BARWANAH, Iraq --
In the Fall of 2004, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines fought in the Battle of Fallujah. It experienced some of the Marine Corps’ most intense urban fighting since Vietnam’s Hue City. That deployment left a lasting effect on this battalion and the individuals involved. Although they are mostly stationed elsewhere or out of the Marine Corps, 1/3 still has a few of its Fallujah Veterans through its ranks and companies. These Marines bring much knowledge and determination with them, and they play a large role in the success this task force has achieved in the Hadithah Triad.
Sergeant Adam R. Morrison, a squad leader with 2nd Squad, 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, decided to enlist into the Marine Corps in Sept. 2002 after speaking to a recruiter.
“I was originally going to go to college to wrestle but that fell through,” said Morrison. “A gentleman who used to come to our wrestling matches was a Marine Corps recruiter, so I spoke with him and signed up as a 0311 infantryman.”
Morrison described himself as an indoor person before joining the Marine Corps and didn’t know what to expect from bootcamp and the School of Infantry.
“When I enlisted, it was during (Operation Iraqi Freedom) I, so my mother was really worried,” said the Puyallup, Wash. native. “My father, on the other hand, knew it would be a good experience for me and would help me in the long run.”
Upon completion of boot camp, Morrison began training at the School of Infantry at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and then checked into 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, where he was assigned to 2nd Squad, 1st Platoon, Alpha Company.
“I’ve been with my squad since I got to the fleet,” said the 22-year-old. “I remember when I first checked in, I had a platoon sergeant that wanted nothing but combat. I never had it too bad when I first got there because I always did what I was told and tried to improve myself.”
Morrison soon deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. The battalion was conducting training in Japan when it was ordered to sail to the Persian Gulf in order to support Operation Iraqi Freedom II. The sudden change took the Marines of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment to Fallujah.
“It was a shocker, and I’ll admit I was a little nervous when I found out,” he added. “I look back at it now, and the lack of sleep stands out a lot. We were always on the move. The first couple of weeks we were there was like hell on Earth. I can say now, it was the worst time in the world, but at the same time we got to be Marines and do what we were trained for.”
Morrison said many events happened during the deployment he will always remember, but one stands out among all others.
“November 14, 2004, that’s the day I’ll always remember. It puts chills down my spine when I think of it,” said Morrison. “It was the day Sergeant Peralta gave his life for the rest of us. When we cleared a room, it all happened so fast. Before I knew it, Peralta had taken the grenade and saved the rest of us. I know if it wasn’t for him, the rest of us would’ve been injured a lot worse and some probably wouldn’t have made it out.”
Morrison described Peralta as a hero and said he may not be here today if it wasn’t for his bravery.
Peralta is currently being considered for the Medal of Honor for his actions that day.
“I think being in the Battle of Fallujah as my first deployment put thing in perspective for me. I now relate everything to combat and trying to keep my Marines safe,” said Morrison.
Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Telles, a team leader in Morrison’s squad, said it’s comforting to know his squad leader has experience in Iraq and trusts him completely.
“He’s a hands down grunt and knows what’s going on. He knows how do get the job done,” added Telles, an El Paso, Texas, native.
After returning from his first deployment to Iraq Morrison returned to Hawaii and began training with his squad for his next deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and departed with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines in January 2006.
“Afghanistan was a lot different because we were constantly hiking up mountains. It was a different world compared to Iraq,” said Morrison.
While in Afghanistan, Morrison’s squad was involved in Operation Mountain Lion and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat Valor for their actions during the operation.
“A deployment is a deployment, but I liked Afghanistan better because I felt like we had more of a reason to be there because of the attacks on Sept. 11,” he added.
After Afghanistan, Morrison returned to Hawaii and had to decide if he would extend or reenlist and report somewhere else.
“I originally reenlisted and wasn’t going to deploy with 1/3 again. However, I cancelled my orders to deploy with 1/3,” he said. “I did it for my Marines. I wanted to help them out because I was expecting the next deployment to be similar to the first. It feels good when you put your training to use. In combat you’re never going to know how exactly to act, every situation determines how you react and training plays a big role in that.”
Currently in Barwanah, Morrison is assisting in the fight to help the Iraqi people achieve a state of self-governance.
Morrison said the toughest part of the deployment for him is making the transition from combat to winning the hearts and minds.
“I recently reenlisted to be a Mountain Warfare instructor at Bridgeport, Calif.,” he said. “I’d like to deploy again to Afghanistan when I get there, but we’ll see.”
After his next enlistment, Morrison said he would like to be part of the Special Weapons and Tactics team for the Seattle Police Department.
“I’m unsure if I’ll stay in the Corps or not right now, I’m just going with the flow,” he added. “I will admit though, there’s no better job then being a squad leader. If you have a good squad leader then you’ll have good Marines. It’s an NCO war, so I can’t think of anything else I’d want to be if I stay in.”