Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Looks like Fern may have seen some action in Iraq, but apparently no marines were hurt.

Stay safe, little brother.

Echo trades fire with 'bad guys'

Echo trades fire with 'bad guys'

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

NASIRIYAH, Iraq - Two Iraqis are believed to have been killed after opening fire with AK-47s on Marines from Harrisburg-based Echo Company's 2nd Platoon yesterday.

The shooting began just 21/2 hours after Echo took control of part of the city. No injuries were reported among the Marines.

Last night, Marines from the 2nd Battalion 1st Marines were preparing for possible attacks from paramilitary forces in retribution for the shoot-out north of the Euphrates River.

At 11:20 p.m. Iraq time yesterday (3:20 p.m. EDT), the Echo Company compound came under fire again. Several shots were fired from an AK-47 toward the compound.

An Echo Company sentry opened fire, while flares were fired into the sky to light up the area. No one from Echo was wounded in the shooting.

Also yesterday, Marines from the 2nd Battalion 1st Marines, who took over an area that had been patrolled since last week by Echo Company, came under heavy attack and called for support. No further details were available late yesterday.

Further south of the city, in a known hot spot for paramilitary activity, another Marine reconnaissance unit came under attack late in the day and called for support.

Echo is responsible for guarding a main route that leads to the area.

Stepped-up activity by members of Fedayeen Saddam against the American forces came as the Marines shifted units, and Echo and Golf company, of Albany, N.Y., took control of the city east of Route 8, the main north/south route that is key to supply and communications.

"I don't think it's a coincidence that they started a fight the night we moved out," said Maj. Geoff Rollins, commander of Echo's nearly 180 Marines. "I'm sure they know what we're doing. They've been watching us."

Echo was working out of a former Baath Party headquarters compound without benefit of generators, electricity or running water. The Marines' reception has been mainly friendly, although there is a growing unrest in the city because of the lack of utilities.

Echo's shoot-out occurred near the site of a recently discovered former Iraqi military training facility.

"These are the slums, as far as the city goes," said Maj. Nick Visconti, Echo's executive officer. "This is some really, really bad-guy country. This is the wild, wild West."

The area had been cleared by vehicle patrols, but Echo was the first to conduct foot patrols.

"You can walk down the street and they're waving at you sometimes, and then there's an ambulance driving around screaming anti-American slogans," Visconti said.

The shooting occurred not far from the Iraqi training site discovered Sunday that contained mortars, guns, rocket-propelled grenades and gas masks. Marine officers said it was unclear whether the shooters had a connection to the facility.

Another former Iraqi Army post was found yesterday about a mile from the former Republican Guard base being used as the headquarters for 2/25 and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The Marines hoped to take an oil painting of Saddam Hussein found at the site back to battalion headquarters in Garden City, N.Y.

Sixteen prisoners captured a day earlier were transported out of the area. One Iraqi POW with a gunshot wound and another with other injuries were treated by a Navy physician before being transferred to a nearby Army hospital.

Brett Lieberman of our Washington Bureau is in Iraq with the 2nd Battalion 25th Marines. The battalion's Echo Company is based in Harrisburg

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