“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.”