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Photo Information

Camp Hit, Al Anbar, Iraq (April 16, 2005)--Pfc. Mark R. Garfold, 22 of Pittsburgh, a mortarman with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, prepares to return fire on insurgents who attacked Camp Hit with mortars of thier own. (Official USMC Photo by Lance Cpl. Shane S. Keller)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Shane S. Keller

Mortar man from Pittsburgh helps defend base in Iraq

20 Sep 2005 | Cpl. Ken Melton

The mortar man and his team are on the frontline of defense for the camp here, where the threat of indirect fire is something Marines deal with everyday.

Private first class. Mark Garold, a Pittsburgh native, serves as one of the mortar men who keep insurgents at bay.

When insurgents attempt to attack the camp, the base’s mortar men with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment send the insurgents fleeing by responding with mortars of their own. 

The mortar men are constantly on standby to answer back to the insurgents’ indirect fire attacks.

“The second day we got here in March we had a vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED),” said Garfold, a Company K mortar man.

According to Garfold, insurgents have targeted the camp almost everyday since March.

“So far we have been quick to respond to their attacks and have met with success on a few occasions,” said Garfold.  “The main reason we operate so well is because we have great NCO (noncommissioned officer) leadership in our ranks.”

Garfold joined the Marine Corps in 2003 when he decided to pursue his childhood dream. 

“I wanted to be a Marine since I was little,” the 22-year-old said. “And I can honestly say this is one of the best jobs the Marine Corps has to offer.”

Garfold credits the training that he received prior to deploying on his ability to perform his job at peak performance and keep the insurgents guessing what his next move might be.

“Every day we make sure all the ammunition is stocked up and easily accessible,” said Garfold.  “We also make sure the weapons are cleaned and the firing area is clear of any obstructions.”

Preparation is critical due to the threat of insurgent attacks.

“We’re prepared to defend this base at all times,” said Garfold.  “We even have Marines who sleep outside between the barriers just in case we take fire during the night.”

The insurgents have attacked the base with RPGs and mortars numerous times in the past few months.  During that time, two Marines have been killed and several others have been injured.

“We try to make sure that the insurgents can’t hurt any more of our brothers by launching a quick counter attack,” said Garfold. “It’s a constant battle and we’re going to win it.”

And the mortar men of Company K will do this by responding quickly and with what Marines are known for – firepower, according to Garfold. 

“If they shoot at us we make sure we fire back at them with more rounds,” he said.  “We want them to know we mean business and we’re not leaving until they’re gone and that this part of the country is safe.”