(c) Roger Leo
Lt. John C. Burke, commander of 3rd Platoon, Kilo Co., 3-3 Marines, has a shamrock pasted inside his kevlar.
HAQLINIYAH (MAY 2006) – Lt. John C. Burke, 25, born in Foxboro, living in Boston, commander of the 3rd Platoon, Kilo Co., 3-3 Marines, was in the house when the bomb hit.
Looking at a video shot from a small digital camera, Burke described the blast: “This is the rooftop we’re on. See all the shell casings? Then ‘Blam,’ blackness. There were 13 Marines there. Myself and three others were on the roof, six were inside and three on the outside, and at least eight Iraqis.
“It was three sensations all at once: I heard the noise, felt the overpressure , saw basically darkness.
“One child has a laceration above the right eye, turned out it was nothing a couple of band-aids couldn’t fix, but we called for a Priority 1 medevac.
“I didn’t know if everyone was all right. It took about 30 seconds to figure it out then another few seconds to get on the radio.
“It was an accident. Noone was seriously hurt. The Marines didn’t let the bomb make them lose focus on the mission. It was a good learning experience,” Lt. Burke said.
That ended the day’s aerial bombardment. Next day, it resumed and over the course of the following week the derelict building was leveled.
Maj. James F. Kendall, 37, of Nashua, N.H., fire support coordinator, said that between May 11, when Sgt. Anders’ patrol was attacked, and May 18, when the former hotel was leveled, at least 16 aerial weapons were dropped.
These included seven 500-pound bombs, five hellfire missiles, two TOW missiles and two 2,000-pound bombs, some guided by laser beams, others by programmed coordinates, others through thin wires.
“We were able to come up with a weaponry solution to drop the building without collateral damage and without endangering Marines,” Maj. Kendall said.
“The hotel has been a problem for a long time. It was a known insurgent location, and having bad guys in the building was a good opportunity for us. PsyOps (psychological operations) did make surrender appeals, but they were ignored. Battalion urged the mayor to talk with the insurgents, to surrender. He couldn’t go near the place, it was rigged to blow up,” Maj. Kendall said.