Anvil of God, Tom Foreman’s third report on the
Soldiers knew they would have to go back. They described the Fallujah radio constantly blaring propaganda, the manufacturing of car bombs, the increasing collection of guns, bombs, and other military armament. The Marines made preparations, stepped up training, checked logistics, moved their troops to the launch point. Civilians deserted the city in droves. Tensions rose. A battle was coming, a battle in which people would die.
Profiling Bravo Company, First Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, or the 1-8 as the men call it, Anvil of God follows them through the ensuing battle. The 1-8, called the tip of the spear, seemed to be on the forefront of the battle, the skirmishes with the insurgents, and the long drive through Fallujah. The 1-8 was no stranger to battle or terrorists, having survived the barracks bombing in
Using what an embedded New York Times reporter said was a classic battle plan, the Army encircled Fallujah with the Marines sweeping in from the west and the majority from the North. Called a hammer and an anvil, the Marines, the hammer, were to drive the insurgents before them to the southern end of the city where the Army, the anvil, would kill or capture them. The insurgents, though, knew the Americans were coming and had stockpiled weapons until as Tom Foreman said, Fallujah was as hard as an anvil, upon which both sides would begin to pound.Following Bravo Company from the launch point to their first main objective, the cultural center, and then through the next five weeks of long sustained fighting, glimpses of the men in the company are given. Sgt. Lonnie Wells is the first to fall. He runs out in the road, leading the company across to the cultural center, and falls when a hell of tracer rounds breaks loose from every direction. A man runs to help him and is joined by a corpsman; both are shot. The Company, continuing across the street, look down to see tracer rounds zipping beneath their feet, realizing as they see their first comrades down that this is real, that they could die, that their friends could die. Finally, all are across including the wounded, but Sgt. Wells is dead. This death for Bravo was the true beginning of the fight for Fallujah.
The canvas of Fallujah enlarges more, as it is realized that as the Marines swept forward, insurgents circled back around, holing up in houses. Bravo is told they must go back through Fallujah in a terrifying door to door hunt to clean out the insurgents. Weeks followed as Bravo did as they were asked, their death toll climbing, each man that died a friend and comrade, a loss keenly felt by those left behind. Five weeks later, Bravo and the rest of the soldiers had prevailed; Fallujah was once more in American hands. But, the cost was high for Bravo, 13 dead, many more wounded.
Some of the veterans feel guilt at the losses even though they know they shouldn’t. When pressed for a reason why, Corporal Blake Benson said, “Nobody deserves to die out there like that.” But 13 did die out there like that – Lonnie Wells, Nick Ziolkowski, Kurt Bosselman, RJ
The canvas of Fallujah is complete with the insurgents driven out and unable to retake their city, because young determined honorable soldiers did what they were asked to do. As Tom Foreman says of the American soldiers in the end, “In this Biblical land they stood side by side, fought for each other and emerged unbowed on the Anvil of God.” ~Annie Kate