The ING compound was an advanced battle position about 350 meters east of Gannon, consisting of several buildings that provided overwatch on Market Street and parts of Husaybah. India kept it manned round the clock (no Iraqi soldiers were there at that time), rotating platoons through. On the morning of 11 April, 3rd platoon was posted there and became caught up in the complex attack that hit both Camp Gannon and the ING compound.
David Pinkham has vivid memories of the big attack, and has shared a detailed account of that morning. He also confirms several things I’ve been trying to pin down, including the location of the 1st VBID strike. I’m posting it with his permission.
My squad was in the building [you indicated]. We had built/improved the sandbag posts on top of the building. By April we were fairly accustomed to regular incoming mortars. On April 11th I was trying to sleep in the morning after a long night of standing post filling sandbags. Some of my squad had just gotten back from the main part of the ING where hot chow was brought most mornings and nights. They woke me up and I decided sleep was more important then food that morning. I heard/felt quite a few mortars land pretty close and I remember thinking how inconsiderate those bastards were for disturbing my precious sleep.
I started to drift off again and then BOOOM! I was thrown from the cot into the wall… An SUV [had] exploded [right outside] where I was sleeping in the ING building… I heard one of my squad mates screaming ‘WERE HIT!!’ All I can see is dust and I have a faint ringing in my ears. I grab my boots, flak, helmet and rifle and start running to the roof where our posts were. My ears start to pick up lots of gunfire on the roof.
My whole squad was running towards the stairwell for the roof. I was about to take my first step up and another massive blast threw everyone down the stairs and onto the ground. Again I couldn’t hear anything but a faint buzz and dust was so thick I could barely see a couple feet. We all got back to our feet and scrambled to the roof.
There were two posts on the roof facing south into the city where the majority of the attack was coming from. We took to the lip around the wall of the rooftop for cover and began to gain fire superiority. The houses to the south closest to us had been taken by our attackers. As best I could assess there was 15-20 enemy infantry. I honestly don’t remember hearing/feeling a third big explosion, maybe it was the adrenaline. I remember concrete being chipped off the wall in front of us and hitting us from bullet impacts. After what seemed like a split second, time also morphed into an eternity. Adrenaline is a strange rush.
The main firefight died down after about 45 minutes. At one point we had helicopters flying around shooting a couple Hellfires. The last few shots were fired probably an hour or hour-and-a-half after the first blast woke me. I remember Capt Diorio telling us we killed about 35 enemy as reported by the locals. I know three of them had me to thank for that. Then came the waiting game. I had to stay on that roof for 8 more hours because after the fighting died down, it was time for me to take my post.
Besides being a great story, this confirms that the first VBID detonated nearby the ING compound, NOT by the Gannon ECP. The well-known video of the attack is very confusing about that particular point (here’s a detailed analysis of the video).