Kilo in Haditha, Chris Ieva

Marines inspect the remains of an AAV from 3/25 BN, destroyed by an IED near Haditha on 3 Aug 2005. 14 Marines and a civilian interpreter were killed.  (AP photo)

An account by Capt. Chris Ieva (now LtCol retired), CO of Kilo Company, describing Kilo’s operations in August 2005, during Operation Quick Strike (used with permission):

My company worked with 3rd Bn, 25th Marines in Haditha where the dam was located on the Euphrates. Tragically, another 3/25 AAV (right) was hit responding to the loss of a six man sniper team around the old soccer stadium. At the time, the body of one of the snipers was still not recovered.

We immediately left the Syrian border with a little over half of my company pushing about a hundred miles to the east, staged in the desert in order to first seize the west half of Haditha.

Even though this was far away from our area, it was our third time operating in Haditha for an extensive period. The battalion’s first and only killed [during this operation] occurred that morning when Iraqi Special Operations forces lost four, as Lima 3/2 cleared a refinery to the south while my company, Kilo 3/2, pushed in from the east.

The locals knew…I mean damn well knew… we were not playing, because 3/25’s sniper was still missing. That is when we heard 3/25 lost an entire AAV on the other side of the river. It was 3/25 battalion’s and its Lima company’s second lost AAV resulting in mass casualties. The IED lifted the AAV and actually flipped the vehicle upside down. The other was lost earlier during Operation MATADOR during a forward passage of lines where I worked the MEDEVAC.  

I think around the same day, we learned that the sniper’s body was found and we heard that he was murdered on a bridge spanning the Euphrates between Haditha and Barwana. I think we spent about a week there occupying the town, running patrols, and trying to develop intel to conduct raids at night by foot.

Two times we played a trick where we would show a position during a day, pull out at night and leave chem lights behind, but have a sniper team in overwatch. So I think 2-3 times, these positions were shot at and the snipers immediately killed the attackers resulting in 2 enemy killed. We also ran a clearing operation that gave the enemy in the palm groves an obvious approach, but we had a sniper team in ambush resulting in another 3 enemy killed. One shot was an amazing face shot at 300 meters.

We captured two others who were not killed because they just dropped their AKs. One of the captured was a brother of one of the enemy dead. I later learned that these two guys were immediately released because they said that they were fishing, even though we documented the evidence and articulated the incident.

One squad had a hair raising moment where they entered a building rigged with multiple IEDs, but it never blew. I think we destroyed two buildings that were rigged with airstrikes .

The only real action that week was a blue van and a suicide laden vehicle. A heavy machine gun team engaged the suicide vehicle resulting in secondary explosions and another group, after a brief firefight, made an escape in a blue 1970s van. Luckily, there was a split section of a cobra and huey gunship that came on station…that as we lost contact with the van, but it was quickly engaged and destroyed. We never bothered to count the enemy dead.

chris-ieva3About a year later, I was at a party where a Marine door gunner was telling a story of lighting up a 1970s blue van and we realized it was the same engagement. I always felt some small measure of payback by the little gains we achieved during the week.  

–Chris Ieva

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