.Battle of Shewan

Teufel

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On 8 August 2008 a Force Reconnaissance platoon, alongside men from 2nd Platoon, Golf 2/7, defeated hundreds of seasoned and ruthless Taliban fighters after a bitter eight hour battle in the city of Shewan, in the Farah Province of Afghanistan. These Marines committed countless acts of heroism and sacrifice that helped pave the way for the reactivation of the active duty Force Reconnaissance Companies.

Our community continues to exist today because men like the Marines of 2nd Platoon, 1st Force will do whatever it takes to uphold the standards passed down to them by generations of Reconnaissance Marines going back to the Vietnam War and WWII. I am proud beyond words to see how the present generation of Reconnaissance Marines is carrying on this prestigious legacy.

Semper Fidelis Marines, my glass is always raised to you.
 

Teufel

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Here is some more information for those who missed it: Battle of Shewan

"On this date, seven years ago, 2nd Platoon, 1st Force Reconnaissance Company….call sign Jaeger… and members of 2nd Platoon, Golf 2/7 bravely fought back countless waves of Taliban fighters for over eight hours of vicious combat, suffering hour after hour of intense heat, withering enemy fire and countless volleys of RPG, mortar and rocket fire to reduce a Taliban stronghold and restore freedom of movement to ISAF and Afghan forces. Intelligence reporting later indicated that the enemy force numbered between 150-500 fighters.

These brave Marines stood against an onslaught of lead and fire and showed the enemies of our nation that the strongest walls are made of men and not brick or concrete.

One by one crew served weapons ran dry as the battle raged on until the last remaining magazines were redistributed and our fearless Marines were left with no choice but to conduct a devastating counter attack against the numerically superior and entrenched Taliban force that collapsed their left flank and sparked a panic amongst the enemy.

These brave Marines fought past the point of of exhaustion to continue their relentless assault until the Taliban were driven from the battlefield, littering the city with spent brass, scarred buildings and the broken bodies of the enemy. No Americans were killed in the fighting. Villagers later complained that it took them several days to remove and bury all the enemy dead.

It’s hard to believe that it has been seven years. It seems like yesterday.

I am older now. It seems that my pack straps dig deeper than they did a decade ago. My heart beats strong but my knees and back ache. Sometimes I feel like my war has ended and I think about retirement or other employment opportunities. Every morning though I drive to work and I see all the young Reconnaissance Marines in my company area. Exceptional young men who remind me of all the brave Force Reconnaissance Marines I once stood shoulder to shoulder with against impossible odds. I look at them and I can't help but think that we haven't done enough to prepare this new generation of Marines for the challenges they will experience tomorrow. It’s up to us now to teach them what it means to be a Reconnaissance Marine. Honor, Perseverance, Spirit and Heart.

Today we celebrate the bravery and courage our Marines displayed seven years ago on the battlefield of Shewan that defeated a resolute enemy against all odds and ensured a future for Force Reconnaissance in the Marine Corps. I am proud beyond words that our Force Reconnaissance Marines have continued the proud tradition that our forefathers have earned through great personal courage and sacrifice in fierce combat in Vietnam, Somalia and Desert Storm. I am confident that our next generation of Reconnaissance Marines are poised to surpass the traditions we have set for them. I will do my best to ensure that they do.

I would also like to recognize our brothers from 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines who faced insurmountable odds every day on their extremely challenging deployment in the Helmand and Farah provinces of Afghanistan in 2008 alongside us and received very little accolades for their incredible courage and indomitable spirit. The Marine Corps may not have recognized your bravery but I will never forget it. Never above you, never below you, always besides you.

BS6
 

Ooh-Rah

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Sir -

Marine Corps Times has pruned the article but I found an archived copy. Edited it for paragraph structure to make it more readable.

Valor awards mount up for little-known battle

By Gina Cavallaro and Gidget Fuentes - Staff writers
Posted : Sunday Jul 17, 2011 9:51:52 EDT

GARMSER DISTRICT, Afghanistan — Just a few weeks into a short-notice deployment to southwestern Afghanistan, Capt. Byron Owen and the Marines in his force reconnaissance platoon got an urgent mission: Go to Shewan.

Their job was to take back a Farah province village that an infantry platoon with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, had lost July 23, 2008, in a violent battle with the Taliban. Within three weeks, Owen and his platoon of experienced combat veterans, in their drive for payback, would find themselves in the most ferocious fight they’d ever seen. “We knew it was bad, but we had no idea how bad it was going to be,” Owen told Marine Corps Times in an interview at his office at Forward Operating Base Delhi, where he now commands Headquarters and Support Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines.

