View Full Version : Doctors warn Marines against using fat burners in Iraq

06-24-04, 07:50 AM
Doctors warn Marines against using fat burners in Iraq <br />
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division <br />
Story Identification #: 200462425419 <br />
Story by Cpl. Paula M. Fitzgerald <br />
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06-24-04, 07:51 AM
U.S.: 20 Killed at Iraq Militant Hideout

By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq (news - web sites)'s interim prime minister said Wednesday he was determined to confront the mastermind of bombings and beheadings who threatened to assassinate him, and the U.S. military said it killed 20 foreign fighters at the suspected terrorist's hideout.

A recording purportedly made by Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi threatened to kill interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and fight the Americans "until Islamic rule is back on Earth."

The audio was found Wednesday on an Islamic Web site from the group that claimed responsibility for the beheading of American hostage Nicholas Berg and Kim Sun-il, a South Korean whose decapitated body was found Tuesday between Baghdad and Fallujah.

After the slaying, U.S. forces launched an airstrike on what the Americans said was an al-Zarqawi hideout in Fallujah. A senior coalition military official said 20 foreign fighters and terrorists were believed to have been killed in the Tuesday night strike. The official briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

Dr. Loai Ali Zeidan at Fallujah Hospital put the death toll at three with nine wounded. It was the second U.S. airstrike on Fallujah since Saturday.

"In both cases, we believe we hit significant numbers of al-Zarqawi lieutenants and al-Zarqawi fighters," said another official, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt. The airstrikes also destroyed large ammunition stores, Kimmitt, coalition deputy operations chief, said Wednesday in an interview with Associated Press Television News.

In the audiotape, the speaker thought to be al-Zarqawi told Allawi that "we will continue the game with you until the end." The speaker said "we will not get bored" until "we make you drink from the same glass" as Izzadine Saleem, the Iraqi Governing Council president killed last month in a car-bombing claimed by al-Zarqawi's group.

"We will carry on our jihad against the Western infidel and the Arab apostate until Islamic rule is back on Earth," the voice said.

An official with Allawi's office dismissed the threat, saying it would not derail the transfer of sovereignty next week.

President Bush (news - web sites) called Allawi to "reiterate his commitment to the Iraqi people," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. During the call, which was scheduled before the al-Zarqawi statement, Allawi raised the topic of the assassination threat, McClellan said.

McClellan did not provide Bush's response but said Allawi "is determined to confront these terrorist threats."

South Koreans reacted with sorrow and anger to Kim's beheading Wednesday, with President Roh Moo-hyun calling it a "crime against humanity."

Kim's body was found two days after he appeared on a videotape broadcast by Al-Jazeera television, pleading "I don't want to die," and begging his government to pull its soldiers out of Iraq.

South Korea (news - web sites) refused and said it would go ahead with plans to send another 3,000 forces here by August, which will make it the third-largest troop contributor after the United States and Britain.

"When we think of his desperate appeals for life, our hearts are wrenched with grief," Roh said Wednesday in a national address.

Elsewhere, a roadside bomb exploded near Baghdad's Kindi Hospital on Wednesday, killing a policeman who was handling the bomb and a mother and her child who were riding in a taxi, Iraqi police said. Another man, his shirt off, was seen being led away in handcuffs.

In Ramadi, an insurgent stronghold 60 miles west of Baghdad, gunmen killed two policemen and wounded a third in a drive-by shooting, witnesses said.

A roadside bomb also exploded as an Iraqi National Guard patrol passed in the northern city of Mosul, killing one Iraqi soldier and wounding four others, the U.S. military said.

The beheading of Kim, 33, who worked for a South Korean company providing supplies to U.S. forces, stunned South Korea and prompted Seoul to order all nonessential civilians to leave Iraq as soon as possible.

Late Tuesday, Al-Jazeera broadcast a videotape of a terrified Kim kneeling, blindfolded and wearing an orange jumpsuit similar to those issued to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Kim's shoulders were heaving, his mouth open and moving as if he were gulping air and sobbing. Five hooded and armed men stood behind him, one with a big knife slipped in his belt.

One of the masked men read a statement addressed to the Korean people: "This is what your hands have committed. Your army has not come here for the sake of Iraqis, but for cursed America." South Korea is a U.S. ally in Iraq.

Al-Jazeera did not show the actual beheading, saying it was too graphic.

American troops found Kim's body between Baghdad and Fallujah, South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Shin Bong-kil said. It was identified by a photograph sent by e-mail to the South Korean Embassy.

The killing and kidnapping was claimed by al-Zarqawi's group, Tawhid and Jihad.

The grisly killing followed the similar slayings of Berg and American helicopter technician Paul M. Johnson Jr., 49, who was beheaded by al-Qaida militants in Saudi Arabia. An al-Qaida group claiming responsibility posted an Internet message that showed photographs of Johnson's severed head.

Also Tuesday, two American soldiers were killed and another wounded in an attack on a convoy near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad. The dean of the University of Mosul law school was murdered in another attack against the country's intellectual elite. Gunmen also killed two Iraqi women working as translators for British forces in Basra, Iraqi officials said.

In other developments:

_ Iraqi engineers said they had resumed pumping crude oil through an export pipeline between northern Iraq and Turkey that was attacked last month. Officials with the State Oil Marketing Organization said they were unaware the pipeline was back up.

_ Top followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr rejected an invitation to join a national conference that will select a council to advise Iraq's interim government.

_ NATO (news - web sites) allies at a summit in Turkey this weekend will consider a request from Allawi for training and other technical assistance but not troops, an alliance spokesman said.



