Category Archives: Warpig

Locations on ING Compound

In preparation for writing about the 12 Aug 05 firefight, I need to clarify some locations on the ING Compound in the northwest corner of Husaybah. I’m hoping some vets can help me with that.  It was called ‘ING’ because a few Iraqi National Guard soldiers were using it at one point, but they were long gone in 2005.  India Company 3/2 used it as a forward combat outpost, to keep eyes on Market Street and the surrounding neighborhoods  They rotated India’s 3 rifle platoons through it, and sometimes referred to it as ‘the platoon position’.  Many firefights (including 12 August) occurred here.

Below is an overhead imagery map that I’m annotating to show streets and certain buildings.  It’s from Google Earth, which says its dated 30dec04.  Possibly a few things changed by February 05 when India took over, but probably not much.  I’m hoping some guys can accurately ID the various buildings and posts.  (Note the orientation.  North is down on this image)


Background on ING:

There were just a few buildings really on the very northwest corner of Husaybah that had been all shot up. They [Marines] had moved out and occupied, and it was their Forward Platoon, almost like an outpost, although it was within a couple hundred meters of the main camp, where the rest of the company was. It was barricaded, you know, HESCO barriers, so you couldn’t get to it other than from inside Camp Gannon to move out to that area. They had a Platoon Forward out there, because they could observe parts of the city that you couldn’t see from Camp Gannon.  …You could look down on Market Street, probably the busiest area of Market Street right along there. It just seemed to be the routine up there that somebody would come along Market Street and challenge them by either taking a few sniper shots or stop to try to pop off an RPG… Although the Marines didn’t occupy all the space in between [Gannon and ING], in essence it was an extension of Camp Gannon into the town so that they could be looking straight down Market Street and a little bit into the southwest part of the town out there. –LtCol Mundy interview in ‘Awakening, Vol IIIA’




“Bloody Monday” Firefight, 2 May 05

Quite a while ago, I posted a short video showing a daytime firefight at Trash OP.  At the time, I didn’t know any of the details surrounding it.  I also made some comments, based on my own observations.  Here’s that post; Firefight at Trash OP.  The video’s pretty good, so I suggest you see that first, then come back here…

maxwell at trash op
Cpl Luis Maxwell

Thanks to Jason Ellis and a few other Marines, I now have much more info on this engagement.  First off, now I know the Squad Leader was Cpl Luis Maxwell in India’s 1st Platoon. Based on what I saw in the video, I made positive comments about the way he was handling his end of the fight, so its good to know who that was.

Also, now I understand this shootout was much longer than the video portrays. Firing went on for hours and thousands of rounds were expended.

Finally, this was just part of other events going on in Husaybah on May 2nd.  Foreign fighters of Zarqawi’s AQI had murdered and beheaded the new Police Chief, trying to intimidate the local militia of the Albu-Mahal tribe–sometimes called the “local muj” by the Marines.  Which is why in one of my my draft chapters, I call 2 May 05 “Bloody Monday”.  Other violence was also occurring in the city (see a chapter excerpt at the bottom of this page).

me with the western pic of the saw
Jason Ellis, and his SAW named “Boondock”

Anyway, here’s an entry from Jason Ellis’ combat journal, which he’s shared with me. He kept written details of the firefights he was involved in, and gave me permission to post this.

May 2 – Trash OP

At Trash OP, 2nd Squad with attachments took contact. The attachments were LCpl Carnes, Butcher, Pale and CAAT [Section from WarPig1].  Pvt Fitzgerald was with CAAT.  At 8am we took a few pop shots at our post.  Roughly at noon we took full contact to our post.  Cpl Maxwell had all the SAW gunners get online, me being one of them, and fire into the house that we were getting contact from.  We opened up with a 30-round burst. 

After we hit the house we received more fire. You could here the enemy’s rounds whizzing over our heads.  Then we were in a full firefight.  Everyone was unloading on all 12 of the house we were taking fire from.  Fitzgerald was on the .50cal, he unloaded hundreds of rounds into the house.  The Mk19 was on the CAAT HumVee, they started launching HEDP at any target that presented itself.  

