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Posted on Apr 7, 2004 in War College

The Battle of An Nasiriyah

By Richard S. Lowry

Castleberry kept his track moving forward. Several Iraqis ran to the middle of the road, stopped, and began shooting RPGs at the vehicle. Two rockets whizzed by, scraping the side of C201 as they passed. Other RPGs were duds and just bounced off the armored vehicle. Castleberry watched in terror as another Iraqi jumped into the road and leveled a RPG at his lead track. He rummaged around in the driver compartment trying to keep the 28-ton vehicle driving down the road while he struggled to bring his M-16 rifle up through the hatch. Unable to free his rifle, he steered straight for the enemy soldier and accelerated, crushing the threatening Iraqi under his treads before he could let loose his deadly projectile. Finally, Castleberry managed to free his weapon. Now he was driving forward and shooting his rifle at the same time. The track commander, Sergeant William Schaefer, looked over and said to Castleberry, "What in the hell are you doing?"

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"It makes me feel better." Castleberry replied.

Charlie Company pushed forward through the city. The entire Company had nearly traversed the four kilometer gauntlet when the second to last track, C211, was hit in the right rear with an RPG. The warhead hit in the vehicle’s "Achilles Heel" just below the track. The explosion spewed shrapnel into the crowded troop compartment, wounding five Marines. Sergeant Randy Glass was the closest to the impact. A large chunk of metal almost completely severed his leg. Smoke poured out of the troop compartment as the entire right rear of C211 continued to burn. The crippled track continued forward and managed to get across the northern bridge before it ground to a stop and more than twenty Marines scrambled out, taking the wounded with them.


C211

All of Charlie Company was now under heavy direct and indirect fire from all sides. The Weapons Platoon leader set up his three mortars and began returning fire. Lieutenant Ben Reid ordered one of his mortar teams to move south with him and set up a position to fire back into the town. Just as they were setting up, the team took a direct hit from an enemy artillery round. Lieutenant Reid was thrown to the ground. "I thought my arm had been blown off" Reid said later. Fortunately, it had only been broken. He turned and found his mortar team decimated. Five Marines lay dead and another four were severely wounded.

Reid ran up the road for help but another artillery round knocked him to the ground. As he lay face down in the Iraqi sand, all he could see was a mass of blood pooling up in the dirt. The shell had peppered his face with shrapnel. He got back on his feet and continued his run to the mortar track, C208. Reid went directly to his Gunny Sergeant and asked him if his eye was still intact. The Gunny looked at Reid’s wound and replied, "You’re good to go, sir."

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