the east, towards their own lines. The gunner was dead from enemy fire, and several men had been knocked down by the continuing rounds of missiles.

The blaze was spreading toward the stockpiles of grenades when the engine gave out completely.

With the engine dead, the rear gate would not open. The men had to climb out of the hatch one by one, still taking small-arms fire. Luckily for them, their dash down the gauntlet of Sh**head Alley had left their attackers — up to 600 of them — behind. But only for a while.

“When we stepped out I was relieved. At least I wasn’t going to burn,” said Lance Corporal Abraham McCarver, a machinegunner.

The men had to help Lieutenant Ayres, who was crawling blindly toward the fire. Sergeant Sagredo and Corporal McCarver pulled him, but his webbing caught on a rack.

They were still taking fire, conscious that the vehicle could explode at any moment. Then the webbing ripped, and they carried the wounded officer to a nearby house, kicking down the door.

The Marines took up firing positions on the roof as more than 150 Iraqi gunmen converged on the small house.

“All the Iraqis surged south to join the festivities,” Sergeant Sagredo said. He now found himself in charge of an impossible situation reminiscent of scenes in Black Hawk Down, the film of a doomed US raid in Somalia that the sergeant had seen back home in America.

“It did remind me of that soldier being dragged through the streets back then,” he said, aware that a similarly gruesome scene had involved four US contractors just streets away, the trigger for the Marines’ invasion of Fallujah.

Ironically, Bravo Company’s call-sign is Blackhawk.

The Marines could hear the Iraqi fighters shouting outside, could see their feet shadowed under the front gate.

“I opened a window because I heard voices and I thought it was Americans,” said Corporal Koreyan Calloway. “There was a guy in a headscarf with an AK47 standing there looking at me, so I shot him.”

The attackers were darting down narrow alleyways beside the house, and lobbing grenades from neighbouring rooftops.

“They were running across our line of fire like we weren’t even shooting at them,” the corporal said.

“It was just like a range, we were just shooting them down,” said Corporal Jacob Palofax.

In the midst of the firefight, with the armoured vehicle’s munitions blowing up, an ambulance pulled up. The Marines thought they were being rescued. Instead, 15 men with RPGs jumped out and started firing.

The Americans were almost out of bullets. An Iraqi round hit a kitchen pipe and gas started whistling out as RPGs slammed into the building.

A guerrilla burst through the gate with an RPG and was shot dead. Another tried to follow and was wounded.

“Then the men started shouting that they could hear tanks. The first one went past, then the second,” Sergeant Sagredo said.

Horrified that the rescuers would miss him, Sergeant Sagredo radioed to tell them to back up. They did. A rifle muzzle appeared through the gate, and Captain Jason Smith of the 5th Marine Regiment came through shouting: “Marines, Marines, friendlies!”

It took an hour for the tanks to hook up with the burnt-out vehicle, but they were determined not to leave a dead Marine behind inside it.

Sergeant Sagredo does not want a medal for saving his men. “A decoration would only remind me of what happened. This is something I want to forget. Unfortunately, if it doesn’t affect me now, I know it will haunt me later.”

04-16-2004, 10:15 AM
AR-RAMADI, Iraq -- This week in a primetime White House news conference, President Bush described recent fighting in Iraqi areas of ar-Ramadi and Fallujah as "tough." It is tough, war always is. During my first 40 hours on the ground, anti-Iraqi forces haven't stopped shooting at the Marines, making it more difficult to get around.

But that's not to say progress isn't being made and those who are inciting the violence aren't being brought to justice -- it is, and they are. And it would be refreshing if just one member of the vaunted White House press corps or one of the television channel's chattering chumps would show a sliver of confidence in America's armed forces and their ability to defeat the terrorists with whom they are engaged in Iraq. I can report that the troops here -- specifically members of the 1st Marine Division out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., and the Army's 1st Brigade from Fort Riley, Kan., with whom I am traveling -- are "performing brilliantly," as the president said Tuesday night.

In fact, in ar-Ramadi, it's going a lot better than some might perceive. While much of the media's attention has focused on Fallujah, where four American civilians were killed, here in ar-Ramadi, Marines and soldiers are socking it to the enemy. "The fighting has been intense, but we've been kicking butt everywhere we go," is the way one Marine sergeant described it to me.

Earlier this week, these young Marines and soldiers were engaged in a violent, early-morning firefight with anti-Iraqi forces that resulted in four enemy dead, nine detainees and 16 weapons captured. Fighting with them were friendly Iraqis who aren't going to let their cities and towns become safe havens for terrorist cells. Those anti-Iraqi forces, it should be pointed out, are a mixture of foreign fighters, some Baathist loyalists and members of terrorist cells. While the press back home complains that Iraqis are "rising up" against American forces, they overlook the fact that there are a lot of foreign fighters involved in, and inciting, this violence. They've come into this country to disrupt and prevent democratic reforms from taking place.

