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11-29-04, 05:51 PM #1
Assaultmen keep operation in Fallujah moving forward
FALLUJAH, Iraq (Nov. 28, 2004) -- Running down the streets of Fallujah to their next objective, Marines come to a barrier blocking their point of entry and shout ASSAULT! Three Marines alongside second squad sprint up to the front line, taking a knee behind a pile of rubble. KABOOM! A five foot hole for the Marines to climb through now lies in the center of the wall.
When the line encounters an obstacle, they call for the assault team to clear the way. Armed with an 88 millimeter MK-153 SMAW (Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon) Rocket Launcher and various demolitions, very few items can stand up to their firepower.
“The platoon feels a lot better about going in to clear a building after they’ve shot a round inside,” said 1st Lt. Travis Fuller, the 3rd platoon commander for Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. “Any building we’ve had to enter or breach we used our assaultmen. They’ve been a huge asset.”
Because every situation calls for specific actions, the assault team carries three types of rounds, each weighing 13 lbs: the anti-armor round, which can penetrate 20 to 24 inches of homogeneous steel; the dual mode round, which can penetrate 7 feet of sand, 12 inches of brick or eight inches of concrete; and the N-E (noval explosive) rounds, when exploding creates a fireball, incinerating everything inside.
“We’re the big guns of the company,” said Cpl. Steven Ullom, an assault section leader attached to Charlie Co., 1/3. At negative 183 decibels, the SMAW is the loudest weapon organic to the infantry.”
Because each round carries a deafening blast when fired, their job has an occupational hazard if the proper precautions aren’t taken.
“If you don’t wear earplugs you’ll go deaf for a while or you’re ears will start bleeding,” said Ullom.
Working with C-4 and TNT on a daily basis has also taught them some interesting ways to get their job done.
“When it comes to demo, nothing stops us,” said Lance Cpl. Anthony Johnson, 2nd squad assault team leader. “You’re only limited to your imagination. If assaultmen are along for the ride nothing can stop the line. Any obstacle we can take out, no problem.”
Before graduating the School of Infantry as a qualified 0351 assaultman, one of the many items they have to memorize is the weak points of 40 different vehicles.
“There’s a lot of knowledge that goes into being an assaultman,” said Lance Cpl. Evan Fernandez, an assault gunner attached to Charlie Co., 1/3. “That’s what I take pride in my job. We’re the jack of all trades.”
Few Marines carry the firepower that assaultmen fire from their shoulders, which is one reason why some service members are drawn to the military occupation.
“Being able to send a rocket into an enemy stronghold and watch the explosion is the favorite part of my job,” said Fernandez. “It’s fun, but it’s also very important. The line looks to us to take down anything that gets in their way.”
While assaultmen have enough explosives to demolish an entire enemy position, they know the Marines to the right and left ensure their mission accomplishment.
“We’re here to blow stuff up and we love every opportunity to do so, but we couldn’t do our job without the security provided by the guys around us,” said Ullom.
All Marine! All The Time!
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