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Marines stand up to insurgent fire while patrolling streets

1 Oct 2006 | Cpl. Brian Reimers

For the Marines of C Company, engagements with enemy forces in the city are more common than not. A simple patrol through the city’s souk district can quickly turn into something much more, and for the Marines on foot here recently, it did just that.

Marines from C Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 recently conducted a security patrol through the city’s streets and received fire from insurgents.

Dismounted Marines followed close behind armored vehicles passing shops suddenly closing down as local Iraqis fled the streets.

“It is always a key indicator when the streets start closing down,” said Lance Cpl. Frederick O. Lohse, an assaultman, from Ridgefield, Conn.  “At that point you just get ready and become extra vigilant.”

The sound of a grenade exploding rang throughout the tight streets as Marines raised their weapons and searched for a suspect. Insurgents armed with AK-47 rifles fired sporadic bursts from buildings as the Marines pushed forward to start their assault.

“Things got tense quick,” said Sgt. Jonathan B. Kahn, a turret gunner from Maplewood, N.J.

“Once the automatic weapons start cracking, your training kicks in and you are ready to pull the trigger if the opportunity comes,” 19 year-old Lohse said.

But the fire stopped after only a couple of bursts and the attackers seemed to have fled at the sight of the Marines rushing forward ready to fight.

It’s an occasion that happens often. Insurgents shoot hoping to hit their targets – a hit and run tactic.

The souk is heavily populated with local Fallujans at any given moment, and the Marines take caution when firing back.

“It is kind of like a shopping mall on Christmas Eve with a traffic jam in the middle, only now there are people shooting at you,” 24 year-old Kahn said.

Although frustrated at times, Marines here are well aware of the enemy’s tactics and wait for their chance to fight back.

“About one in four times that we go into the area we take contact,” Kahn said.  “But we don’t just stop going into an area because of past instances.  We keep pushing to deny the enemy the ability to operate openly.”

“When you are getting shot at, the first thing you want to do is shoot back,” Lohse said.  “But it is discipline that keeps you from doing that and potentially harming someone who is just caught in the crossfire.”

The enemy here doesn’t stand up to Marines face to face. Instead they hide among innocent civilians and leave the area to fight somewhere else.

“The insurgents don’t wear uniforms, and you are moving through an area with thousands of people,” said 30-year-old Cpl. Marshall R. Collins, a fire team leader from West Hartford, Conn.  “We stand out, they don’t.”

It’s a balancing act of hunting insurgents, keeping Marines safe, all the while protecting the people of Iraq.  Marines didn’t find the shooter on this day or his rifle, but they did find the courage and discipline to keep moving and carry on with the patrol.