06-24-04, 07:53 AM
Marine Reservists receive a second set of goodbyes

'Come home safe'

By Howard Wilkinson
Enquirer staff writer

WALNUT HILLS - For the second time in 18 months, Lance Cpl. David Lytle has said goodbye to his young children, as have many of his fellow Marine Reservists who were scheduled to pull out of the Walnut Hills Reserve center early this morning for a second tour of duty in Iraq.

"It doesn't get any easier," said Lytle, 28, a divorced father from Lawrenceburg who has three children, ages 7, 4 and 3. "The two little ones don't understand what's going on. But my oldest daughter knows I am going back to that place."

It is the second trip to Iraq for Lytle and about half of the 70 Marines who were due to board buses about 3 a.m. for a trip to the airport, then a flight to Camp Pendleton, Calif. That's where they will train for about two months before being sent to Iraq for at least seven months.

About 120 Marines from Communications Co., Headquarters Battalion, 4th Marine Division, left the reserve center on Gilbert Avenue in March 2003.

The Cincinnati-based unit, which specializes in setting up communications systems under combat conditions, was attached to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, one of the first U.S. military units to enter Iraq after the shooting war began in April 2003.

About 10 members of the unit are in Iraq now, said Chief Warrant Officer Peter Dewing, the public information officer, and another 15 are in California for training.

There has been considerable turnover in the Reserve unit since the 120 Marines returned home a year ago to a tumultuous "welcome home" party at Sawyer Point. About half of the Marines being deployed this time are fresh out of boot camp and preparing for their first tour of duty overseas.

Lance Cpl. Nicholas Haynes, 23, of Dry Ridge, is a first-timer. Wednesday afternoon at the Reserve center, Haynes sat at a table eating pork barbecue with his family at the unit's daylong "family readiness meeting," where Marines and their families got last-minute instructions from officers and civilian volunteers on how families deal with deployment.

"I know it's tough, but I feel like I am well-trained and ready," Haynes said. "My platoon sergeant has been there before. I know he has fired his weapon at the enemy in combat. I'm going to look to him for leadership."

Lytle, too, said he feels a responsibility to the new Marines, some of them still in their teens, who will go with Communications Company to Iraq.

"The senior Marines among us have to show the way," Lytle said. "We Marines look out for each other. We'll teach them the secrets of keeping themselves alive and well."

Pfc. Randy Koon, a 20-year-old Marine from Colerain Township, stood in a corner of the unit's meeting hall talking quietly with his parents, Judy and Louis Koon.

"Randy made his own decision to join the Marines," Judy Koon said. "He knew he would probably be sent overseas. We supported him when he joined and we support him now.''

At the lunch hour Wednesday, dozens of Marines and their families were scattered around the long tables in the Reserve center's meeting hall, eating lunch and talking. Tiny children ran around the hall playing tag, darting between the legs of the tall Marines. For most, it would be the last chance to say goodbyes before the buses rolled.

Linda Nadicksbernd of Bellevue brought her grandsons to meet the Marines and show their support. Ronald Nadicksbernd, 11, and his brother Benjamin, 8, were dressed in their uniforms from the local chapter of the Young Marines, an organization that teaches American ideals and history.

"The boys in the Young Marines want to write to these Marines when they are in Iraq," Linda Nadicksbernd said. "We want to show them we're behind them."

A half-dozen members of the Montezuma lodge of the Marines Corps League, an organization of former Marines, walked among the young men and women in desert camouflage, shaking hands and passing on words of encouragement.

At one point, Gene Simpkins of Norwood, who served in the Marines in the 1950s, called the group to attention and asked that everybody sing one verse of the Marine Hymn.

"We'll just do one verse, because that's probably all you know,'' Simpkins said, drawing a laugh from the crowd.

The Marines leapt to their feet and belted out the familiar tune - "From the Halls of Montezuma, To the shores of Tripoli, We will fight our country's battles, On the land as on the sea."

"Semper Fi," Simpkins said, as the Marines sat back down to their barbeque. "Come home safe."


E-mail hwilkinson@enquirer.com


Fourth Marine Division sergeant Tracy Bennington kisses his daughter, Danielle, 2, who is held by Tracy's wife, Brittany, during a "family readiness" meeting at the Marine Reserve Center on Gilbert Ave.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)



06-24-04, 07:53 AM
Marines Clash With Insurgents in Fallujah

Thursday, June 24, 2004; 3:30 AM

Fallujah, Iraq, June 24 - Fighting erupted between U.S. soldiers and guerrillas in Fallujah on Thursday, with U.S. warplanes and helicopter gunships swooping low over the Iraqi city and insurgents firing rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s.

A U.S. Cobra helicopter was shot down during fierce fighting between Marines and guerrillas in the city. The crew walked away unhurt, U.S. Marines said.

The rattle of gunfire rang out in streets near one of the main intersections of the city, and explosions could be heard, witnesses said.

U.S. armoured vehicles were moving into parts of the city, backed by air support.

Under terms of a truce agreed between Marines and city elders in Fallujah to end weeks of fighting in April, U.S. forces pulled out of the city and handed responsibility for security to an Iraqi brigade that includes many soldiers who served under former President Saddam Hussein.

On Saturday and Tuesday, U.S. forces destroyed houses in Fallujah in what the military said were "precision strikes" against safehouses used by fighters loyal to Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, blamed for many attacks in Iraq.

A senior military official said 20 foreign fighters had been killed in Tuesday's strike on a Zarqawi-linked safehouse.



