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Iraqi soldiers decorated by Marines for bravery in firefight

11 Jun 2004 | Sgt. Jose E. Guillen

Five Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers were decorated by Marines for bravery under fire during a ceremony June 11.

Col. John R. Toolan, commander for Regimental Combat Team 1 awarded two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals and three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals to the Iraqi soldiers.  The soldiers were cited for braving enemy fire to aid Marines in a May 30 clash.  The awards included "V" devices for valor.

Marine infantrymen and their Iraqi counterparts jointly walked the beat at Kharma May 30, where ICDC soldiers battled back the enemy while protecting a Marine from further gunshot wounds.

"I was walking beside the Marine, then we heard gunfire, and I saw that the American Marine was shot," explained Iraqi Pvt. Imad Abizaid Jasiam through an interpreter.

"Then I realized it was just me and him, so I quickly started shooting at the enemy," added the 26-year-old from Nassir Wa Al Salaam, about the Marine who was wounded in the leg by enemy fire.

Jasiam and Iraqi Pvt., Kather Nazar Abbas, pulled the downed Marine behind an elementary school for cover. The whole time, they continued to exchange fire and ducked rocket-propelled grenades.

"While the Marine was being moved for cover, three other ICDC soldiers jumped in front of the firefight and provided some pretty accurate level of suppressive fire on the enemy," said 2nd Lt. Charles Anklin III, the platoon commander for Combined Actions Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.

"They got engaged from the rear by an unknown enemy-size force, and they were accurately trying to target them," added Anklin, a 28-year-old from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Jasiam said more ICDC soldiers soon made their way toward the schoolhouse, where he instructed them to form a circle around the wounded Marine and provide suppressive fire.

Jasaim, Abbas and Iraqi Sgt. Abdullah Sadoon Isa, Cpl. Eiub Muhamad Hussane, and Pvt. Ahmad Lazim Garib were all credited with saving the Marine.  They all repelled the enemy assault.

"We had to protect him until the doctor (corpsman) began giving him medical attention," Jasiam said.

Gradually dislodging the enemy, Anklin said the soldiers began reconstituting and quickly forming an attack.

"The ICDC ultimately assaulted through the enemy's position and pushed them out," Anklin said.

"You've witnessed the bravery of these soldiers from India Company, (who) were willing to shed blood with Marines to make sure we get a free Iraq," said Toolan, shortly after the ceremony. "The important aspect is that the Coalition and Iraqi forces have worked together, and the bond you see between the ICDC soldiers and Marines has become rock-tight."

Jasiam said that since the skirmish, a new relationship was formed between ICDC soldiers and Marines.

"I feel very, very bad the Marines was shot because they are like my brothers now, but I'm ready to go out again," Jasiam said.  "I am always ready."

Local village sheiks and Iraqi military leaders attended the rite, which was followed by a secondary ceremony.

Iraqi soldiers - some 162 of them - graduated a seven-day training camp held at Camp India.

The Marines under RCT-1 built-up the training facility and opened its door a week ago, which is designed to enhance military customs and infantry tactics within the ICDC.