New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins was embedded with Bravo Company of the First Battalion, Eighth Marines in the Fallujah campaign. Although it has a few irritating tics, his report in today’s Times leaves no doubt that the marines have written a new chapter in their long history of courage and sacrifice: “In Falluja, young marines saw savagery of an urban war.” Meet, for example, Captain Read Omohundro:
Time and again through the week, Captain Omohundro kept his men from folding, if not by his resolute manner then by his calmness under fire. In the first 16 hours of battle, when the combat was continuous and the threat of death ever present, Captain Omohundro never flinched, moving his men through the warrens and back alleys of Falluja with an uncanny sense of space and time, sensing the enemy, sensing the location of his men, even in the darkness, entirely self-possessed.
“Damn it, get moving,” Captain Omohundro said, and his men, looking relieved that they had been given direction amid the anarchy, were only too happy to oblige.
A little later, Captain Omohundro, a 34-year-old Texan, allowed that the strain of the battle had weighed on him, but he said that he had long ago trained himself to keep any self-doubt hidden from view.
“It’s not like I don’t feel it,” Captain Omohundro said. “But if I were to show it, the whole thing would come apart.”