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Tuesday, 1-Nov-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Easy 3rd Plt 2nd Squad in action - A tribute to Sgt Hodshire!

Photo # 1 - after effects!
Photo # 2 - Easy 3rd

Company E turns tide of enemy attack

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story by: Computed Name: Pfc. Chistopher J. Ohmen
Story Identification #: 20051021104131

AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq(Oct. 2, 2005) -- October 2 began as another hot and dusty day in Iraq. By day’s end, however, the Marines of 3rd Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines defeated local insurgents in a decisive small-arms battle.

The As Sadah Firefight, as the engagement is now known, was a decisive blow to the local insurgency cells and a push in the direction of a free Iraq.

“All the Marines did exactly what they were supposed to do,” said Sgt. Michael P. Hodshire, 2nd Squad Leader for 3rd Platoon. “We gave our initial orders and the Marines followed their training to take the fight to the enemy.”

The Marines of 3rd Platoon were conducting patrols out of a forward operating base when mortar rounds impacted 400 meters away. Their adrenaline pumping, the Marines in the building put on their gear and prepared themselves for whatever might happen next.

As soon as the first enemy rounds hit, a call went out for air support to try and find the point of origin for the enemy’s mortar position.

The impacts kept getting closer until eventually the Marines heard them land only 100 meters away. Each enemy round fired continued to encroach upon the FOB until they were within 30 meters of the Marines’ position.

Using a 60 mm mortar, Lance Cpl. Armand J. Anderson, a mortar man with the unit, fired rounds by hand, without a bipod, back at the enemy positions, while Lance Cpl. Gary W. Bell and his machine gunners laid down heavy suppressive fire on the enemy position from the rooftop of their FOB with two M2 .50 caliber heavy machine guns and one 240G medium machine gun. Anderson fired with such precision that the enemy mortars ceased firing.

“Without the well-laid fire from our mortars and machineguns, the enemy mortars may have hit even closer than they did,” said Sgt. Sean H. Miles, 1st Squad Leader for 3rd Platoon.

Shortly after the enemy mortar attack on the base, small arms fire started coming from a house to the east. In response, 2nd Squad pushed out in that direction to seek out and destroy the enemy.

When 2nd Squad was approximately 200 meters from the suspected insurgent house, a loud yell in Arabic was heard. Suddenly, the insurgents opened up on the Marines with rifle and machinegun fire. Rocket Propelled Grenades were also fired at the Marines from a dirt mound in proximity of the insurgent house.

Already 30 min had passed since the first mortar landed near the Easy Company Marines of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines. By this time, air support was being re-routed to the battalion in order to provide close air support for this platoon-sized firefight. Third Platoon received an abundance of air power: a section of Cobra/Huey helicopters for close air support; a section of Air Force F-16’s looking for enemy indirect fire positions; and an Un-manned Arial Vehicle that was watching enemy movements on the ground.

With support from the Battalion Combat Operations Center, the Marines in the fight were able to paint an accurate picture that enabled the pilots to put ordnance squarely on the enemy position.

During this particular fight, the Marines on the ground were unable to establish direct communication with the pilots. Instead it had to be routed through other channels. With a chain of five Marines passing information, the pilots were able to communicate with ground forces.

“Upon the positive confirmation of friendly and enemy positions, air elements were extremely successful at suppressing the enemy attacking Easy Company,” said Capt. Matt L. “Runt” Walker, Battalion Air Officer.

“Despite the communication problems, the Marines on the ground, while in duress and taking enemy fire, were able to accurately convey the enemy’s position for the inbound air support,” said Capt. Brian P. Mclaughlin, the Assistant Operations Officer and Battalion Watch Officer on duty at the time of the firefight.

The Marines of a Mobile Assault Platoon with Weapons Company were the closest reinforcement assets to the engagement and were called upon to provide support and reinforcement for the foot-mobile unit.

The enemy, having wired the main canal bridge with several improvised explosive devices, forced MAP to find an alternate route to 3rd Platoon, Company E’s position. The Marines still needed the MAP’s support, so 1st Lt. James E. Martin Jr., the MAP’s Platoon Commander, pulled out his map of the area of operation and smartly located a secondary route to 3rd Platoon.

The MAP joined 3rd Platoon in the fight approximately 15 minutes later. They supported the platoon by providing communications gear, mobile firepower, and additional security at the FOB.

