From the First Battle of Fallujah. Story from the Rott.

Operation Al Fajr, the final battle of Fallujah, is well known. Lesser known is that seven months before the Marines had fought the insurgents to a bloody stalemate in the city in what has been called the First Battle of Fallujah. In March and April of 2004, 2nd Bn. 1st Marines, among others, fought bloody block to block battles in the Jolan district, pushing the growing numbers of insurgents away from the city outskirts. Eventually the Marines were held back while local Iraqis attempted a negotiated settlement, but not before some of the fiercest fighting to date in the Iraqi theater.

Major Doug Zembiec, then a Captain, led Echo Company 2/1 during the heavy fighting of March and April, but the culmination was a ferocious fight on April 26. On that day, Capt. Zembiec became a hero leading a company full of them.

Starting as a normal day, the company had just cleared a mosque from which it had earlier received fire when the enemy launched a coordinated assault that would last three hours. One Marine was killed and 10 others wounded in the initial fusillade and the Marines were hit with barrages of machine gun and RPG fire as waves of between 100 and 150 insurgents charged them. The engagement range was at times less than 25 yards.

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