PATROL BASE DETROIT, Afghanistan (8/21/2012) – It's a moment of
truth for many Marines – the first time they are in combat and their
training is put to the test.
Private First Class Timothy Workman, mortarman, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, Regimental Combat Team 6, stands with his M16 assault rifle outside his tent at Patrol Base Paser
Lay, Afghanistan, Aug. 19, 2012. Workman enlisted in the Marine
Corps a year ago. His friend's brother Luke died six months before
Workman joined. Workman said he used the death as additional
motivation to continue the work Luke gave his life for. Photo by USMC Cpl. Timothy Lenzo
When his squad took enemy contact during a recent patrol through
Trek Nawa, Pfc. Timothy Workman found his moment.
hear rounds cracking over my head,” said Workman, mortarman, Weapons
Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, Regimental Combat Team 6. “The
adrenaline started pumping right away.”
This was Workman's
first firefight. A year ago, he was standing on the yellow
footprints at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island to start
basic training, a tradition every Marine recruit goes through. Now,
with the mid-morning sun beating down, he was crouched in a ditch,
his M16 assault rifle ready.
Workman and his fellow Marines
fought an estimated six to eight enemies. The insurgents fired from
several different positions, shooting through small holes in walls
several hundred meters away. Marines took cover in mud compounds and
behind mounds of debris.
Workman's squad split into two units
during the firefight. Workman, from Peebles, Ohio, went with Staff
Sgt. David Simons, his platoon sergeant, as they moved forward to
“At one point, I witnessed Workman moving up
into position to engage the enemy,” recalled Simons, from Sidney,
Mont. “He fired on the enemy, and when the enemy returned fire, it
allowed us to open up with our machine gun.”
sounds of birds and farmers were replaced with the sudden burst of
rifles and the “rat-ta-tat-tat” of machinegun fire. An hour later
the fight was over, and the Marines returned to their patrol base.
“Since we've been out here, it's pretty common for (the other
Marines) to engage in firefights,” Workman explained. “These
(insurgents) will stick around and (fight) for awhile.”
Workman's company patrols the volatile Trek Nawa area of
Afghanistan. Trek Nawa is an area between the Marjah and
Nawa districts of Afghanistan in Helmand province.
The Marines engaged enemies in firefights ranging from
isolated pot shots to three–day long battles. For Workman,
the fighting hit home six months before he left for boot
camp. In Dec. 2012, his friend's older brother, Luke, was
killed while serving near this same area of Afghanistan.
“I had gone to school with Luke's brother since the 6th
grade,” said Workman. “At the time (of Luke's death) I had
already decided to join, but this motivated me to continue
the work that Luke gave his life for.”
In addition to
Luke, Workman said he's lost a couple other friends to the
war in Afghanistan.
Despite losing friends to combat,
Workman remembered his training and focused on his job
during the fight.
“I was trying to get positive
identification on the enemy, trying to find where they were
firing from, looking for spotters and just covering my
brothers,” said Workman.
Now that his first firefight
is over, Workman's platoon will monitor his behavior.
“The main thing we look for is a Marine's mindset after
their first time in combat,” Simons said. “We are a family,
so we can tell when one of our brother's is acting
differently. We watch for it and take care of each other.”
Simons said Workman seemed mentally strong before and
after the firefight. He is proud of Workman and the
discipline he showed on the battlefield.
have more operations planned through Trek Nawa and expect
more firefights, before they return to the States.
can say there's nothing else like the Marine Corps,” Workman
said. “I'll continue picking my sergeants' and seniors'
brains, trying to be better prepared for the next fight.”
By USMC Cpl. Timothy Lenzo
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