Garrett, Henry, PO1 Click here to upgrade Garrett, Henry (Doc), PO1 membership
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Petty Officer First Class (E-6)
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2008-2009, HM-8404, COMNAVSURFPAC/DESRON 23
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HM-0000-Hospital Corpsman
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2003 - Present
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Transition of Iraq (2003-04)/Operation Vigilant Resolve
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End Year

On 1 April, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of U.S. military operations in Iraq, promised an "overwhelming" response to the Blackwater USA deaths, stating "We will pacify that city."

On 3 April 2004, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force received a written command from the Joint Task Force, ordering offensive operations against Fallujah. This order went against the wishes of the Marine Commanders on the ground who wanted to conduct surgical strikes and raids against those suspected of involvement in the Blackwater deaths.

On the night of 4 April 2004, American forces launched a major assault in an attempt to "re-establish security in Fallujah" by encircling it with around 2000 troops.[4][28] At least four homes were hit in aerial strikes, and there was sporadic gunfire throughout the night.

By the morning of 5 April 2004, headed by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, American units had surrounded the city with an aim towards retaking it. American troops blockaded roads leading into the city with Humvees and concertina wire. They also took over a local radio station and handed out leaflets urging residents to remain inside their homes and help American forces identify insurgents and any Fallujans who were involved in the Blackwater deaths.

It was estimated that there were 12–24 separate "hardcore" groups of insurgents, armed with RPGs, machine guns, mortars and anti-aircraft weapons, some of it supplied by the Iraqi Police.[31] By 6 April 2004, U.S. military sources said that "Marines may not attempt to control the center of the town".

In the opening days, it was reported that up to a third of the civilian population had fled the city.

The siege forced the closing of Fallujah's two main hospitals, Fallujah General Hospital and the Jordanian Hospital, which were re-opened during the ceasefire on 9 April 2004. Also on that date, the port visit to Jebel Ali by the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73) was cancelled, and the George Washington carrier strike group and its embarked Carrier Air Wing Seven were ordered to remain on station in the Persian Gulf as fighting intensified between Coalition Forces and Iraqi insurgents around Fallujah.

The resulting engagements set off widespread fighting throughout Central Iraq and along the Lower Euphrates, with various elements of the Iraqi insurgency taking advantage of the situation and commencing simultaneous operations against the Coalition forces. This period marked the emergence of the Mahdi Army, the militia of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, as a major armed faction which, at that time, actively participated in anti-Coalition operations. The happenings were also punctuated by a surge of a Sunni rebellion in the city of Ramadi. During this period, a number of foreigners were captured by insurgent groups. Some were killed outright, whilst others were held as hostages in an attempt to barter for political or military concessions. Some elements of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps also turned on the Coalition forces or simply abandoned their posts.

The rebels in Fallujah held on as the Americans attempted to tighten their hold on the city. Air bombardments rained on insurgent positions throughout the city, Lockheed AC-130 gunships attacked targets with their Gatling guns and howitzers a number of times. Scout Snipers became a core element of the Marines' strategy, averaging 31 kills apiece in the battle, while PSYOP Tactical Psychological Operations Teams from Tactical Psychological Operations Detachment 910[35] tried to lure Iraqis out into the open for the Scout Snipers by reading scripts that were aimed at angering insurgent fighters and by blaring AC/DC along with Metallica and other rock music over their loud speakers.

After three days of fighting, it was estimated that the United States had gained control over 25% of the city, although it was suggested that insurgents had lost a number of key defensive positions.

Due to the fact that American attacks were taking a toll on civilians as well as Iraqi insurgents, coalition forces faced growing criticism from within the Iraqi Governing Council, where Adnan Pachachi said, "these operations by the Americans are unacceptable and illegal."

Al-Jazeera reporter Ahmed Mansur, and cameraman Laith Mushtaq, the only two non-embedded journalists covering the conflict since 3 April 2004, reported that an unknown source stated that United States insisted that the reporters be withdrawn from the city, as a pre-condition to the ceasefire.

