16 July 2006

B36 News - 16 July 2006

The second edition of B36 Video News will be published shortly. Until then, here's the good news!

Warrior
This guy is a warrior. With several bullet holes in his body he signs up for more.
His platoon was on patrol when it surprised a group of terrorists preparing to attack a nearby checkpoint. The Soldiers came under intense automatic weapons fire from both sides of a road - some from as close as 15 feet away.

Caldwell ordered his Soldiers to engage the insurgents.

During the battle, Caldwell was shot through both forearms but continued to fight.

After the firefight he was evacuated to Forward Operating Base Falcon for emergency treatment.
Caldwell was then transported to the 10th CSH in Baghdad where Lt. Col. James Love, his battalion commander, and other members of his unit visited him.

"Sir, I was supposed to re-enlist today. I want to re-enlist before I leave," he said to Love.
The day before the patrol, he had asked a sergeant in his unit to schedule his re-enlistment ceremony to begin another six years of service.
Great Minds?
By an interesting coincidence I came across this story linked on the MNF-I web page titled, "Winning in Iraq", spooky huh. The article was written by a guy back in the states and does a good job of previewing my paper with the same title. Just for the record, I first began to work on my paper on 15 June 2006 and this article was published a day later on the 16th.

Japanese Public Opinion
The Japanese constitution strictly prohibits the government from deploying offensive combat troops. Dispite this, PM Koizumi deployed troops to the southern province of Muthanna which was recently transfered back into Iraqi control and now these troops are being sent home. A poll was conducted and it was found that 59% of the Japanese public thinks that sending troops to Iraq was the right decision.

Rifle Recovered
An M40A1 sniper rifle was recently recovered from a terrorist. The rifle once belonged to Marines from 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 known as the "Magnificent Bastards" who were killed in action over two years ago and has since been in the hands of the insurgancy. That was until Marine snipers from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment shot and killed the terrorist who took it.
Marine snipers from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment shot and killed an insurgent sniper and spotter preparing to shoot at passing Marines, June 16. And the insurgents were going to use a stolen Marine sniper rifle for the attack.

That rifle – an M-40A1 – belonged to the “Magnificent Bastards” of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, a battalion within the Regimental Combat Team 5 family. It was taken by insurgents when a team of four Marines were killed in a rooftop outpost June 21, 2004 in Ramadi.

Nearly two years to the day, Sgt. Maj. James E. Booker, the battalion’s sergeant major during their tour in Ramadi, said the news “sends a chill down my spine.”
(full story by SGT Mark Oliva posted in comments)

2 Comments:

Blogger bandit.three.six said...

Written by SGT Mark Oliva

Marine snipers from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment shot and killed an insurgent sniper and spotter preparing to shoot at passing Marines, June 16. And the insurgents were going to use a stolen Marine sniper rifle for the attack.

That rifle – an M-40A1 – belonged to the “Magnificent Bastards” of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, a battalion within the Regimental Combat Team 5 family. It was taken by insurgents when a team of four Marines were killed in a rooftop outpost June 21, 2004 in Ramadi.

Nearly two years to the day, Sgt. Maj. James E. Booker, the battalion’s sergeant major during their tour in Ramadi, said the news “sends a chill down my spine.”

“It makes me feel real good to know a brother sniper got final revenge,” said Booker, in a phone interview from his post as the Marine detachment sergeant major at Ft. Sill, Okla. “I really respect those young studs to do what they did.”

Booker should know. Aside from leading his Marines through Ramadi, he’s a 20-year sniper himself, first acquiring the skill in 1986. He later led 1st Marine Division School’s Scout-Sniper School.

And Booker knew the four Marines killed on the rooftop that day. Lance Cpl. Deshon Otey was the sole survivor of an ambush that killed his entire squad in April 2004. Lance Cpl. Juan Lopez was a combat replacement, pulled in to beef up the ranks.

Lance Cpl. Pedro Contreras “was a good doggone kid,” Booker said. “He and I got in a gunfight together.”

The final member was Cpl. Tommy Parker Jr., the team’s only trained sniper.

“I can see it like the day I walked up there,” said Booker, a 44-year-old from Waco, Texas. He said they believed the team was killed around 10:40 a.m. After missing radio checks, a quick reaction force was dispatched.

“We were there within an hour of (insurgents) filming it,” he said. The video of the dead Marines was already playing across Arabic-language news channels.

A lot of confusion has surrounded that day. What is known is radio checks were logged from the time the team left their forward operating base around 1 a.m. until 7:30 the next morning, the last time indicated in the logbook found in Contreras’ hand. They were found dead, blood pooled on the flat rooftop. A short wall surrounded the entire roof and a single staircase led to the top. They were found stripped of their weapons – two sniper rifles, four M-16A4’s and a radio and thermal sight.

