View Full Version : Utahn gets 2nd Purple Heart:Marine injured twice in enemy assaults in Iraq

05-21-04, 05:35 AM
Utahn gets 2nd Purple Heart

Marine injured twice in enemy assaults in Iraq
By Wendy Leonard
Deseret Morning News

Pfc. Quintin David Graves of Salt Lake City never thought he'd be the recipient of a Purple Heart medal — let alone two — while serving in Iraq.

Only six Marines in the 1st Marine Division, including Graves, have received the medal twice. Graves' first honor was received after his Humvee was hit by a bomb. The second came during recent fighting in the Sunni Triangle. In both incidents, Graves sustained shrapnel injuries.
"He never thought he'd be in danger," said his father, David Graves. "When I asked if he'd be ready to kill someone over there, he shrugged it off and never thought it would come to that."
Pfc. Graves said in an article in the Marine Corp News he believed the Purple Heart was a medal reserved for soldiers injured in Vietnam or World War II. Even after being in Iraq and hearing the stories from other soldiers and seeing news about the area, he was certain it couldn't be as bad as they made it sound.
His father said he is optimistic because his son has a good heart and was raised seeing the good in everyone.
"He was a regular kid with a good outlook . . . involved with Scouting a little bit and pulled for his grades in high school," David Graves said.
Pfc. Graves, assigned to Company G, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, joined the Marine Corps last June upon graduation from high school and was called to to Iraq in March 2003. His family heard from him when he received his first Purple Heart medal March 13 and then again at receipt of the second medal last month.
It was reported that the medal, an honor reserved for members of the military who are wounded by an instrument of war by the enemy, was earned after someone tossed a grenade over a wall.
"I saw it land," he said in the article. "It was one of those pineapple-looking grenades. We just started running and I kept thinking, 'It should have blown by now.' " When the grenade did blow, Graves received schrapnel to his left calf, left thigh, buttock, left shoulder and his back.

"After it blew, I was still running, so I figured it couldn't be that bad," he said. "A hail of gunfire followed, and I kicked in a gate to a house and took cover."
Reportedly, another Marine patched Graves' wounds and, typical of Graves' attitude, he finished out the mission.
Graves' twin sister, Nicole Rowe of Sandy, said he has always been "gung-ho" about serving his country. "He's pretty brave," Rowe said. She said during high school, he would always go running and talk to recruiters and "as soon as he could, he belonged to the Marines." Members of the military are often given a choice to come home upon earning a third Purple Heart, and with two under his belt, his twin sister, Nicole Rowe of Sandy, has asked her brother if he would consider coming home early.
"He said he loves the Marines and the friends that he's become close to, and he would not want to come home because he wouldn't want to leave his friends," she said. "He couldn't leave the Marines, and he couldn't leave his friends there." Rowe said she enjoys talking to her brother about the war, even if he can't tell her much. The two have been quite close since their youth, and even though she misses him, she is proud of his service and example.
"I thought he would change when he went to boot camp, but he's still the same old Davy," she said.
With all the honor that comes to a Purple Heart recipient, Graves' father said his son is pretty mellow about it and stays upbeat about the war.
"What's better than to live life serving others," he said.



Pfc. Quinton David Graves, 19, of Salt Lake City displays one of two Purple Hearts he has received in Iraq.

USMC Photo, Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva


05-21-04, 05:36 AM
18 Killed in Heavy Fighting in Karbala


KARBALA, Iraq - American tanks and AC-130 gunships pounded insurgent positions near two shrines in the center of the holy city of Karbala early Friday, and the U.S. military said it killed 18 fighters loyal to rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The fighting began after insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades at U.S. tanks patrolling Karbala's so-called "Old City," said U.S. Army Col. Pete Mansoor of the 1st Armored Division.

The tanks returned fire, and more than two hours of heavy fighting followed. Smoke billowed from burning buildings. A rebel weapons cache was hit, the military said.

Much of the fighting was near the city's Imam Hussein and Imam Abbas shrines, which U.S. forces allege are being used by militiamen as firing positions or protective cover. Mansoor said the shrines were not damaged.

