Celebrity firearms trainer Travis Haley, who served in Iraq with 2nd Force Reconnaissance Battalion and returned to the country as a Blackwater contractor protecting ambassador Paul Bremer, recently released a riveting first-hand account of a battle in Najaf that occurred ten years ago today.
Haley gained notoriety for a viral YouTube video of him engaging members of the Mahdi Army from a rooftop just days after four Blackwater contractors were killed and hung from a bridge in Fallujah. The infamous killings of the four contractors eventually precipitated Operation Phantom Fury — the Marine Corps’ most pitched battle of the Iraq war.
During the fight in Najaf to repel several hundred insurgents threatening to overrun the U.S.-lead Coalition Provisional Authority building, Haley and other contractors fought alongside Marines, one of whom was awarded the Bronze Star with “V” for his actions. During the fight, Haley credits Cpl. Lonnie Young with repeatedly carrying wounded off a rooftop, down four flights of stairs and retrieving ammunition before finally being shot himself. Haley would fly Young in a Blackwater helicopter on a medical evacuation run, before returning to the fight in Najaf.
Here is a video in which Haley recounts those harrowing events and reflects on lessons learned.
Haley also recounts the battle in an exclusive article for OAF Nation:
Something that strikes me today, is despite being totally surrounded and under constant fire, there was no panic. We killed them like clockwork. One after the other, until each attack broke and scattered. Time had little meaning. At one point … “
Below is Haley in Najaf on April 4, 2004.