3 March 2002, CPL Matthew Commons From the 75th Ranger Regiment Died During Operation Anaconda. Operation Anaconda was the first major battle involving unconventional soldiers. HMNT and SIGNT was in agreement that Shahi-Kot Vally had many HVT’s. USASOC, AFSOC, ST6 as well as the 101st Airborne, and 10th Mountain went in to secure the valley. Sadly we were not prepared for how entrenched they were, they had mortars, and heavy machine-gun nests that were well barricaded and well protected. I believe by the end of the operation 30,000 troops occupied the Vally. We had Air support from The Air Force and the US Navy.
3 March 2002 Wheels up, we were to be inserted upon a mountain top. During the insertion it was noticed that there had recently been activity in the area, before the decision could be made to abort an RPG struck one of the engines of the MH47. In the process a Seal fell out of the back off the ramp. A rescue attempt was thought about and even attempted but we crash-landed. The QRF was launched and the shit show started. Our CCT was killed and two Seals were wounded when we hit the dirt. MAKO 30 the Seal Team already atop the mountain from the day before came down to help, and the QRF was loaded with the Rangers from the 1/75, The Nature of being QRF is very dangerous especially in this situation. There is ZERO element of surprise, a fight is already underway, and there is Taliban as well as Roberts, and now the Seals of MAKO 30 on the mountain. (I thought we had protection of the AC130 protecting the Seals of MAKO 30 but they were called off after the crash, I found this out afterward and thought that they were not firing because we all looked the same during the daylight, which it now was) RAZOR 01 was landed near us, and took an RPG to the same engine we did was forced to crash, Phillip Svitak, the door gunner of the MH47 let his mini gun rain hell until the helo ate it and he died in the crash. The rest of the Rangers and QRF that had a TACP (help with air support) got off and got to the CCP. (Casualty Collection point)
Thats where I met Matt Commons, he was critical, urgent surgical in todays standards. I was going to save him! I was well trained and had already done work, I had this I said to my self, RAZOR 02 will insert and take him out. He died, It was my first casualty ever. Could I have done more? I have spent all these years wondering if I could of. I did not have much to work with and I was not as good as I am now, but what if I was faster thinking? It still haunts my dreams. Rest In Peace CPL Commons, Knees in the breeze.
I do not have PTSD, my dreams dance with the devil that is battle, the should of’s, the could of’s but I wake up, turn lights on and realize I am home and there is no more blood on my hands. Be It fired, Fired upon, or of a comrade I failed as a medic. Cpl Commons is not the only one, he is just the first. I did check on Sgt. Phillip Svitak, he was gone.
There were many DANGER close bombs dropped that day, MAKO 30/31 successfully exfilled Tech Sgt. Chapman and SRA Cunningham. They were awarded for the work. The Australian SASR were in a hidden REECE sight and they did not engage in the fight but with out them, warheads would not have landed on some foreheads. They were also decorated by the US.
The heroics that day have been underplayed for some reason. A wounded PJ refused Evac during daylight hours because he did not want to risk a downed helo despite the lull in battle. The use of virtual reality helped the Aussies call in airstrikes (first time ever used in combat)
Rest In Peace – PO1 Nathan Roberts, TSGT John Chapman, Sgt. Phillip Svitak, CPL Matthew Commons, Sgt. Brad Crosse, and SPC Marc Anderson. The Battle of Takur Gahr was your last but you are never forgotten….