HIT, Iraq -- Following an attack on Company I, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment’s forward operation base, engineers with 4th Combat Engineer Battalion rushed to repair the base’s defenses.
Arriving less than an hour after the attack began, they immediately assessed the situation, made plans to improve defenses and started to work on the damaged FOB.
“Most of the damage was caused by the SVBIED (Suicide Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device) which detonated right outside our entry control point,” said Sgt. Howard J. Cook III, an engineer squad leader and Richmond, Va., native. “We replaced some of the barriers and rebuilt the guard posts, but besides that, the rest of the damage was minimal.
“We were able to repair all the main defenses within 24 hours and even improve some of them.”
The coordinated attack was one of three that targeted the firm bases in the city. Company I’s FOB was hit by three rockets, small arms fire and an SVBIED.
The insurgents killed eight civilians that were coming to collect money from Multi-National Forces at this FOB and damaged a bridge near another firm base.
“I feel that we have been drowning the insurgents and they have started attacking out of desperation,” the 25-year-old said. “We have been reducing their weapons and taking their safe havens, now they’re just trying to find a way to hurt us, and they’re failing at that too.”
The engineers, along with the infantryman of 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, found dozens of caches and destroyed them since being deployed here this past spring.
The engineers played a pivotal part in designing and constructing the firm bases in the city. The fact that the bases survived the attacks is a testament not only to the infantryman who fought from them, but also demonstrated the great skills the engineers had in setting up the defenses.
“Our defenses saved a lot troops lives today,” said Cook, a1997 West Point High School graduate. “With some help from these guys, we repaired the original defenses and added on to the original design.”
The infantrymen along with the small team of engineers worked to improve defenses over the next couple of days and lay down a new scheme of barriers that will provide further protection for the base.
“We want to leave here knowing that our defenses were better than they were the last time,” said Cook, a 2001 Virginia Military Institute graduated said, “even though last time the defenses stopped a full-blown assault.”