An e-mail from Fallujah

Lt Col Dave Bellon sent another e-mail to his folks from Fallujah, dated November 19th. It relates some of what he saw in the battle there, and includes some photographs.

Immediately following 3/5’s attack on the apartment buildings, 3/1 took the train station on the north end of the city. While the engineers blew a breach through the train trestle, the Cavalry soldiers poured through with their tanks and Bradley’s and chewed an opening in the enemy defense. 3/1 followed them through until they reached a phase line deep into the northern half of the city. The Marine infantry along with a few tanks then turned to the right and attacked the heart of the enemy defense. The fighting was tough as the enemy had the area dialed in with mortars. 3/5 then attacked into the northwest corner of the city. This fight continued as both Marine rifle battalions clawed their way into the city on different axis.
There is an image burned into my brain that I hope I never forget. We came up behind 3/5 one day as the lead squads were working down the Byzantine streets of the Jolan area. An assault team of two Marines ran out from behind cover and put a rocket into a wall of an enemy strongpoint. Before the smoke cleared the squad behind them was up and moving through the hole and clearing the house. Just down the block another squad was doing the same thing. The house was cleared quickly and the Marines were running down the street to the next contact. Even in the midst of that mayhem, it was an awesome site.
The fighting has been incredibly close inside the city. The enemy is willing to die and is literally waiting until they see the whites of the eyes of the Marines before they open up. Just two days ago, as a firefight raged in close quarters, one of the interpreters yelled for the enemy in the house to surrender. The enemy yelled back that it was better to die and go to heaven than to surrender to infidels. This exchange is a graphic window into the world that the Marines and Soldiers have been fighting in these last 10 days.

Read the whole thing at The Green Side.
As always, you can get your Fallujah data dump at The Adventures of Chester, Winds of Change, and here.

Battle of Fallujah round-up

Our troops are advancing faster than we’d planned, killing more of the enemy than we’d expected, losing fewer of ours than we’d feared, and might be wrapping up Fallujah more swiftly than we’d dreamed.
To sift through what bits of information manage to leak out of Fallujah, read The Command Post.
If liveblogging with on-the-fly analysis is your bag, then The Adventures of Chester is your one-stop shop.
The Belmont Club pulls some loose threads together to make educated guesses about the unfolding battle.
Want maps and satellite photos? Two words: Carnivorous Conservative.
For your inspiration, Blackfive has video of Marines singing in Fallujah.
And please … say a prayer today, OK? Froggy Ruminations has an appropriate one.

It all depends on what your definition of “we” is

The spin continues, this time on a new front. John Kerry’s first Purple Heart award has run afoul of Kerry’s own wartime diary, and his campaign is dodging furiously. The point being examined: whether or not there was any enemy fire when Kerry was hurt.

A journal entry Mr. Kerry wrote Dec. 11, however, raises questions about what really happened nine days earlier.
“A cocky feeling of invincibility accompanied us up the Long Tau shipping channel because we hadn’t been shot at yet, and Americans at war who haven’t been shot at are allowed to be cocky,” wrote Mr. Kerry, according the book “Tour of Duty” by friendly biographer Douglas Brinkley.

A Kerry campaign official, speaking on background, told The Washington Times yesterday that the “we” in the passage from Mr. Kerry’s journal refers to “the crew on Kerry’s first swift boat, operating as a crew” rather than Mr. Kerry himself.
“John Kerry didn’t yet have his own boat or crew on December 2,” according to the aide. “Other members of the crew had been in Vietnam for some time and had been shot at and Kerry knew that at the time. However, the crew had not yet been fired on while they served together on PCF 44 under Lieutenant Kerry.”
[emphasis added]

Here we go again, this time parsing the definition of “we.” A few days ago, it was “served together.” Not so many years ago, we had to argue over the definition of “is.”
Kerry’s own words demolish this weak attempt at spin. The “we” Kerry refers to is that group composed of “Americans at war who haven’t been shot at”, not “any rearranged group of Americans who’ve never been in that particular crew yet.”
I’m willing to bet that the guys who were assigned to the boat when Kerry took over had been in-country long enough to be fired upon by the enemy. If we’re to believe the spin, then new guy Kerry had already been shot at, and the others in the crew had likely been shot at before, but because they’d been rearranged into a brand-new crew that hadn’t yet been fired upon “as a crew”, their blissfully ignorant cockiness suddenly returned. Did they suddenly forget being fired upon “as other crews”? I’ve never heard of Transfer-Induced Amnesia before.
I suppose every time somebody in Kerry’s crew rotated home or was temporarily replaced by someone else, the whole crew must have experienced a cockiness renaissance. Hey, here’s a simple solution to any morale problem in combat: take two guys from adjacent boats and switch ’em. Instant cockiness!

Mr. Kerry’s campaign could not say definitively whether he did receive enemy fire that day.

We’re going to watch this Kerry Story make a big smoking crater this week. You’re running out of tall tales, Senator. Either release your records or admit your lies.

UPDATE: Captain’s Quarters picks at the story from a different angle, wondering who was the OinC of the Boston Whaler back on December 2nd.
UPDATE 2: Another of Kerry’s boatmates (who “served together” with Kerry on this mission, even if we use Kerry’s definition) is breaking his silence on the matter of Kerry’s first Purple Heart and whether there was any enemy fire involved. Word is, Kerry’s not going to like this.
UPDATE 3: The boatmate is Admiral William Schachte, who is not a member of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. His statement will devastate Kerry.