Apr 252005

The New York Times today profiles the experiences of marines from Company E, a unit which lost more than one-third of its 185 troops during a six-month stint in Ramadi, Iraq last year. After returning to the United States, members of the company, part of a battalion nicknamed the "Magnificent Bastards," have broken with the traditional code of silence to tell their story, "one they say was punctuated not only by a lack of armor but also by a shortage of men and planning that further hampered their efforts in battle, destroyed morale and ruined the careers of some of their fiercest warriors." They tell of the four marines who died because their unarmored Humvee was only rigged with enough scrounged scrap metal shields to protect them up to their shoulders. Since the marines of Company E had less than half the troops they needed to fight, at times, they were forced to create "dummy marines" out of cardboard cutouts and camouflage shirts, which they placed in observation posts. In another tragic case, during one deadly firefight, the unit didn’t have enough vehicles to rescue fellow soldiers in trouble; while marines tried in vain to hotwire a dump truck, 10 men in the unit died. Capt. Chae J. Han, a member of the Pentagon team documenting Marine camps in Iraq said, "It was pitiful. Everything was just slapped on armor, just homemade, not armor that was given to us through the normal logistical system." Their commander, Captain Royer, repeatedly asked for more men and armor for his troops; his requests were denied and he was later removed from his post.

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