At times, I was firing 100 bursts at the enemy.  It got so bad that we were running out of ammo.  The AAVs had to bring more ammo out to us in the middle of the firefight.  By the end of the 6-hour firefight none of us were wounded or hurt.  We couldn’t say the same for the enemy.  The total amount of rounds that were shot were 7,000 5.56mm, 80 HEDP out of 203s, 200 .50cal rounds, 200 HEDP out of the Mk19.  I alone fired 2000 rounds out of my SAW.  Halfway through the firefight, the .50cal went down and was taken out of the battle.  The Mk19 also went down, but they got it back up.  There were so many targets to engage that it was insane.  

–Jason Ellis

This is a section from my draft chapter, ‘Ramana’, that briefly discusses May 2nd, 2005 and the violence that occurred in Husaybah.  I’ll be revising it slightly to mention this extended firefight at Trash OP.  

Bloody Monday

The 2nd of May was a particularly volatile day, and in hindsight seems to have been the precursor for other developments.  Although available sources are limited and indirect, they portray the picture of AQI flexing its muscle and local forces starting to push back.  

That Monday in Husaybah, Ahmed Adiya Asaf walked openly among the shoppers and merchant stalls along Market Street.  He had recently been installed as the city’s new Chief of Police, with the rank of Major. He was a well-connected Mahawali, and by placing him into this position the tribe was showing it would bring security to the area, on their own terms, not as puppets of foreign-born radical ideologues.  

But Major Ahmed’s connections weren’t enough to protect him.  Suddenly, seven men emerged from the crowd and attacked him, shooting him dead on the street, then publicly beheading him.  News of the gruesome murder pulsed through the population like a shockwave, a blood-spattered announcement of the costs of resisting AQI. Yet there were those ready to resist, meeting violence with violence.

Behind their fortifications at Gannon, India Company had limited awareness of what was happening in the streets that day, but received reports of red-on-red fighting in and around the city. A large group of armed men was spotted, and a Cobra/Huey team was dispatched.  Upon arrival over the city, the helo crews reportedly monitored a firefight between two armed Iraqi groups. At one point, the helicopters themselves took ground fire and the Huey was damaged seriously enough to make a temporary emergency landing.

Looking back through the prism of time, it now appears the fight between the tribal forces of the Albu Mahal and the foreign fighters of AQI was intensifying just as Operation Matador was about to kick off.  This would have implications for the upcoming mission, subsequent operations by 3/2 and for the further development of relations with tribal leaders.


Operation Outlaw, 8 Jul 05

[Correction: Op was on 8 Jul, not 7 Jul]

CH-53 landing

On 8 July 2005, the Battalion mounted a Cordon & Search operation on the north bank of the Euphrates, a few miles to the east of New Ubaydi.  I believe this was called “Operation Outlaw”, and was mostly conducted by WarPig3 (Weapons Co, 3rd Platoon).  Recently, I interviewed Scott “Special” Edwards, who was the senior Forward Air Controller (FAC) with 3/2.  I also spoke with Chuck Yannizzi, the EOD Team Lead attached to 3/2.  They were both on the ground that day, and had a close call as they were picked up by CH-53s on a hot LZ.

Below is Scott Edwards’ account, as related to me, and used with his permission.  I was going to use this in the ‘Close Air’ chapter, but am now thinking about expanding it and using it in another chapter.