06-24-04, 07:55 AM
Darkness Hides Line Between Hunters and Hunted

Marines on night patrol, searching for insurgents on a key supply route, are extra vigilant in the battle against snipers, ambushes and mines.

By John Balzar, Times Staff Writer

IN WESTERN IRAQ — The Milky Way arcs overhead: a sweep of stars so vivid as to resemble glitter shot across the bone-dry desert sky. For all its dazzle, though, the galaxy offers barely a flicker of gauzy light to the sand and rock below.

In military terms, there is only 1% illumination of the battlefield

Time to go hunting. Time to be hunted.

The impending transfer of governing authority over Iraq fades to abstraction for Marines pressing the relentless war against insurgency and terrorism in Iraq.

Marines preparing to strike "outside the wire" of their bases believe that insurgents especially prize the killing of a Marine as a way to bloody America's pride.

As midnight approaches, two thoughts gather in the mind of squad leader Sgt. Andrew Hewuse of Colorado Springs. The first concern is the men of his patrol — his 17 young enlisted Marines. Hewuse, a fleshy, big-smiling, slightly rumpled man, served three years in Army artillery and has put in four years as a Marine infantryman. Preparing for combat patrol is a process of assembling weaponry and equipment, checking radio frequencies, plotting routes, rehearsing procedures, planning for the worst and psyching up Marines who have been in the fight for months.

The second thought in the sergeant's mind is personal.

"I hope to God I make it out of this patrol alive." He continues: "It's a roller coaster out there. You never know. You drive through town and people are waving. Why are they waving? Are they saying hello? Are they signaling to an ambush ahead?"

The primary mission now for Marines spread out across the desert and unstable cities west of Baghdad is to prepare police and civil defense forces for the return of Iraqi sovereignty Wednesday. The other half of the job is to hunt the insurgents.

It is a round-the-clock battle against ambushes, snipers, landmines and, most frequently, against those who almost daily plant 155-millimeter artillery shells, or bundles of shells, along supply routes.

At 12:56 a.m., weapons bristling and rounds chambered, Hewuse directs his patrol through the sandbagged gate. He rides in the first of three menacing turret-mounted Humvee "gun trucks." A troop-carrier Humvee fills out the patrol — Hunter 3 squad of Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, from Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Hewuse reports via radio: "We have departed friendly lines." In the distance, towns and villages along the Euphrates River glow like distant campfires. Otherwise, darkness is as complete as the inside of a suitcase.

Five hours ago and only a few miles away, three Marines were wounded by a remotely triggered roadside bomb — what is known as an improvised explosive device. In just a few hours, on the same road Hewuse will travel twice, another IED will explode and kill three Iraqis.

The terms of engagement against patrols are almost always the foe's to decide.

Marines vary their tactics against an enemy that is likewise fluid in the struggle for surprise and advantage. Tonight, Hewuse decides to run his lead truck with headlights on, as if he is a lone civilian traveling a highway. The rest of the squad follows at intervals in darkness, ready to pounce.

Hewuse sits in the front passenger seat of his dirty, beat-up truck. This is his 73rd combat patrol in Iraq. His driver is Cpl. Estefan Encarnacion of San Jose, Costa Rica, who has served 3½ years in the Marines. In the backseat rides Pfc. Mike Sumner of Pekin, Ill. In the turret, behind a heavy .50-caliber machine gun, is Pfc. David Lara of Tehachapi, Calif. Sumner and Lara have exactly one year and a day in the Marine Corps. The last seat belongs to a reporter.

The names of each person on patrol have been recorded at headquarters, along with Social Security numbers and blood types. With dark humor, the Marines call this the "kill roster."

Hunter 3's route tonight covers a stretch of Highway 12, the primary road between Baghdad and the Syrian border. For the Marine Corps this is the main supply artery for the western reaches of the country; for insurgents it is a prime supply route and gateway into the country. At night, it is the front line in the fight over Iraq's future.

Hunter 3 will patrol the two-lane asphalt highway until dawn. Craters pockmark both shoulders of the highway and many of the small bridges. The good news is that most of these explosives missed their targets, or they were discovered and detonated before they had a chance to kill. The bad news is that insurgents are becoming more sophisticated.

The inside of a Humvee is cramped, claustrophobic — more so in the dark. On the other hand, the hours after midnight offer respite from the searing sun. The night air along the Euphrates is mild. At another time under different circumstances, one would describe it as delightfully so.

Urgent voices.

Hewuse and his driver see a mysterious flashing light in the village just ahead. Is a lookout signaling their approach to men waiting in ambush? Stomachs knot.

There is nothing to do but press ahead, the senses even more vigilant.

The diesel engine growls. The wind adds to the roar inside the Humvee. Marines of Hunter 3 gulp water against dehydration. Food is stashed in the back, but no one thinks of eating.

Five pairs of eyes scan the road where it is illuminated by headlights, looking for any sign of a fresh hole where an explosive might may be planted. Other Marines use night-vision equipment to scan beyond the headlights for movement, for men spread out in an ambush, for one crouched behind a rock who might be holding a radio transmitter that would trigger a roadside bomb.

How much adrenaline can the body produce? For how long?

"That's what I don't like." Hewuse points to a pile of dirt alongside the road. Marines recently found six artillery shells buried in such a mound — just at the height of a vehicle window. They were wired to explode but did not.

In the distance, someone has sent a parachute flare into the sky. Perhaps Iraqis celebrating a wedding. Perhaps other Marines on patrol, trying to illuminate dangerous ground around them.

"Somebody's into it out there," remarks the driver.