Throughout the firefight, the Corpsmen of 3rd Platoon, Company E, attended to the wounded in action. During the initial exchange of small arms fire a Lance Cpl. from 2nd squad sustained a gunshot wound to the leg from small-arms fire. With a cool head, Seaman Apprentice Kevin L. Smith, a corpsman with the platoon, pulled the Marine from the line of fire. Smith calmed him down and splinted McGraw’s broken leg with a stick and a stretchable support wrap.

After they were able to move injured the Marine to the casualty collection point on a stretcher, Hospitalman Clarence T. Lovelace Jr., another Corpsman with the platoon, checked the Marine for other wounds finding none. He applied a second bandage to the wound and splinted both his legs together for better support.

A field to the side of the FOB was quickly cleared so the casualty could be evacuated by helicopter to Fallujah Surgical on Camp Fallujah for further treatment.

Now nearly two hours into the fight, 3rd Platoon was running low on ammunition and water. Back at the battalion COC, available assets were quickly assessed and, in short order, a plan of action was developed to conduct a re-supply.

At a feverish but calculated pace, Capt. Roger S. Hill, the Battalion Logistics Officer, and Staff Sgt. James I. Dale, the Combat Train Platoon Commander, worked the problem at hand. In less than 30 minutes the vehicles were loaded with supplies, combat checks were conducted and the re-supply operation order was briefed to the Marines heading to 3rd Platoon’s position. They conducted a successful re-supply run in a safe and efficient manner enabling 3rd Platoon to receive the ammunition and water to stay in the fight.

Supply convoy; mobile support; air firepower – the As Sadah Firefight had required the Marines to use all the elements of combined arms. A perfect example of team effort and the Corps’ motto, “Semper Fidelis”, were manifested in the Marine’s actions that day.

And after three hours of fierce combat in the hot, dry climate, the Marines of 3rd Platoon, sweat dripping from their brows, secured the surrounding area and assessed the situation. Once the Marines were able to take a breath and look around, they saw the thousands of spent rounds they had fired to stay alive and destroy insurgent activity in the immediate area.

The house the insurgents used as a base had collapsed in on itself after being repeatedly hit with Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided missiles from the MAP and Hellfire missiles from the Cobras. It was also peppered with numerous small arms rounds from the two squads. Only one wall of the house still stood as the rest of the building continued to smolder. The Marines inspected the house for whatever was left. A squad of enemy insurgents was killed and wounded, dealing a severe blow to insurgent cells.

“We found the ground littered with small-arms rounds that had exploded from the missile attacks,” Hodshire stated.

It was over.

The heat of mid-day subsided and the dust settled on another day in Iraq. The 1st squad leader reflected: “All the Marines did everything they were supposed to, down to the most junior Marine in the platoon,” Miles stated. “I couldn’t have asked any more of them.”

# 1 - 051002 AL ANBAR PROVIENCE, Iraq – This is what remains following a three-hour firefight between the Marines of 3rd Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, an a cell of insurgents on Oct. 2. The Marines killed and wounded most of the insurgents in the house severely hurting the insurgents cells in the area. Photo by: Courtesy of the Marines of 3rd Platoon, Easy Company, 2/2

# 2 - CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq – The Marines of 3rd Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, stand triumphant at Camp Fallujah after a few days rest following a three-hour firefight with insurgents on Oct. 2. The Marines are about to leave back out into the Area of Operation for more operations. Photo by: Pfc. Christopher J. Ohmen

Monday, 31-Oct-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Photos from LCpl "Drew" 2/2 Easy Co.

Got that bandana thing goin' on!
View all 12 photos...
Papa Paul sends along some pics his son, LCpl Drew sent him recently. Good stuff!

Sunday, 30-Oct-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
DoD Photo 2/2 Golf on patrol + Operation Free Market 8-7-05

Photo #1
Photo #2
Photo #3
View all 6 photos...
Operation Free Market was 2/2's first OP upon going in-country. They have also participated in Operation Western Divide and acquitted themselves admirably! OORAH!