So, if anyone has more knowledge of this operation, or can guide me to more info about it, I’d really like to hear that.  Here’s what I’ve written so far…

Operation Outlaw

Later that summer, Capt Edwards himself was involved in a dicey situation when air support may have saved the day, as well as his own hide.  After discovering the pontoon bridge cache on June 4th, Weapons Company launched another cordon and search to the same area. This was Operation Outlaw, on July 8th, with WarPig 3 and attachments inserted via CH-53 helicopters in the predawn hours.  Edwards went along to coordinate air support.


outlaw5 yazzinni
Searching through the palm groves.  (Chuck Yannizzi photo) 

The search lasted through the day, locating heavy weapons and a dump truck converted into an improvised rocket launcher.  From a rooftop south of the village, Edwards controlled several helo strikes on targets across the river near New Ubaydi. As the mission wound down, the marines prepared for extract.  But when the big CH-53s approached, small arms fire broke out. Insurgents had filtered through the fields, and Edwards could hear the rattle of a firefight breaking out to the north.


He and four others left the farmhouse where they’d been, heading for the LZ.  They’d moved only a hundred meters when AK rounds started snapping by. Enemy fighters had slipped into the house they’d just left, and were firing at them as the CH-53s landed.  

Edwards hurriedly worked the radio to bring in a Huey-Cobra team for immediate support.  Gunny Chuck Yannizzi, the EOD Team Lead, was crouched next to Edwards and watched as a Cobra banked in aggressively.  “Hey, he’s aiming right at us!”, Yannizzi called out. But at the last second the pilot kicked rudder and let loose on the house. “When I saw the Hellfire impact that house, I figured it was time to go,” Edwards recalls.  “We sprinted to the bird, and as we took off, the 53s took some small arms fire.”

OpOutlaw map

(Map shows general locations based on interviews, not precise coordinates.  Red arrows show estimated paths of insurgents as they pushed south late in the operation.)

Below, photos from the operation, showing some of the insurgent weapons and equipment found as WarPig swept through the fields and orchards:



Fuel truck found and destroyed. (Chuck Yannizzi photo)
Flatbed truck found with weapons and improvised rocket launcher in bed. (Chuck Yannizzi photo)
Weapons in truck bed, including the barrel of a 14.5mm AA gun–in foreground. (Chuck Yannizzi photo)


outlaw1 yazzinni
Wheeled carriage for a ZPU-1 single-barrel, Soviet-designed 14.5mm AA gun found near the riverbank. For comparison, see here. (Chuck Yannizzi photo) 

Calling All WarPigs

Right now I’m writing about the parts of Operation Matador where 3/2’s Weapons Company, callsign “WarPig”, played several key roles.  Two of the Company’s Mobile Assault Platoons, WarPig 1 and WarPig 2, established a blocking position at the “Golden Gate” bridge on Day 1 of the operation.  For the next six days, they engaged in a remarkable 360-degree firefight with a large number of insurgents.

WarPig turret

Additionally, WarPig 3 played a part in the assault on New Ubadyi on 8 May, and then crossed the river into Ramana.  I’ve captured a few of their actions (see Penny’s Shootout), but would like to understand more from their perspective.

Of course, the WarPigs were involved in virtually all 3/2’s operations and actions during the deployment.  I’m sure there is much information that can amplify my understanding.  And at some point I’ll be writing a ‘profile’ section about the Company, so can use baseline info for that.

Anyway, so far I’ve had only a few contacts with WarPig guys, and would like to develop more so I can tell their story in a fuller way.  If you were in WarPig 3/2 in 2005, send me an email, or hit me up on FaceBook.

If you’re wondering about who I am and why I’m writing this book, please take a look at these links:
Preface (suggest you start here)
About (more about my background, and my time in Iraq)
My ROE (guidelines I follow for interviews & chats)



Penny’s Shootout

On Day 1 of Operation Matador, during the assault on New Ubaydi, the 3rd Platoon of 3/2’s Weapons Company (otherwise known as WarPig 3) took up support-by-fire positions outside the town.  With their up-armored HumVees, which they called gun-trucks, they provided heavy firepower with turret-mounted .50 cal machine-guns and Mk19 40mm grenade launchers.

