Diary

The Battle of Ramadi

4thmarines

In April and May 2004, the 4th Marines—the very same units that stormed the beach at Iwo Jima—took heavy losses while engaging insurgents loyal to Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party in heavy fighting for the city of Ramadi.

USA Today posted this report,

On April 6, Lance Cpl. Deshon Otey, 24, of Hardin, Ky., was the sole survivor of an attack on his Humvee that killed seven of his comrades in Echo Company. His only wounds were nightmares, Otey said later. “I always see these guys with turbans. They come up and just start slaughtering all of us,” he said.

A few weeks ago, Otey and three other Marines manning a sniper post died in circumstances that cruelly mirrored his dream.

The Iraqi insurgency has never been more deadly than when it fought Marines in this city April 6. That fighting, all but overlooked in the swirl of violent events that month, may have been the most harrowing street combat since 1993, when U.S. soldiers were nearly overrun and 19 were killed in fighting that stunned America and led to the Clinton administration pulling forces out of Somalia.

In Ramadi, the Marines killed scores of fighters and prevailed. But a dozen Marines were killed and 25 wounded. At four different locations on April 6, Marines were ambushed in coordinated guerrilla attacks that showed a precision and skill never before seen in Iraq.

After learning so many of his fellow Marines had died, “I was in a state of denial,” says Cpl. Travis Friedrichsen, 21, of Denison, Iowa. “I kept saying, ‘What do you mean they’re gone?’ Because I had never heard of that many people getting lost in just one day.”

Unlike fighting in April in Fallujah, 30 miles to the east, and in cities in southern Iraq where U.S. Marines and soldiers battled resistance fighters, the Marines were on the defensive in Ramadi.

“They had some moxie,” says Capt. Kelly Royer, 36, of Orangeville, Calif., commander of Echo Company, which lost 10 men that day, including eight in one ambush. “They hit us in the far west, in the north of our AO (area of operation) and in the far southeast. … Where did this organization come from? Were they always here? Did they come from outside Ramadi?”

The Marines learned later that in setting up the ambush that left eight Marines dead, insurgents warned away local residents that morning by telling them, “Today we are going to kill Americans.”

In a letter to Marine families in April, the commander of the 1,000-man 2nd Battalion of the 4th Marine Regiment, Lt. Col. Paul Kennedy, said fighting in Ramadi was the hardest “this battalion faced in over 30 years. Within the blink of an eye, the situation went from relatively calm to a raging storm.”

Last month, USA Today posted a “look back” by the Magnificent Bastards of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines.

Under clear blue skies this past weekend the veterans of the battalion, called the Magnificent Bastards, gathered at Camp Pendleton in California to mark the 10th anniversary of the battle and the battalion’s seven-month deployment. Hundreds of veterans of the battalion as well as families of the fallen gathered Sunday to reunite and reminisce.

Many wives and parents heard many stories for the first time, as veterans began opening up about their experiences.

Marines from the battalion had been getting together informally for years but this was the first formal gathering, which started as an idea from some families whose sons were killed in battle there.

Ramadi never dominated the headlines like Baghdad or Fallujah, a nearby city in western Iraq. But it was among the most violent cities in Iraq and played a critical role in ultimately turning the tide against the insurgency.

Only now is the significance of the city coming into historical focus, thanks to veterans who have kept the memories alive.

In memory of those dead Marines, this year on Memorial Day weekend, President Obama licked an ice cream cone.

Meanwhile, Islamic State forces completed their takeover of the city where American blood was spilled.

Obama still says this is Bush’s war.  The current commander-in-chief takes no responsibility for the blood spilled taking Ramadi, or the blood spilled giving it up.  The man’s vanity knows no limits.  Meanwhile, George W. Bush still knows how to act presidential.

Memorial Day is set aside to honor the blood of our fallen warriors.  Obama pays it lip service.

Our Nation will never forget the valor and distinction of the women and men who defend freedom, justice, and peace.  Today, we rededicate ourselves to commitments equal to the caliber of those who have rendered the highest service:  to support our troops with the resources they need to do their jobs; to never stop searching for those who have gone missing or are prisoners of war; to ensure all our veterans have access to the care and benefits they have earned and deserve; and to continue our constant work of building a Nation worthy of the heroes we honor today.

The other 364 days of the year, he’s busy dishonoring those who remain.

(crossposted from sgberman.com)