Over the course of eight hours, on Aug. 8, 2008, more than 30 Marines, led by Owen and his team leaders, fought and roundly defeated hundreds of Taliban and their foreign brothers-in-arms in the village. No Marine died during the Battle of Shewan, but scores of enemy fighters were killed. The actions by the Marines got little attention at the time. But their combat actions are being recognized by the military.

Nearly three years after that battle, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus approved two Silver Stars, the last of 28 awards for valor in that epic battle. Owen received one during a June 25 ceremony in Afghanistan. Sgt. Franklin Simmons, a sniper who dispatched at least 20 of the enemy in the battle, was scheduled to receive the other during a July 4 ceremony aboard the amphibious assault ship Boxer, currently deployed with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The top award went to Gunnery Sgt. Brian Blonder, who in May received the Navy Cross. Marines also received eight Bronze Stars with V, 10 Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medals with V and seven Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medals with V.

Here’s how the events of that day went down, according to Owen, who wrote up all of the awards but his own.

The fight begins
The main road into Shewan had been overtaken by the Taliban after the defeat of the 2/7 platoon and several other large-scale attacks over preceding months. The authorities were told the Marines could no longer help them, Owen said. The enemy’s reputation was that of a well-organized force, skilled at guerrilla warfare. The recon men were reinforced by members of Golf Company, 2/7, who had been pretty badly battered by the July ambush. Owen’s platoon was formidably manned with at least a half-dozen gunnies, a chief warrant officer and several staff noncommissioned officers. The majority of the men were on their fourth combat deployments. Blonder was on his fifth; Owen was on his third.

At 7 a.m., Aug. 8, the platoon rolled out with six Humvees and a 7-ton truck. The men dismounted for the patrol through the village; half of them stayed in the trucks, streaming nearby. By 9 a.m., it was unbearably hot and it quickly got much hotter. “Guys are sucking down water, I’m talking to Blonder and we get hit by a [rocket-propelled grenade],” Owen said. “We all hit the deck ... except Blonder.” “Blonder just turns to the enemy in a pivot drill and calls out a perfect [direction of enemy]. He just stood there for about three seconds, pulled the trigger once and dropped one of the RPG gunners in the forehead from 100 yards in the standing,” he said. “It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. It changed the tempo of the battle.”

The enemy fighters had set up their ambush, confident that they would be wiping out another platoon of Marines and Blonder, Owen said, “just stood there like a gunslinger. The first guy comes up, gets dinged in the face, the second one puts his RPG down and starts running.”

With no time to waste, Blonder shouted to his team, “Hey! Let’s go! Move!” In less than 10 minutes, several RPG teams had been killed by Blonder. A three-man team led by Gunnery Sgt. Garrett Dean jumped into a gun truck and set up an ambush line by skirting around to the west of the relatively small enemy element. But this was only the beginning. The signs were there — women and children began to be evacuated from the village — as Owen moved their trucks south along a berm, looking for a cut or a bridge over which to move west into an open area before a 350-yard extension of the tree line trench.

‘Closing the distance’
Blonder, Staff Sgt. Tommy Hartrick, four other Marines and two corpsmen were moving on foot near the initial ambush when Blonder saw another enemy fighter and announced he was going to take him out. Before Owen had a chance to respond, “Crack!” and the man was down, sparking an immediate volley of machine-gun fire and RPGs from several positions.

Blonder, Owen said, “basically initiated an ambush on himself” and promptly got himself and his men pinned down under heavy, accurate fire after attempting a 15-yard counterassault.

While Blonder and his team stayed low, Owen moved two vehicles south and his own vehicle west of the ambush, in case there was an attempt to flank their position. Within seconds, two enemy positions in the tree line opened up simultaneously on one of the two vehicles closest to Blonder. The vehicle was quickly destroyed by RPGs, forcing the Marines inside to dismount and escape the flames. Facing a barrage of machine-gun fire, they scrambled for cover in the dirt nearby.

Assistant team leader Staff Sgt. Zachary Holm exited the vehicle and fired his M249 Squad Automatic Weapon relentlessly, giving the others in the truck a chance to take cover. Then he pulled the wounded vehicle commander to safety. At this point, Owen had five men laying low in a meager defensive position near their burning truck, and Blonder’s team of eight was trapped closer to the initial ambush. Hartrick, who was pinned down with Blonder, realized their predicament and sent Simmons and one of the corpsmen to sprint over to a nearby berm.