On site related matters, I went back in and added a post on 9/10/05 and 9/17/05. I also added more pics to the Map Red post dated 9/27/05. HEY! I blame it all on senility! - JHD

#1 - U.S. Marines of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, fall into a tactical column as they maneuver through a palm grove to conduct a security patrol in Fallujah, Iraq, on Oct. 22, 2005. DoD photo by Sgt. Paul S. Mancuso, U.S. Marine Corps. (Released)


Operation Free Market disrupts insurgent activity
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20059257812
Story by Pfc. Chistopher J. Ohmen

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (Sept. 7, 2005) -- Iraqi Security Forces and Marines from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment conducted a sweep of the Karma Market during Operation Free Market, Sept. 7.

The operation was conducted after numerous improvised explosive device attacks in that area. The search included businesses and residences in the market area.

“The battalion has been hit with IED’s about 100 meters north of the mosque in the market, and we are trying to find out if anyone knows who is doing it,” said 2nd Lt. Gabriel A. Ives, platoon commander for 2nd Platoon, Company G.

Around 10:00 a.m., Marines from the battalion cordoned off the streets around the market ensuring no one left the area and no hostile force outside the market could attack the combined force as they searched. Once the cordon was set, the rest of the troops moved in to secure the rest of the area and started talking to the locals.

Groups of Marines and Iraqi soldiers searched each side of the market and talked to the owners of the shops to let them know they were searching the premises for any weapons or materials for making IED’s. Each group included interpreters to communicate easier and a military working dog and handler team that could pick up the scent of explosives.

Two and one-half hours after searching in, around and on top of the buildings produced a few illegal items.

The Marines and Iraqi soldiers concluded their search, loaded up their vehicles and headed back to Camp Fallujah. The information they gathered will be analyzed and used in future operations.

“The mission achieved what we wanted. We demonstrated through Marine and Iraqi Army patrols that we are concerned about the area and the people living and working there,” said Maj. Christopher Dixon, the executive officer for 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines. “Our continued presence and interaction with these people will eventually develop a closer bond and work towards providing greater security. With increased security, the people and local economy will grow, driving insurgents from their midst.”

#2 - KARMA, Iraq -- Marines from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, unload from an armored 7-ton truck to start their sweeps of the Karma Market during Operation Free Market, Sept. 7. Approximately one-third of the battalion and numerous Iraqi soldiers were involved in this operation to try and retrieve information and IED materials from the market.
Photo by: Pfc. Christopher J. Ohmen

#3 - KARMA, Iraq -- Marines from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, and Iraqi Army soldiers search the shops in Karma Market for anything that shouldn't be there during Operation Free Market, Sept. 7. Approximately one-third of the battalion and numerous Iraqi soldiers were involved in this operation to try and retrieve information and IED materials from the market.
Photo by: Pfc. Christopher J. Ohmen

#4 - KARMA, Iraq -- Marines from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, arrive at the Karma market on Sept. 7, for Operation Free Market because of numerous Improvised Explosive Devices being detonated a 100 meters north of that market. Approximately one-third of the battalion and numerous Iraqi soldiers were involved in this operation to try and retrieve information and IED materials from the market.
Photo by: Pfc. Christopher J. Ohmen

#5 - KARMA, Iraq -- Marines from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, watch a group of Iraqi locals and provide security during Operation Free Market, Sept. 7. Approximately one-third of the battalion and numerous Iraqi soldiers were involved in this operation to try and retrieve information and IED materials from the market.
Photo by: Pfc. Christopher J. Ohmen

#6 - KARMA, Iraq -- An Iraqi Army soldier searches one of the many shops for Improvised Explosive Device materials and anti-coalition forces propaganda in the Karma Market during Operation Free Market, Sept. 7. Approximately one-third of the battalion and numerous Iraqi soldiers were involved in this operation to try and retrieve information and IED materials from the market.
Photo by: Pfc. Christopher J. Ohmen

Saturday, 29-Oct-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Cpt Tyler Swisher 2/2 Easy C.O.

Cpt Tyler Swisher

Mariemont grad killed in Iraq
Swisher was known for dogged perseverance

By Eileen Kelley
Enquirer staff writer

In the end, war was the only thing that would stop Marine Capt. Tyler Swisher, 35, who was killed in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq on Friday.

Early on, the Mariemont native's life revolved around overcoming obstacles, said a family friend and spokesman, Jack Buchholz of Madeira.

The youngest of three children and son of two educators, Swisher had a learning disability and struggled to piece together sounds and form words when reading.

But he never gave up.

He would diligently tackle his reading assignments, often with his mother, Mary Beth, father David or siblings John or Sara at his side, Buchholz said.