The road becomes even spookier. Hewuse points out strings of depressions alongside the pavement. Here, the insurgents buried "daisy chains" of 155-mm shells — six, eight or 10 of them spaced out to slaughter a whole patrol. Sometimes a dummy IED is set, with the intent of bringing the Marines to a halt inside the kill zone.

At 2:56 a.m., driver Encarnacion locks the brakes. The Humvee lurches. Off to the right, the headlights bring into view a bulging sack atop a fresh pile of dirt.

"IED!" someone yells. Encarnacion cannot stop in time. The heavy gun truck skids, but toward the danger. He moves his foot to the accelerator and stomps. The Humvee swerves left and forward, the diesel engine screeching. Hewuse radios to those behind him. The patrol skids to a stop. The roadside sack and pile of dirt separate Hewuse from the other three trucks.

This is a choke point on the highway, adjacent to a bend in the Euphrates. Hewuse and others study the danger from a distance. From a nearby marsh, the song-croak of frogs provides a strangely placid counterpoint to the terror of the moment. On the river, three boats are visible through night-vision goggles, and they are speeding away — evidence of enemy activity.

Hewuse approaches the mound. No wires. It appears to be a bag of cement that has been left behind by road workers.

The patrol resumes. Heart rates slowly return to a combat norm, whatever that is. But ahead is a town known to harbor insurgents. There is a natural sulfur seep here. Noses burn with the smell of rotten eggs. Wild dogs chase the patrol. The town is dangerous also because roadside shacks, abandoned cars and trash heaps offer perfect camouflage for a roadside bomb.

These Marines roll into the belly of it.

During the day, other Marines bring playground equipment to schools in these towns and villages. They provide professional training for Iraqi police officers. They repair water treatment plants and electricity stations. At night, though, they count on few friends here.

At 4:20 a.m., another scare. As they approach a village, all the lights darken. It could be just a commonplace power outage. Or it could be the start of an ambush. Hewuse stiffens. His Marines grip their weapons. Again, they must push ahead.

No ambush tonight.

Heading home now, Hunter 3 detours to a forward operating base. The men have been asked to take a package back to headquarters. The package turns out to be a trash bag of clean underwear for three Marines wounded hours earlier in an IED attack.

Hunter 3 enters the gate of the headquarters base as the stars vanish and the sun lights the horizon with the dull wheat-color of dawn.

How does Hewuse feel?

"You breathe easier, that's all I can say."

But not for long.

Less than 18 hours later, Hunter 3 is back on patrol, Hewuse's 74th. His lead gun truck drives over a mine. Hewuse, Encarnacion, Sumner and Lara are wounded and evacuated. A Marine in the rear passenger seat is killed.

Officers and noncommissioned officers gather. "We have to be the strong ones," they are told. "We can't cry. We're the ones who have to pick these Marines up and keep them going. It's the nature of what we do."

Another officer tries to speak but cannot. He squeezes his hands over his eyes, and the others turn away.



06-24-04, 09:18 AM
Armored guardians of Iraq's Route 1

By Charlie Coon, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Wednesday, June 23, 2004

NEAR FALLUJAH, Iraq — The 20-mile stretch of highway between Abu Ghraib and Fallujah is a prime target for people who want to kill U.S. troops and disrupt convoys by planting bombs and firing rockets.

Every day and night, the Marines of Company D, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, go out looking for bombs and bad guys.

It’s their job to make Route 1 safe for truckers delivering supplies to U.S. bases.

The bad guys are invited to show their faces, but they rarely do.

“We can tear some stuff up,” said Cpl. Jermaine Whitley, 21, of Jacksonville, Fla. “We look forward to that kind of stuff. It makes the day go faster and gives us something to talk about when we get back to base.”

They are certainly capable. The Marines patrol in vehicles the Iraqis nicknamed “destroyers” during the first part of the war as U.S. forces moved north from Kuwait to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

The Light Armored Vehicles, or LAV-25s, feature 25 mm Bushmaster chain-fed guns that fire devastating one-inch thick projectiles. Each vehicle carries seven infantry-trained Marines hungry to show their power. The platoons typically go out in groups of four LAV-25s.

On most patrols, they find nothing. It can be grueling work, especially when it is performed under the hot, Iraqi sun.

During a six-hour patrol earlier this week, one of the 2nd LAR’s platoons came up empty. The wind blew nonstop at 30 mph or more and felt like a hairdryer set on “hot.” The flour-like dirt that covers Iraq flew in the wind and stuck to sweaty faces.

Inside the LAVs, where the drivers and scouts hunched for two hours or more without a break, the temperature reached 126 degrees, according to one digital thermometer.

“It’s miserable,” said Lance Cpl. John Martuszewski, a 24-year-old gunner from Riverside, Calif. “I’m not saying you can’t tolerate it or take it, but it’s not enjoyable, I’ll tell you that.

“You put on the same pair of cammies for a week straight that are soaked stiff with your sweat and salt. The next day we put them on and do it again.

“It’s our job. It’s what we do; it’s what we signed up for.”

The Marines try to strike a balance between respecting the privacy of the Iraqi people who live along the route and checking out suspicious-looking activities.

At one point while the patrol was parked at a vantage point a half-mile from the highway, a car was spotted pulling up to a house near the highway. Through binoculars, the Marines saw its driver drop off a package and quickly drive away.

A group of scouts ran across the desert to the house to check it out. They didn’t enter the house but saw nothing fishy from the outside.

The troops are trained to notice anything suspicious, such as someone digging a hole where there is no farm or someone tinkering on a roadside vehicle who suddenly stops when he sees the patrol approaching.

