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thedrifter
01-09-07, 07:09 AM
9 January 2007
LUCKY EDDIE: HOW I DODGED TALIBAN BULLETS

Royal Marines from Arbroath are hunting suicide bombers in Afghanistan. JAMES LYONS joins the men from India Company.
James Lyons

BRAVE Eddie Cain can laugh in the face of danger as he and his colleagues track down the Taliban.

He cheated death twice in three days on patrol in notorious Helmand province - and he can prove it.

Showing off a hole in his shirt made by a bullet that missed his shoulder by a whisker, Eddie, 25, said: "We are marines. It is part of the brief to laugh it off.

"If you don't laugh, you would cry and you can't do that out here."

Eddie, from Balloch, Dunbartonshire, and his fellow marines from Arbroath-based 45 Commando pride themselves on their sense of humour as they take on the fanatics in the frontline town of Garmsir.

Deep in the south of lawless Helmand province, it is the closest settlement to Pakistan, the key source of terrorist supplies and volunteers.

On Christmas Eve, the marines attacked a terrorist compound but the rebels put up stiff resistance.

Eddie and a comrade mounted the ridge of a hill overlooking the buildings but were beaten back by the fierce fire.

At the end of the 10-hour battle, his pal spotted the bullet hole in the left shoulder of his shirt.

The round had passed clean through the material bunched above his arm. In the heat of the battle, he hadn't even noticed.

Eddie added: "It was a bit of a shock at the time but it was a laugh because I had got back in one piece."

He still hasn't told his fiancee what happened but has kept the shirt to show her when he gets home.

She also won't want to hear that, just two days before the near miss, he was left with just a nasty bruise when he was hit by a ricochet during an intense firefight in Garmsir.

A bullet whistled past his commander's head before hitting a blast wall and slamming into his arm. Eddie said: "The boss thought I'd been shot."

Taliban recruits flock to Helmand, he says, to hone their deadly skills.

He added: "They come to prove themselves then move to other parts of Afghanistan.

"But they don't all make it back." Eddie is due to return home in a few weeks but admits he is grateful for his stint in Helmand.

He said: "These days, it's all 'over-the-horizon' fighting. But this was World War I and World War II tactics, which is a welcome change.

"The Taliban have trenches and use smoke and torch signals."

Fellow marine Mark Dodsworth was almost killed three times during his two-week tour in Garmsir.

Like Eddie, the 22-year-old, from Elgin, Moray, has developed a dark sense of humour.

He said: "We went down just as a ceasefire was done, so we weren't expecting any action. Three days in, the ceasefire was broken.

"That was when we started to enjoy ourselves."

His first close call came in an ambush on a town centre checkpoint. Mark stayed with a Land Rover, using its heavy machine gun to give his comrades cover as they climbed a roof to spot the enemy.

A bullet then whistled over his head.

He said: "I was fine until that round. That was closer than I would like."

Days later, Mark had his second escape during a patrol on "Taliban hill" - which overlooks a no-man's land between the area controlled by coalition troops and the zone held by the terrorists.

A Taliban mortar landed just five metres from Mark, who was saved by a crumbling mud and straw wall.

He said: "Mud blew everywhere and there was a big cloud of black smoke.

"A mortar landing or being shot at - you can't train for that. But we know we can't run scared. You have to get on with the job."

Later that night another mortar struck as he stood guard in a "sangar" - a reinforced sentry position.

Again, he escaped unharmed.

Mark still takes a ribbing from his mates about his luck, or lack of it, and says such "banter" helps them soldier on despite the risks. He joked: "People say they do not like being on duty with me but I will be doing the lottery when I get back."

Iain Urquart was alongside Mark during the ambush and first mortar attack.

The 20-year-old Marine, from Portree, on the Isle of Skye, only completed basic training four months ago.

He opted to join 45 Commando "partly because I knew it was the only chance to come out here".

His time in Garmsir make him far more experienced than many of his older comrades.

He said: "I could have been in for 16 years and not had the chance to have an experience like that. So it was great.

"I felt a bit scared on Taliban hill. I think you would be pretty stupid not to be."

Both men are now back at the British HQ in Lashkar Gah, 70 miles north, where the chief threat is suicide bombers.

However, they are looking forward to heading back to the town "fingers crossed", according to Mark.

He said: "It is very good to fight back. They kill themselves here. Down there you can fight back.

"We're going back, fingers crossed. It is something we want to do, that is why we joined up. Some people have waited years for that.

Ellie

thedrifter
01-09-07, 07:36 AM
Sniper celebrates with cigar after killing Taliban officer
Scotsman ^ | 1/9/07 | Jude Shareen

A ROYAL Marine sniper from Edinburgh has described marking his first kill with a cigar after "slotting" a Taliban commander from more than 1000 metres.

British troops fighting in southern Afghanistan are embroiled in some of the most intense combat involving UK forces since the Second World War.

Meanwhile, Nato-led troops and Afghan police killed two suspected Taliban militants and detained four others in the latest round of fighting, a police official said today.

Crackshot Royal Marine (45 Commando) sniper Dallas Turner, 27, was among the soldiers who described their dramatic stories in their own words.

He said: "We were down in Garmsir [southern Helmand] on December 21 and we were in full view of the Taliban front line.

"They were firing at us all day but we could see only their heads pop up from time to time moving about their positions.

"They were hiding in abandoned compounds in the suburbs. I fired three rounds from an Afghan National Police sangar [sentry post] but I didn't hit anyone.

"The next day they [the Taliban] were back at the same position and one walked into view from behind a wall.

"He was just standing there. It was beautiful. He was only exposed a few seconds.

"I didn't need to adjust my rifle sights as they were set right from the previous day.

"Just like in training, I breathed slowly, inhaled and pulled the trigger.

"The 338 calibre bullet travels at about 800 metres a second so it would have taken just over a second to reach him.

"He was hit full in the upper chest. It took him a couple of seconds to drop but I knew he was slotted [dead].

"If one of these big 338 rounds hits you in the chest, even from that distance, it will cause a lethal amount of damage.

"I just graduated from sniper school late last year after nine weeks' training.

"It was my first kill. I had a cigar afterwards. I didn't lose any sleep about it. He was a Taliban commander after all."

The Taliban militants were killed and captured after ambushing a joint Nato and Afghan patrol in Mizan district in Zabul province on Sunday, said Younis Akhunzada, the district police chief.

There had been no casualties among Nato or Afghan troops, he said. It is not known whether the troops were British.

Police also recovered four AK-47 assault rifles and two rocket-propelled grenade.

In a recent four day operation, codenamed Operation Clay, Royal Marine Commandos wiped out a vital Taliban training camp, killing dozens of fighters.

The force succeeded in securing a safe passage to a mountain dam - once the biggest source of electricity in the whole of Afghanistan.

In dramatic scenes caught on army cameras, the Marines engaged Afghan fighters as they waded through a river.

Only one Marine was injured after he was shot in the hand. Also on Sunday, a roadside bomb ripped through a vehicle in eastern Afghanistan, killing a woman, her two newborn babies and the children's grandmother.

The father of the twins and the vehicle's driver also were wounded in the blast.

The twins were born on Saturday and the family was taking them back to their village.

It was not immediately clear why the vehicle was targeted.

Militants usually use roadside bombs to attack Afghan and foreign troops on patrol.

Ellie

DWG
01-09-07, 07:54 AM
Good on the Brits! US Marine ETT teams in Afghanistan also report a lot of success over there-Our press just doesn't report it!