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December 16, 2008

Marines: "Not Surprising... Just Impressive"


Via ZZMike:

"The day started out with a 10-kilometer patrol with elements mounted and dismounted, so by the time we got to Shewan, we were pretty beat," the marksman said.

Mercure reported, "Shewan had been a thorn in the side of Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Afghanistan throughout the Marines' deployment here in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, because it controls an important supply route into the Bala Baluk district. Opening the route was key to continuing combat operations in the area."

"The vicious attack that left the humvee destroyed and several of the Marines pinned down in the kill zone sparked an intense eight-hour battle as the platoon desperately fought to recover their comrades. After recovering the Marines trapped in the kill zone, another platoon sergeant personally led numerous attacks on enemy fortified positions while the platoon fought house to house and trench to trench in order to clear through the enemy ambush site.

'"The biggest thing to take from that day is what Marines can accomplish when they're given the opportunity to fight,'" the sniper said. '"A small group of Marines met a numerically superior force and embarrassed them in their own backyard. The insurgents told the townspeople that they were stronger than the Americans, and that day we showed them they were wrong."'

"During the battle, the designated marksman single handedly thwarted a company-sized enemy RPG and machinegun ambush by reportedly killing 20 enemy fighters with his devastatingly accurate precision fire. He selflessly exposed himself time and again to intense enemy fire during a critical point in the eight-hour battle for Shewan in order to kill any enemy combatants who attempted to engage or maneuver on the Marines in the kill zone. What made his actions even more impressive was the fact that he didn't miss any shots, despite the enemies' rounds impacting within a foot of his fighting position."

'"I was in my own little world,"' the young corporal said. '"I wasn't even aware of a lot of the rounds impacting near my position, because I was concentrating so hard on making sure my rounds were on target."'

"After calling for close-air support, the small group of Marines pushed forward and broke the enemies' spirit as many of them dropped their weapons and fled the battlefield. At the end of the battle, the Marines had reduced an enemy stronghold, killed more than 50 insurgents and wounded several more.

'"I didn't realize how many bad guys there were until we had broken through the enemies' lines and forced them to retreat. It was roughly 250 insurgents against 30 of us,"' the corporal said. '"It was a good day for the Marine Corps. We killed a lot of bad guys, and none of our guys were seriously injured."'

Such an amazing story of heroism and victory would have been on Page One in every paper in the country during World War II. Just 30 Marines giving eight hours of hell to 250 insurgents is the kind of story that would make a good movie - if that kind of movie still could be made.

But these days, it did not even make Page 10. I couldn't find a story about it anywhere. The only mentions were on conservative blogs and military Web sites.

I saw this a while back.

I suppose it's a sign of my growing cynicism that I didn't have the heart to write about it. I should have. There's more at MaryAnn's place:

“In order to let the [British] convoy pass through safely, we [Marines] decided to take a route where we would most likely meet enemy activity and neutralize it,” said Capt. Mike Hoffman, the commanding officer of Co. I.

After successfully clearing the route with little interference from insurgents, Co. I set up a deliberate defense to maintain security along the route for the five-day operation. They picked an area on a map that best fit the mission based on terrain analysis and conducted leadership and engineer reconnaissance to ensure mission success. The defense site was on a slope overlooking a distant view of flat land and small scattered villages. The defense was set up for survivability as the Marines kept the area secure with the use of extra firepower, aggressive patrolling and a good defensive posture.

“That was probably the most impressive thing to see these guys do,” said Hoffman. “It was a great opportunity. It was something the Marine Corps hasn’t done a lot of recently in combat, just training."

"The last five days the Marines stayed out there in the elements, and they stayed as safe as they would have in any FOB, maybe safer because of the work they put into the defense. The operation was completely self sustaining.”

As the convoy pushed through without incident, several local Afghans stood outside of their homes observing.

The operation also marked the first time Co. I had operated as a company team during its deployment to Afghanistan.

“It went very smoothly and I could not be prouder of the entire team,” said Hoffman. “For something that complicated to go this well is not surprising, but it is impressive.”

That pretty much encapsulates what the Marines do every day: they take the nearly impossible and make it look easy. And most of it, we never hear about.

When you stop to think that most of these guys are still very young men: the kind who wouldn't be trusted to pour pee out of a boot back here at home, that makes it even more remarkable.