Jonathan Penland

Lieutenant Gabe Diana’s command vehicle and one gun-truck section were on the north side of New Ubaydi, while a second section was south of town about 500 meters out.  Cpl Jonathan Penland was a Mk19 gunner on one of the trucks.  Like most of 3/2’s marines that day, this was his first taste of combat.  He’s shared the following account with me (used with permission):

SSgt Daniel Garcia was my Section Leader and our vehicle commander (VC).  Robert Branch was driving. In the back were McGrath our comms guy, and McIntyre.  I was up top on the Mk19. It was a brand new truck, hardly a scratch on it when we started out that day. 

As we pulled up in the support by fire position, SSgt Vargas’ truck was on our left. Eric Haight was their .50 cal gunner.  Just as we stopped, an RPG came whooshing by, right between our vehicles. Haight and I looked at each other. I could see his eyes.  And it was like I could see him say “Holy shit! That was a rocket!” Then we both looked forward, and he opened up with his Ma Deuce.  

Branch talked me on to a plume of smoke in an alley.  I opened up on that spot, but he said “No, they’re running away”.  I cranked up my elevation for more distance.

Pennys fight

I had a malfunction. The weapon was jammed.  I started yanking back on the charging handles, over and over.  But I still couldn’t clear it. At the same time, our truck was getting lit up.  Here I was, just 21 years old, and didn’t really realize or care how close those rounds were.  I was just focused on getting my gun back in action.

Finally I put my feet all the way up on the turret to get leverage, and got it unjammed.  But by then the incoming was so intense I could hardly reach out to reload. Every time I’d reach my arm out, more MG rounds would hit. Obviously somebody was watching me, trying to take me out.  

Then Garcia started yelling, ‘Penny get down! Penny get down!’  He grabbed me by the belt and yanked me down. Almost pulled my pants down.  Just as he did, there was a hugh ‘clang!’ My ears rang and I felt a burning on my face.  A 7.62mm round had hit right where I was, right on the traverse mechanism, and fragments had stung my face.  It left a huge mark, as big as my hand, on the metal.

So then Branch yells at me, ‘just turn your turret around!’  And I started traversing the turret to the rear to reload, then cranked back around to fire.  I did this multiple times. When I’d turn back, I could hear enemy fire hitting the backside armor, making a hell of a racket.  It was kinda like being inside a bell.

Our Platoon Sergeant, SSgt Vargas, started calling over the radio.  “Vehicle 5, shoot the middle window of the tower!”. So I fired 6 rounds off, and they overshot and hit near a mosque.  Vargas calls, “No, hit the tower!” So I fire about 6 more, ka-chunk! ka-chunk! ka-chunk!. It was like an Atari game. I could see the rounds arcing out, and they splashed directly on the middle window.  I unleash again, and pegged it again. All incoming from there stopped, and right after that is when the helos came in and hit it with rockets and a gun run. I think they were using my impacts to spot the target.   

When that day was over, our truck’s nice paint job was a mess, with dents and gauges all over it where we’d been hit.  And I figure I owe my life to Daniel Garcia. If he hadn’t pulled me down, I don’t know what that slug would have done.  Most likely it would have hit me in the gut, and I’d have bled out on the floor. By the way, that’s how I got my nickname, from that firefight.  After that, everybody started calling me “Penny” and it stuck.


Here’s a short clip, showing the fire station tower getting attacked by Cobra helicopter gunships.  The vehicle in the foreground is a LAV-25, situated to the east (right) of where Penny’s gun-truck was.

“Heart for the Fight”, by Brian Stann


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Click to see the listing at

As I write about Operation Matador, I find myself referring frequently to Brian Stann’s excellent autobiography, “Heart for the Fight“.

Stann was a 2nd Lt during the 2005 deployment, and a Platoon Commander in the Weapons Company (callsign “WarPig”).  Stann’s platoon, WarPig2, set up a blocking position on Day 1 of Matador and spent  several days in an intense 360-degree firefight at the Golden Gate bridge, along with WarPig1 under 1stLt Bryan Leahy.

