Wednesday, August 13, 2008

6-4 Cavalry Fends Off Atack

By Staff Sgt. David Hopkins1st
Infantry Division public affairs

NURISTAN Province, Afghanistan — As the sun descended in the western sky, crouching down on the jagged mountain ridges of the Nuristan province on Aug. 2, 1st Infantry Division soldiers of 2nd Team, 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment out of Fort Hood guarded the walls of their Combat Outpost, scanning the rocky slopes for anti-Afghan forces. They are trained to spot danger and act against it to protect their location and their fellow soldiers.

Then on the slopes above their position, a figure appeared, lurking among the boulders. Moments later another appeared. Before long there was a full attack on the outpost and its forces comprised of American and Afghan National Security Forces, were fighting for their lives.

By the time the battle was over, only one Afghan soldier suffered minor wounds while more than 20 insurgents were dead while countless others scrambled up the mountain nursing possibly fatal wounds.

At about 6:30 p.m., Sgt. Ian Boone and Pfc. Marco MaldonadoGacia were guarding the outpost when they first spotted enemy forces.

“I could not identify them as hostile until they bent down and picked up their weapons,” Boone said, recalling the first moments of the battle.

MaldonadoGarcia spotted them soon after and took the first shot, breaking the silence with the defining roar of his M-14 sniper rifle, killing an attacker 700 meters up the slope.

“This was decisive because from that moment on the enemy was on the defensive and no longer on the offensive,” Capt. Robert Yllescas, the unit’s commander, said.

Then Boone began to lay down suppressive fire.

The outpost was attacked by small-arms fire, rocket propelled grenades and PKM machine guns, landing many direct hits inside the camp, but none hitting the soldiers inside.

When the attack started, many of the soldiers were faced with the realities of war for the first time.

“You could see the shock in some of the soldiers’ eyes, as if they were asking the question: ‘Is this another test fire or is this for real.’ You could see fear in others’ eyes as they pondered the question of whether or not they would live to see another day,” 1st Sgt. Howard Johnson Mullens said. “And then, as if a switch was suddenly turned on, everyone was flawlessly executing the training they had received prior to deploying. Soldiers performed the defense drills to perfection. It was amazing; it was textbook execution.”

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