COMBAT OUTPOST COUTU, HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- The burst of 7.62 mm rounds roared through the open field like thunder, July 9. As the troops instinctively dropped to the ground, they promptly searched their surroundings to try and find the shooter.
“He’s on the roof!” screamed Seaman Recruit Joseph Kubat, a corpsman with 3rd Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. The rest quickly identified the enemy on top of a nearby building. They returned fire, causing the insurgent to stop shooting and flee the area. The fight was over.
This exchange of lead was simply the latest for the Marines of Lima Company. Their area of operation in Karez-e Sayyidi, Afghanistan, just outside of Marjah, has been a hotbed for gunfights and improvised explosive device blasts in recent weeks.
“It seems like comes in spurts for three or four days in a row,” said Sgt. Jonathan Taylor, a squad leader with 3rd Platoon.
On this patrol, the Lima Company Marines were trying to stay a step ahead of the enemy by searching the area for IED factories. They found nothing substantial and were actually returning to the patrol base when they received contact. The shooter had been following the Marines before finding a position on top of a roof. From there, he fired two separate bursts, totaling 12 rounds. He missed with every shot.
“They can’t shoot,” said Taylor, flatly about the enemy. “A lot of the fire we take is inaccurate.”
Although the Marines received contact that morning, it was a relatively easy patrol compared to the others they have conducted recently. The ability to fight day after day speaks to the bravery and consistency of 3rd Platoon’s Marines.
“These guys out here have been through a lot,” said Taylor, from Staunton, Va. “Normal people don’t run at bullets, but these guys do.”