Marines eager to avenge slain comrades

By RICHARD TOMKINS   |   March 24, 2003 at 1:20 PM
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WITH THE FIFTH MARINES, Iraq, March 24 (UPI) -- U.S. Marines reacted with outrage Monday to news that some of their comrades had been killed in action against Iraqis and that other U.S. personnel had been captured and shown on televised reports.

"What's the word, captain?" asked 1st Sgt. Bill Leuthe of the Fifth Battalion's Bravo Company. "I have Marines f-ing mad and want to kill somebody."

Marines were getting their news through short-wave radio reports, often from the British Broadcasting Corp., as they moved through southern Iraq.

The Marines, among the first to enter Iraq last week, are engaged in a long-range penetration into the country. They bypassed An Nasiriyah in southeastern Iraq where, on Sunday, some of the fiercest battles of the five-day-old war were fought.

The Fifth Marines are headed to an undisclosed destination where they expect major confrontations with Iraqi forces.

The column traveled more than 24 hours non-stop before coming to a brief rest Monday. Food was handed out, vehicles refueled and the Marines had a welcome chance to stretch. The men had been cramped inside armored vehicles, which were holding as many as 23 men, when 12 is the usual number the vehicles carry.

The column of men and equipment -- armored vehicles, tanks and Humvees -- stretches in both directions as far as the eye could see. However, much of the area was obscured by dust and sand whipped up by heavy winds as a major sandstorm hit the area.

The Fifth Marines last saw battle when they entered Iraq on Thursday and Friday -- a pitched fight in which a Marine lieutenant was killed at an oil-and-gas separation plant.

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