Photo gallery: Fight in the field
A platoon of Marines from Company L, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, along with Afghan soldiers, had been on patrol for two days near a school in Marjah, Afghanistan, that Taliban fighters had been reportedly using as a base. Graffiti inside the school indicated that Taliban had been active in the area, and just the previous day, March 10, a Marine had been shot in the back after a running gunbattle with insurgents that had lasted most of the afternoon.
Thinking they might have to stay in the area for several days, the Company L Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., hiked a couple of miles to meet up with a column of vehicles that had brought in supplies of food and water from a nearby outpost.
The Marines and Afghan troops had just loaded up and were about to return to their patrol base when Taliban fighters opened fire from several hundred yards away with machine guns and rifles. The men dropped their heavy packs and formed up a skirmish line in a poppy field, returning fire.
The fighting lasted less than 15 minutes. The Taliban fled as soon as they heard the approach of Marine Cobra gunships. The Marines and Afghans spent about two hours searching a number of compounds in the area, but found little more to indicate the Taliban presence than a few spent shell casings. They questioned a few men in the area, but with no evidence linking them to the fighters who fired on them, they could only let them go. The fighting stopped for another day.