As a teen, Swisher tried to bulk up, but never managed to get more than 100 pounds. As a football player at Mariemont High School, Swisher spent most of the games on the sidelines.

As a student, he continued to prove himself, making the honor roll his senior year. He graduated from Butler University in Indianapolis in 1993.

Swisher died near Al Amariyah, Buchholz said. The Department of Defense released his name Wednesday.

"Nothing was ever going to defeat Tyler Swisher," Buchholz said.

Swisher enlisted in the Marines 12 years ago. This stint in Iraq was his third.

"He was one tough cookie, but had a heart of gold," Buchholz said.

David and Mary Beth Swisher, who live in Pierce Township, were informed of their son's death on Friday.

"It cannot be tougher than this," Buchholz said. "He worked so hard. He worked hard at Butler. He wanted to be a Marine.

"He struggled, but he overcame."

In college Swisher finally got the much-wished-for growth spurt and went from 5 feet 6 inches tall and 100 pounds to his most recent weight of 210 pounds and height of 6 feet 2 inches.

"But that's Tyler Swisher for you; he'd overcome anything," Buchholz said.

He also leaves his wife, Stephanie, daughters, Ashleigh, 15, and Madison, 7, and a son, Jacob, 5. The family resides in the Camp Lejeune area.

Plans for a local memorial service were incomplete Wednesday.

E-mail ekelley@enquirer.com


Lejeune Marines killed in Iraq
Roadside bomb hits vehicle of pair

By JAY PRICE, Staff Writer

Two Camp Lejeune Marines -- one a North Carolina native -- were killed together while on patrol in Iraq, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.
Cpl. Benny G. Cockerham III, 21, of Conover in Catawba County and Capt. Tyler B. Swisher, 35, of Cincinnati, Ohio, were traveling beside a canal in Anbar Province west of Baghdad on Friday when a bomb exploded near their Humvee. Both men, who were with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, were thrown into the water.

Cockerham's father, Ben G. Cockerham, of Conover, said the Marines at first had trouble finding his son's body, which is why it took so long for the Department of Defense to release his name. On Friday, Cockerham's parents were told that he was missing in action. Three days later, the Marine Corps confirmed that he had died.

Cockerham went by his middle name, Gray. In a way, he started life as a Marine: He was born at Camp Pendleton, Calif., while his father, who also served in the Corps, was stationed there.

On Wednesday afternoon, relatives were sitting around swapping stories about what a determined kid he had been, like the time when he was 14 or 15 years old and playing paintball. In the course of the game, he ran into a stick, sinking it so deeply into his leg that later it had to be surgically removed.

That didn't stop him, though.

"He kept running, and he got the guy he was after," Ben Cockerham said. "Then he came home and said 'Hey, look what I did.' "

Cockerham carried that straightforward style onto the soccer field, where, as a four-year striker in high school, he would use his speed and power to thrust through defenders, his father said.

"He played his personality," Ben Cockerham said. "If you shook hands with him and looked him in the eye, you'd know exactly what he thought."

As a boy, Cockerham had talked about joining the Marines but seemed to drop the idea when he graduated from Hickory's St. Stephens High School in 2002, his father said.

But he couldn't concentrate in college, and one day in March 2003, he came home and told his father that he had enlisted.

This was his second tour of duty in Iraq, and neither had been soft. The first time, in spring 2004, his squad had been one of the first into Fallujah when the Marines assaulted the city after the slaying and mutilation of four civilian security contractors from Blackwater USA, which has headquarters in North Carolina.

Riding in peril

At least four times, Humvees he was riding in or near had been hit by roadside bombs. The most recent was about three weeks ago. After his convoy stopped, Cockerham decided to switch vehicles. The trucks had barely started moving again when a bomb blast destroyed the one he had been riding in, killing the man who had taken his seat and three other Marines.

During his first deployment, he was wounded by a mortar blast and later received a Purple Heart, his father said.

The attack in which he died took place near a small town called Zaidon, a particularly dangerous place that had troubled Cockerham on both his stints in Iraq. Whenever the Marines went there, something bad always seemed to happen, he told his father.

"Last year, he'd call and be quiet and I'd ask what was the matter," Ben Cockerham said. "He'd say, 'We're going into Zulu tomorrow,' and I'd know what he was talking about. I don't know, maybe he had a premonition."

Cockerham's survivors include his wife, Amanda, whom he married between tours in Iraq; parents Ben and Jill; and brother Adam, 17.