During last week's attack, 12 U.S. Marines were killed. Now, several days later, members of the 1st Marine Division returned to that same neighborhood and captured nine more terrorist leaders. One of those terrorists who was wounded in the previous attack had been treated in a hospital and was recuperating in the home of a "friend" when U.S. Marines, with the cooperation of Iraqis in the neighborhood, knocked on the door and took him into custody.

"One more terrorist off the street and one less bad guy who, later on, could have injured a Marine, sailor or soldier," was what a Marine squad leader told me.

During that engagement, it was very clear that the enemy had no intention of taking on this Marine battalion, which did everything but send out invitations for a fight. They went in to root out the terrorist cells who have been operating out of ar-Ramadi and Fallujah, which because they have basically been left alone for much of the last year, were easy places for terrorists to find sanctuary.

But knowing the Marines were coming in to eliminate problem residents, the people in ar-Ramadi neighborhoods have been very supportive, freely opening their homes for Marines to search. Among both the terrorists and the friendly Iraqis, there is a new and very healthy respect for the 1st Marine Division.

But getting that respect didn't happen by accident, and it wasn't luck. The Marines and soldiers who are pulling terrorists out of these neighborhoods and denying them sanctuary earned that respect. They've trained and continue to work hard to separate the good guys from the bad guys. They don't just go in, drop artillery and kill everyone, including civilians. They surgically remove the terrorists and limit the damage to the infrastructure, which makes a big difference to the population.

It should also be pointed out that many of the Marines accomplishing this mission had been home for only five or six months before they turned around, put their flak jackets and helmets back on, and returned to Iraq. The troops that are here are adequate to the task. You can sense among the local civilian population a tremendous respect for these units -- they're organized for the kind of operations they're conducting, and they're succeeding.

And just to check my own assessment with somebody who's been here since the Marines returned, I asked Lance Cpl. Baggett of the 1st Marine Division, "Are we winning?" His answer: "Yes, sir, no doubt about it." Let's see which American newspaper is willing to splash that revelation across its front page.

04-16-2004, 04:13 PM
God Bless those Marines.

Semper Fi!

04-17-2004, 12:01 PM
Text from a Chaplain serving the marines in fallujah... God speed warriors....

marines (http://www.belmontclub.blogspot.com/)

On another level, the Chaplain can't help but aware of how bizarre his job would seem to civilians, this admixture of God and the Marine profession of annihilation. All he can do is assure the reader that if he were present, it would all be perfectly natural and clear. The Marines, no less than their foes are a tribe. Their religion, apart from anything the Chaplain can teach them, is each other.

This is a tribe of warriors. They exist to close with and destroy the enemy. They have their tribal mores, rituals and rites. Their enemy has desecrated members of the tribe and taunted the marines. They've asked for a fight. The marines are in full pursuit and absolutely determined to annihilate their foe. I'm sure that sounds harsh to politically correct ears and those for whom this type of violence is anachronistic. It does not sound foreign here ... it is status quo. We are in a violent land, with an evil element and they are having violence visited upon them. There is no room here for half measures. This is a test of wills...one side will prevail. That is clearly understood and never discussed .. it is obvious. We aren't playing paintball .. we are at war.

But the reader is not present. Through no fault of his own, he lives in a world as far away from Fallujah as the surface of the Moon. He might imagine, but never actually experience, the presence of evil. He may think he understands, but probably never will, just what a world of violence is kept at bay just beyond the horizon. And he may never realize, even with the best will, that we aren't playing paintball but are at war.

No matter. For the teenage Marines in Fallujah, the normal world doesn't exist either. Yet that isn't quite correct. Perhaps it better to say that for the Marines in Fallujah, the normal world is all too real.

04-17-2004, 12:05 PM
At night, the psychological operations unit attached to the Marine battalion here sends out messages from a loudspeaker mounted on an armored Humvee. On Thursday night, the crew and its Arabic-language interpreter taunted fighters, saying, "May all the ambulances in Fallujah have enough fuel to pick up the bodies of the mujahadeen."

Semper FI!!

04-17-2004, 12:11 PM
And another hero....honorable italian ally. I'll buy another bottle of italian wine tonight and toast you and your gallant countrymen. Chicken-shit Al-Jazerra doesn't publish THIS video.

Italian hostage 'defied killers'
Quattrocchi, an ex-baker, was trained to guard oil pipelines
The Italian hostage killed by kidnappers in Iraq was a defiant "hero" in his final moments, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini says.

The dead man was identified as Fabrizio Quattrocchi, 36, a security guard.

As the gunman's pistol was pointing at him the hostage "tried to take off his hood and shouted: 'now I'll show you how an Italian dies,'" he said.

After the Italian government refused to bow to their demands, Mr Quattrocchi was shot dead.

Mr Frattini faced hostages' relatives on live television
"When the murderers were pointing a pistol at him, this man tried to take off his hood and shouted: 'Now I'm going to show you how an Italian dies'. And they killed him," Mr Frattini said.

"He died a hero."