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    Marines face, repel enemy twice in as many days



    Courtesy Story

    DVIDS Hub       

    Story and photos by
    Marine Cpl. Rich Mattingly
    3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment

    KONAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan ---- Marines and Sailors of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, had some close calls when they made contact with enemy forces in the Korangal Valley twice in a 48-hour period.

    Coming immediately after a mission where Co. I had been pursuing anti-Coalition militants, the Marines and Sailors of "America's Battalion" came under small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire in the middle of the night in the valley.

    "It started during a watch change-over, so most of us were awake," said Navy Seaman Jonathon Seaux, hospital corpsman with Co. I.
    "I checked on my Marines to make sure everyone was OK, and then I just did the first thing I thought to do -- pick up the squad automatic weapon next to me and start firing back."

    Seaux didn't even notice the 7.62 mm round that lodged in his body armor just above his heart until the next day.

    "I guess I'm just lucky," said Seaux, proudly displaying the small arms protective insert plate with a hole from which he had extracted a round.

    After taking fire for a solid 20 minutes, the Marines sent the enemy packing for the night with deadly accurate 60 mm high-explosive mortar rounds.

    With one squad running low on ammunition after the firefight, another squad in the valley made a night movement of over 1,200 meters to ensure their fellow Marines had back-up.

    "They didn't complain and they didn't stop," said Marine 2nd Lt. Pete Ankney, platoon commander with Co. I. "They knew they had a job to do."

    The next day, the company's combined anti-armor team went to retrieve the Marines who were maintaining an over watch position in the valley. After extracting the Marines, they got their own taste of action in an ambush by heavily-armed enemies using fortified fighting positions.

    "We heard muted gunfire, RPGs exploding and the sound of rounds hitting the trucks," said Marine Cpl. Josh Burgbacher, Co. I machine gunner.

    "That lasted for maybe half of a second and then you could hear every single gun in the convoy open up. Everyone just reacted with their training."

    Other Marines said Burgbacher, a machine gunner, calmly helped fix a jammed MK-19 automatic grenade launcher while rounds were impacting around him.

    The ambush was a well-planned attack, according to the CAAT Platoon Commander, Marine 1st Lt. Jonathan Frangakis. He said the enemy had a pile of rocks marking the start of the kill zone.

    "We thought at first it was an improvised explosive device, but they knew how many vehicles we had, and as soon as the first vehicle got near the marker, they opened up on us," he said.

    For several Marines, it was their second firefight in just a few hours.

    "I heard the rounds impacting," said Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Alfieri, Co. I machine gunner. "I just thought, "Here we go again," " he recalled as he cleaned his weapon after returning to Forward Operating Base Asadabad with his squad.

    The Marines assaulted through to the village where much of the fire had originated. They confirmed two enemies killed.

    Another close call to complement Seaux's included the shot-through front site post of Marine Sgt. Jason Burch's M-16A4 rifle.

    Burch said he didn't even notice the damage to his rifle as he continued to return fire on the enemy's position.

    As dawn broke in the morning, the Marines and Sailors joined together in giving thanks for their good fortune that no one was seriously injured in the firefights.

    The Marines returned to FOB Asadabad where, to the man, the Marines broke out cleaning gear and busted the carbon off of their weapons before considering the mission complete.



    Date Taken: 02.08.2005
    Date Posted: 02.08.2005 15:16
    Story ID: 1135
    Location: KONAR PROVINCE, AF

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