Another update via email from LtCol Willy Buhl, Commanding Officer of the 3-1 Marines, the Thundering Third!
Gentlemen,Other Thundering Third posts can be found here (June 24th), here (July 3rd) and here (July 21st).
Forward to our 3-1 buddies as you see fit.
We put a whipping on a group yesterday that opened up on one of our mounted patrols from India Company after detonating an IED. The IED was a 155mm round that fortunately hit armor and tires on a 7-ton truck. The Marines in all vehicles immediately returned fire, dismounted and closed with the enemy. We killed three and wounded four and captured a five more after a Sgt threw two frags in a room and they came out with their hands up from another room. All but one of the EPWs appeared to be workers caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sure enough, however, we found over 300 155mm shells buried on the grounds of this place. In the midst of the action, Kilo Company's QRF arrived to join in the fight. Great cooperation by all and we had a Harrier aloft with 500lb bombs and his cannon itching for the go ahead. I strongly considered it as an example and radioed to the ground commander not to take any undue risks with his men but it all worked out. Our Marines were engaged by at least four different weapons systems from this structure to include two RPKs simultaneously. When we finally cleared it after some minutes, killing and capturing as described, we could not find any weapons or brass. The KIAs, however, all tested positive for gunpowder residue on their hands, as did one of the EPWs. Thorough search couldn't locate any spider holes, secret doors, etc. There were quite a few "Jihad" graffiti notes inside the building though, and some drugs and syringes.
The Kharma Iraqi Police who can never be found when there's a fight showed up immediately after casualties were taken by the enemy. This continues to reinforce to me that they are entirely embedded in the insurgency. The Kharma Ntl Guard troops have a check point just down the hill in view of IED and ran behind cover when the shooting started. We have some good ones in another town that we're training but these troops are dirty and well penetrated by the enemy. We cannot rely on them for anything. Kharma is an evil suburb of Fallujah.
Later in the evening the enemy tried to attack Kilo Company with RPGs and small arms without effect. We returned a heavy volume of fire and cleared the structures where we took fire from to find no one, though we did find brass this time!
122mm rocket landed outside the fence some distance off as I am typing - shook my hootch.
We've begun to receive our first combat replacements, with 14 arriving last night. SgtMajor and I are going to visit our wounded in Baghdad today, see how our Iraqi Ntl Guard troops and CAP Plt is doing in a neighboring town, and then attend the memorial service for Sgt Juan Calderone, Jr., of Lima Company, who was killed in an IED blast a few days ago. We are hitting back hard when the opportunity presents itself and yesterday was a celebration for all hands.