America Goes to War - The battle for An Nasiriyah
By Richard Lowry
It is hard to believe that it has been three years since Jessica Lynch and the 507th Maintenance Company rolled through the dusty streets of An Nasiriyah on March 23, 2003. Eleven of Jessicaâ€™s fellow soldiers were killed that morning, five were captured and a dozen more injured. Lynch was critically injured and near death when she was brought into a military hospital near the site of her ambush.
Within hours of the ambush, the North Carolina Marines of Task Force Tarawa moved to secure the bridges in An Nasiriyah. LtCol Rickey Grabowskiâ€™s 1st Battalion, of the 2nd Marine Regiment rolled into the city and encountered stiff resistance. By midmorning they had rescued nearly half of the soldiers who had been ambushed and by noon the Marines were charging forward through a hail of RPGs, AK-47 gunfire, mortar and artillery barrages. By sunset, Grabowskiâ€™s Marines had secured their objectives but at a terrible cost. Eighteen of Americaâ€™s finest died and another dozen were wounded.
In all, twenty-nine Americans died that day in An Nasiriyah. Their story has never really been told. Initially, the situation in Nasiriyah was so confusing and filled with the fog of war that no one knew the connection between the 507th Maintenance Company and the brave Marines of the 2d Marine Regiment. At first, Jessicaâ€™s capture was kept quiet for fear that the enemy would move her if they suspected that America knew where she was and most of the Marines who died that day could not be identified without DNA testing.
As the days and weeks passed, the news media moved on to Lynchâ€™s rescue and then the fall of Baghdad. When the Department of Defense finally sorted things out and released the names of the Marines and soldiers who died that day, the media took very little interest. No one ever realized that that bloody day in Nasiriyah, on March 23rd, was the costliest day of combat for America in the invasion of Iraq. These twenty-nine American soldiers and Marines were never given a fitting tribute to the ultimate sacrifice they made while in the service of their country.