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Marines light it up as sun sets on insurgents

US Marine Corps News

10/13/2009 By Lance Cpl. John M. McCall, Regimental Combat Team 3

“I could hear the bullets flying over my head,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Estrada, 20, a team leader from Los Angeles. “They were impacting right in front of us.”

Marines with Company B, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 3, were engaged in a firefight here Oct. 2.

Marines conducting a security patrol were attacked by enemy insurgents hiding on the outskirts of a nearby village.

“We were patrolling through an area that is known to be used by the enemy,” said Sgt. Matthew Duquette, 23, a squad leader from Warrenville, Ill. “We were moving across this small field on our way back (to the patrol base), and we started taking fire.”

Caught in an open field, Marines rushed for what little cover they could find, attained positive identification of the enemy, and began returning fire.

“They were firing at us from a few different positions; most of it was coming out of a small village directly in front us,” Duquette explained. “Once we identified their positions, we returned fire. We knew where they were so we had no reason to leave.”

“You could see a few guys poking their heads out along with the muzzles of their rifles,” Estrada recalled.

With the sun beginning to set, the enemy continued to harass the Marines from various positions. The insurgents put themselves between the bright sun and the Marines in a failed attempt to stifle them.

“They try to use the sun to their advantage,” Estrada explained. “The enemy will attack a lot when the sun sets or when it rises since it is hard to see anything with the sun in your eyes.”

After nearly 90 minutes, Marines radioed for an air strike to take out the remaining enemy fighters.

“The shots kept coming so air support was called in for us,” Duquette said. “I’m glad the plane came when it did because it seemed like the enemy’s shots started getting a lot more accurate as the fight went on. Once we had support from the air, the enemy retreated and stopped firing.”

The gunfire ceased after two aircraft made their gun runs, laying down fire on the insurgent positions.

After the fight, the Marines found hundreds of enemy bullet casings in many different buildings in the area. Fortunately, the Marines had suffered no casualties during the fight.

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