Posted by Cassandra at December 16, 2008 08:41 AM

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It was pretty funny when Uber Pig had to be reigned in by the women, one of them being you, Cass ; )

And you keep telling us you are "just" a woman, thinking to fool us into a state of non-vigilance. I'm unto you.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 16, 2008 06:17 PM

When you stop to think that most of these guys are still very young men: the kind who wouldn't be trusted to pour pee out of a boot back here at home, that makes it even more remarkable.

I wouldn't trust Obama to do that, either, and he is much older than 20.

True, though, others trust obama witha lot more than that.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 16, 2008 06:18 PM

I didn't intend to "reign in" anyone, Ymar. I was just expressing my opinion. I don't expect it to be taken any more seriously than anyone else's. Hopefully if it's helpful, it gets taken on board. But God knows I've said my share of dumb things.

I think it speaks very well for Mr. "Pig" ( :) ) that he is willing to rethink his position on occcasion. That's a hard (and embarrassing) thing to do - especially when you don't necessarily agree with your readers. It takes a strong person to do that.

I haven't been back there yet. Too busy at work.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 16, 2008 06:35 PM

I don't expect it to be taken any more seriously than anyone else's.

I believe you doth underestimate yourself.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 16, 2008 06:41 PM

My son, Matt the Marine is with 3/8, the batallion that took over from 2/7.

Posted by: N. O'Brain at December 16, 2008 07:41 PM

I keep hoping these young men will come home and do for us what they have for Iraq and Afganistan.

Posted by: Bob Sykes at December 17, 2008 06:58 AM


Posted by: Semper Fi Wife at December 17, 2008 07:11 AM

Great stories, Cass; I can't help but choke up a little with pride. My own son is in the Army, but I happily say "Semper Fi" to the men doing the work!

Eventually, I hope more of these stories will be told in a more public way; it's a shame newspapers don't feature this stuff. However, things will emerge eventually; hell, the guys from WW2 are still releasing memoirs!

Posted by: sean at December 17, 2008 09:28 AM

I agree that this is a really great story about what some Marines are doing on the ground in Afghanistan, but I wouldn't hold my breath about it ever appearing in the mainstream of modern news.

It does not meet the requirements of the present political narrative, therefore it is double-plus ungood. It would require a wholesale revision of the present "News" narrative about the "War on Terror" to have this and other stories about what is happening over there reach the mass of sheeple leading their Jerry Springer lives.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at December 17, 2008 11:47 AM

Early on in this war, I realized that the only way I would ever hear about stories like this would be if I read mil blogs and writers like Michael Yon (the Ernie Pyle of the war, except that everyone knew who Pyle was during WWII and stories like this one would have made the front pages of the papers back then.)

I don't think that it's solely because the media is anti-Bush or anti-WoT. I think we live in a time when the whole idea of physical courage, of putting your neck on the line for your country and your buddies threatens people who wish to make a virtue of their own cowardice and their inability to value anything more than their own skin. So they ridicule the military virtues (see: the Onion); however, that's risky. It angers people who still hold those virtues in high regard. The easiest course of action is to simply let such stories go unreported.

Posted by: Donna V. at December 17, 2008 07:42 PM

they are great..

they guys that recieved (?) the silver stars also have a similar story, though they didnt get away as clean (one nearly had his leg off, swung it up, tied it to his waist, and continued to fight).

they show what people are capable of if someone wants to teach someone to be capable.

and to be fair, the guys today in the air are also pretty damn amazing too given how close they sometimes drop their loads.

seals, special forces, everyone deserves a cheer..

few nations ever really liked war, so supporting regretful efforts and the men (and women) who have to do things when they truly would want to be other places doing other things if the job didnt need to be done... is not to support war.

i am glad they are ours, and proud of them too.

remove left lies, and overwhelmingly they set the highest standard in everything from ability to behavior. (ya know your doing good when the french are impressed and are willing to write about it)

i would salute them if it meant anything :)

Posted by: Artfldgr at December 17, 2008 08:42 PM

Posted by: Semper Fi Wife at December 17, 2008 07:11 AM

SFW, if you are referring to Bob's comment, then I believe he meant something to the effect that America has an internal insurgency that he wishes the US military could fix in order to help people economically, infrastructure wise, and so forth.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 18, 2008 03:02 PM