Kaneohe Marine dies
in ambush

His platoon was attacked returning
from a mission in Afghanistan

Lance Cpl. Phillip George -- the fifth Kaneohe Marine to die in Afghanistan -- was killed in an ambush by up to 30 insurgents while returning to his base camp following a nine-day mission.


Phillip George: The Kaneohe Marine died 16 days shy of his 23rd birthday

"This was a well-executed ambush," said Staff Sgt. Demetrius King, infantry unit leader, from Washington, D.C., in a written statement released on Friday.

Last week, the Marine Corps released details of the ambush, which involved members of Kaneohe Bay's 2nd Battalion, Echo Company, 2nd Platoon.

The Marine Corps reported that ambush occurred at sundown while the Marines were passing through the village of Taoleban on Aug. 18.

King said 2nd platoon's mission was to conduct security and stabilization operations in the Korengal Valley and to regulate who came in and out of the valley.

The Marines from 2nd platoon and Afghan National Army soldiers were leaving the valley to return to base upon completion of a major operation, the statement said.

The platoon was ambushed while traveling on a road at the base of the valley.

"The road exploded with rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire. Marines immediately dropped their packs and dove for cover on either side of the road and returned fire," said Cpl. Salvatore Cirencione, infantryman, from Freehold, N.J.

"At first I couldn't tell how many insurgents were attacking, rounds were coming from everywhere and everything just seemed to be happening in slow motion. It was strange because it almost felt fake. It seemed like it was going to last forever, and at the same time it was moving so fast you didn't have time to be afraid, you just reacted the way our training taught us."

The Marine Corps said normally terrorists would attack in small groups, fire and quickly fade into the mountains. This time the insurgents were firing at the Marines from three positions, using advanced ambush tactics.

The terrorists used a pile of rocks placed in the middle of the road as a range marker for their initial volley, and they fired from both sides of the high ground, the statement said. The enemy also fired from ground level towards the front after the Marines' attention was drawn towards the high ground flanking the road.

"During the initial volley I thought for sure that I was going to get hit because there were so many rounds flying all around, and we were taking fire from every direction. I could see impacts all around me and hear rounds screaming by," said Lance Cpl. Erick Gutierrez, infantryman, from Los Angeles.

"I was surprised that the fight lasted an hour, usually they just hit and run, but this time they actually seemed to want to throw down."

George was killed 16 days shy of his 23rd birthday. He had joined the Marines on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

He reported to Kaneohe in 2003 and deployed to Afghanistan in June and had been scheduled to be discharged next year.

After the funeral in Texas on Aug. 25 his father, Carson George, a Vietnam veteran, told the Houston Chronicle that an Afghan soldier also died and at least one other Marine was wounded in the shoot-out, he said.

Carson George said he was told that his son "had raised his arm for direction of his guys and the round caught him under the arm, apparently through the lungs or the heart. He had enough time to turn to his buddy and say, 'I'm hit,' and that was it."

2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment
Marine Corps Base Hawaii

| | |
E-mail to City Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com