Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #:200411109854
Story by Sgt. Luis R. Agostini
CAMP BAHARIA, Iraq (Nov. 10, 2004) --
During pre-deployment classes at their U.S. bases, Marines are briefed on the dangers posed by improvised explosive devices. They view photos and slides of the damage caused by IEDs, and might have the chance to hold one or two pieces of empty mortar rounds. However, that is as close as some of them will ever get to an actual IED
Pfc. Ryan E. Landreth, a survivor of two IED attacks within three weeks, has the education of a lifetime when it comes to IEDs. Serving as a machine gunner with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Landreth vividly remembers both occasions, which occurred within close proximity of each other.
During a trip to one of the listening and observation posts on the outskirts of Fallujah, a buried IED struck a 7-ton truck, injuring Landreth and two other Marines.
"I was knocked out," said Landreth. "I didn't know that I was hit until about 10 to 15 minutes into the firefight."
The mission was Landreth's first trip outside of Camp Baharia.
"I was pretty nervous," said Landreth, 19, a native of Pueblo,Colo. "I didn't know what to expect."
As his adrenaline pumped and his months of training kicked in, Landreth, along with his fellow Marines, dismounted the truck and assaulted through the firefight.
"It was a wake-up call for me," said Landreth. "That's when I realized that people are trying to kill me."
About three weeks later, at the same post, a quick response force requested the assistance of two machine gunners to check out a smoke-filled area. On the way over, another buried IED struck the Humvee carrying Landreth.
He took fragmentation in the back of the neck, but fortunately, it wasn't deep enough to cause serious damage. The force of blow knocked him out for a minute. When he finally awoke, the Marines were already leaving the site.
Landreth took both horrifying events and turned them into learning experiences.
"I have a whole new perspective of being out here. I think this will influence my leadership in the future,” said Landreth. “I tell the Marines that you always have to be prepared, and to stay calm, because it will happen in a heartbeat.”
His peers have also noticed a positive change.
"Before he came out here, he was already motivated and ready to excel," said Lance Cpl. Israel M. Sanchez, 21, a native of Dallas and Landreth's team leader. "Out here, he's been a lot more cautious, he's reprioritized things in his life.
"Those incidents helped mold him, and allowed him to learn from good and bad experiences.”
Landreth has been approved for two Purple Hearts, which are awarded to servicemembers wounded in combat. He doesn't want to get to a third.
Photos included with story:
Service members from the following hometowns are featured either in this article or an accompanying photograph:
Detroit, Mich., Port Allen, La., Sarasota, Fla.,Manitowoc, Wis. Additionally, the combat correspondent who wrote this article is a native of Virginia Beach, Va.
Staff Sgt. J.M. Goodwin Public Affairs Chief
Force Service Support Group
Camp Taqaddum Iraq