The military says it is doing its best to avoid damage to the gold-domed shrines. Al-Sadr, who launched an uprising against the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq last month, has accused U.S. forces of desecrating holy sites, and hitting the shrines would likely infuriate Shiite Muslims not involved in the conflict.

Mansoor said 18 insurgents died.

Dr. Abbas Falih al-Hassani of Karbala's al-Hussein hospital said 12 people died, including two Iranian pilgrims. Thirteen were wounded.

The dead included a driver for a camera crew of the Al-Jazeera television network, the station reported.

Rashid Hamid Wali, 40, died while assisting a crew from the Qatar-based network that was filming the clashes from a hotel roof shortly after midnight, said Ahmed al-Sheikh, the network's news editor in Qatar.

It was unclear who was responsible.

There was also overnight fighting between U.S. forces and al-Sadr loyalists in another holy city, Najaf. One civilian died and another was injured when their car was caught in the crossfire, hospital officials said.

Near Baqouba, north of Baghdad, gunmen in pickup trucks opened fire Friday on a base of the Iraqi security forces, killing four, Iraqi authorities said. The slain men were members of the U.S.-backed Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.

Insurgents often target Iraqis who are perceived as collaborators with the coalition.



05-21-04, 05:38 AM
U.S. troops clash with Shiite militias south of Baghdad, explosions in the capital <br />
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By: ROBERT H. REID - Associated Press Writer <br />
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- American soldiers clashed Wednesday with...

05-21-04, 05:40 AM
U.S. Marine general says no apology for Iraq attack
20 May 2004 14:32:58 GMT

FALLUJA, Iraq, May 20 (Reuters) - A U.S. Marine general said on Thursday he had no need to apologise for an attack in the remote Iraqi desert that killed around 40 people who witnesses say included women and children celebrating a wedding.

"How many people go to the middle of the desert 10 miles (16 km) from the Syrian border to hold a wedding 80 miles (130 km) from the nearest civilisation?" Major General James Mattis, commander of the 1st Marine Division, told reporters in Falluja.

"These were more than two dozen military-age males. Let's not be naive."

Asked about witness testimony and footage from Dubai-based Al Arabiya television which showed weeping relatives lowering bodies, one of a child, into graves, he said: "I have not seen the pictures but bad things happen in wars. I don't have to apologise for the conduct of my men."

Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations for the U.S. military in Iraq, earlier told Reuters the attack early on Wednesday had targeted "a suspected foreign fighter safe house", 25 km (16 miles) east of the Syrian border.

Witnesses said the attack was on a house where a wedding had been held and killed 41 people.



05-21-04, 05:58 AM
The digital war
Armed with cameras and the Internet, troops capture an uncensored, front-lines view.

By Tony Perry and Patrick J. McDonnell, Times Staff Writers

Besides exposing the abuse of military prisoners, the scandal at the Abu Ghraib detention facility has shed light on one of the novel realities of modern military life: the nearly ubiquitous use of personal cameras by troops, whose snapshots have brought the war home in ways that were unimaginable in past conflicts.

Digital cameras have allowed soldiers and Marines to document their experiences and send the images home within hours, if not minutes, and to view pictures sent back by spouses and children. Websites maintained by individual soldiers and units have blossomed all over the Internet, giving anyone with a computer and modem the ability to see an uncensored, informal, up-to-the-minute view of American soldiers at war.

The advantages for morale seem apparent. The unintended consequences for military policy are still unfolding, as the Abu Ghraib scandal has made clear.

Faced with a proliferation of digital cameras and cheap disposables, the armed services have scrambled to develop rules governing their use by troops.

Before Marines were sent to Iraq from Camp Pendleton, they were sternly warned by noncommissioned officers on the rules involving photographs: no pictures of dead or wounded Iraqis, no pictures of American casualties, no pictures of detainees and no pictures showing "force protection" measures such as barriers or sniper nests that might fall into the hands of insurgents and help them pinpoint locations and fortifications.

Beyond that, Marines said, is one overarching rule: no pictures that might embarrass the United States.