Stuff does happen, though.

A few days earlier, a motorcyclist sped up to a U.S. patrol and tossed a grenade into one of its vehicles, injuring three troops. A mine recently exploded under another vehicle on a side road.

Occasionally the Marines from the 2nd LAR get to go on raids, participate in light attacks and serve as infantry support for larger operations.

When one patrol returns to the base at Camp Baharia, located on the southeast edge of Fallujah, another heads out to take up the job of highway patrol, its Marines hoping to find a bomb or a bad guy.

“I think our job is to make sure nothing happens,” said Lance Cpl. Ray Parra, 20, of Phoenix. “If nothing happens, it’s a good day.”


Charlie Coon / S&S
Lance Cpl. Ray Parra, 20, of Phoenix, and Company D, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, patrols Route 1 from atop a Light Armored Vehicle. In the background is the vehicle’s commander, Cpl. Tyler Valks, 22, of Denver.


Charlie Coon / S&S
A Light Armored Vehicle-25 from the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion takes a ramp off Route 1 during a patrol.


Charlie Coon / S&S
Cpl. Tyler Valks, 22, of Denver, Colo., and D Company of the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, on patrol in Iraq.



06-24-04, 09:19 AM
Chamber sends packages to five Marines in Iraq


Five Marines in Iraq will soon be getting care packages loaded withmuch needed items to make them and others in their unit feel a little more comfortable.

The 2003-04 Leadership Class of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, Inc., mailed 27 packages Thursday to a squad stationed in the southeastern region of Iraq.

Due to security reasons, all military care packages must be mailed to an individual soldier. The five soldiers, who were chosen by the chamber, will then distribute the items to others in their unit.

The packages included sunscreen, bug spray, powdered Gatorade, soap, DVDs and food items.

Email this story

Originally published Monday, June 21, 2004



06-24-04, 09:32 AM
Posted on Wed, Jun. 23, 2004

Iraq combat: What it's really like over there


Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - The Internet, which fills our inboxes with spam and scams every day and keeps our delete keys shiny, occasionally delivers a real keeper, such as the words below, which were written by a graduate of West Point, Class of 2003, who's now at war in Iraq.

We tracked down the author, who gave us permission to quote from his letter so long as we didn't reveal his name.

Old soldiers in the Civil War coined a phrase for green troops who survived their first taste of battle: "He has seen the elephant." This Army lieutenant sums up the combat experience better than many a grizzled veteran:

"Well, I'm here in Iraq, and I've seen it, and done it. I've seen everything you've ever seen in a war movie. I've seen cowardice; I've seen heroism; I've seen fear; and I've seen relief. I've seen blood and brains all over the back of a vehicle, and I've seen men bleed to death surrounded by their comrades. I've seen people throw up when it's all over, and I've seen the same shell-shocked look in 35-year-old experienced sergeants as in 19-year-old privates.

"I've heard the screams - 'Medic! Medic!' I've hauled dead civilians out of cars, and I've looked down at my hands and seen them covered in blood after putting some poor Iraqi civilian in the wrong place at the wrong time into a helicopter. I've seen kids with gunshot wounds, and I've seen kids who've tried to kill me.

"I've seen men tell lies to save lives: 'What happened to Sergeant A.?' The reply: 'C'mon man, he's all right - he's wondering if you'll be OK - he said y'all will have a beer together when you get to Germany.' SFC A. was lying 15 feet away on the other side of the bunker with two medics over him desperately trying to get either a pulse or a breath. The man who asked after SFC A. was himself bleeding from two gut wounds and rasping as he tried to talk with a collapsed lung. One of them made it; one did not.

"I've run for cover as fast as I've ever run - I'll hear the bass percussion thump of mortar rounds and rockets exploding as long as I live. I've heard the shrapnel as it shredded through the trailers my men live in and over my head. I've stood, gasping for breath, as I helped drag into a bunker a man so pale and badly bloodied I didn't even recognize him as a soldier I've known for months. I've run across open ground to find my soldiers and make sure I had everyone.

"I've raided houses, and shot off locks, and broken in windows. I've grabbed prisoners, and guarded them. I've looked into the faces of men who would have killed me if I'd driven past their IED (improvised explosive device) an hour later. I've looked at men who've killed two people I knew, and saw fear.

"I've seen that, sadly, that men who try to kill other men aren't monsters, and most of them aren't even brave - they aren't defiant to the last - they're ordinary people. Men are men, and that's it. I've prayed for a man to make a move toward the wire, so I could flip my weapon off safe and put two rounds in his chest - if I could beat my platoon sergeant's shotgun to the punch. I've been wanted dead, and I've wanted to kill.

"I've sworn at the radio when I heard one of my classmate's platoon sergeants call over the radio: 'Contact! Contact! IED, small arms, mortars! One KIA, three WIA!' Then a burst of staccato gunfire and a frantic cry: 'Red 1, where are you? Where are you?' as we raced to the scene ... knowing full well we were too late for at least one of our comrades.

"I've seen a man without the back of his head and still done what I've been trained to do - 'medic!' I've cleaned up blood and brains so my soldiers wouldn't see it - taken pictures to document the scene, like I'm in some sort of bizarre cop show on TV.

"I've heard gunfire and hit the ground, heard it and closed my Humvee door, and heard it and just looked and figured it was too far off to worry about. I've seen men stacked up outside a house, ready to enter - some as scared as they could be, and some as calm as if they were picking up lunch from McDonald's. I've laughed at dead men, and watched a sergeant on the ground, laughing so hard he was crying, because my boots were stuck in a muddy field, all the while an Iraqi corpse was not five feet from him.

