We loaded up onto 7-tons sometime around mid-day or mid-afternoon on Nov. 7th 2004. We headed out to a rally point a mile or so out from the north side of the city. We setup in defensive position, waiting for our turn to hit the city. There were several Marine Corps Battalions, plus an Army unit, that were hitting the city through out the day. After the massive blast of a MCLIC charge clearing the massive mine field that had been setup around the city, the operation kicked off. We sat out there in that position all afternoon, watching mortars, artillery, Cobra attacks, F-18 bomb drops and gun runs, AC-130 gunship attacks, and all sorts of hell break loose on the city.
Once night fell, it was our turn to get into the fight. We loaded up on our AAV’s and we were off. Under the cover of night, we made our way to our drop off point. But go figure, the AAV’s dropped us off at the wrong point. We almost went over the burm into what we all later found out was a mine field. After realizing we were in the wrong spot, we all loaded back up. After being repositioned at the right drop off spot, we made our way across the rail road track and to the outer wall of the city to our breech point. As we crossed the rail road, we came across a D-9 dozer, all busted up and left on the tracks. This thing had been all shot up and we couldn’t quite tell what happened to it, but it made for a grizzly sight.
While our guys set the breech, we were all eyes up and ready to go. We finally got our breech, which was its own fiasco, as we had to bust though something like 4 walls just to get into the dang city, through a house, and out onto one of the first streets. Once we got the company through, we got ourselves on line as a company and were ordered to hold our positions. I was the guy with the radio, keeping comms with command during this whole process. After we got set into position, we had to hold while waiting for the rest of the battalion to get settled in.
The next morning, everything kicked off with a bang. After some firing, we all got ourselves coordinated. Before we began moving forward, our Forward Observer called in a sheath mortar strike down a cross road we had to get down and were taking fire from. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite bother to inform us over the comms. one of our guys got hit by the friendly mortar fire. the first casualty of the fight was from friendly fire of all things. The guy was lucky, the shrapnel just barely missed his bits and pieces.
From here, we pushed forward, clearing block by block through to the Main Supply Route (MSR) known as “Fran.” They had originally thought it would take us 3 days to get there, but we plowed through with all sorts of hate and fire. This was the first day of the attack. After that, the days went on with the conduct of “back clearing” operations. We started clearing block by block through out the city, setting up shop in random mansions on the “Queens” side of Fallujah, north of Fran, on the east side of the city. We did this for a couple of weeks, and then had thanksgiving out in the city. Prior to this, we had one serious fire fight.
While clearing another block, we were getting ready to go into another house. The one and two man made entry through the gate of this particular house, and made their way to the door to make entry, when a scumbag with a machine gun between his legs pointed down the drive way opened fire, taking them both down. We all staked up on the wall, and started laying down suppressing fire as best we could. I reported the contact to command, and began returning fire as best we could. The guy was just letting loose with that RPK or PKM (whichever it was), and we could not get to our guys to pull them out.
After making several attempts, we called for the AAV’s to come around to provide us supporting fire. We secured another house and were trying to figure out how to get in there to save our guys. Once the AAV’s came around, they pulled up and started pummeling the hows with 40mm grenades from their MK-19 and rounds from their .50 cal mounted in the turret over the wall. We were finally able to get in there and get them out. We got one of our guys loaded up int he AAV, but unfortunately, we had two other injured and had to get the out too. The other Marine we got pulled out, but the AAV rolled out to get the injured back to the rear.
The second Marine was dead as our Corpsman pulled him back. Our corpsman seemed to have frozen up as he realized that the Marine in his hands was dead. I hollered at him that he was dead, and told him to get him to the CCP as he was still out in the open in front of the gate. We had guys up on the roof across the street ready to blow the house with some SMAW rockets. The LT and I had to run around to the other side of the block to clear out some Iraqi Army on the other side (which was ridiculous, no way they could have gotten hit). Chasing down the LT, I ended up tripping under the weight of my radio and did a face slide on the asphalt. I picked myself up and chased own the LT around the block, got the Iraqi Army out of the way. After we got back around, we blew the house with three rockets, and that was the end of that.
After we got the area cleared, it appeared that the bastards mangled to escape out the back from what we could tell. We carried the dead Marine around to the CP after sharing a moment of mourning for his loss. I carried his feet while four of my brothers grabbed his shoulders and thighs with a poncho draped around him. After setting him down, everything settled down, and the reality settled in. The loss of those two Marines hit us hard. That was 2 more down from Bravo Company. That was a long day.
After this, we carried on with many more operations clearing out the city. We established a FOB in a school on the north side of Queens. We built that thing from scratch, filling thousands of sandbags to build secure walls all the way around. We continued the various back clearing operations around the area. After a few short weeks, getting closer to Christmas, we prepped to move down to the south side, being relieved by another unit who took control of our FOB. My fellow ‘boots’ and I were pissed, after all of that hard work we left that FOB! Bastards.
We moved to another FOB on the South side of queens and carried out various operations around the city. We had several trips back and forth to Camp Fallujah for short breaks to recover, eat some decent chow, and call home. We then conducted a clearing operation through the Industrial sector of the city. At this time, a random team of Seals came up and attache to us for the afternoon to help us clear some of the buildings there.
After New Years and another month or two of doing these types of operations, we were relived in place by another unit, and pulled back to Camp Fallujah, ready to move up to Camp Al Asad. BLT 1/3 and the rest of the 31st MEU(SOC) were done with the city of Fallujah, and were moving up to al Assad to carry on doing more operations up north before heading home.