"The devil dogs know the rules," insisted Sgt. Maj. Randall Carter, senior enlisted man in the 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment, 1st Marine Division, voicing a description Marines use for themselves.

Similar bans on photographing strategic and sensitive matters extend to the Army and all other U.S. military services, officials said. Violators may face criminal courts-martial.

Most of the photos posted on websites maintained by individual soldiers, Marines and their units — including photos by California National Guard troops posted on the Los Angeles Times' website, latimes.com/guardgoes — depict the relatively mundane moments of military life. Smiling, uniformed men and women pose in the desert, their arms around one anothers' shoulders. Some brandish weapons in mock-heroic poses. Iraqi children stand by roadsides, waving. Soldiers gawk at ancient sites or clown around in Iraqi playgrounds. There are close-up photos of military meals and shots of soldiers manning barbecues.

There is, on the face of it, nothing that obviously challenges the rules, reflects badly on the troops or gives away military secrets. But the shocking photos from Abu Ghraib — which were not posted publicly but leaked by one of the soldiers — hint at the larger consequences of having an army of shutterbugs.

Despite the embarrassing images, there are no plans to ban such cameras.

"You can't put the genie back in the bottle," said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq. "Soldiers have cameras in the battlefield. They have telephones in the battlefield. They have access to Internet cafes on the base. At a certain point you just have to trust them to do the right thing — and punish them if they don't."

There's a venerable tradition, dating to the Civil War, of troops sending photographs home from the front. The practice has only become more extensive and faster in the digital age.

"We'd always get photographs of my brother and his buddies in Vietnam," recalled Lt. Col. Daniel Williams, an Army spokesman in Baghdad . "It's just one of the things that soldiers have done for years…. You don't want to kill the spirit of a soldier by doing something we may regret later."

In the case of Abu Ghraib, the people who took those pictures broke rules against snapping unauthorized pictures of inmates. Lt. Col. Timothy J. Ryan of the California National Guard, now home in the San Francisco Bay area, recalled seeing large signs at the prison warning that photographs were forbidden.

And yet, without the pictures, the scandal might never have come to light.

"Frankly, this is a case where the cameras made it more transparent and gave us an idea of the problem that we may never have known about had it not been for the digital cameras," Kimmitt said.

Cheap cameras are sold at all ad hoc post-exchange stores at larger military bases in Iraq. Marine officers encourage their troops to take pictures to send home, keeping families apprised of what they are doing.

"Mostly we just take pictures of each other to send home," Lance Cpl. Jacob Atkinson said.

Military families see the digital revolution as a godsend that allows them to see the reassuring face of a loved one on a nearly real-time basis.

"Being able to see his pictures just makes us feel so much more connected and gives us a visual impressions of his living conditions," said Annette Hanson, the wife of National Guard Staff Sgt. John A. Hanson of Salinas, Calif. "The kids love it, especially our 13-year-old son, who's into military equipment and all that. He can say, 'Look at Dad standing next to his jeep.' "

Hanson said her husband, who in civilian life works as a building inspector for the city of Carmel, sometimes has to stand in line for two to three hours to use the Internet at his base in southern Iraq. But that seems swift compared to the pace of past wars.

"My dad was in World War II," she said, "and my mother was lucky to get two letters a month from him."

There is another reason the Marines encourage their troops to have cameras: to document violations of the Geneva Conventions by insurgents, such as using mosques, schools and ambulances for military purposes.

"We know that goes on, but we need to catch it on film," said Capt. Kevin Coughlin, the 2nd Battalion's top lawyer.

For the 2nd Battalion's Carter, a Marine for 24 years, having cameras in the hands of troops is another communication innovation that has required rules, along with Internet connections and satellite phones.

Pictures are particularly risky because they can be altered easily and then spread immediately on the Internet. The case of a Marine reservist who sent a picture to his mother is being investigated; the picture was allegedly altered to include a sign with comments derogatory to Iraqis.

Troops are warned not to speak of casualties, troop movements or future operations in phone calls or e-mails. Computer software allows the brass to check for violations. When a death occurs, e-mail and phone calls are suspended until the family is notified.