At noon on 9 April 2004 under pressure from the Governing Council, Paul Bremer announced that the U.S. forces would be unilaterally holding a ceasefire, stating that they wanted to facilitate negotiations between the Iraqi Governing Council, insurgents and city spokespersons, and to allow government supplies to be delivered to residents

As a consequence, much-needed humanitarian relief which had been held up by the fighting and blockade finally managed to enter the city, notably a major convoy organized by private citizens, businessmen and clerics from Baghdad as a joint Shi'a-Sunni effort.[citation needed] Some U.S. forces used this time to occupy and scavenge abandoned houses and convert them into de facto bunkers,[38] while a number of insurgents did the same.

At this point, it was estimated that 600 Iraqis had been killed, at least half of whom were non-combatants. Although hundreds of insurgents had been killed in the assault, the city remained firmly in their control. American forces had by then only managed to gain a foothold in the industrial district to the south of the city. The end of major operations for the time being led to negotiations between various Iraqi elements and the Coalition forces, punctuated by occasional firefights.

On 13 April 2004, U.S. Marines fell under attack from insurgents located within a mosque. An airstrike destroyed the mosque, prompting a public outcry.

On 15 April 2004, an American F-16 Fighting Falcon dropped a 2,000-pound (910 kg) JDAM GPS guided bomb over the northern district of Fallujah.

On 19 April 2004, the ceasefire seemed to be consolidated with a plan to reintroduce joint US/Iraqi patrols in the city. Over time this arrangement broke down and the city remained a major center of opposition to the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Interim Government. Additionally, the composition of the armed groups in Fallujah changed during the following months, shifting from domination by secular, nationalist and ex-Ba'athist groups towards a marked influence of warlords with ties to organized crime and groups following a radical Wahhabi stance.

On 27 April 2004, insurgents attacked U.S. defensive positions, forcing the Americans to call in air support. In response, on 28 April 2004, the aircraft carrier George Washington launched squadrons VFA-136, VFA-131, VF-11, and VF-143 to fly combat air sorties against insurgents in Fallujah. During this operation, aircraft from Carrier Air Wing Seven dropped 13 GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs on insurgent positions and also provided combat air support to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
US withdrawal

On 1 May 2004, the United States withdrew from Fallujah, as Lieutenant General James Conway announced that he had unilaterally decided to turn over any remaining operations to the newly formed Fallujah Brigade, which would be armed with U.S. weapons and equipment under the command of former Ba'athist Army General Jasim Mohammed Saleh. Several days later, when it became clear that Saleh had been involved in military actions against Shi'ites under Saddam Hussein, U.S. forces announced that Muhammed Latif would instead lead the brigade. Nevertheless, the group dissolved and had turned over all the U.S. weapons to the insurgency by September, prompting the Second Battle of Fallujah in November, which successfully occupied the city.

During the interim period between the two battles, U.S. forces maintained a presence at Camp Baharia, a few miles outside the city limits.
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  29 Also There at This Battle:
  • Aguilar, Benny, PO2, (2000-Present)
  • Barentine, Jerrod, PO1, (1990-2007)
  • Bavaro, James, PO3, (2001-2005)
  • Brand, George, LCDR, (1995-Present)
  • CAO, Kristen, PO2, (2003-2007)
  • Court, Marshall, PO2, (2000-2005)
  • Curran, Marty, SCPO, (1981-Present)
  • Davenport, Robert, CPO, (1992-Present)
  • Davila, Percy, PO1, (1994-Present)
  • Esnaola, TimothyJoseph, PO1, (2000-Present)
  • Estrada, Rudy, PO1, (1998-Present)
  • Finch, James, PO2, (1998-Present)
  • Fresquez, Matthew, PO3, (2002-2007)
  • Griffith, Noelle, LT, (1992-2007)
  • Guy, Kevin, CMC, (1991-Present)
  • Houck, Chris, PO2, (2002-2007)
  • JARVIS, JAMES, CPO, (1983-2007)
  • Merchant, Matthew, PO1, (1992-2007)
  • Oitzman, Eric, MCPO, (1986-Present)
  • Phillips, Michael, PO1, (1997-Present)
  • Pichette, Michael, PO3, (2001-2006)
  • Pirches, Kenneth, PO1, (2002-Present)
  • Richey, Joseph, CPO, (1993-2007)
  • Siegel, Brett, PO2, (2003-2007)
  • Sok, Simakara, PO1, (2000-Present)
  • Wickham, Eric, CPO, (1991-Present)
  • Wilson, Scott, SCPO, (1994-2014)
  • Woodruff, Colin, PO3, (2001-2006)
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