Fallujah or Al Fallujah, Iraq is currently being held by ISIS and it is reported on May 23, 2016, by ABC News, that the Iraqi military is closing in on the outside city of, Anbar Province, which is 40 miles west of Baghdad. The Iraqi government has made it their utmost priority to reclaim the city since 2014, when it had become one of the first parts of the country to be seized. Civilians families are fleeing to the outskirts Fallujah and 1,000 families have managed to make it, there are still a staggering 50,000 trapped at the center of the city.
Members of the Iraqi government forces have helped many that fled from Saqlawiyah and the violence held within, by carrying their belongings outside the village on June 3, 2016. ABC News reports, that ISIS fighters control the roads very closely and have threatened to kill anyone who tries to escape.
Fallujah has been a major battleground since the spring of 2004, with Operation Vigilant Resolve and considered as the First Battle of Fallujah. The city was closed off and attacks were thought to be coming from the South and southeast as it had in April 2004. In November, the Regimental Combat Team 1, which consisted of the 3rd Battalion/1st Marines and the 3rd Battalion/5th Marines along with the US Army’s 2nd Battalion/7th Cavalry positioned themselves to attack Fallujah from the north.
Fallujah 2004, ‘Hell House’
War is not for the weak or the kind-hearted, war is for the brave and those with a heart and honor. That includes the soldiers who fought in the city of Fallujah, Iraq, in the Operation Phantom Fury, who have been dubbed the Fallujah Veterans, setting them apart from the rest of the Iraq War Veterans.
In Jack Mandaville’s article in Rhinodden, he tells the story of the soldiers who fought gallantly side by side of one another from the 1st Light Armoured Reconnaissance Battalion called the “Warpigs.” Three of men that made up part of the Phantom Fury are Blake Magaoay, Chris “Fish” Anderson and the team’s leader Lance Corporal Matthew “Mac” MacMillian. The three men were close friends and veterans of the 2003, invasion of Iraq.
The story begins with the Warpig’s 3rd platoon finding quarters in an abandoned fire station, here they started around the clock patrols to stop insurgents from reentering homes. After the three soldiers cleared a home on an adjacent block they moved on to another home making their way into the kitchen. Magaoay set up post at the bottom of the stairwell to keep an eye on any movement upstairs as both Anderson and MacMillian went into other direction to clear the main living room.
Mandaville states, that Magaoay while peering up the stairs he was shot by a boy who was thought to be in his teens, firing three rounds into the unsuspecting soldiers head. The young boy then threw a grenade at the remaining two soldiers, leaving MacMillian and Anderson to run for cover. After the blast, MacMillian shot the boy with his M-16/203 service rifle as he tried to run upstairs. A second blast tore through the house as the two soldiers made their way upstairs, shooting started again telling them there was another person in the house.
Both Anderson “Fish” and MacMillan had been injured during the blast and knew they needed to get out of the house. Team 4 was about fifty feet from the fire station and without orders Ed Lonecke and Lance Corporal Paul Aldrich collected their gear and moved towards the house. Turning the corner Team 4 ran into Macmillian and Anderson seeing their wounds were worse than originally thought. Unconcerned with their lives they both yelled:
“Blake’s still in the house, Blake’s still in the house!”
The team went back in to retrieve their fallen soldier not knowing whether or not he was alive. Upon reentry of the house, the other insurgent who had probably been on high alert from the previous altercation started firing again. Rounds from an AK-47 tore through the open part of the stairwell in which Ed Lonecke had been hitting him he dropped to the ground. Paul Aldrich bravely went in after Lonecke and dragged him into the kitchen.
In Honor of The Wounded
The Marines of the Hell House that were attacked were photographed by Lucian Read making the picture one that became the most memorable picture taken in Iraq. The photo shows 1st Sargent Bradley Kasal, severely wounded in the battle and being carried by Lance Cpls Christopher Marquez and Dane Shaffer. Kasal who also was injured and bleeding badly. Ten years after the photo was taken there was a 7-foot-tall by 6-foot-wide sculpture made and is called “No Man Left Behind.” The that it stands at the Wounded Warrior Battalion complex at Camp Pendleton, California as of November 2014.
Marines Times reports, that a Vietnam Veteran named Phelps, said he hopes that the statues placement outside of outside of the Wounded warrior Battalion stands to remind the world that Marines fought for others and now others are fighting for them as they recover. The battle for Marines and other military alike is yet to be over, but as a nation, they are prayed for, for their safe return home.
By Tracy Blake
NBC News: Iraqi Families Flee Violence From Fight for Fallujah
ABC News: What’s Going On in Iraqi Offensive to Retake Fallujah From ISIS
ABC News: Fallujah News
RHINODEN: ‘Aumakua: Sacrifice in a Fallujah Hell House
about education: Iraq War: Second Battle of Fallujah
MarineTimes: Statue honoring iconic Fallujah photo unveiled at Pendleton
Top image Courtesy of wardolinio’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Bill Dickison’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License