"I've heard men worry about civilians, and I've heard men shrug and sum up their viewpoint in two words - 'F--- 'em.' I've seen people shoot when they shouldn't have, and I've seen my soldiers take an extra second or two, think about it, and spare somebody's life.

"I've bought drinks from Iraqis while new units watched in wonder from their trucks, pointing weapons in every direction, including the Iraqis my men were buying a Pepsi from. I've patrolled roads for eight hours at a time that combat support units spend days preparing to travel 10 miles on. I've laughed as other units sit terrified in traffic, fingers nervously on triggers, while my soldiers and I deftly whip around, drive on the wrong side of the road, and wave to Iraqis as we pass. I can recognize a Sadiqqi (Arabic for friend) from a Haji (Arabic word for someone who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca, but our word for a bad guy); I know who to point my weapons at, and who to let pass.

"I've come in from my third 18-hour patrol in as many days with a full beard and stared at a major in a pressed uniform who hasn't left the wire since we've been here, daring him to tell me to shave. He looked at me, looked at the dust and sweat and dirt on my uniform, and went back to typing at his computer.

"I've stood with my men in the mess hall, surrounded by people whose idea of a bad day in Iraq is a six-hour shift manning a radio, and watched them give us a wide berth as we swagger in, dirty, smelly, tired, but sure in our knowledge that we pull the triggers, and we do what the Army does, and they, with their clean uniforms and weapons that have never fired, support us.

"I've given a kid water and Gatorade and made a friend for life. I've let them look through my sunglasses - no one wears them in this country but us - and watched them pretend to be an American soldier - a swaggering invincible machine, secure behind his sunglasses, only because the Iraqis can't see the fear in his eyes.

"I've said it a thousand times - 'God, I hate this country.' I've heard it a million times more - 'This place sucks.' In quieter moments, I've heard more profound things: 'Sir, this is a thousand times worse than I ever thought it would be.' Or, 'My wife and Sgt. B's wife were good friends - I hope she's taking it well.'

"They say they're scared, and say they won't do this or that, but when it comes time to do it they can't let their buddies down, can't let their friends go outside the wire without them, because they know it isn't right for the team to go into the ballgame at any less than 100 percent.

"That's combat, I guess, and there's no way you can be ready for it. It just is what it is, and everybody's experience is different. Just thought you might want to know what it's really like."


Joseph L. Galloway is the senior military correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers and co-author of the national best-seller "We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young." Readers may write to him at jgalloway@krwashington.com



06-24-04, 10:04 AM
No one asked us... USMC Major's view of the War in Iraq <br />
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- <br />
No One Asked Us <br />
By Major Stan Coerr, USMCR <br />
<br />
George Bush...

06-24-04, 10:05 AM
69 Said Dead in Attacks Across Iraq

By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer

BAQOUBA, Iraq - Insurgents launched coordinated attacks against police and government buildings across Iraq (news - web sites) on Thursday, less than a week before the handover of sovereignty. The strikes killed 69 people, including three American soldiers, and wounded more than 270 people, Iraqi and U.S. officials said.

The large number of attacks, mostly directed at Iraqi security services, was a clear sign of just how powerful the insurgency in Iraq remains and could be the start of a new push to torpedo Wednesday's transfer of sovereignty to an interim transitional government.

Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said the attacks were meant "to foil the democratic process," but he said the situation was under control.

In Baghdad, the Health Ministry said at least 66 people were killed and 268 injured nationwide. However, those figures did not include U.S. dead and injured.

Some of the heaviest fighting was reported in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, where two American soldiers were killed and seven were wounded, the U.S. 1st Infantry Division said. Attackers also targeted police stations in Ramadi, Mahaweel and the northern city of Mosul, where car bombs rocked the Iraqi Police Academy, two police stations and the al-Jumhuri hospital.

Khalid Mohammed, an official at the hospital, said dozens of injured were brought there. At least 50 people died and 170 were wounded there, he said. A U.S. soldier also was killed and three were wounded in Mosul.

Mosul's governor imposed a 9 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew, and the city television station urged people to stay home for the "general good."

In other attacks, four Iraqi soldiers were killed in an explosion near a checkpoint manned by Iraqi and American soldiers in the southern Baghdad district of Dora. Three U.S. soldiers tended to what appeared to be a wounded American soldier on the road. The soldier's helmet lay nearby. Black smoke and flames shot up from a burning pickup truck.

Also in Baghdad, insurgents attacked four Iraqi police stations using mortars, hand grenades and AK-47s on Wednesday and Thursday. Police fought back and defended the stations with minimal assistance from coalition forces, a U.S. statement said.

A statement quoted Thursday by a Saudi Web site claimed responsibility for the Baqouba attacks in the name of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who said the insurgents belong to his Tawhid and Jihad movement. He called on residents to "comply with the instructions of resistance."

The statement appealed to residents to remain in their homes "because these days are going to witness campaigns and attacks against the occupation troops and those who stand beside them."

U.S. aircraft dropped three 500-pound bombs against an insurgent position near the city soccer stadium in Baqouba, said Maj. Neal E. O'Brien, a U.S. 1st Infantry Division spokesman. Insurgents roamed the city with rocket launchers and automatic weapons and occupied two police stations.

Insurgents destroyed the home of the provincial police chief, O'Brien said.

Doctors struggled to deal with a steady stream of wounded as civilian cars and pickup trucks carrying wounded raced to the door of the main hospital's emergency ward. Corridors were spattered with blood.

