"I couldn’t believe I just survived this. It’s hard to realize what things are going to be like in the future when you’ve lived through getting blown up twice."

Capt. Jared A. Laurin, 31, of Xenia, Ohio, admits he had a couple of lucky moments while serving as an adviser to an Iraqi infantry battalion.

But Laurin, who was based in Hit, Iraq, from January 2006 to January 2007, said the three-week period that included both close calls was particularly difficult.

It all started Sept. 23, 2006, said the infantry officer with Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

Laurin, based at one of Camp Hit’s forward operating bases, was with some Iraqi soldiers doing a cordon-and-search operation in the city.

"I was in a vehicle that got hit with an IED that pretty much destroyed the vehicle," he said matter-of-factly. Because no one was seriously injured, they continued their mission.

Three days later, a bomb had a bigger effect on him.

The night before, Laurin had been in the city doing a night operation with an Iraqi company. He, another Marine adviser and a few Iraqi officers met at about 10 p.m. to plan the next morning’s mission.

Laurin set out with the group at 5 a.m. to conduct a house-to-house census. They also were looking for bad guys on a hit list, he said.

At 11 a.m., it was time to head back to the forward operating base for a little down time and sleep.

No sooner had he reached the compound when "we took three incoming mortar rounds," Laurin said. "I was standing there. I heard the whistle."

That whistle was the sound of an incoming 120 mm mortar — a sound he was familiar with because rounds hit near the base on a fairly regular basis.

"I was almost looking straight up," he recalled. "I remember looking up, hearing the sound and then dropping to the deck in the dirt. I knew something had hit close by."

In fact, the mortar, which has a kill radius of about 180 feet, had hit about 12 feet from him.

Another hit within the camp’s perimeter. The third landed right outside.

"Most of the shrapnel went in the other direction," Laurin said.

"I am very lucky to be alive," he said.

He had shrapnel up and down his right arm and his face, and burns down his right side from being so close to the explosion. He also fractured a rib.

"I don’t even know if I really heard the third one," he recalled. "I was sort of out of it. I sprinted inside of the building and fell over" in the combat operations center. There, a medical officer and a corpsman assisted him.

Less than two weeks later, he would have another brush with death.

On Oct. 8, 2006, most Marines with the Military Transition Team convoyed to Al Asad to have the team’s Humvees hardened with more armor. Capt. Robert M. Secher and another Marine remained in Hit to run a mission with the Iraqis.

On that mission, Secher was shot in the head.

Laurin remembers the convoy detouring to see Secher in the hospital and they "got to hold his hand as he passed away." On the way back to Hit, one of the vehicles hit a landmine.

"Luckily, we had just up-armored the vehicle, so no one was hurt, but the vehicle was destroyed," he said.

The next day, three more incoming rounds killed nine Iraqi soldiers and wounded 32 others.

During that year, Laurin participated in 44 combat foot patrols, 89 mounted patrols, 17 deliberate vehicle checkpoints, 11 personnel checkpoints, 15 civil affairs-sponsored operations and 11 raids in which detainees were captured, according to the citation for the Bronze Star with "V" device he received Oct. 15, 2007.

"I was a little surprised. I knew somebody was putting something in, but a Bronze Star with ‘V,’ I never really saw myself as receiving awards like that."

Capt. Jared A. Laurin

Unit: Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group

Medal: Bronze Star with "V"

Earned: January 2006-January 2007, Hit, Iraq

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