Below is an email home from a Marine in the 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment in Iraq. (Hit, Iraq, is pronounced "Heat").
We (KABAR 7) were ordered to contact our families and I'm letting you know we are alright before anything goes on the newswire. Today at 0915, our Mobile Assault Platoon was passing a white conversion van that was acting suspicious in its movement, and when our lead vehicle drove past, the van accelerated immediately off the shoulder and headed to try and ram the back of vehicle 1. Immediately the gunner on my usual vehicle (V 2) opened up on the van with .50 cal machine gun fire trying to disable it, SSGT Brady called over the radio to "look out victor 1 he's coming after you!" victor 1 eluded the gaining vehicle until the decision was made to pull off the road and at that moment, the driver detonated his vehicle about 15 yards from the rear of vehicle 1, blowing the humvee off of the road and ejecting the Battalion Sgt Major, Wagner and Lcpl Idiaquez, a huge fireball about 50 feet tall enveloped the vehicles as I witnessed shrapnel flying all around us. The humvee rolled to a stop, the rear of our convoy took far off sniper fire and we returned fire until there were no more shots, and then we rushed to the scene, put out the flaming humvee and tended to the wounded. We thank the Lord for protecting us as there were only some minor broken bones and burns and superficial injuries. We say a prayer everytime we go out without fail, as a platoon, and when I show you pictures, you'd understand God was looking out for us today. This is the 2nd lead humvee that we've lost this month as our convoy hit a 155 artillery round improvised explosive device 2 weeks ago. that also blew the rear off that vehicle. I think the lord knows this platoon has suffered enough with the 4 killed in action and over 12 wounded in action we have sustained in 5 months. That being said, our platoon totals around 18 men, and 6 or 7 members that are still with us already have Purple Hearts. 4 out of the 5 wounded in the lead vehicle were flown to Al Asad airbase for medical treatment, at least 3 probably will be sent home since we have only a month and change left here. By the way, from the look of the driver when he vehicle 1 looked at his face as they passed and the size of his hands and foot, we suspect he was about 12-14 years of age. We found a ribcage, a knee to the foot section, a brain lobe and various other things like the jaw and scalp up to 100 yards away. And crazy enough, the only body part that was blown into vehicle 1 was his penis and scrotum sack, sans 1 nut. The running sick joke was that he is in Allah-Land right now with the other suicide bomber that hit us in May, trying to figure out what he is going to do with all these virgins when his manhood is in a burnpile at Camp Hit. And of course we let the local dogs eat the rest of his extra crispy dismemberment.
You can only have gallows humor after an event like this...its that thing after combat that gets you back on the road again ready to hunt em down again the next day.
While the majority of news outlets are discussing the twenty-one Marines that were killed this week in Iraq (from the same USMCR Battalion), the 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment (3/25th) has lost thirty-seven Marines since arriving in Iraq - some reports put the toll as high as forty this afternoon. The Post-Gazette got it right...By the way, these are Marine Corps Reservists (mostly from Ohio).
Ohio reserve battalion hit hard yet again
...37 Marines, including Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich of Westwood and Lance Cpl. Ryan Kovacicek of Washington, Pa., have been among the dead from the star-crossed battalion of 800 or so in Iraq since it arrived in March.
Thinking about and praying for the families of the Fallen is important. Below, the Chicago Tribune has a sorrowful story of a mother that knew her son had been killed.
Families of battered unit are `just numb'
Since May, parents like Rosemary Palmer have anxiously watched the death toll grow steadily in Iraq among a 1,000-Marine reserve unit that includes her son.
Palmer watched the account of the 14 fallen Marines on a TV newscast Wednesday, and though he wasn't mentioned, she "knew" instinctively that her son, Edward "Augie" Schroeder, 23, was among them.
So sure was Palmer, a former newspaper editor, that she had lost her only son, that she started typing up his life story. "I wanted to have it ready before they showed up to tell me, so I could give it out to the news crews later," she said. "You do what you have to do [to get through the pain], and for us, that's writing it all down."
As she and her husband, Paul Schroeder, waited for what they felt would be the inevitable knock on the door, Palmer reached for the phone and called her church to ask someone to join her in prayer, "because I knew, I knew."
Two hours later, Marine representatives knocked at their door to announce that her son was among those killed Wednesday when an amphibious assault vehicle hit a bomb...
Your thoughts and prayers for the fallen, and the family and friends left behind are needed. And the Marines of 3/25th will need your support as well.
Next, Ralph Peters describes who (or what) the real targets are...
The Real Target
IN Iraq yesterday a roadside bomb killed 14 Marines. Two days earlier, six Marines from the same outfit were ambushed and killed. Yet those Marines were not the terrorists' primary target.
Our enemies know the Marines won't quit. But they hope you will...
Over the course of the next news cycle, you'll see the news media expand upon the (completely appropriate) grief and anger of the families and friends of the fallen Marines. I hope the media does their best to honor the Marines' memories. If not, you'll understand that the terrorists scored another victory. Take a cue from the survivors.
The Marines won't quit.
And neither should you.
Last, for every person expressing doubt or fear, there's more willing to do the work that needs to be done. Navy Corpsman James Pell is one of those (If you don't know James Pell, find out more about him here):
Hero Among Us
...Those that know me think I want to go back to get even for being shot up on my last trip. To tell the truth I'm not mad at about that at all. The way I look at it they are the ones trying to get even. I've killed dozens of insurgents and they've only got me one time. The retribution isn't for me. It's for my fallen brothers killed by insurgents crossing into the country for the sole purpose of killing Americans. It's for the few innocent civilians in the country who sit and watch family and friends die while two foreign groups battle on their soil - for those who are forced to face painful death or turn against the US - and for my brothers that are violently beheaded instead of treated as POW's...
Corpsmen don't quit either.
Update: Speaking of Corpsmen, Amy K. sends the blog for Jim Alunni (pictured below) - one of the 3/25 Naval Rservists who survived the attacks and was wounded - run by his girlfriend, Cynthia.
Cynthia has this report:
...Jim suffered from a shrapnel injury to his neck. The shrapnel passed through one side of his neck and exited through the other, causing injury to his esophagus. Because of this injury, it required Jim to have a tracheotomy. There is also a piece of shrapnel by his thyroid, which they have chosen to leave alone at this time. Jim also suffered some burns (my apologies - I don't know where on his body) The most serious of his injuries was his esophagus. As of 8:30am yesterday (Wednesday) Jim was taken off the ventilator and breathing on his own. He is alert and conscious. The tracheotomy will remain for 2-6 weeks. They are feeding Jim through his nose since he can not eat due to the injury to the esophagus. He is communicating by writing. Today (Thursday morning) Jim was in a lot of pain so they gave him and epidural to help ease the pain. He is scheduled to be transported tomorrow morning to Bethesda, Maryland where he will spend the necessary time recovering...
I believe that Jim is a EMT or fireman in civilian life. Leave a comment of support for him and his family and friends here.
Update 2: Eggs sends this link to a poignant article by Norm Clarke of the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Update 3: Made the mistake of watching Chris Matthews interview Rosemary Palmer (see trib article above) and Paul Schroeder. Matthews leads the interviewees with questions like "Did your son serve in Iraq because he believed in the mission or was just patriotic?" His questions to the mother and father of a fallen Marine are obviously slanted and biased. He's arm-chair quarterbacking. I can't really write what I want to do right now.
He's a disgusting, frothing-at-the-mouth, rabid hack...a tiny little man.