Operation Matador: Report from the Front

Matador crossing riverThis popped up on Facebook today.  It’s letter from LtCol Tim Mundy, 3/2 Battalion Commander, to families and other members of the community back home…

Operation MATADOR report from the front (19may05)
From LtCol Mundy in Al Qaim:

Friends and families, I think it was Mark Twain who once said, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” Thankfully Mr. Twain is not running this Task Force, chasing the enemy, or keeping you updated of all that’s going on. From the news reports of last week, many of you are aware of what happened during Operation MATADOR and now know why you did not receive that Mother’s Day call from your son or husband–they were out showing the world why there is no better friend and no worse enemy than a United States Marine. As their Commanding Officer, I wanted to personally share with you why I’m so intensely proud of YOUR Marines and Sailors of Task Force 3/2.

Operation MATADOR was a great success. It was my privilege to lead the men of Task Force 3/2 into enemy territory to conduct combat operations against anti-coalition forces situated along, and north of, the Euphrates River. During the weeklong operation, I saw our Marines and Sailors conduct themselves with the height of honor, depth of courage, and breadth of commitment indicative of the world’s finest warriors. I couldn’t be prouder of these men and all they accomplished. I know you must feel the same.

Let me explain why this operation was necessary:

The war on the terrorists came late to Al Qa’im. This area is isolated by distance and cultural idiosyncrasies from central Iraq . For centuries, this has been a corrupt trade route area on the Euphrates. For decades, not even Saddam Hussein truly controlled the crime, corruption, and disloyalties. This abnormal, different area became the natural safe haven for some foreign fighters. They transit the area and use it as a staging ground for insurgency and terrorist actions in other areas of the country. We didn’t have a good ability to cross to the north side of the Euphrates and stay for longer than a raid. In the last six to eight months, the foreign fighter presence and activity grew in the area north of the river. Task Force 3/2 is situated in the midst of this volatile area, and believe me, none of your sons, brothers, husbands and/or fathers shrink from the challenges we find because of it! There is a dangerous enemy here, but your Marines and Sailors know their jobs, and they do them well, so we can handle the threats.

Our RCT headquarters planned offensive operations under the name MATADOR to clear the area of insurgents and to prove to the foreign fighters that they had no safe haven north of the river. Your men proved just that! We were joined in the fight by several units: Bravo Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance (LAR) Battalion and Lima Company, 3rd Battalion 25 th Marines. While we have always been superior in individual fights in the area, we increased the strength of the Task Force to clear through the strongholds in the north and maintain security in the south.

Our two rifle companies, Kilo Company 3/2 and Lima Company 3/25, reinforced by one Warpig mobile platoon fought bravely with entrenched insurgents in the towns of Ubaydi and Ramana. Their tenacity to take the fight to the enemy resulted in a significant number of enemy kills and captures, thereby hampering enemy ability to move at will in this region.

Bravo Company, 2D LAR and Alpha Company, 4th AAV provided protection on our flanks, much need flexibility in the field of battle, as well as the ability to quickly move large numbers of our men across enemy territory. The men of India provided a blocking position in support of the operation, and also continued their fight around Camp Gannon , while the Warpigs of Weapons Company also manned the key blocking position as well as provided effective fire support during the entire operation.

Needless to say, there were many moments of fierce fighting. Many Marines demonstrated heroism and accomplished extraordinary feats. I don’t need to provide details of firefights — trust me when I say your men performed as I expect them to perform when they carry the title of United States Marine. They were awesome! As we continue our mission in this region, we humbly ask for your prayers and thank you for the faithful support you’ve given this Task Force. We could not do what we do without all of you.

Our thoughts are also with the friends and families of the 9 Marines who died protecting their brothers in arms. I held a memorial service in their honor Sunday evening, 15 May in the orange light of a setting sun. These are the names of our fallen comrades:

SSgt Anthony L. Goodwin, RCT-2, attached to Lima Company, 3rd Battalion 25th Marines
SSgt Kendall H. Ivy II, RCT-2, attached to Lima Company, 3rd Battalion 25th Marines
Cpl Dustin A. Derga, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion 25th Marines
LCpl Lawrence R. Phillippon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines
LCpl Wesley G. Davids, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion 25th Marines
LCpl Nicholas B. Erdy, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion 25th Marines
LCpl Jonathan W. Grant, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion 25th Marines
LCpl Jordan L. Grez, 4th Combat Engineer BN, attached to Lima Company, 3/25 BN
PFC Christopher R. Dixon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion 25th Marines

There really is no greater love than he who lays his life down for his friends. They lived as warriors, died heroes, and will forever be honored. May God bless their memories and comfort their families. We also had wounded Marines who will require, in some cases, lengthy recovery times. Keep them and their families in your prayers as well, as we wish for a full recovery and return to 3/2.

I’ve said this once before and it bears repeating: Mail and care packages from home continue to be a weekly highlight for our men. Anything you send from home reminds us of your love and support and really boosts morale. The generosity of all who’ve given does not go unnoticed.

LtCol Tim Mundy

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