After moving into the new 31st MEU(SOC) Forward Operating Base, which was once an old Iraqi Base, we got ourselves settled in. The elections were going on back home, and we were all wondering when we would be hitting Fallujah. We spent our time getting familiarized with our fellow units in the MEU, including the Light Armored Reconnaissance platoon (LAR), our Tanks, and our Amphibious Assault Vehicle platoons as well. We did some generalized training, though we did not have a great deal of room to train.
My buddy was out on the balcony of one of our squad bays, brushing his teeth one morning. I was over in my squad bay on Fire Watch while the company was at the chow hall or something. But that now oh so familiar sound of incoming mortars came whistling through the air. I dove into the squad bay and heard the astounding sound of a loud “thud.” The mortar had impacted by my buddy’s squad bay across the way. If I remember correctly, another one or two mortars had impacted else where.
I ran over to check on my friend, wondering what in the world had happened. I popped around the corner to see the impact of the mortar round, with the fin sticking up into the air, and my buddy hunkered down in the corner of the squad bay. Man, that thing landed right in front of him. After laughing it off, we went and got a hold of our CP and called over EOD to take care of it. The daily mortar and rocket fire impacting on the base was starting to get annoying, considering we were doing much.
So now in October, we began conducting an operation to clear out the Xedon. This was what we called a large area that surrounded the city of Fallujah. This was in October if I remember correctly. This was to be about a week or two long “shaping” operation. While out in the field, we cleared through several villages, working to push all the terrorists we could into the city, securing the outlying villages in hopes of keeping the bastards corralled up in the major city. After completing this operation, we started to get extracted via 7-ton trucks to head back to Camp Fallujah.
It was at this point that Bravo company got hit by an IED. If I remember correctly, it was a vehicle borne IED. The Truck Company was taking the same route back and forth, picking up our platoons. The enemy read the route and sent out a suicide bomber and they hit our platoon. This attack took the lives of 8 of our guys, and injured several others. This hit our company hard. Evidently this event hit hard at home as well. From what I was told, this attack led to President Bush, still running for re-election, to sign off on the order to conduct operation Phantom Fury, but only if he were elected. It was our understanding that if Al Gore had won the campaign, we would not be going in.
After this incident, training carried on after we morned our losses. Bravo Company wanted blood for blood and we were ready for the fight. Once November came around, and on election night, I don’t think that any of us slept. We were waiting to hear the results of the elections. A Lady with NPR came by at some point in the night and informed us that George Bush had won. We celebrated and started to get ready. If I remember right, the next day we got the order, and then by Nov. 7th, we were moving into the city.