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MCAS Miramar

Photo by Lance Cpl. Brian A. Henner

3/4 CAAT experienced all in Fallujah

20 Jul 2005 | Lance Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr. 2nd Marine Division

The deafening explosion of the roadside bomb lifted the armored vehicle three feet off the ground and threw it just short of twenty feet down the road. As the dust around the scene settled, the Marines exited their Humvee to look themselves over. To everyone’s amazement, no one was hurt. This was the scene of just one of the 68 road side bombs that detonated in the proximity of the Combined Anti Armor Teams of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines. While conducting daily patrols in the city and serving as the battalion’s quick reaction force, the Marines of the battalion’s two CAAT elements spent approximately 12 hours each day inside the city here. “We’re out there all the time,” said Staff Sgt. Joe G. Ramirez III, 31-year-old platoon sergeant for CAAT-1, “and we’ve been hit by everything.” The teams endured ambushes and snipers along the way. “We’ve had rounds impacting our windows, IED’s hitting our trucks,” said Ramirez, a native of Beeville, Texas. “We even had a (rocket propelled grenade) bounce off one of our gunner’s shields.” One of the more memorable incidents of the deployment happened on Father’s day, according to Ramirez. During a patrol through the city, more than 40 insurgents ambushed the Marines of CAAT-1 with assault rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. “They threw 40 guys at us,” Ramirez said. “We killed 26 of them and didn’t take a single casualty.” Through all of the bombs, ambushes and snipers, the Marines of CAAT suffered only three casualties. The Marines have numerous explanations for the low casualty rate, according to Staff Sgt. Nicholas A. Clark, 34-year-old platoon sergeant for CAAT-2. “It has a lot to do with the Marines training and experience,” said Clark, a native of Olivet, Mich. “It’s just a matter of doing what you’re trained to do.” Most of the Marines in the CAAT elements have deployed at least twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Although they agree experience is a factor, some Marines give most of the credit to the sturdiness of their armored vehicles. Through all of the explosions and enemy fire, not a single vehicle was lost to enemy attacks, according to Clark. “The trucks are just that tough,” Clark said. “There were a few times we thought we lost one, but after the smoke cleared it was fine.” Whatever the reason, the Marines of Weapon’s Co. have gone through a gauntlet of fire and metal, and continue to push forward in support of the war on terrorism.