2nd Platoon now 'on offensive' in Ramadi
Marine Corps News
Story Identification #: 2005421183555
Story by Cpl. Tom Sloan
AR RAMADI, Iraq (April 21, 2005) -- A Camp Pendleton-based platoon drew fire from a drive-by shooter here April 14 - further evidence that enemy fighters are still lurking in a town that was once an insurgent hotbed.
Marines with 2nd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, were fired upon while conducting a combat patrol in the southern part of the city.
"We were sitting in a blocking position on the road, and a black car kept driving back and forth on the street in front of us," recalled Sgt. Jacob W. Fox, a 24-year-old motor transportation operator with 2nd Platoon. "He slammed on the breaks and stopped about 300 meters away, fired, and took off."
Fox, of Omaha, Neb., was driving a 7-ton truck the shooter targeted. The insurgent fired only one round before speeding away.
"It made me mad because we didn't have time to engage back," Fox said.
The Marines weren't surprised when they took fire from the insurgent. Making contact was the primary focus for this particular patrol.
"We're looking for a fight, and there's a good chance we'll get in one down here," said Cpl. Matt I. Bremer, who leads 2nd Squad, while posting security on a street corner. "We've had contact down here before. One of our guys was shot in the arm during a patrol through here recently."
Another of the battalion's Marines was killed in an encounter with the enemy April 1.
Bremer, 22, from Winston Salem, N.C., said insurgents are actively engaging coalition forces in the sparsely populated southern part of the city.
"It's not like the marketplace where there are lots of women and children walking around," explained the 2001 East Forsyth High School graduate.
The marketplace is in Company A's area of operations, and patrols there have been relatively uneventful, with the exception of a few improvised explosive device detonations.
Bremer led his Marines on an aggressive patrol through the trash-filled streets in search of insurgents.
"The patrols are fast," said Bremer, who's on his third deployment to Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. "We run a lot of the time because moving constantly keeps us from getting hit and makes a hard target. When we stop and stay in one place for a while, that's when we run the risk of getting shot."
The discovery of a potential roadside Improvised Explosive Device slowed the patrol briefly. They left the street and took to the nearest building, an Iraqi family's home, to keep watch. From the building's rooftop, they provided security for fellow Marines of 2nd Platoon as they checked out the threat.
"It looks like just a pile of rocks, but it's worth the time and sweat to verify it and destroy it if it is an IED," Bremer explained as he tipped his Kevlar helmet back and wiped his forehead.
"IEDs are a big problem in Ramadi. They hurt a lot of people. My vehicle was just hit by one yesterday. The more we find and destroy, the less damage they can do to convoys driving around out here."
Bremer and the rest of the squad remained in the house and on its rooftop for half an hour. The residents received their weapon-wielding guests with smiling faces and rendered them thumbs-up greetings. One young Iraqi boy gave Bremer a high-five in exchange for some candy.
After receiving word the potential IED test was negative, they returned to the streets.
Second Squad and the remainder of 2nd Platoon finished out their patrol without incident and returned to their base at Camp Hurricane Point.
"I thought we would've seen a lot more action than what we did today," said Sgt. Fidel A. Alcoces, 2nd Platoon's platoon sergeant. "We've taken lots of fire in that area before. We've had rocket proppelled grenades shot at us there, too."
Alcoces, 29, from San Antonio, explained his platoon is taking a different approach to missions due to recent events.
"We're now in the offensive after we had two Marines go down," he said. "We're still watching all our rules of engagement, but if we feel threatened, we will engage."
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