Ar-Ramadi, Iraq -- The Marines here in ar-Ramadi are continuing a 200-year-old tradition in the United States Marine Corps -- fighting terrorists. The Corps' history of fighting terrorists dates back to 1804, when Marine 1st Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon led his men to defeat the Barbary Pirates. In more recent history, Marines have battled terrorists in Tehran, Kuwait, Madrid, Beirut, Bogota, San Salvador, Frankfurt, West Berlin, Riyadh, Dhahran, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Aden, to name just a few places. Marines also have the honor and responsibility of providing security at U.S. embassies around the world, a favorite target of terrorists.
The creed under which they work is Semper Fidelis -- "Always Faithful." Faithful to their commanders, their mission, their nation, their fellow Marines with whom they are currently serving, and the example of Marines who served before them.
During a morning ceremony earlier this week, 20 marines received the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in combat. Those injuries resulted from some of the toughest battles and firefights we've seen in over a year when Marines were marching to Baghdad. More than 116 Marines in this unit have received the Purple Heart so far and over 70 of them have decided to stay in Iraq, fight with their units and accomplish the mission rather than return home, even though, by consequence of their wounds, they can do so.
I asked Lieutenant David Dobb, who sustained injuries to his hand, why so many of these young men decided to stick it out even though they'd been hurt. "This is what these Marines signed up to do," he told me, "and we're going to see this mission through until the job's done the way it is supposed to be done."
Sergeant Kenneth Conde, a squad leader with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, was leading his platoon in a nighttime raid this week when insurgents tried to ambush the platoon, fighting broke out and he was hit in the shoulder. The enemy didn't last long, however, because Marines own the night. Their remarkably sophisticated night vision equipment and training give them a significant strategic advantage. During nighttime missions this week, Marines have made significant progress de-arming the enemy. They've collected ordnance, mortar rounds, and artillery rounds and improvised explosive devices.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.