Soldiers' accounts reveal new details: 'depleted' uranium rounds devastated US troops at An Nasiriyah
"It's bad enough to be shot, but to be shot with a depleted uranium round
that basically turns you into a hand full of mush."
- Col. Reed Bonadonna, field historian, talking to NPR's Jackie Northam
Hear an clip (edited for brevity) containing the Colonel's remarks about DU.
Listen also to the entire NPR reports (first report deals with 'friendly
On March 19, 2004 NPR aired the first of two reports by Jackie Northam on
the experiences of US Marines in battle. 11 field historians had entered
Iraq with Marine units and interviewed marines after battle. She was given
access to 20 hours of interview tapes. Her first report concerns a battle on
March 23, 2003 near An Nasiriyah, during which an A-10 repeatedly straffed
US troops with 'depleted uranium' rounds. As reported by Jackie Northam, the
Marine Corps says that 18 marines died at An Nasiriyah that day but will not
reveal how many died from the DU rounds.
It does seem clear though that previous assessments undersestimated Marine
deaths from 'friendly fire' that day. Dan Fahey, for example, in his review
of media accounts, reported the following as part of his assessment of DU
use during Gulf War II:
23 March, near Nasiriyah A-10 fires on Marine Corps vehicles attached to
1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. At
least one vehicle, an armored assault vehicle (possibly AAVP7A1), is hit and
penetrated by A-10 fire, killing at least one Marine and possibly wounding
others. A total of nine Marines and seven vehicles were destroyed in this
incident, although it is believed Iraqi forces caused the majority of the
deaths and damage during this engagement. "The Use of Depleted Uranium in
the 2003 Iraq War: An Initial Assessment of Information and Policies," page
5. Dan Fahey, June 24, 2003. [Fahey cited media sources for his figures.]
Fahey's reporting of the belief that Iraqi forces caused the majority of the
deaths and damage during the engagement appears to this writer to be a
repeating of military spin. Listen to the interviews (first report) with
soldiers soon after the battle. While the military will not disclose how
many soldiers died that day from friendly fire, that is, from 'depleted'
uranium rounds from the A-10, it is clearly many more than "at least one" as
reported by Fahey, based on US media accounts. Sargeant Lonnie Parker said
in the interview said that they lost the majority of their people from
'friendly' fire that day.
Contrast the Fahey assessment with that of retired Air Force Colonel Sam
Gardiner writes: "A disheartening aspect of the white flag story is what is
beginning to surface about what might have been the real cause of the Marine
casualties near An Nasiriyah on March 23. Marines are saying that nine of
those killed may have been killed by an A-10 that made repeated passes
attacking their position." Quoted in The not-so-friendly reality of US
casualties, by David Isenberg, Aaia Times, Oct 22, 2003.
See also the Charlotte Observer, March 29, 2003 (questioning if 9 marines
who were said to have been ambushed by Iraqi's pretending to surrender had
actually been killed by 'friendly' fire).
And for identification of individual soldiers killed that day, see the
Washington Post, Faces of the
fallen.htm The Post reports that 18 marines died in or around An Nasiriyah
that day, 12 due to an alleged ambush by Iraqi soldiers who reported to have
pretended to surrender; and 6 "killed during operations" on the outskirts of
Charles Jenks, attorney at law
President of the Core Group
Traprock Peace Center
103A Keets Road
Deerfield, MA 01342
413-773-1633; fax 413-773-7507