Don't Count the Days
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
The following is an email from a Marine Staff Sergeant who has been fighting around Najaf over the last two weeks. Kevin is a Reservist from Nashville and one of the most fearsome combat multipliers on the battlefield - he's a Sniper.
Family and Friends, On August 12th my Lt got a phone call from 1st Marine Division, Gen. Mattis!
Once again he called upon 3/24 Scout Snipers. I get called into the Col.’s Office around 1400 on the 12th. "Pack your s---" he tells me? Where we going sir? An Najaf to fight against Sadr's militia. We are attached to the 11th MEU, BLT 1/4, Scout Sniper Platoon. By 2200 that night my entire platoon was sitting on the runway waiting for our 53 (helo). We flew from TQ to FOB Duke south of TQ. When we landed we had two 46's (helo) waiting for us fueled and ready.(this is not normal VIP unless the big dog is in on it).
We flew out of FOB Duke headed for FOB Hotel (Forward Operating Base: FOB) located in An Najaf. On our way in our birds took RPG attacks from the ground. Thank GOD they are not good at aiming. The .50 cal gunners opened up and everyone got a charge for action. We landed at 0200. Linked up with the watch officer and got settled in???? By noon we were on three vehicles headed into Najaf with 1/4 snipers to attach to 2/7 Cav from the Army!
What a day! I did not have time as you can see to write or call anyone! Ha!
Anyhow, we were attached to 2/7 Cav and teams were being inserted by that night. The fight was on! We were south of the Al-Imam Ali Shrine (Sadr's location, and the second most holy shrine. Mohammed's nephew is buried here). By day two we pushed up north several blocks and set up another position. THis time,being on top of the bldg you could see the Mosque! It is Huge. Gold covered top, with three towers flanking it. Sadr was injured the day we arrived and by the second day he was giving a speech at 2300 from the Mosque. The guy is crazy! Needless to say we were supporting 2/7 Cav and their advancement towards the mosque. Navy SEAL sniper team came in and operated with our teams. Hell, every sniper in the service was called upon.
No Callaterial damage to the mosque! What better way to do that. However, everyone of us had the dope on our guns for the damn place! Ha! 18 +3 holding 1 mil. If I am going to take one over here I am knocking off some gold on that damn dome! Ha!
Anyhow, we faught for 6 days straight. We ran out so fast we only had on our backs the uniform we were wearing. as the days progressed, so did our odor.
I had to tie my socks down at night so they would not walk away! Ha! During the day you sweet, During the evening you sweet, and again in the night. We had some close calls. The 5th day I was sitting manning the radio and a mortar round landed 12ft from me and another Marine on top of our bldg ledge. It blew the window glass out and I got some debris blown on my right hand, I was lucky because one of the Marines had his blouse hanging over my shoulder and it took most of the glass. I was behind a wall so most of the shrapnel hit the wall. One of the Lcpl's was setting the radio and took some glass to his head and face. He had just lowered his head below the wall when it hit so he lucked out with only a few pieces of glass. I lost some hearing for about an hour! I'll take that any day. I looked at the impact later that day and it was amazing how close it was!
We loaded up and moved to another bldg. They had registered our bldg with mortars so we did not want to take any more casualties. While we were waiting they brought in 4 civilian boys who were struck by a mortar! It was terrible.
We moved our loaction to the other bldg and at 0300 I finally got some sleep, just to be awaken by RPG's at 0700! Ha! I gave up on the sleep.
These guys started out on the roof tops and by the time day one was over...........you never saw anyone on top of the roofs again! We dominated the roof tops. That was our mission. Tanks rolling in needed cover from the tops. Apache helo's did HELLFIRE missions right over us. It was amazing. AC 130 did night runs and the light show was awsome. The only thing lit at night was the mosque. By day six they had brought in the army SF and SOCOM Snipers. We were no longer needed for their fight. The boys did well and completed their mission. We had shots out to 1800m on some Forward Observers. I had a Sgt record a shot at 1200m with his M40A1. To you who don't know - this is impressive!
We came back to our FOB Hotel and was looking to get some rest before heading in with the BLT 1/4. Not so, that same night I sent out a team to support fighting in Kufa! Another town adjacent to Najaf full of radicals. Each night now we have supported the BLT and each night they have been engaged heavily. They return dirty and tired but they get some sleep and head right back out the door.
The boys have earned their spot! When we always arrive they look at us like, "Reservist"? They now want our support any chance they get! It feels good.
You can't tell the Marines are Reservist.......you can tell they are Marines!
So, I sit here outside hooked up to a wire sending a message to all so that you know where I am and what we are doing. Peace talks are useless with these groups. They have had peace talks the entire time I have been here, and everyday we have fought? Anyhow, I will be here for about another 2weeks. I will keep intouch the best I can. Pray for the boys of 3/24 snipers and that we make it back to our unit safely.
Brian, I read your email today? I did not know we lost a Marine in India company? I will try and find out what happen. I know I was getting ready for the INDOC, but then this came up. I'm sure Lewzader is standing post at my base! Ha! They were flying in the next day for the INDOC. Cpl McCormick? I would have to find out what platoon he was with. I have been gone from the company for so long I don't remember who is who anymore. It is sad to hear and toward the end of the deployment as well. That's why I won't count the days!
Tell everyone I said hello and to pray. Christa, tell Brianna and Kevin I love them and I will call them when I get the chance. I will see them soon.
I will be home soon.