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Photo, caption below.
U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Drew Bone, commander, Battery E, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, Camp Lejeune, N.C., studies the rocket propelled grenade fragmentations that impacted on this guard tower April 2, 2005, during an attack at the Abu Ghraib prison compound. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. Carden More Photos
Marines Relate Events of Abu Ghraib Attack
Troops repel insurgent attack at Forward Operating Base Abu Ghraib,
a detention facility for more than 3,400 insurgents.
By Sgt. Michael J. Carden
Multinational Corps-Iraq Public Affairs Office
FORWARD OPERATING BASE ABU GHRAIB, Iraq, April 13, 2005 — The U.S. Marine on guard duty in the tower April 2 was cleaning his .50-caliber machine gun. It was just after 7 p.m. when he heard the first enemy shots fired.

An enemy-fired rocket-propelled grenade followed. The impact caused a cloud of smoke and debris to form around him, impairing his ability to see who fired the grenade. Another rocket-propelled grenade connected for a direct hit from behind the Marine, damaging his communications radio and wounding him. The insurgents continued to engage the tower with small arms, hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenade fire.

“We had Marines fighting while wounded, and wounded Marines fighting who refused to be evacuated. Every single Marine fought without fear and with the sole purpose of protecting everyone inside this (forward operating base), ” U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Drew Bone

 

 

 

 

 

“With the amount of fire power they had on us, it seemed like there were 300 insurgents shooting at us,” said U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Arale, Battery E, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, Camp Lejeune, N.C., of the insurgent attack on Forward Operating Base Abu Ghraib, a detention facility for more than 3,400 insurgents.

The only operable weapon Arale and his fellow Marine on duty had was Arale’s M16 rifle. Arale, 33, fired several rounds at the insurgents before they decided to jettison themselves from the tower.

“We had no radio and only one weapon,” Arale said, a native of Wilkes-Barre, Penn. “We had no choice except to get out of the tower.”

Arale and his battle-buddy repelled 25 feet down the side of the tower. They used a rope that was normally used to haul equipment into and out of the tower. Both Marines sustained rope-burns to their hands to go along with their shrapnel wounds. Arale also sprained his ankle when he hit the ground.

Once the Marines were on the ground, they took cover in a fortified bunker, just inside of the perimeter wall. They maintained their position, keeping their sights on the doorway at the base of the tower. Other than scaling the wall, that was the only place the insurgents could enter the compound, Arale explained.

 

“The Marines applied heavy machine gun fire and established a perimeter on the inside of the wall,” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Drew Bone, commander, Battery E, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment. “If the insurgents had made it into the tower and breached the wall, they wouldn’t have gotten very far.

Meanwhile, insurgents hidden in a nearby residential area began a ground assault, targeting several access points and various areas of the compound, including another Marine guard tower. The insurgents continued to volley grenades, small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire, as well as indirect mortar fire.

“A grenade actually hit a recovery team who came to the aid of the wounded Marines in the towers,” Bone said. “It was one of the most well put together assaults that I had ever seen. It was enough for the insurgents to move up close to the towers.”

The insurgents used small and medium arms fire as cover fire for a suicide car-bomber as he drove his way towards the perimeter wall near the southeast tower. Marines returned fire, causing the vehicle to explode before it reached the wall.

A quick reaction force, made up of Marines and U.S. soldiers, as well as Apache helicopters and artillery counter-fire, prevented the insurgency from breaching the perimeter walls.

The insurgent force was estimated to be more than 60 members strong. Their attempt to infiltrate the operating base lasted for two hours before they were forced to retreat, but not without suffering at least 50 casualties.

“They came at us hard, but we came back at them even harder,” Bone said. “We had Marines fighting while wounded, and wounded Marines fighting who refused to be evacuated. Every single Marine fought without fear and with the sole purpose of protecting everyone inside this (forward operating base). ”

The battle resulted with minor damages to the compound. Thirty-six were injured, including Marines, soldiers, sailors, civilians and detainees. Seven U.S. troops were evacuated to combat support hospitals, 16 were treated for minor shrapnel wounds and have since returned to duty. All of the base’s detainees have been accounted for.

“It really was the most humbling experience I’ve ever been near,” Bone said. “It’s the type of stuff you read about in books and see in movies -- 18-, 19- and 20-year-old men sticking to their guns, never leaving their fellow comrades behind.”

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