"May God destroy America and all those who cooperate with it!" one man screamed in the corridor.

Another man carried the body of a young man shot in the back of the head and cried, "Oh God! Abbas is dead!"

The city, which has a mix of Sunni and Shiite Muslims, was almost deserted by late morning. U.S. gunships flew low over the city, some swooping down on suspected rebel hideouts in palm groves.

Some motorists flew white flags from atop their cars to ensure their safety. U.S. tanks, some firing their machine guns, moved into the city center by the afternoon.

Police were not seen on the streets, but government buildings were being heavily guarded.

U.S. officials projected calm.

"Coalition forces feel confident with the situation," said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, coalition deputy operations chief.

Explosions and shelling shook Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, as armed men ran through the streets, witnesses said. Residents said U.S. forces were shelling from positions outside the city and helicopters were in the skies, but the U.S. military could not immediately be reached for comment.

One Marine helicopter made an emergency landing, but no one was wounded.

U.S. forces manning a checkpoint opened fire on a local government convoy that included Fallujah's mayor and police chief, who were trying to meet the Americans to discuss the violence, an Iraqi police lieutenant said on condition of anonymity. The convoy turned back, and no injuries were reported.

A motorist who drove through Fallujah Thursday morning said Iraqi police and insurgents were cooperating, chatting amicably along the streets, and seemed to be working together.

U.S. forces launched two airstrikes on Fallujah in recent days against what they said were safehouses of al-Zarqawi, whose group claimed responsibility for the beheading of American hostage Nicholas Berg and South Korean hostage Kim Sun-il, whose decapitated body was found Tuesday between Baghdad and Fallujah.

On Tuesday, an audiotape posted on an Islamic Web site attributed to al-Zarqawi threatened to assassinate Allawi.

U.S. Marines besieged Fallujah for three weeks in April after four American civilian contractors working for the Blackwater USA security company were ambushed and killed, their bodies mutilated and hung from a Euphrates river bridge.

The city has been relatively calm since Marines announced a deal to end the siege that created the Fallujah Brigade, commanded by officers from Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s army.

Though the Fallujah Brigade patrols the city, hard-line clerics and fighters who held off the Marines still control the town.

In other attacks on security forces, insurgents wearing black and using masks fired rocket-propelled grenades to attack two police stations in the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi 60 miles west of Baghdad, police said.

"We were inside the al-Qataneh police station and suddenly a very heavy explosion happened," said 1st Lt. Ahmed Sami. "We discovered later on that the station was attacked from all around."

He said the station was destroyed in the initial blast. Seven people were killed and 13 were wounded, hospital officials said.

Another group attacked the Farook police station in Ramadi, also with rocket-propelled grenades, Sami said. In a third assault, insurgents attacked a Ramadi government building, destroying several police cars.

And in Mahaweel, a bomb exploded outside the police station, killing one officer and wounding six in the town 40 miles from Baghdad.



06-24-04, 10:56 AM

Congratulations from near and far

Hoover High's Class of 2004 graduates during ceremony on school's football field, drawing well-wishes from around the world.

By Gary Moskowitz, News-Press

NORTHWEST GLENDALE — The night before her graduation from Hoover High School, Chanel Leyva got a long distance call from her boyfriend, who is stationed with the Marines in Iraq.

Her boyfriend, Joe Martinez, called at 4:30 a.m. in Iraq to congratulate her and apologize for not being there Wednesday at Hoover's 2004 graduation ceremony.

Leyva was among 551 seniors to wear a purple or white cap and gown and graduate from Hoover this year, officials said.

"My boyfriend is one of the main people I wanted to be here, but he called from Iraq to say he misses me and that he's proud of me," Leyva said. "Graduating from high school is exciting. There were struggles here and there, but you have to put yourself into it to get it done."

At the ceremony, school officials announced that Glenn Kim was this year's valedictorian. Alina Hunanyan, Karineh Parsanian and Anna Schnitger were the school's salutatorians.

During her graduation speech, Annis Khani encouraged students to remember what they learned from their time at Hoover.

"Remain true to who you are," Annis said. "Don't measure your worth by what you have, but by what you have given to others."

Charisse Brown-Aintablian watched eagerly from the sideline of the school's football field to see her son, Samuel Aintablian, receive his high school diploma.

"This is a very, very proud moment for us," Brown-Aintablian said. "My son is from an interracial marriage, Armenian and black, and that's a big thing to handle. And I think with so many kids not graduating at all, all of these kids here graduating are setting a good example for all the younger kids in the audience. It's a big accomplishment to get through high school."

Jee Kim will head East this fall to attend New York University. He plans to study aerospace engineering.

"It feels like we are all adults today," said Kim, 18. "After high school, it's like the real world, and nobody's there to watch over you anymore. I'll miss my friends the most."



06-24-04, 11:37 AM
General Predicts Rise in Violence <br />
Remarks to Congress by Marine commander and Wolfowitz signal U.S. is revising its assessment of the Iraqi insurgency's strategy and...

06-24-04, 01:02 PM
June 23, 2004

Lejeune Marines, sailors to receive citations for heroic actions in Iraq

By C. Mark Brinkley
Times staff writer

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — Hundreds of Camp Lejeune Marines and sailors are to be honored Thursday for heroic actions during the war in Iraq.
Troops from the 2nd Marine Regiment – along with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, which was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2 for the opening phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom — will receive their Presidential Unit Citation in a 9 a.m. ceremony at the North Carolina base. Navy Secretary Gordon England approved the award Oct. 31 for I Marine Expeditionary Force and its supporting units, citing their “extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance against enemy forces” during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“This ceremony is being conducted now because the regiment wanted to wait until 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines returned from their recent deployment to Afghanistan,” said Capt. Jeff Pool, a 2nd Marine Division spokesman. “2/8 was an integral part of RCT-2.”

