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    Marine logistics patrol pushes through IEDs, insurgent attacks in Afghanistan

    Marine logistics patrol pushes through IEDs, insurgent attacks in Afghanistan

    Photo By Lance Cpl. Ronald Stauffer | A Marine with Motor Transportation Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 3, scans the...... read more read more

    By Lance Cpl. Ronald W. Stauffer
    Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force - Afghanistan

    HELMAND PROVINCE, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Not even a series of potentially deadly events was enough to stop a Marine combat logistics patrol from meeting its objective recently in southern Afghanistan.

    The 1st Platoon of Combat Logistics Battalion 3's Motor Transportation Company proved its combat abilities and calmness under fire when insurgents attempted to waylay one of its combat logistics patrols traveling from here to Forward Operating Base Musa Qala, Dec. 13, 2008.

    While enroute to the FOB with a load of British and American supplies, the platoon, part of the logistics combat element of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan, experienced several improvised explosive device strikes and discoveries, damaged vehicles and a coordinated attack by insurgents.

    "There were three things I said would happen during this convoy," said Sgt. Benjamin C. Chesterbristow, the dismounted sweep team non-commissioned officer in charge for 1st Plt.

    Chesterbristow predicted the combat logistics patrol would find an IED, hit an IED and engage in a firefight – his predictions became reality.

    The combat logistics patrol struck two IEDs, uncovered four additional IEDs, received indirect and small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenade fire all within a 54-hour period before reaching its destination more than 60 kilometers away.

    "My whole cab filled with dust, and I couldn't see in front of my face," said Pfc. Christopher M. Reep, a motor transport operator with 1st Platoon, who was operating a 7-ton truck that day.

    Reep's truck was the first to roll over a hidden IED, and he said it was the loudest pop he'd ever heard in his life.

    In the process of approaching Reep's battered truck, sweep team members, trained specifically to find IEDs, uncovered two more IEDs buried beneath the earth and called for their explosive ordnance removal team to destroy the threats.

    Once Reep's immobilized vehicle was rigged to be towed, the combat logistics patrol pressed forward through the unmarked terrain with no road to guide them.

    "I knew about Musa Qala and the route," said 23-year-old 2nd Lt. Rebecca M. Turpin, 1st Platoon's convoy commander. "It wasn't surprising that we were hit."

    Shortly after, the combat logistics patrol hit another IED during the night that destroyed the lead vehicle's mine roller, a device used to pre-detonate IEDs and protect the vehicles and their occupants.

    "I don't remember the sound of the blast, all I remember is smoke flying in front of us, as well as the laughter in the back of my vehicle and someone yelling-out 'we found one,'" remarked Chesterbristow.

    Having to stop for the night, the patrol set up a defensive position and attempted to get some rest until it could acquire a new mine roller.

    Fortunately, CLB-3's combat operations center arranged the air-lift of a replacement mine roller, which arrived at midnight via a British CH-47 Chinook helicopter. The Marines worked diligently to install the replacement mine roller in order for the patrol to continue its push forward.

    At first light on Dec. 14, 2008, the combat logistics patrol continued its movement but was attacked with rocket propelled grenades and small-arms fire courtesy of insurgents outside a nearby village. One of the RPGs struck the patrol's refueling truck, rendering it immobile and leaving the patrol no choice but to set up another defensive position until the truck's damaged wheel could be repaired.

    Air support consisting of a pair of AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters from Marine Light/Attack Helicopter Squadron 269, part of SPMAGTF-A's air combat element, was dispatched to give the patrol further assistance, suppressing the insurgents' attack, while F/A-18 Hornets and a B-1 Bomber from other alliance forces waited on standby.

    "I've never seen anyone shoot RPGs accurately before, but all our movements were right. Everyone posted security where they needed to, and the gunners were on-point with their weapons," said Sgt. Steven K. Smith, a motor transport operator with 1st Plt.

    Smith said he's encountered similar situations but never in such close succession.

    "You're drained and tired," Smith explained. "You want to sleep, but you want to stay up. Your body and your mind are fighting each other at the same time."

    "It's a new battlefield for me," said Chesterbristow, who has three tours in Iraq under his belt. "It's definitely an eye-opener to see a force that actually wants to stay and fight."

    Through training, combat proficiency and cool thinking, the combat logistics patrol reached its destination in Musa Qala, off-loaded its cargo, and then returned to base with no casualties.

    "Before stepping off, everybody knew what to do, and that's exactly what they did," Turpin said. "The Marines are efficient and are the most professional and calm group of Marines I have. It's an absolute honor to serve with them."



    Date Taken: 01.18.2009
    Date Posted: 01.18.2009 11:06
    Story ID: 28993
    Location: AF

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