In this video clip, Marine veteran Brandon Winneshiek, F “Foxtrot” Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, relates his experiences in Ramadi, Iraq, on April 6, 2004. Before April 6, Ramadi seemed like any other city, with friendly people going to work and living their daily lives. The Americans gave coloring books and soccer balls to children playing in the streets. The kids brought flowers to the soldiers, and Winneshiek took many pictures. The marines were stretched thin with little downtime for rest, sleeping, or laundry. But when the children and women disappeared, the marines knew something was about to happen.
Fourth squad, first platoon, F Company, patrolled day and night, sometimes on foot or with Humvees with homemade armor welded on the sides and only metal detectors to locate Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Winneshiek was one of three team leaders in his squad. Their mission was stability, providing security, and helping communities rebuild.
Everything changed on April 6, 2004, when a squad of marines was ambushed on patrol and called for help from the Quick Reaction Force (QRF). Winneshiek was on QRF that day. His unit got in their Humvees and headed out. As they passed a taxi on the side of the road, it exploded, sending a fireball across the freeway. Winneshiek saw black, and his ears rang, but no one was injured. They continued moving to rescue the trapped Marines.
Winneshiek remembers four days of heat, sleep deprivation, and fatigue. He tried to make sure his junior Marines were hydrating and eating. He talked one-on-one with each of them to ensure they were mentally okay. Twelve Marines died in that battle.