Signs are posted forbidding pictures in certain key areas. The signs at detention centers were in place months before the prison scandal broke. Only an initial "booking" picture is allowed of detainees, Coughlin said.

The issue of pictures of Iraqi casualties is also sensitive. When several Iraqi dead were taken to a forward base after a firefight, Lt. Col. Gregg Olson, the battalion commander, forbade all pictures, even though their bodies were wrapped in rugs.

He then ordered a burial in accordance with Islamic custom. "Even the dead deserve dignity," he said.

Later, in a separate incident, he upbraided frontline Marines for attaching the nickname "George" to a body of a dead Iraqi lying in the street.

Perry reported from Fallouja and McDonnell from Baghdad. Times staff writers Rone Tempest and Mitchell Landsberg in Los Angeles also contributed to this report.



05-21-04, 06:01 AM
U.S. Marines guarding oil terminals in Persian Gulf

By Kendra Helmer, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Marines are helping protect oil terminals in the Persian Gulf following last month’s attack that killed three U.S. servicemembers.

Coalition forces have taken other measures to increase security, including revising zones around the two terminals, said Cmdr. Jamie Graybeal, 5th Fleet spokesman.

Marines are pulling security on the oil platforms, and the USS Whidbey Island is acting as a staging base for Marine boarding teams.

“The Marines are providing a continuous presence on the oil platforms,” Graybeal said in a telephone interview from Bahrain. “… They will be out there until the job is done.”

Members of the Norfolk, Va.-based reaction platoon stay on the terminals around the clock.

From the Whidbey Island, a dock landing ship from Little Creek, Va., about 30 Okinawa-based Marines are boarding suspicious vessels. Other coalition forces continue to patrol the area and board vessels.

The changes were prompted by April 24 suicide blasts, one of which killed two sailors and a Coast Guardsman attempting to board a suspicious dhow.

The attacks inflicted minimal damage to the Khawr Al Amaya and Al Basrah oil terminals, located about 20 miles from Iraq’s main port of Basrah.

Each terminal, surrounded by an approximately 12,000-foot security zone before the incident, now has two zones offering a layered defense.

A 9,900-foot warning zone extending from each terminal is “an area in which we require fishing dhows and commercial boats to contact coalition forces and state what their transit intentions are,” Graybeal said. “Once they’ve made contact, they expeditiously move through the warning zone.”

A 6,600-foot exclusion zone is only for authorized vessels proceeding to the terminals.

If a vessel enters a zone without making contact, coalition forces issue warnings and redirect legitimate traffic.

“If the ships don’t make contact with us and leave that zone immediately, we do retain the right of warning fire and disabling fire,” Graybeal said.

Capt. Kurt Tidd, commander of coalition maritime security forces operating in the Gulf, said in a news release, “The zones around the terminals allow our coalition personnel to concentrate their efforts, but still give us enough time to communicate with, and if necessary, destroy hostile vessels before they can threaten the terminals.”

Mariners have been notified of the changes by navigation warnings and bridge-to-bridge radio.


Alan D. Monyelle / U.S. Navy
A U.S. Marine stands security watch on the deck of the Al Basrah oil terminal. U.S. Marines from the 1st Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Battalion of Norfolk, Va., are providing extra security along with the Iraqi security teams after an April 24 attack that killed three servicemembers.


Alan D. Monyelle / U.S. Navy
Lance Cpl. Christopher Kotulski and Cpl. Paul O'Donnell stand watch on the flight deck of the Al Basrah Oil Terminal.



05-21-04, 07:38 AM
Marines capture, destroy large Iraqi insurgents' weapons stockpiles
Submitted by: 1st Force Service Support Group
Story Identification #: 2004520132522
Story by Staff Sgt. Bill Lisbon

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq (May 20, 2004) -- In the past week, Marines based here have unearthed some of the largest stockpiles of weapons found this year, which, left unfound, could have outfitted insurgents with the materials needed to construct improvised explosives and attack U.S. forces.