Stann was awarded the Silver Star for that action, and later became a championship mixed-martial-arts (MMA) fighter.  The book covers his life before and after the Marines, including his MMA career.  It’s very readable, with lots of action, and I recommend it.  The book has a detailed, 60-page description of the fight at the bridge, and WarPig2’s running gun battles back and forth to Camp Al-Qaim.

There is no need for me to duplicate Stann’s excellent first-hand account, but I will try to capture other perspectives from WarPig veterans who were there during the multi-day fight.  In some ways, the action at the bridge was the real crux of the operation, and may well have involved Zarqawi’s close lieutenants, body-guards, possibly even the arch-terrorist himself.


We Happy Few

Cpl Michael Croft (right) with Scott Hauslyak (left) after Operation Matador, May 2005.  Scott was wounded during the operation, when a suicide bomber struck his vehicle.

Recently I had a chat session with Michael Croft, who was a forward observer (FO) with 3/2’s Weapons Company, but was attached to the Fire Support Team in Kilo Company for most of the deployment.  He was involved in most of the major operations, and saw a lot of unpleasant stuff.  He mentioned that he thought the book should have more reflections of the extremely close bonds that the Marines forged with each other, and that is great feedback.  I can see that is something I can work on, to give more depth and meaning to the book.

When I asked Michael to describe those bonds, here’s what he shared.  I’m posting it here (with his permission), to hopefully generate some more thoughts from other 3/2 Marines…  Also, I have a specific question about the “We Happy Few” phrase (from the famous speech by Henry V in Shakespeare’s play).  Was it a common phrase in 3/2?  How did it start?

Anyway, here’s what Michael Croft says about the bonds of brotherhood:

When we would go through something like seeing those kids dead or the AAV hitting that mine and catching on fire and Marines burning to death, it would really shake us. I personally remember after seeing those kids dead, I stood up on the balcony of that house and just stared out in the distance for a while feeling empty inside. We didn’t have anybody but each other to lean on in those moments and the fight didn’t stop so that we could feel upset about what had happened so it was the brothers beside us that would pull us out of those moments of shock and remind us that they needed us to push through so we could do our jobs in order to make sure the next time we saw bodies on the floor it wasnt one of our own.

I remember after a major tragedy would happen, 1st Sgt. Gregory would always notice who was feeling it the most and would make it a point to make sure they were OK. Knowing that in the midst of battle and seeing the horrifying stuff we would see, that the guys beside us had our back and were not judging us even if we had tears running down our face created a type of bond I have yet to achieve with anybody else since, and those bonds are still just as strong today.  Even though physical distance may separate us now, I would still jump on a grenade for any of my brothers from back then.

I remember a quote that went around a lot during that deployment was “We few, we happy few”, and it was perfect for the type of brotherhood that is created from the type of battles we fought in.  It’s how you get a young kid to be the first to go into a house where he knows insurgents are waiting for him.  That bond makes him want to sacrifice himself so that the other men behind him live.  –Michael Croft, chat session with author

I’d love to hear more thoughts about this from other Marines.  Please contact me if you have something to add.


Update (20jun18):  I did get a response about the Shakespeare quote,
“Comment: “We few, we happy few.” A quote that would stick with me for a very long time. A brotherhood that will never be broken. We are indestructible. And yet so vulnerable… We were fighting ghosts. And sometimes that still haunts me.”

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

More Retrans stories

Several Marines have reached me tonight with more info about their time at the outpost known as Retrans (it was set up as a radio retransmission station).  See more here.  I’m working on a short chapter about it, and asked for stories, memories and photos, and they started rolling in.  Thanks guys!

David Pape sent me the story of the great 4th of July sheep BBQ, and its posted here [slightly edited] with his permission:

I can pretty much guarantee that there was not a single marine in 3/2 who spent more time at Retrans then I did.  81’s [mortar crews] would’ve been the closest but even they got relieved more then I did… It sucked up there man!  But we dropped hundreds of rounds from there, ran illum [illumination] missions for sniper attachments. And had serious Spades tournaments to kill time!  It was the MRE diet, sleeping in bunkers, and the heat!  But that is also where I’ve seen the most beautiful sunsets and stars I have ever seen!!

