Ambush In Iraq

It's a bad day in Iraq when the Army needs Navy jets to provide air cover.

As CBS News Anchor Dan Rather rides on a convoy with members of the 82nd Airborne Division, a report is received that a Humvee in the group has apparently had its windows blown out. To the right is a small building, and there appear to be prisoners at least being questioned about what happened.

The story that unfolds is a familiar one: an improvised explosive device - public enemy number one for soldiers in Iraq - has detonated on the highway near Ramadi, a notorious flashpoint.

A security convoy from the 82nd Airborne, on a mission to meet newly arrived U.S. Marines, takes the full brunt of the blast. Two paratroopers are dead and another seriously injured.

Maj. Gen. Charles "Chuck" Swannack, who commands the 82nd, says, "It was probably set in there by some insurgents, some individuals who want to go ahead and bloody the coalition forces, and they did do that today."

The insurgents have more American military targets at the moment. Troops are rotating in and out of the country in the largest movement of its kind since World War II. Around 250,000 soldiers and Marines are on the move.

At a base, Marines are replacing the 82nd Airborne.

"Its good to see the Marines here, sir," says Sgt. Arthur McIntyre, of the 82nd Airborne. "They are very particular about the IEDs (devices that assist U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq detect roadside bombs), how they get set up, how do you look out for them."

There was something else for the newly arrived Marines to look out for.

It was incoming, a mortar round left a Marine and a civilian contractor injured. Swannack says the attacks are decreasing but even he was surprised at the audacious daylight attack.

And soon he will have to draft a letter to the loved ones of his two paratroopers who were killed earlier in the day.

And what does he tell the families their sons and daughters died for?

"I tell them they died for their fellow paratroopers, for their fellow cavalry men, for their fellow soldiers supporting them and that's what we fight for," says Swannack. "We fight for one another.

"I tell them also that the cause is just that we are supporting our nation at war against global terrorism."
  • Jaime Holguin

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