Discovered in various locations east of the camp by Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, more than 1,000 mortars, artillery shells and rockets -- not to mention a cornucopia of other weapons -- have been either captured or destroyed.

Now, as a result, Marines have stepped up the number of foot patrols they conduct, armed with metal detectors and shovels, in hopes of finding even more.

"We have had tremendous amounts of success in a short amount of time," said Capt. Adam T. Strickland, 32, a platoon commander with the battalion which, falls under tactical control of 1st Force Service Support Group here.

During a routine patrol May 13, Marines searched a culvert running under a stretch of train tracks only to find dozens of mortar rounds wrapped in an old inner tube. When the Marines spotted rockets peeking through the ground, they realized they were standing on top of a hidden cache of weapons. In the next few moments, Marines dropped down on their hands and knees and dug through the dirt, uncovering more munitions.

"It was like an Easter egg hunt," said squad leader Sgt. Dorelle M. Harrison, a 21-year-old a native of Hartford, Conn., whose Marines stumbled upon these weapons.

The find seemed to set off a chain reaction.

On May 16, the company went hunting specifically for weapons. In just a few hours the Marines had located six separate piles, which contained a pair of surface-to-air missiles, two dozen rockets and more than 100 rocket-propelled grenades.

During a search of a nearby village on May 18, more than 200 mortar and artillery shells were uncovered.

Yet again, on May 20, a tip from a shepherd led Marines to a stash of rifle grenades and RPGs. Earlier on the same day; they found artillery shells, mortar rounds and TNT.

Some of the most harmless looking items found were perhaps the most disturbing. Several 9-volt batteries and thin copper wire discovered in one of the caches could have been used to build improvised detonators for roadside bombs.

Insurgents commonly rig artillery shells to explode along supply routes hoping to disrupt convoys by crippling vehicles and killing Marines, said Master Sgt. Charles D. Goolsby, 39, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, who provides bomb disposal services around Camp Taqaddum.

Five of the artillery shells found May 18, were already wired with detonation cord and plastic explosives when they were discovered.

What the Marines have come to find is that insurgents are hiding weapons in fields and palm groves near roads so that they can access them easily, said Sgt. Kenneth C. Cyr, a 27-year-old squad leader from Prairie Grove, Ark.

In addition to the bombs, the company captured a dozen mortar systems and two homemade rocket launchers possibly used to lob ordnance at Marine bases. While most of the ordnance is destroyed off base by the squadron's bomb experts, some of the weapons are carried back to Taqaddum and displayed for Marines to see. But in the end, all are demolished.

These record finds can be attributed to the company's police-themed tactic: walk the beat.

"Walk the ground. Get to know the people. Earn their trust. We've been doing that and I think, if anything, we've shown that we have altruistic motives here," said Strickland, a native of Richmond, Va.

Shortly after the battalion's Headquarters and Support Company took over guard duty of Camp Taqaddum from the Army in late March, Weapons Company ventured "outside the wire," in an effort to push back any insurgents located close enough to the base to use mortars and rockets.

In the past several weeks, and in an effort to follow in the wake caused by adjacent infantry battalions of the 1st Marine Division who shifted their focus to Fallujah, the company stepped up its operations by patrolling roads, walking through villages and talking with the locals.

"You can't get a feel for what's going on at 40 mph through bulletproof glass and armor," Strickland said.

The human interaction has paid off. Many of the company's Marines have stories about locals approaching them to give them tidbits of intelligence.

Between May 4-7, members of the battalion performed nearly 300 "soft knocks," where Marines went door to door, and rather than bursting into homes, they simply knocked on the front door, talked with the head of the family and asked to search the house for weapons.

The Coalition Provisional Authority allows one rifle and 30 rounds to be kept in each Iraqi household for home protection. During the soft-knock operation alone, however, the Marines uncovered two mortar launchers, three heavy machine guns, two rocket launchers as well as ten rifles and 1,000 rounds of ammunition, said Strickland.

In the past month, attacks against Camp Taqaddum have been sparse.

"It's not that the threat's not there. The reason we're not being hit is because we're taking all their weapons," said Strickland.