And [then there are the] stories about the sheep I cleaned and cooked. One the first tour [at Retrans] and the second on the Fourth of July!!  The first trip out there I was eating an MRE at daylight and I look up and across the wadi there is a lone sheep. I asked SSgt Jeremy Martinez to let me shoot it and he wouldn’t let me.  So a sniper shot it, and me and Gayle drug it over and cleaned it. Then we cooked it on the bone.

Sheep on the grill
Sheep on the Barbie…

The week of the 4th I told everybody watch for the sheep herders and if they come let me know.  On the 3rd two kids had a herd down by the bridge. So 6 or 8 of us kicked out a little patrol.  A guy went high and set up overwatch with a SAW a few hundred back. We get down there and trade 20 American dollars and a case of MREs for two sheep. One didn’t want to leave the herd, so Montoya dropped it.  We finally got back and put the live one in the M-240 bunker overnight. It shit everywhere!!

Next day we killed it. I showed John Parina how to gut it. Hung it on the front of a 7-ton [truck] on the spreader bar used for towing, skinned it out and quartered it.  They had a pan in the .50 cal bunker, and some Tony Cajun’s [seasoning].  I can’t remember where the grate came from. So me and Wheatley, a kid from the 81’s, cooked it and we all ate it. It came out pretty good actually. It was fresh meat, hoof-to-table… 


by the fire
David Pape (right) and buddies by the fire


We were Marines at war and it was rugged, and manly on our Independence Day.  It felt symbolic.  I don’t know, maybe we were all thinking what guys our age were doing back home, or what we would have been doing.  What we were actually doing was way more badass!!
–David Pape, Weapons Co, Chat session with author

Here’s what Steve Gray remembers about Retrans (used with permission):

Retrans was playing monopoly till someone mortared you then shooting the hell out of them… There were so many IDF [indirect fire] attacks it was more common to have them then not… The fact that no one was killed there was incredible since it was almost daily contact…

Six-foot-long Chinese rockets, so many mortar attacks I couldn’t count, some small arms, a lot of monopoly, goat herder’s food, mortar attacks. It was always a boring week or 2 on rotation though. Even if everyone got some trigger time.

Steve Gray w hatchet
Steve Gray doing home improvement on a bunker at Retrans

–Steve Gray, Chat session with author







And Ian Katner sent me several photos of the bunkers, and surroundings, showing the, umm… living conditions:

Ian Katner smoking, Jones is behind him in the dark, Riddle to the left, and Sciotti to the far left.


Positions were kind of in a triangle.  50 cal bunker north, MK19  bunker SW, M240 bunker SE.  This shows other bunkers from M240 bunker.
The mortar section with sunset in background.
Top bunker housed machineguns, bottom bunker was sleeping quarters.


Sleeping quarters


View from inside, with the cooking pit


Above the cooking pit
Cooking multiple MRE’s in one pot.
10-Ian w MG
Katner with the 240 and Sciotti in the background with his foam hand.












Brian Stann on Jocko Podcast

Ran across this YouTube the other day and viewed the whole thing. Gave me lots of new insights on Operation Matador, how WarPig (Weapons Co.) operated, the intensity of 3/2’s fight, and of course on Brian Stann himself.  Stann was the Lieutenant in charge of WarPig 2, and during Matador led an epic fight to secure the south end of the (Golden Gate) bridge. Later, he became a top-notch MMA fighter in the UFC.

This interview is with former SEAL, and now ‘moto motivator’, Jocko Willink.  They cover Stann’s recently published book, Heart for the Fight, which is about Stann’s wartime experiences and how they helped him shape his life.  Great stuff.  Enjoy…


Caution: It starts off with Jocko reading an intense passage from the book about the fiery destruction of an armored ‘trak’ of 3/25 during Operation Matador, which killed several Marines.