Greetings, readers. It was a slow week on Battle Rattle last week while I covered SHOT Show in Las Vegas for sister blog Gear Scout, but things are back to normal now.
I’d like to start by pointing out the excellent piece published yesterday by the Los Angeles Times about the sacrifices made and dedication show by Marines in Sangin, Afghanistan. It’s can’t-miss reading for anyone following the war there with any interest.
Several details in the story, by longtime military correspondent Tony Perry, stuck out as noteworthy or relatively new. Some are heartbreaking. Others are heartening. Consider the following:
- The report puts the number of casualties in 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., at 24. An additional 140 others have been wounded, with numerous Marines losing limbs and a handful becoming triple-amputees.
- Four additional Marines from battalions clearing roads and detonating IEDs in the area also have been killed, Perry reports. Not noted in the story: 3/5 was preceded in Sangin by 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, out of Twentynine Palms, Calif. That unit had a relatively quiet deployment until it was called on to take over Sangin from British forces in September. They sustained five casualties and more than 150 wounded there, before turning the area over in October, 3/7 Marines said.
- A rifle company from 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., was redeployed a month ago to Sangin. Three Marines with the company died within days. The unit has been based mostly in and around Marjah, the former Taliban stronghold in central Helmand where firefights were common last summer before Marines began to tame the area.
- As previously reported on Battle Rattle, Marines with the 26th MEU — primarily 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines — will soon deploy to the Sangin area.
That’s a lot for anyone to wrap their head around. In total, it also means that nearly 40 Marines have died in Sangin since 3/7 took over for British forces in September.
One last note: A concerned writer noted recently on the Wounded Times blog that a “Prayer Request for Darkhorse” that circulated widely through social networking sites like Facebook included inaccuracies. The request appeared to be based on my October story about the initial casualties that 3/5 sustained.
I don’t know how, why or where my initial story with accurate names was adapted, but I assume it was by somebody with the best of intentions. The important thing to note is that while 3/5 did sustain nine casualties in lightning-quick fashion in October, the Marines in Sangin are still in a life-and-death struggle, and deserve to be kept in our thoughts and prayers.