Shortly after making this statement, two mortar rounds landed on the camp, signaling that the aptly named Weapons Company has more work ahead of it.


Marines from Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, pile mortar rounds in the bed of a humvee to transport them to a nearby field where they were later destroyed May 14, 2004. During a patrol of the area May 13, the Marine reservists stumbled across dozens of mortar rounds hidden in a culvert near an Iraqi village. After a thorough search of the area, Marines uncovered what they believe to be the largest cache of weapons found by Marines in the Al Anbar Province this year, hidden mostly in buried plastic barrels. The wide assortment of mortars, rocket-propelled and hand grenades, plastic explosives, artillery shells and rockets, as well as other munitions and bomb-making equipment, were later destroyed by Marine explosive ordnance technicians in a nearby field. The company provides security to the 1st Force Service Support Group, based at Camp Taqaddum, Iraq, west of the village. The reserve Weapons Company is headquartered in Springfield, Mo. Photo by: Staff Sgt. Bill Lisbon



05-21-04, 08:17 AM
Four Arrested in Iraq for Berg Killing

By SABER BABAN, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi police have arrested four people in the killing of American Nicholas Berg, an Iraqi security official said Friday.

The suspects were former members of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s Fedayeen paramilitary organization, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. They were arrested a week ago in a house in Salaheddin province, north of Baghdad.

The group that was involved in the killing of Berg was led by Yasser al-Sabawi, a nephew of Saddam Hussein, the security official said. He said American intelligence had asked Iraqi authorities to hand over the suspects, but they were still in Iraqi hands.

Al-Sabawi was not among those arrested, the Iraqi official said.

American officials have said they believe Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian wanted for allegedly organizing terrorists to fight U.S. troops in Iraq (news - web sites) on behalf of al-Qaida, carried out Berg's killing.

On Tuesday, Interior Minister Samir Shaker Mahmoud al-Sumeidi refused to comment on reports of arrests in the Berg case.

The body of Berg, 26, was found May 8 near a highway overpass in Baghdad. He was last seen on April 10 when he left his Baghdad hotel.

A video posted May 11 on an al-Qaeda-linked Web site showed a bound Berg in an orange jumpsuit — similar to those issued to prisoners held by the American military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was sitting in front of five men, their faces masked, as one read an anti-American text.

After pushing Berg to the floor, the men severed his head and held it up for the camera. They said his killing was in response to the abuse of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison.



05-21-04, 08:21 AM
Desert warriors take a break from combat

Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes
Combat Correspondent

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq - It’s time for a bit of easy living for the Marines of 2d Battalion, 2d Marine Regiment. At least as easy as it gets at the base camp here.

The battalion, assigned to the 1st Marine Division in Iraq, pulled back into their base camp near Fallujah after more than a week of field operations in the city of Zadan. The break in operations gave the Marines time to recoup and refit.

The unit weathered enemy mortar and rocket attacks and hunted down terrorists all while they worked to improve the Iraqi’s living conditions through work projects. With the added effects of sandstorms and weather often peaking at 100 degrees, the Marines were ready for the chance to clean up and relax.

“The thing I was most looking forward to when we got back to camp was a shower,” said Lance Cpl. Patrick T. Fulton, an unmanned aerial vehicle pilot from Seattle.

The Marines had only sun-warmed field shower bags to rely on for cleaning up. At the camp, however, a shower tent equipped with separate stalls and hot water awaited the returning warriors.

Other Marines said bliss would come with putting on clean clothes. Marines claimed their uniforms could stand on their own. Washing clothes in a garbage bag filled with water is one alternative, but many Marines had a set of clean clothes waiting on them when they arrived.

“Washing my clothes out of a bag, that’s what I’d have to say I’m not gonna miss,” said Pfc. Aaron F. Snell, a machine gunner with G Company from Dover, Vt. “There’s something about a clean pair of clothes that makes you feel like a new man.”

Care packages were also passed out to Marines upon their return to the camp. Marines grabbed at boxes of candy, magazines, newspapers and hygiene items.

For others still, it was just the chance to take part in a little sinful treat. One item sold is what Cpl. William M. Britt, an assaultman with G Company, looked forward to the most.

