North County Times - North San Diego and Southwest Riverside County columnists

Echo Company:

There's a good writeup on the battle in Fallujah by reporters with the North County Times, embedded with Echo Company, 2nd Bn, 1st Marine Regiment, I MEF.

[Navy Corpsman] Duty and [1st Sgt.] Skiles said the Marine killed and most of the wounded Monday were hit with shrapnel from grenades tossed by rebels into open windows. At least two of the Marines were also shot, said Duty, whose boots were black with the blood of his comrades as he recounted the fight.

Duty said he had to fire his pistol at gunmen just to get into the building where Marines lay bleeding, still fighting off insurgents, some of whom were only 10 yards away.

"I walk into a place like that -- everyone's down -- and you just don't know where to start," he said. "You just have to calm down and think, and then it all comes to you."

Skiles said Duty saved several of the Marines, and worked to save a fatally wounded Marine by continuing CPR in the back of a humvee as it sped through enemy fire over a jarring ride to a field hospital.

Marines cited the bravery of a lance corporal who was wounded in a rebel mortar attack nearly two weeks ago in which two other Echo Company Marines were killed, and was wounded again by shrapnel in Monday's fighting.

In both incidents, they said, he ignored his own wounds to help other wounded Marines. In Monday's battle, he fought off insurgents and ran back to the Marines' lines even while wounded in three places.

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