Battalion Makes Ultimate Sacrifice

Boots on the ground is what America's military needed for victory in Iraq.

These boots have done their service. They sit outside the house of Echo Company, at a Marine base in Ramadi, as a memorial to fallen brothers in arms.

"We had been told that we would take casualties but nobody never expected to take as many as we have," says Sgt. Joe Vasquez.

As CBS News Anchor Dan Rather reports, the 2nd Marine Battalion, nicknamed the "Magnificent Bastards," has lost more men than any other single U.S. unit in Iraq.

"We were told when we came here that these guys, you know, they weren't very good on tactics," says Cpl. Marcus Waechter.

In early April that myth was dispelled when a well coordinated ambush hit two humvees from Echo company.

"In the first 30 seconds that whole hummer was dead," says Waechter. "I saw the bodies, the lifeless dead bodies hanging over the railing."

Both vehicles were raked with machine gunfire and RPQ's. In an instant, the squads radio operator Lance Cpl. Travis Layfield was killed along with Lance Cpl. Anthony Roberts and Pfc. Christopher Cobb and Kyle Crowley. Navy medic 'Doc' Mendez was treating the injured when he was killed along with Staff Sgt. Allan Walker.

The Marines who survived the initial ambush were now in a desperate situation. With their radio operator down they had no way of calling for reinforcements. Taking cover in a small building, their situation was fast becoming another Alamo. For two and a half hours they desperately tried to hold the insurgents off.

"Every time we tried to go out of the building they would open with a 50 cal - we had eight guys and probably in a five by ten building all lined up against wall pointing towards the door waiting for something to happen," says Waechter.

Eventually, heavy armor came to the rescue.

"We collected all the dead bodies (and) loaded them up," says Waechter. "It was like a dream. I mean, you saw these people just hours before laughing, joking."

In ambushes, bomb explosions and other murderous attacks, the "Magnificent Bastards" have lost 30 men in just four months. These boots won't be going out on patrol again. One Marine said, "Our brothers have paid the ultimate sacrifice."