GARMSIR DISTRICT, HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan – After departing their outpost on a patrol the Marines of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment and Afghan National Army soldiers waged an intense six-hour battle with Taliban insurgents who opened fire on them just after 8 a.m.
“We set out the combat patrol anticipating contact,” said Capt. E.A. Meador from Laurel, Miss., the company commander. “They always try to hit us in that area.”
After moving only about one mile from their combat outpost, the Marines received a heavy volley of enemy gunfire from multiple directions. Without hesitation, the Marines and ANA returned fire to suppress the enemy positions , began to maneuver on the insurgents and call for fire support.
Within minutes, an AH-1W Super Cobra and a UH-1N Huey were on station overhead to help suppress and engage enemy targets. The Cobra fired several five-inch Zuni rockets into one of the compounds from which the patrol was receiving sustained fire.
During the engagement, the squad leaders were encouraging and directing their Marines to ensure they were doing everything they could to stay effective and in the fight. No matter how tired they became as time wore on, the voice of experience could be heard across the battlefield.
“Push forward. Keep your dispersion,” called out Sgt. Jonathon Delgado, a squad leader from Kissimmee, Fla., as his Marines pressed through the corn field to maneuver on one of the compounds hiding the enemy.
The Marines and ANA eventually maneuvered up to and cleared the insurgent positions initially used to launch the ambush. One moment they were fighting in open fields, and the next they were clearing rooms the insurgents had used as fighting positions – two very different and challenging combat techniques. One squad, expecting to encounter some resistance, went to clear the western compound where the patrol had initially taken heavy fire. As they entered the compound, the only thing that was they found were brass casings and links from the enemy’s machine guns.
“It was tense going through the compound,” Daughtry commented. “You never know exactly what is coming around the corner.”
In past firefights here, insurgents have kept their distance when engaging the Marines, but things were different during this battle.
“This was the first time in a while that we were able to close with the enemy so effectively,” Kurtz said. “We were within 50-75 meters – right on top of them.”
The platoon-sized element that took the initial contact was only one surprise Company E had for the insurgents this day. When they started to run, a second platoon was sent out to meet them.
The Taliban militants displaced to another location they had used to launch attacks from in the past – a large wall. During the follow-on fight, the Marines were able to cut off the insurgents’ escape route and deny them the ability to use the wall for effective future attacks.
“It was a very successful day for us,” said Kurtz.