On July 29th 2006 in Rawah, the platoon was at their base-of-the-moment, a joint Iraqi/US vehicle checkpoint, and those off duty were taking a brief respite in their quarters. Iraqi Police guarding the gate let a loaded gasoline truck into the compound.
LCpl Tony Butterfield and Cpl. Phillip Baucus had been around long enough that their internal radar went off. Suspicious of the truck, they ordered it to stop. When the driver ignored them, Butterfield and Baucus went into action. The two Marines used everything they had to stop a fuel truck rigged with explosives, and they succeeded in forcing a stop 15 feet from the barracks.
The suicide bomber detonated the truck but Lance Cpl Butterfield and Cpl Baucus had prevented him from driving it straight through the walls of the barracks, which would have killed everyone inside as well as those around it.
Lance Corporal Anthony E. Butterfield, 19, from Clovis, California, and Corporal Phillip E. Baucus, 28, from Wolf Creek, Montana were killed in the explosion, giving their lives to save their comrades.
When the blast occurred, it collapsed the walls of the fortified barracks and the roof came crashing down on the men inside: Lance Cpl (then PFC) Jason Hason, 21, of Forks, Washington; Sgt. Christian B. Williams, 27, from Winterhaven, Fla., and on his third enlistment with the Marines, Lance Cpl Joseph T. Hand, 20, from Kansas City MO, and Cpl. Adam A. Galvez, 21, from Salt Lake City.
The suicide bomber was not alone, and a firefight broke out after the blast.
Corporal Galvez was knocked out and when he came to, Lance Cpl. Albert D. Garcia, Jr. was working to lift the rubble off of him.
Staff Sgt. Jim Goodwin reported:
Galvez told Garcia that he believed his ankle was broken, but when Garcia went to get help, Galvez freed himself from the rubble, ignored his pain, and tried to help others injured from the blast, according to Garcia.
“He grabbed his weapon, hobbled around, he helped me dig the rest of the Marines out,” said Garcia. “Even after help got there, Doc Kenyon had to force Cpl. Galvez to get (medically evacuated) on the vehicle.”
Despite frantically digging out the trapped men as quickly as possible, they were unable to save two of those inside: Sgt Christian B. Williams and Cpl Jason Hanson, who were killed by the falling roof.
The 3rd LAR held a memorial service for the four Marines on Aug 10, 2006.
Lance Cpl. Anthony E. Butterfield left behind a last letter for his family to read should he not make it back home. Friends in his hometown said "Butterfield was popular, but kind to those who weren't." He was remembered by Pfc. Gary M. Cassen as:
“Outgoing, enthusiastic, loving, caring, honest, thoughtful, courteous, honorable, sensible and humorous.” Butterfield ... had this big vision about getting off the bus, jumping over a fence, running through a crowd pushing people over, and running straight into his mom’s arms,” said Cassen during the ceremony.
"Butterfield had a list of goals he wanted to achieve before leaving the service, which included teaching junior Marines about the LAV (Light Armored Vehicle), run a near-perfect physical fitness test, become a martial arts instructor, and take as many correspondence courses as
possible, according to Cassen. Cassen [closed with]: “We love you buddy, and we’ll miss you.”
Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus was serving his second tour of Iraq (his first was in 2004) when he was killed. He and his wife, who met in the 6th grade, would have celebrated their first anniversary on August 19, 2006.
"[Cpl. Benjamin T. Bosse remembered ] Baucus as a good friend and loving husband, who did a “damn good job” when it came to teaching junior Marines the in’s and out’s of the Marine Corps.
"Baucus’ teachings to his subordinate Marines still shows today, as those very same Marines “are still alive,” said Bosse. “He knew what hard work was…not only on the job, but off the job,”
“It didn’t matter who you were, whether you needed a place to go on Thanksgiving or you just needed to get off base, he was the guy who’d get you off (base), because he saw Marines as ’24-7,’” said Bosse. “He was always willing to go the extra mile.”
Sgt Christian B Williams had enlisted for his third term of service after only a few months of civilian life following the end of his second term. He was engaged to be married to a young woman who graduated Marine Boot Camp in April 2006. The son of a Navy man, Williams' mother said "He was Marine to the bones". He served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and five in Iraq.
A quiet man, he had been with the platoon only a short time and had already earned respect from his brothers in arms.
" Cpl Bosse was Williams’ “gunner” on a light armored vehicle. [He remembered Williams as a friend and Marine.]
"Williams often volunteered to stand the dreaded “turret watch,” which required Marines to stand guard duty behind one of the machine guns mounted to the eight-wheeled light armored vehicle. He did so to give junior Marines a break from the duty.
“He’d actually jump up in there and stand two hours, three hours, four hours, it didn’t matter,” said Bosse. “He kept to himself, but he was a Marine, and he was a friend. He... had a good heart.”
Lance Cpl Jason Hanson (then PFC, he was posthumously awarded the rank of Lance Corporal) was unscathed by a bullet to the chest in June thanks to his body armor. He had also survived 3 car accidents in Iraq.
Hanson's mother said "It took the whole universe coming down to stop him."
[Hanson] was remembered as a “tough and hard-working Marine, who never complained about anything,” said Pfc. Travis J. Henzler.
"Henzler said he knew Hanson “a little over a year,” though it “felt like a lifetime.”
"“The only time I heard Jason complain was when he got shot in the chest, but even then he wasn’t afraid to take point and risk getting shot again,” said Henzler, speaking to the assembled crowd while the fallen’s dog tags could be heard ‘clanking’ together, caused by the light morning breeze."
Cpl Bosse said of the four Marines: “They all gave their lives for one thing – for love of their country and for the men and women back home who will never understand why we do it.”
When the memorial service was over, the platoon saddled up again and went back to work thwarting insurgents and searching for roadside mines.
Cpl. Joseph T. Hand was hospitalized briefly following the blast. “I don’t remember hearing the blast,” said Hand. “I just remember the roof collapsing and thinking about my parents and my girlfriend.”
“He found his way back to us and went on patrols even while he was still hurt,” said Cpl. Jonathan G. Almeida, 21, from Beeville Texas
Cpl. Adam A. Galvez was also injured in this attack and after he assisted with rescuing the other trapped Marines, he was medivac'ed to hospital.
While recovering in Al Asad [hospital], [Galvez] was given the chance to return to the United States. He declined and insisted on rejoining his platoon. [Galvez] returned to Rawah on August 10th, in time for the memorial service for his four friends. After taking it easy for a few days, [Galvez] requested to join his platoon. [He] returned to Delta Co. 2nd Platoon as a scout.
Ten days later, the Dragoons' luck with roadside IEDs ran out.