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Combat train counterattacks, kills insurgents

29 Aug 2006 | Lance Cpl. Erik Villagran

Marines from 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment’s Combat Train One showed insurgents the Marines aren’t sitting ducks.

Marines on the logistics train were attacked while waiting for an explosive ordnance disposal team to clear improvised explosive devices Aug. 29. Marines were in the middle of their mission to supply companies in the field.

“We had set up a cordon and were waiting for EOD, and we ended up receiving small-arms fire,” said Cpl. Kevin W. Doolittle, a 22-year-old security force commander from Charlotte, N.C.

Doolittle explained his Marines identified the shooters and turned the table on their attackers.

“We retaliated by firing at the building where we believed the rounds were coming from,” he said.

Seven Marines from the train and three Iraqi Army soldiers cleared a building where occupants were flashing lights on and off. Marines believed the house was signaling insurgents, according to Staff Sgt. Bruce W. French, the 34-year-old convoy commander from Albany, N.Y. The logistics train Marines don’t usually go into buildings, but French said he felt there was enough security and the situation warranted it.

“We usually only get out of our vehicles to check out suspicious things,” added Cpl. Eddy A. Gregory, a 21-year-old driver from Black River, N.Y. “We never really go into houses, but I was confident in the guys I had with me.”

They went into the houses and cleared every room they encountered. They swept through the homes, confiscating an AK-47 in the process.

Doolittle said the hip-pocket mission went off without a hitch.

“We were all pretty calm,” Doolittle said. “This is the third deployment for some of us, so we weren’t that worried.”

The convoy was fired on again while the Marines were clearing the buildings.  The convoy radioed the Marines in the building to inform them that they were taking fire from their right side.

Marines in the building went to the rooftop of the home to provide fire support for the convoy. They saw muzzle flashes in the buildings across the street and began to fire at insurgents in that building.

The convoy fired off five 40 mm high explosive grenades. The firefight lasted only a moment. Iraqi soldiers cleared the building when the gunfire exchange ended.  Inside, they found two dead insurgents.  Marines found their mark.

“The Iraqi Army confirmed that there were two insurgents killed,” said Cpl. George H. Gewinner, a 21-year-old driver from Brighton, Mich. “We don’t know if there were more dead insurgents because we continued the convoy before they finished clearing the building.”

Marines and the Iraqi soldiers suffered no casualties. There was only minor damage to some of the vehicles in the convoy.

It was an unusual convoy for Combat Train One. It was the first time they had to clear a building on this deployment.  The attack didn’t stop them from their original mission, and they completed their mission despite the attack.

“We are just here to complete our missions and help the companies,” French said. “We want to get the mission completed by any means necessary.”