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CAMP HURRICANE POINT Ar Ramadi, Iraq (June 11, 2005) - Private First Class Travis T. Fitzpatrick, a machine gunner with 2nd Section, 5th Mobile Assault Platoon, Company W, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, sits in the turret of a Humvee here after having returned from a mission in the city. The 21-year-old from Susanville, Calif., was in this same position earlier during the operation and was shot at by an enemy sniper. The round hit the shield in front of the 2001 Lassen High School graduate and left a ringing in his ears. Photo by: Cpl. Tom Sloan

Photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan

Enemy contact customary for Weapons 1/5

11 Jun 2005 | Cpl. Tom Sloan

A young Susanville Marine currently serving in Iraq with Company W, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, was attacked with small arms fire and an roadside bomb while his unit conducted a mission here June 11. The company’s 5th Mobile Assault Platoon received a lone shot midway through a presence patrol they conducted through neighborhoods in the southern portion of the Al Anbar’s capital in the heart of the Sunni Triangle. Luckily, though, it missed its target – Pfc. Travis T. Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick, a machine gunner with the platoon’s 2nd Section, was sitting in the turret of a humvee manning his M2 .50 caliber machine gun at the time. “I was watching my rear and checking my fields of fire,” recalled the 21-year-old from Susanville, Calif. “I heard the shot; it ricocheted off the front of my shield and impacted on a wall on the side of the street. It left a ringing in my ear.” The shield the sniper’s bullet hit is part of the improved armor installed on his humvee. The close call didn’t daunt him, though. “It’s not the first time I’ve been shot at,” said the 2001 Lassen High School graduate while back at Camp Hurricane Point after the mission debrief. “I didn’t really think much of it. I just wanted to kill the (insurgent) who did it.” The round was likely chambered and fired by an enemy sniper operating from a nearby building, according to the platoon’s commander, 1st Lt. Adam W. Burch. “Sniper fire and IEDs are the most probable courses of action from the enemy in this part of the city,” said the 28-year-old from Saratoga, N.Y. “We’ve taken single shots from unknown distances and locations and have been hit by IEDs here too, during past missions.” Corporal John R. Quiroz, a machine gunner and vehicle commander for 1st Section, said the area has a higher level of enemy activity than most in the city, which is what motivated the Marines’ mission. The undertaking kicked off with the platoon leaving the confines of their base in their convoy of up-armored humvees. After several minutes of winding through the city’s narrow streets and alleyways, the warriors had arrived at their destination ready to get down to business. “This place is known for being a bad neighborhood,” explained the 24-year-old from San Antonio, Texas, as he dismounted his humvee and took to patrolling the street on foot. “We’re looking for insurgent activity today.” The 2000 Corner Stone Christian School graduate said the operation was also geared towards “establishing a presence in the area” with the intent to deter insurgents from operating there. The Marines looked over walls, and checked alleyways and dwellings as they swept through the streets. “Some of these houses could be significant activity points,” said Quiroz, referring to residences located on street corners that insurgents might have used to launch attacks on coalition forces. “We’re in here to check the view from the second floor to see if it has a good visual on the intersection.” While Quiroz and his section of Marines were in a house checking its vantage points, Fitzpatrick was targeted. “We’ve got to go,” Quiroz yelled to his comrades. The Marines reacted quickly. They jumped into their vehicles and sought after the shooter. “Everything was going well until we strong pointed at a house and the truck four gunner took sniper fire,” he said while riding in the passenger seat looking at the passing buildings. “Right now we’re looking for where the shot might’ve been fired from.” After several minutes of searching, they hadn’t found the shooter. Burch made the decision to retrograde back to base. Along the way they hit an IED positioned on the median. “It hit between trucks three and four,” Quiroz said. The convoy about-faced right after the blast and went looking for the “triggerman”. No one was found and the Marines returned to base. Despite the two close calls, the platoon sustained no casualties or damages to their vehicles. “Everyone made it back safely and we established a presence in the city so it was a good outcome,” said Quiroz.