The rifle that was the extension of Parker was gone. He and his team were killed and there were no clear answers as to who killed them or what happened to their weapons.

“That’s sacred, the relationship you have with that thing,” Booker explained. “Parker shot thousands of rounds through that rifle.”

Cpl. Angel S. Villalobos, a 23-year-old from Taft, Texas, with RCT-5’s Personnel Security Detachment, was a Magnificent Bastard in Ramadi in 2004. He remembered the day clearly. It was the day before he himself was wounded.

“I wondered if it was this rifle that did it,” Villalobos said. “We were going through Ramadi, knocking down every door trying to find it.”

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew R. Campanano, a 26-year-old from Allentown, Pa., is serving with RCT-5 and saw the four Marines often. They lined up – scout snipers and the aid station’s hospital corpsmen – alongside each other in formations.

“The guys who got this back, they’re great,” Campanano said. “These are the guys fighting this war out here.”

Villalobos held the rifle in his hands and fell silent. He held it low, cradling it and examined the chipped paint jobs applied by Marines over the years. The Unertl scope was missing, replaced by a Tasco, but otherwise, the rifle was in good working order.

“It means a lot knowing we got our rifle back because now they can’t use it against us,” Villalobos said. “I’m glad to know they got it back, but it brings up a lot of questions. It makes you wonder if they’re the ones who might have taken it.”

The rifle’s long journey back into the hands of Marines from 5th Marine Regiment wasn’t lost on any of the former Magnificent Bastards. Including Master Sgt. Rod B. Schlosser, the regiment’s assistant operations chief. He was the company gunnery sergeant for Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment in Ramadi.

The rifle was on his inventory and he cared for the four Marines.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Schlosser, a 38-year-old from Steubenville, Ohio. “You’re first thought is on the loss of the Marines. But you’re reminded to be thankful for the skills of the Marines today to bring closure to this.”

Schlosser said he often thought about the missing weapon, knowing the effect a sniper has on the battlefield. He also knew the insurgents had one of the finest rifles in their hands – and it was a Marine rifle, his Marines’ rifle.

“It gets under your skin,” he explained. “The most important thing is knowing it’s not in the hands of the enemy. There’s gratitude for the 3/5 Marines, for the lives they’ve saved taking it out of the enemy’s hands.”

Lt. Col. Paul J. Kennedy was the battalion’s commander in Ramadi. He now serves at the Office of Legislative Affairs and was told right away about the rifle’s recovery.

“I was very pleased,” Kennedy said by phone. “It’s justice being carried out. The guys who perpetrated this crime should be rotting in hell and 3/5 allowed that to occur.”

Kennedy has a hunch that the Darkhorse snipers of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment got those who killed, or at least had a part in killing, his Marines.

“I don’t believe that weapon passed hands,” he said. “I think it was at least probably part of that cell. The very fact it was one of our snipers that killed theirs trying to use our rifle is poetic justice.”

Kennedy said the news wasn’t so much closure on the loss of his four Marines. They can’t be replaced and the rifle is never a replacement for the Marines. Still, it was fitting that another 5th Marine Regiment battalion recovered a rifle stolen from his Marines. It’s family matter, one battalion supporting another from the same regiment.

What will happen to the rifle is still a question to be answered. Marines from RCT-5 are tracking down which unit should own it, according to how weapons sets were passed among deploying battalions. And the M-40A1’s are being phased out for M-40A3’s, a newer version used by Marines now.

Booker said he’d hate to see the weapon go back into use, knowing insurgents used it to try, and possibly did, kill Marines.

“There are evil spirits on it,” Booker said. Instead, he thinks it should be preserved.

“I would like to see it sit in a place of honor,” he added.

Kennedy said his battalion never brought home any war trophies. There was a memorial service to honor their 35 killed in action, but no lasting memorial exists at the battalion’s headquarters.

Kennedy said this rifle might be the appropriate memorial to all his Marines killed.

“Maybe if it was hung in the battalion area,” he said. “It would be a fitting memory to those four and the rest.”

16:34  
Anonymous Janet said...

The account of the return of the sniper rifle is the definition of bitter sweet. But in this case it is also a story of justice done. God bless all the marines involved, two years ago and now.

To your happier good news: congratulations to Warrior Caldwell - what a great story!! I came to the acount of the Japanese soldiers returning to Japan and then came to your sentence about public opinion and for a moment held my breath as I read on - 59% in favor - well, of course in favor, this is GOOD NEWS! Shows how conditioned we become to all the bad news that appears in the MSM, news outlets either radio or TV even book advertising in the newspaper today which implies we are losing in Iraq.

For ALL the good news, my ongoing gratitude, Bandit!

22:23  

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