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"History was being made and I was with the Marines who were making it"

IRAQ: 2006 - 2007 - 2008

2006: Ramadi: I embedded with 1st Bn, 6th Marines, LtCol William Jurney commanding. They pushed me out of Hurricane Point into OP VA with Alpha Company, where I went out on 'housecalls' at 0300. "Route Michigan - OP Hawk - Retard"...all names to be remembered. It was "Clear-Hold-Build" but done simultaneously, LtCol Jurney explained, NBC's Brian Williams later called Camp Ramadi 'the scariest place in Iraq" - for him, perhaps.

He should have spent a few days with me inside the city patrolling with LtCol Jurney's Marines.

In Fallujah I was with Maj Brian Wirtz's MiTT's Team out by the railroad station, the site of much ferocious fighting in Nov 2004. While we were making vehicle stops with an accompanying Iraqi Army unit, we started taking fire from the mosques; an aggressive Marine response quickly suppressed it.

To: HN Chris "Doc" Anderson, Maj Megan McClung, CPT Travis Patriquin: RIP.

2007: Mahmudiyah, Ramadi, Fallujah, and Western Anbar

January found me in Mahmudiyah with 10th MTN, 2/15 Artillery. A small world, my Marine son had been stationed in this Sunni Triangle city in 2004-2005, and 2/15's CO was LTC Robert Morschauser, from my neighboring town. Like the Marines of Bravo Battery 1st Bn, 10th Marines the prior year, 2/15 kept half their artillerymen on the gun line as the other half went out on patrol. These 10th MTN, 2/15 Soldiers were impressive and professional as we went out on humanitarian missions, med ops, and joint patrols with the I/A's.

Then back to Ramadi with Alpha Co, 1/6. Capt Sloan's Marines had been moved further into the city, and were now at 17th Street Station, mentoring the I/A's and I/P's living with them. Patrols consisted of Marines-I/A's-I/P's, and the Sunni's responded positively with intelligence and more recruits for their fledgling Iraqi forces. The "Anbar Awakening" was in progress, yet only the Marines and Sunni's knew it.

Then a week at the "Gov Center" with Capt Jason Arthaud's Bravo Company, and some memorable zero-dark patrols into Qa'tanna and the raid on the Dental Hospital.

I remember one firefight... we'd been warned moments earlier by the locals that we were about to be ambushed…but because of their warning 2 Marines were only slightly wounded; the locals wanted peace and stability and I was fortunate to be present when they and the Marines took their city back.

Fallujah: The "Turn-Over" Ceremony from MajGen Richard Zilmer and 1st MEF (Fwd) to MajGen Walter Gaskin and 2MEF (Fwd). The highlight was seeing the Sunni leaders in attendance to honor Gen Gaskin... Gov Ma-moun, Ramadi's Mayor Latif, even Army Gen Ray Odierno turned out in acknowledgment of what the Marines - Army (Col Sean MacFarland's Ready First), and Sheik Sattar Abu Risha' Anbar Awakening was accomplishing.

Bravo Company's Red Bulls of the Minnesota National Guard was attached to the Marines. Under the command of CPT Chip Rankin, a history teacher, these Guardsmen, most of them age 40+, these postmen, teachers, and storeowners are your quintessential citizen-soldiers, and part of the longest-deployed unit since WW2; 23 months away from Minnesota. Warriors all.

In western Anbar I visited Rahwah, Anah, and Ocatal. Out on patrol with the Mn Guard and I/A's, we walked through Anah in presence patrols that helped the local residents know that Anbar Province was no longer an AQI playground. In Al-Asad I bumped into Ramadi's Mayor Latif – he was spreading Sheik Sattar's message to the mayors and tribal chiefs that working with the Marines was the best way for peace and jobs and he ensured I attended his "Economic Development Conference" where I interviewed and lunched with Sheikh Sattar.

2008: The Bagdad Belts, back to Ramadi

By January 2008 the Army realized that the Marines 3-Block War was their path to success, and Task Force Marne's Maj Gen Rick Lynch adopted it with a vengeance. I pushed south of Baghdad into Arab Jabour with LTC Ken Adgie's 1-30 Infantry Regiment. This was the first time in four years any Americans had lived in this farming area, and Gen Lynch's "Sons of Iraq" program was successfully employing locals to act as local security against AQI - exactly as did Sattar's Sons of Anbar did a year earlier.

Then back to Ramadi, where we walked through town in the daylight, without flaks and Kevlar, and I went shopped in Qa'tanna for souvenirs after eating lunch at an outdoor cafe... America and Washington DC will never understand that the pacification of Iraq started in Ramadi in 2006 when LtCol Bill Jurney pushed his 1st Bn, 6th Marines into the city one block at a time and built the Marine-Sunni relationship with Sheik Sattar.



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