“The [Post Exchange] sells these Cuban cigars,” said Britt, from Lexington, S.C. “That’s what I’m looking forward to the most... a good cigar.”


Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes



05-21-04, 08:31 AM
I still want Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, though.

05-21-04, 11:25 AM
Marine, Iraqi leaders ready to push ahead toward Iraq's future
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200452173641
Story by Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, Iraq(May 21, 2004) -- Leaders of the 1st Marine Division, the Fallujah Brigade and Fallujah's mayor said Thursday that the city is ready for rebuilding.

"I've got my plan and by God, come hell or high water, I'm just going to execute that plan no matter what," said Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of the 1st Marine Division. "Our end state was all along, if you ask the Marines, was 'no better friend worse enemy.' We're going to find a way to turn Iraq back over to the decent people of Iraq."

Mattis, along with Iraqi Gen. Mohammed Latif, commander of the Fallujah Brigade, which is assuming security responsibilities from Marines, and Fallujah's Mayor Muhammed Ibrahim Al-Juraissey, addressed international press in Fallujah yesterday. They touted the success of the transition from street battles to street cleaning and said the future of Fallujah is bright.

Already, four Iraqi contractors are employing more than 700 Fallujans in separate zones in the city for clean-up and restoration after the fighting. Another three contractors will begin work soon, bringing the total cost of the Coalition-led project to $3 million.

"For example, today broke ground on a new hospital wing," Mattis explained. "We got started on that. General Latif just talked to us about a youth center and computers so they can get on the Internet, playground equipment for little kids. So we're going to continue those kinds of projects, things we would have been doing six months ago had there not been someone fighting here."

Fallujah's mayor said the city's most respected authorities, religious clerics, issued written statements condemning the attacks on the four contractors killed in late March.

"The religious leaders came up with a fatwah... and this fatwah denounced the mutilation of the bodies of anyone," Juraissey said. "Just like with any other religion, the Muslim religion denounced this."

He said this is proof Fallujans want to put the incident behind them and focus on the prospects of the future instead of being branded by past.

"When it's time to start with the projects, Fallujah's going to be open for anybody to go there," the mayor added. "Mostly Iraqi contractors will be doing those and the expertise will be by American engineers. They're welcome to do it. The American engineers will be supervising the work of the Iraqis."

Both Iraqi leaders said the security situation has improved significantly since fighting was quelled. There are signs the city's citizens are ready to resume a normal existence.

"Today, I saw six wedding convoys in the city," Latif said. "Everything is normal finally in Fallujah and the all the families have come back to their homes."

Latif said that the peace in Iraq is no small task and ensuring it lasts will hinge upon working hand-in-hand with Coalition Forces.

"We asked the Coalition Forces to help us get construction back and get things back on the trail," Latif said. "Most importantly is that we work together. That is our main goal. And this is going to be an example for all Iraq."

"I agree with General Latif now to say that this city is the calmest city and the most stable city in Iraq," Juraissey added. "I would hope that the steps of peace will be accompanied by the steps of building and construction. Now we are working with the Coalition Forces and the engineers to fix the homes, work on construction of the city."

Projects across the Al Anbar Province, the extent of 1st Marine Division's zone in Iraq, are already starting. A project to repair 48 mosques has started in Ramadi. Marines are leading a project to dedicate $1,200 in renovations to each mosque while employing crews of ten per projects for up to two weeks. All the work is being coordination with local Imams, or Muslim religious leaders.

Still, security remains a concern and for the foreseeable future, Marines will continue to work side-by-side with Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers to ensure safety.

"I think the Fallujah Brigade needs to demonstrate it's got control," Mattis said. "The only way you build trust out here is for us to work together. We've seen it in Husaybah, where we had a dickens of a fight and literally a couple days later, things had changed."

Mattis said it's important for both Iraqi and American leaders to set realistic goals. Not every policy is going to be agreed upon and not every action favorable. The important part, he said, was that both sides were working toward the same goal.