Simmons, a veteran of three deployments to Iraq, was his team’s designated marksman and carried his MK11 sniper rifle and six 20-round magazines. It wasn’t long before the first six targets presented themselves about 200 meters away. “They were so focused on the vehicle, they hadn’t completely seen me,” Simmons said via phone from Boxer.

Owens’ truck came under attack and was quickly disabled. From the berm, Simmons could see his captain caught in the kill zone. Radio communication was impossible as radios blared with voices and a “hot mike” was left on. But he could see enemy fighters. It wasn’t long before he took out 18 fighters with his sniper rifle, “and that’s probably in the first 20 minutes” of the battle, Simmons said. Shots at two other fighters knocked them down and likely wounded them. As the battle raged on, Simmons trained his eye on other enemy fighters scrambling around the battlefield. “I was finding targets by myself,” he said. “Of course, it made it easy for me when they were shooting at me.” Simmons got at least two more confirmed kills by the time the battle ended eight hours later.

Outnumbered
With no radio communication and the relentless hail of fire coming from the tree line, no one had realized that a tree line 350 yards to the west was filling up with more fighters.
“There’s smoke and fire everywhere, so you can’t tell where the smoke and fire is coming from. A lot of guys, they can’t actually see what to hit,” Owens said. “At this point, there are 100 to 150 Taliban on scene; we’re outnumbered 5-to-1. It’s becoming a dire situation where you are firing for your own individual survival.”

Owen began to fire tracer rounds into the trench line at seven distinct battle positions to get the attention of his MK19 gunner, who was aiming his own fire at the smoke in front of him. One of his machine gunners saw the tracers and picked up on the battle positions, and eventually the MK19 gunner shifted his fire, as well. In his desperate effort to get his gunners’ attention, Owen was unaware he was exposed and being fired upon. “I’m in there trying to coordinate fire. I’m super pissed off,” Owens recalled. “I’m totally failing as a platoon commander, my comms are jammed, my entire platoon is like pinned down in three different pockets.”

The Marines could see enemy reinforcements arriving in vehicles from a distance, and the smoke and battle could be seen from 20 clicks away, where Golf Company was on scene with a forward air controller who called in a pair of F-15 Eagles. The fast movers came in low to assess where friendly lines were and reported seeing Humvees and a contested trench line under heavy fire. They also saw pickup trucks and sedans speeding onto the scene and unloading people. “They’re running to that trench like ants on a Snickers bar,” Owen recalled the pilots saying. Then an F-15 “comes out of nowhere and strafes the trench at about 100 feet off the deck.” The F-15s came back, and this time dropped a bomb, suppressing fires from the trench line for about two minutes. It was just the break the Marines needed.

Sgt. William Rollins drove into the kill zone where the truck was still on fire and pulled the wounded out to safety in his MRAP, and Blonder and his team were able to join Owen and the rest of the platoon about 900 meters to the southeast so they could regroup. They planned to bomb the western end of the trench, feint a frontal assault in the west with the mounted section, and have Blonder conduct a dismounted flanking attack from the east. Blonder quickly breached the trench, got a foothold and started clearing along the axis of the trench, while the bombs in the west disrupted the attention of the fighters. But Blonder began taking fire from the north, where a suspected high-level insurgent leadership meeting was going on. The trench, they surmised, was the defensive line.

In a bold and risky move, Dean and Holm had branched off and crawled toward the village where the meeting was being held. They determined they’d found the command post. Owen called in a bomb on the building and wiped out most of the leadership, throwing the trench line into chaos. “You have to risk big to win big,” Owen said. “... At the end of the day, it was like 30 guys against 500 Taliban ... taking out the CP was critical.”

They had at least 60 confirmed enemy kills, though the Marines believe it was closer to 100, because bodies began to be removed and many others had been blown apart.

The platoon was spent. But there were no platoon fatalities, and the Taliban were on the run. “We stayed on the battlefield and they left. It was clear cut,” Owen said. “There were dead bodies all over the place, and that never happens. The Taliban recover their dead. They retreated, they fled. We fired the last shot.”
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Ocoka

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@Teufel, Bravo Zulu, sir, happy you and your guys lived to tell the tale of this badass gunfight. The best kind, lots of dead bad guys. Semper Fi Recon and G 2/7.
 
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pardus

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Outstanding performances!

I have the great honour of being one of the very first people to be informed of one of the awards for this battle. :thumbsup:
 
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