AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Cpl. Erick L. Calkins was leading his fire team during a stormy day in Ramadi when he heard the blast.
“It was a huge explosion.… I knew it hit close by,” said Calkins, from 1st Platoon, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.
A dump truck full of explosives had rammed into one of the battalion’s observation posts in another part of the Anbar provincial capitol, touching off a complex attack the Marines described as something straight out of the movies.
“It was rainy, stormy and windy, and they still attacked us with everything they had,” said Lance Cpl. Richard R. Ricketts, a mortarman with the interior guard force of the battalion’s Headquarters and Service Company.
Just moments after the initial blast, multiple mortar rounds rained down on the Ramadi Government Center, and insurgents poured on heavy small-arms fire from several nearby buildings, including a mosque. Meanwhile, at several other sights throughout the city, insurgents attacked Marines’ positions with car bombs, rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machineguns, mortars, and small arms fire.
There was only one course of action for the Marines of 3/8—they responded.
“The Marines didn’t hesitate,” said Corp. Michael F. Anziano, an infantryman attached to 3/8’s intelligence section at the Government Center. Anziano, a 28-year-old from Strafford, Conn., helped re-supply Marines with ammunition during the fight, and later took up position on the rooftop to return fire against the insurgents. “Everyone on post used accurate fire and the right weapon system for the right situation,” he said.
As the fighting progressed, the Marines observed insurgents setting up a mortar position several hundred yards from the Government Center. They immediately concentrated fire on the enemy position, killing three insurgents before they could employ the mortars.
“We disrupted their coordinated attack,” Anziano said. “We returned fire, preventing them from using accurate indirect fire and from maneuvering against us.”
Meanwhile, the interior guard force at Hurricane Point also had their hands full, as insurgents attacked their posts with small arms fire from nearby houses while mortar rounds impacted inside the base.
“We took up positions all over camp to fight the enemy,” said Ricketts, a 21-year-old from Orlando, Fla.
The fight at Hurricane Point lasted approximately 45 minutes, according to 1st Lt. John A. Dalby, company executive officer for Headquarters and Service Company.
“Our guys played a small role, but it was a vital role and they did a superb job,” said Dalby, a 25-year-old from Arnold, Md.
When all was said and done, the Marines had successfully repelled the complex attack, sustaining only minor injuries and destroying four insurgent car bombs before they could be used against their intended targets.
“It felt like the battle went on for hours,” Anziano said. “It was pretty hectic, but everything was well organized and the communication among the Marines was great.”
It was a hard-learned lesson for the insurgents that rainy April day in Ramadi: even their best laid plans won’t survive contact with the Marines of 3/8.