Nightline followed the Marines of Fox 2/5 Company as they prepared for war with Iraq.
Unit: Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.
Personnel: Normally 180 Marines, but currently 206 with the addition of armored assault vehicle crews assigned to the company. All the company's Marines are men; there are no women in Marine combat units.
Platoons: 3 rifle platoons, 1 weapons platoon, 1 HQ platoon.
Commanding officer: Capt. Terry M. Johnson.
Home base: Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Shipped out: Jan. 31, 2003
Arrived in Kuwait: Feb. 2, 2003
For the military action against Iraq, Fox 2/5 company was detached from its regular infantry battalion and attached to a tank battalion assigned to the 5th Marine Regimental Task Force. The tank unit, the 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Division, is normally based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
As the only infantry company in the tank battalion, Fox 2/5 accompanied the battalion's tanks in Assault Amphibian Vehicles (AAVs, known as "tracks"). They engaged in close urban combat when necessary, and performed other tasks such as security and reconnaissance patrols and handling prisoners.
Created in 1914, the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines is one of the Marines' most decorated units. The battalion fought in the Battle of Belleau Wood in World War I, where, legend has it, the Germans dubbed their ferocious Marine opponents "Devil Dogs," a moniker Marines still use amongst themselves today.
The battalion saw action in World War II, at Guadalcanal and other battles, and in Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm. In Vietnam, 2/5 was one of three Marine battalions that fought block-by-block to recapture Hue City in 1968, at the cost of nearly 150 Marine lives. The battle for Hue was the Marines' last major engagement in an urban environment — the kind of fighting they might see again in Iraq.
U.S. Marine Corps | 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines | History
Mike Cerre is a freelance journalist who traveled with Fox 2/5 on assignment for ABCNEWS. Cerre is a former Marine officer who flew more than 100 recon, air support and rescue missions in in OV-10 Broncos over Vietnam. He served in the 2nd Tank Battalion, the unit Fox 2/5 is currently attached to.
Cerre and cameraman Mike Elwell lived, ate and moved with the company, carrying their own equipment. They had seat assignments in the AAVs with the Marines.