"We have to understand we have a common cause here to restore peace, stop the violence, rebuild Iraq, the Americans get out of the way and move on," Mattis explained. "We don't do that by having two separate armed camps and never mixing the two."

Mattis added that Marines and Iraqi soldiers are already turning the tide against terrorist forces. He said their power base in Iraqi is eroded and they continually find themselves on the run. This is due, he said, to the fact that Iraqis want a more peaceful and stable future.

"I'll tell you right now, I don't get intelligence off a satellite," the general said. "Iraqis tell me who the enemy is. That is very dangerous for Iraqis. You think about how much courage that takes when you've got to live with these murderous bastards."


Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, commanding general, 1st Marine Division, takes a moment to answer questions after a press conference in Fallujah, May 20. Iraqi Gen. Mohammed Latif, Fallujah Brigade commander, Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Juraissey, Mayor of Fallujah and members of his staff were present to adress current issues and security within the city.
(USMC photo by Sgt. Jose E. Guillen) Photo by: Sgt. Jose E. Guillen



05-21-04, 12:07 PM
Issue Date: May 24, 2004

Injured Marines return to the fight

By Gidget Fuentes
Times staff writer

FALLUJAH, Iraq — The incoming mortar round exploded, shaking the earth and jolting the Marines guarding a downed military helicopter. Slivers of metal and dirt sped through the air, cutting into men sitting in a Humvee some 20 feet away.
Several bits of the shrapnel struck Lance Cpl. Brent Goldstone, ripping into both arms and the left side of his head, just under the edge of his Kevlar helmet. His ears were ringing. He saw blood on his uniform.

The mortar round, fired by insurgents in what was a coordinated ambush 10 miles east of Fallujah in early April, killed one Marine and injured three, including Goldstone.

Goldstone soon would find himself among a group of leathernecks from 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, whose combat injuries put them down but not out. They licked their wounds and went back to the fight, a tribute to their loyalty to each other and Navy medical care, they said.

Goldstone was evacuated to Bravo Surgical Company at Camp Fallujah, where doctors cleaned and treated his wounds — leaving bits of metal embedded in his skin — then sent him to recover at his battalion’s forward base, Camp Mercury. His wounds rated him a Purple Heart, but not an early one-way ticket back to the United States. Two weeks later, he rejoined his fellow Marines on the front lines at Fallujah’s southeastern edge.

All told, about 72 Marines with 1/5 were wounded in action — three of them twice — in April, as Marines battled insurgent forces in Fallujah. Ten of the battalion’s Marines were killed. But of the wounded, at least 50 of 1/5’s returned to the front lines. Officials say the rate of return is similar to other Marine units in Iraq.

Navy doctors and corpsmen credit Kevlar helmets and vests with reducing serious torso injuries that often are fatal or severe enough to warrant evacuation and long recovery times. And more of the wounded are healing well enough to jump back into the fight.

Surgical companies located near front-line units treat many wounds quickly, while two combat surgical hospitals in Baghdad and Balad treat more serious cases.

“No one is being sent to the front lines who shouldn’t be there,” said Brig. Gen. Richard S. Kramlich, who commands the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based 1st Force Service Support Group, which provides the medical teams for I Marine Expeditionary Force.

But many are able to return, which Kramlich said “is a great morale booster for the units.”

Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, who commands 1/5, said it’s a joy to see his Marines return. “They came back and continued to fight,” he said.

Kramlich said some recovering Marines don’t want to be away from the fight.

“There is a sense that they didn’t finish the job,” he said.

One Marine, wounded in the right foot by a roadside bomb during an April 6 ambush, delayed his evacuation from Balad to Germany long enough to sufficiently heal in country. He’s now back at his unit, working his intelligence job, mostly from a desk at Camp Taqaddum.

“I didn’t want to leave my Marines, first of all,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Houtz, 29. “Mine is such a minor injury. It could have been much worse.”



05-21-04, 04:26 PM
Pilots, flight line crew work together to keep HMLA-775 mission ready <br />
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Submitted by: I Marine Expeditionary Force <br />
Story Identification #: 200452151242 <br />
Story by Cpl. Matthew J. Apprendi <br />
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