HAQLANIYAH, Iraq -- Marines with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment recently changed missions mid operation to answer another unit’s last minute call for reinforcements. Third Platoon, Company L was prepared to set out on a routine sweep mission in villages south of Haditha Dam when a Mobile Assault Platoon was attacked by insurgents here.
The Marines with the MAP were patrolling here to gain information for future operations in the area when insurgents attacked.
“We saw some people on motorcycles who were acting suspiciously and we decided to follow them,” said Lance Cpl. Ryan W. English, a mortar man with the unit. “As we approached, our two forward vehicles they found themselves caught in a cross fire of RPGs and small arms fire.”
Returning fire and seeking cover, the Marines informed the battalion of the situation. The decision was quickly made to send out 3rd Platoon.
“They were in place to carry out another mission,” said GySgt. Charles E. Hagans, Jr., a 39-year-old company gunnery sergeant for Company L. “But when we received the call we knew that it would be in everyone’s best interest if we used this unit that was already in place and ready to go to reinforce the engaged Marines.”
As the Marines with the MAP continued to engage the insurgents, they identified key targets and called in air support. Soon after the helicopters’ strafing runs, 3rd Platoon rolled in.
“We had called in air support after we identified a trigger man for an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) that had exploded earlier. Then a line of AAVs (Amphibious Assault Vehicles) began to roll up in a single file line and we knew that help was here in a big way,” said English, a native of Butler, Pa.
Marines from 3rd Platoon were immediately engaged in small firefights upon entering the city and quickly secured a base of operations.
“We pushed through the area and began to set up bases while other units provided security for different sections of the city. The local populace was cooperative, but we couldn’t find the insurgents who had attacked us from there earlier,” said Hagans, a native of Dublin, Ohio.
While Marines continued to enter and secure sections of the city, insurgents launched another mortars and small arms assault against the Marines with the MAP.
“We were providing security for the road between the military housing complex and the city here, when were hit with more RPG rounds and small arms fire,” said the 25-year-old English.
The Marines’ quick response stopped and silenced the newest insurgent threat.
“We hit them with at least 1,000 rounds from our .50 cal and then we leveled the building they were shooting at us from with our missiles,” English said.
The city grew quiet as night fell, but the Marines remained watchful.
“We didn’t want to let our guard down, so we stayed watchful in case they wanted to launch another attack. We would be ready for them,” said Hagans.
The Marines later pulled out of the city here in respect for a local religious holiday, ‘Mohammed’s Birthday’. However, the insurgents didn’t respect the holiday and continued their attacks on coalition forces.
“Even though they attacked again, we left the area a few days later,” Hagans said. “But we will return. This fight is far from over.”