This is going to help our image in Iraq. The man who lead the Haditha Massacre was recommended for a medal for his actions that day.
The platoon commander for the squad of Marines who killed as many as two dozen Iraqi civilians during an attack in Haditha last year recommended later that the sergeant who led the attack receive a medal for his heroism that day, according to military documents.
Lt. William T. Kallop wrote in a praise-filled memo that the incident on Nov. 19, 2005, was part of a complex insurgent ambush that included a powerful roadside bomb followed by a high volume of automatic-weapons fire from several houses in the neighborhood. He lauded Sgt. Frank Wuterich for his leadership in the “counterattack” on three houses while the unit received sporadic enemy fire.
Representatives for Kallop, who was promoted to first lieutenant in May, could not be reached for comment yesterday. He is one of numerous Marines who are the subject of a Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation into civilian deaths in the Haditha attack, which has alternately been characterized as a vengeful massacre and as the unfortunate collateral damage of war. None has been charged so far.
While residents in the Iraqi neighborhood have said the Marines went from house to house in a rage, killing civilians in cold blood, Kallop complimented Wuterich on his calm demeanor and suggested that the incident led the Marines to valuable intelligence. Kallop arrived on the scene after the initial explosion.
“Sgt. Wuterich ensured that he had 360 degree security and led a counterattack on the buildings to his south where his Marines were still receiving sporadic fire from,” Kallop wrote in support of a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with a combat distinguishing device for Wuterich. “That counterattack turned the tide of the ambush and killed a number of insurgents still attempting to fight or attempting to flee the area.”
In a summary of the incident, officials wrote that Wuterich’s decisiveness “doubtlessly prevented further injury or death to fellow Marines and innocent civilians.”
Puckett said Kallop approved the assault in the midst of battle: “This was a planned and orchestrated attack by insurgents, and the Marines were responding in accordance with their rules.”
Let’s review the actions of the brave Sgt. Wuterich.
Then one of the Marines took charge and began shouting, said Fahmi, who was watching from his roof. Fahmi said he saw the Marine direct other Marines into the house closest to the blast, about 50 yards away.
It was the home of 76-year-old Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali. Although he had used a wheelchair since diabetes forced a leg amputation years ago, Ali was always one of the first on his block to go out every morning, scattering scraps for his chickens and hosing the dust of the arid western town from his driveway, neighbors said.
In the house with Ali and his 66-year-old wife, Khamisa Tuma Ali, were three of the middle-aged male members of their family, at least one daughter-in-law and four children — 4-year-old Abdullah, 8-year-old Iman, 5-year-old Abdul Rahman and 2-month-old Asia.
Marines entered shooting, witnesses recalled. Most of the shots — in Ali’s house and two others — were fired at such close range that they went through the bodies of the family members and plowed into walls or the floor, physicians at Haditha’s hospital said.
A daughter-in-law, identified as Hibbah, escaped with Asia, survivors and neighbors said. Iman and Abdul Rahman were shot but survived. Four-year-old Abdullah, Ali and the rest died.
Ali took nine rounds in the chest and abdomen, leaving his intestines spilling out of the exit wounds in his back, according to his death certificate.
The Marines moved to the house next door, Fahmi said.
Inside were 43-year-old Khafif, 41-year-old Aeda Yasin Ahmed, an 8-year-old son, five young daughters and a 1-year-old girl staying with the family, according to death certificates and neighbors.
The Marines shot them at close range and hurled grenades into the kitchen and bathroom, survivors and neighbors said later. Khafif’s pleas could be heard across the neighborhood. Four of the girls died screaming.
Only 13-year-old Safa Younis lived — saved, she said, by her mother’s blood spilling onto her, making her look dead when she fell, limp, in a faint.
Moving to a third house in the row, Marines burst in on four brothers, Marwan, Qahtan, Chasib and Jamal Ahmed. Neighbors said the Marines killed them together.
Marine officials said later that one of the brothers had the only gun found among the three families, although there has been no known allegation that the weapon was fired.
The final victims of the day happened upon the scene inadvertently, witnesses said. Four male college students — Khalid Ayada al-Zawi, Wajdi Ayada al-Zawi, Mohammed Battal Mahmoud and Akram Hamid Flayeh — had left the Technical Institute in Saqlawiyah for the weekend to stay with one of their families on the street, said Fahmi, a friend of the young men.
A Haditha taxi driver, Ahmed Khidher, was bringing them home, Fahmi said.
According to Fahmi, the young men and their driver turned onto the street and saw the wrecked Humvee and the Marines. Khidher threw the car into reverse, trying to back away at full speed, Fahmi said, and the Marines opened fire from about 30 yards away, killing all the men inside the taxi.