The award was announced in a Nov. 3 Corpswide message, MarAdmin 507/03, which includes a list of eligible units, commands and detachments. Among them are Marines and sailors with several II MEF and Reserve units that served under I MEF during the Iraq war, as well as U.S. Army and British units.

The last I MEF unit to receive the Presidential Unit Citation was the 1st Marine Division, for combat action in Vietnam during 1967-1968. The ribbon, which features three horizontal stripes of blue, gold and red, is a standout on a leatherneck’s ribbon bars, worn just after the Combat Action Ribbon and before the Joint Unit Meritorious Award.

According to the award citation, Marine units covered a distance of about 500 miles between March 21 and April 24, reaching as far north as Tikrit.

C. Mark Brinkley is the Jacksonville, N.C., bureau chief for Marine Corps Times. He can be reached at (910) 455-8354.



06-24-04, 02:59 PM
Lejeune Marines depart for duty in Iraq
June 24,2004
Mike Sherrill
Freedom ENC

JACKSONVILLE -- Goodbyes are no easier the second time.

The days and nights before are spent with family, dinners with friends, just hanging out to keep all minds off the impending months in Iraq and the uncertainty that brings.

But Wednesday, the six charter buses were impossible to ignore.

Marines, some embarking on their second trip to the war, readied their gear, hugged and said goodbyes. Families stood in silent resilience, and young wives cried.

The buses rolled away and family members waved to the heads inside the tinted windows, and some reached up to touch the bus.

More than 230 of the 950-member 1st Battalion, 8th Regiment of the 2nd Marine Division left Camp Lejeune in what will be an increasing build-up of East Coast Marines.

Family said the return home could be mid-winter. Some said seven months.

"It was hard before. This time was tough, too," Greg Russell, of Glens Falls, N.Y., said as he watched his son, Pfc. Andrew Russell, gather outside the bus for a smoke break.

"At least last year, you knew who you were shooting at."

In Andrew Russell's 28-person graduating class, four became Marines and one entered the Air Force Academy. He joined, his father said, "to be part of something bigger than himself."

Greg Russell, there Wednesday with wife Dana, had made trips to Camp Lejeune before. He was awed by the wall of welcome signs that line N.C. 24.

He gave a thin smile.

"(Andrew) gets the summer at the beach, at least, and it's a dry heat, so that's better," he said.

Cynthia Burton, of Wendell, waved a small American flag as she looked in the direction of the bus carrying her son, Lance Cpl. Marcus Burton. This is also his second trip to Iraq.

"I think they're calmer as a group. They're more relaxed. They know what to expect this time," she said.

"I'm not calm this time."

Alex Evans, 22, of Jacksonville, silently watched buses carry away both her brother and her husband of four months, who she met through her brother.

"We just found out we're expected," she said.

She too offered some humor to cut the mood. Her brother, Cpl. Romulo Jimenez, turns 21 years old on Monday, and he's "upset" he'll miss the party.

She smiled. "Not really."

While many are making a second trip, about two-thirds of the Marines deployed are going to Iraq for the first time.

Their training, more realistic this time around, benefited from the earlier deployment and was based on those experiences, Cpl. Benjamin McKee, of Virginia Beach, Va., said.

McKee, 21, who helped train these men, wanted to go, and will, after officer training.

"They're ready for this," he said. "They know what we know."

But the Marines aren't the only ones who can learn from the more-experienced.

Emily Ursprung, 19, came from Liberty, Ky., with her in-laws to watch her husband leave for the first time. The high school sweethearts met during band -- she played clarinet, he was a drummer.

"It helps when I see the older wives," Ursprung said.

"They've been through this before and know how to handle it."

Mike Sherrill can be reached at msherrill@jdnews.com



06-24-04, 07:23 PM
Local Marines coming home

MCAGCC - Even as some Marines prepared to return to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center from duty in Iraq, word was received of another who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Combat Center officials regretfully announced Monday that a Combat Center Marine died because of hostile action in the Al Anbar Province in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Marvin L. Best, 33, from Prosser, Wash., died on Sunday, June 20.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps June 8, 1989. He joined 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, as a machine gunner on Jan. 3, 2001 and deployed with that unit to Operation Iraqi Freedom II in Feb., 2004.

His awards include: The Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (3rd Award), Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Commendation (2nd Award), Navy Unit Commendation (2nd Award), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Marine Corps Recruiting Ribbon, Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Ribbon (2nd Award), Southwest Asia Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (2nd Award) United Nations Medal, War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.

Staff Sgt. Best is survived by his wife, Rachelle, and his father, William, and mother, Lois, all of Prosser, Wash.

Another four Marines were reported killed in Iraq on Monday. One of them was identified on the Department of Defense website as Lance Cpl. Pedro Contreras, 27, of Harris, Texas, June 21, who died from hostile fire in Al Anbar Province.

He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton.

On a happier note, seventy Marines, all members of the 7th Marine Regiment, were expected to return to the Combat Center from duty in support on Operation Iraqi Freedom II on Thursday evening.

Base officials said they appreciate the support from Morongo Basin residents but remind them that, due to security concerns, buses will not stop on their way through the Morongo Basin to the Combat Center. Residents are encouraged to limit their expressions of support to banners, posters, smiles and waves as buses pass.

Planning has begun on the base and in local communities for large-scale welcome home celebrations.