He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Company commander

Swisher was the Echo Company commander, and it was his second deployment to Iraq, too.

Capt. Gary McCullar of Camp Lejeune, his best friend, called Swisher a "picture-perfect Marine" and one of the toughest guys he'd ever met.

They once served in the same company, and after grueling hikes, the Marines would have what's called a "bear pit" -- a mass wrestling match that ends only when one guy is left standing and all others have conceded.

"You took 50 guys, and he'd win, and I mean every time," McCullar said.

Swisher liked hunting and fishing, and rode a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He also was a world-class family man, McCullar said.

"He loved his kids dearly," said McCullar. "He loved being a father, wrestling with his little boy, putting together toys and just spending good quality time with them."

Swisher's survivors include: his wife, Stephanie; daughters Ashleigh Lynch, 15, and Madison, 7; son Jacob, 5; parents David and Mary Beth Swisher of Cincinnati; brother John Swisher of Cincinnati; and sister Sarah Swisher, also of Cincinnati.

Staff writer Jay Price can be reached at 829-4526 or jprice@newsobserver.com.

Friday, 28-Oct-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Cpl Benny "Gray" Cockerham

Cpl Benny "Gray" Cockerham

A father's tribute to fallen son
Gray is my favorite color

Hickory Daily Record
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The following was written by Ben Cockerham, father of fallen Marine Benny Gray Cockerham III. Gray died Friday in Iraq.

Gray is my favorite color

Every morning Just before the rising of the sun the world is Gray. Expectant and hopeful for opportunities; anticipation embodied. Half sunshine half rain, Poised to run either direction, the shape of things are formed with a shift of the wind.
The Clouds and Sun battle for the dominance of bright sky and dark cloud. On occasion, when the conditions are just right. Perfect balance is achieved and Gray is born.
It happened once on June 28, 1984 on a Marine Corps Base in California. The Navy nurse said, “Why would anyone name a child like this Gray. You should call him Sunshine.” She was not present at the birth in the early morning. She was not present during the struggle of labor in the predawn. She was unaware that Gray is Sunshine and Cloud, the personification of this child.
Gray is the blur of perpetual motion, on to the next as the first is done. With fingers spread wide in the relaxed sleep of Angels, Gray is the color of Down, soft and peaceful readying for the next race. Always in a hurry, nothing left behind, no regrets.
Gray is the color of Ocean, reflected in the wonder of a child’s eyes, the color of a Thunderstorm, adolescence in all its rage and glory. Gray is the clear gleam of Steel reflected from the determination and pride of a Marine’s face. Gray is Smoke, rising form from a chimney guiding you home promising comfort.
On Oct. 21, 2005 in a place called Zaidon, Al Anbar Province, Iraq, protecting those less able, Cpl. Benny “GRAY” Cockerham III, USMC, became dark to Gray no more.
Gray is my favorite color and if you get a chance in the predawn light, as you wait with anticipation the coming day, look anew at Gray. When you do I hope this helps you remember to: Live life with wonder, ready to change with the shift of the wind. When you must fight, do so with all the fury you possess. Be in constant motion and leave no regrets. Truly relax when time permits for the next race must be run. Be determined in all you do because this determines your success. Appreciate the home fires; family should come before all things. Love unconditionally and sacrifice as if you were Gray.

Semper Fidelis,


Catawba Marine killed in Iraq loved soccer, movies

The Associated Press

A Marine corporal killed Friday in Iraq was remembered as a good friend who loved soccer, movies, and his family.

Benny Gray Cockerham III, 21, was in Iraq on his second tour of duty when he was killed, his father said in a letter.

Cockerham is the first Catawba County soldier to die in the Iraq conflict, according to the Hickory Daily Record.

His unit and where he was based were not available Tuesday.

Cockerham enlisted in the Marines shortly after graduating from St. Stephen's High School in 2002, the newspaper reported. He played soccer on the school team all four years in high school.

"He was a great person to be around," said Adam Bowman, 18, a senior at the school. "He loved his family a lot."

Members of St. Stephen's Lutheran Church posted a message on its sign asking people to pray for the Cockerham family.

Cockerham is survived by his wife, Amanda Johnson Cockerham; his parents, Ben and Jill Cockerham; and a younger brother, Adam.

He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Other funeral arrangements were incomplete Tuesday.

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