Defend Our Marines main page 

DEFEND OUR MARINES

EXCLUSIVE!

______________________________________________________

The Real Story of Haditha:
Never-before-revealed images
from a surveillance video

______________________________________________________

Part one: The ambush site

© Nathaniel R. Helms 2007

Watch the Haditha surveillance video described below exclusively on Defend Our Marines.
It is 43 minutes long so may require patience in downloading: Windows Media or AVI formats.

Defend Our Marines / September 15, 2007
______________________________________________________

The Real Story of Haditha: Never-before-revealed images from a surveillance video

Part one: The ambush site: 0759
Part two: Insurgents regroup: 0814 - 0910
Part three:
The last battle: 0913 - 1544

© Nathaniel R. Helms 2007

You're seeing here it first.

These images are from a video, obtained by Defend Our Marines, that was recorded by a Scan Eagle orbiting the ambush site at Haditha on November 19, 2005. The video runs 43-minutes and is a presentation culled from more than eight hours of continuous footage.

They have never before been seen by the public.

The images are presented in chronological order using the time/date stamps created by the Scan Eye recording system as the video was being made.

The video we obtained was prepared for the upcoming Article 32 hearing of Captain Lucas McConnell, formerly the company commander of Kilo Co., 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines at Haditha in 2005. McConnell was relieved of command in April, 2006 for alleged dereliction of duty following allegations of murder by members of his infantry company during the day-long battle in Haditha that left 24 Iraqis and one Marine dead, and 11 Marines wounded.

This presentation is intended to refute allegations made in Time magazine and other media outlets which claimed the Marines massacred the Iraqi civilians in a fit of rage following the death of LCpl Miguel “T.J.” Terrazas, one of Kilo Company’s Marines. The cable television network CNN also obtained a copy of this video presentation but for reason best known to its producers elected to disregard most of the exculpatory images contained in it.

[NOTE: Video images with enhancement boxes were altered by selecting the area and brightening it with a Photoshop tool for clarity.
The rectangular white box on each image is the camera target area, designated by the Scan Eagle operator.]

____________________________________________________

The ambush site

First images recorded by the Scan Eagle at Haditha: 0759 / November 19, 2005

Larger image below, click to enlarge...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At about 0715 on November 19, 2005 a four-vehicle convoy from 3rd Squad, 3rd Plt., Kilo Co., 3/1 was ambushed on Route Chestnut in Haditha, Iraq.

The pictures of the ambush site were taken approximately forty-five minutes later and show the aftermath of an IED blast that destroyed the fourth vehicle in the convoy, killing LCpl Terrazas and wounding LCpls Guzman and Crossan.

The picture above shows the crater in the asphalt surfaced roadway where the IED had been buried and then covered over with fresh asphalt. The remainder of the convoy is out of the frame of the image.

____________________________________________________

 

Larger image below, click to enlarge...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another view of the destroyed HUMVEE.

____________________________________________________

Above: Vehicle 1 (carrying Cpl Salinas, LCpl Sharratt, and LCpl Sharratt) is on right. White car is on left.

____________________________________________________

 

Larger image below, click to enlarge...

 

 

 

 

 

Above: Vehicle 2 (upper right) and Vehicle 3, in the halted convoy looking west.

The destroyed HUMVEE is out of the frame at bottom of image. The wreckage came to rest about 40 meters (120 feet) behind (east) of Vehicle 3. The HUMVEEs remained where they had stopped after the IED blast until Wuterich’s squad cleared houses in the ambush area.

____________________________________________________

Image below is a rough composite of three aerial photographs of the four-vehicle convoy. Click to enlarge...

___________________________________________________

The image below is from Google Earth. Large aerial of the ambush site showing approximate positions of the convoy, white taxi, houses 1, 2, 4, and the suspected trigger house.  Click to enlarge...

___________________________________________________

From SSgt. Frank Wuterich's statement at his Article 32 hearing:
“Vehicle one turned left on Route Chestnut. Vehicle two turned left on Route Chestnut. My vehicle turned left on Route Chestnut. Vehicle four turned left on Route Chestnut. We were halfway home. Vehicle dispersion was normal- 30-40 m as per BN SOP. As 1 made the turn on Chestnut, I decided to cross the two lane road and drive on the left side of the median. This was a decision, I'm sure, that saved the lives of the Marines in my vehicle. Vehicle four was not so lucky. An explosion louder than anything I have ever heard rocked the entire convoy. I remained calm. 1 continued to drive west as my A driver started to scream, "The fourth vehicle got hit!" I made my way back to the other side of Chestnut and stopped my HMMWV. Clear skies suddenly turned brown, black and grey as shrapnel from a HMMWV came plummeting down in front of me from hundreds of feet in the air.”  

____________________________________________________

 

Larger image below, click to enlarge...

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

The white car and bodies of dead Iraqi military-age males.

____________________________________________________

 

Larger image below, click to enlarge...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closer shot of the white car

____________________________________________________

 

Larger image below, click to enlarge...

 

 

 

 

 

 

Approximate direction of Marines’ rifle fire toward white car (it's unknown exactly where the three Marines were standing when shots were fired).

____________________________________________________

 

 

Larger image below, click to enlarge...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above: Long red lines show approximate direction of fire toward the white car. Vehicle 2 (ridden by LCpl Tatum, Cpl De La Cruz, and Pfc. Mendoza) is on the right. Vehicle 3 (ridden by Sgt. Wuterich, LCpl Graviss, and "Doc" Whitt is on the left.

____________________________________________________

From SSgt. Frank Wuterich's statement at his Article 32 hearing: 
"I remember encountering no vehicle traffic or foot traffic that morning leading up to the IED detonation. The white, four door sedan was parked on the side of the road within 100m of the IED attack, and within the security parameters of our convoy. I heard yelling mostly from the west where Cpl De La Cruz was shouting in broken Arabic and using expletives to the military aged males who occupied the white car. His weapon was at the ready, as it should have been. They were not complying and in fact were starting to run in the opposite direction to the south away from where Cpl Dela Cruz was approaching them. I took a knee in the road and fired. Engaging was the only choice. The threat had to be neutralized. Vehicle Borne IEDs were a serious threat and would have incapacitated our squad making us combat ineffective. I don't remember anyone else firing at the same time I was, although at a squad debrief later on I learned that Cpl Dela Cruz had engaged the men at the car at the same time as I did and Cpl Salinas reported that he had opened fire, as well. After I watched the military aged males fall to the ground, Cpl De La Cruz advanced on them and I saw him fire at the bodies as they lay before I turned to make my way to the casualties. That is when I started hearing small arms fire from the south."

____________________________________________________

Nathaniel R. Helms
Defend Our Marines
15 September 2007

Note: Nat Helms is a Contributing Editor to Defend Our Marines. He is a Vietnam vet, journalist, combat reporter, and, most recently, author of My Men Are My Heroes: The Brad Kasal Story (Meredith Books, 2007).

 

Go to...
Part two: Insurgents regroup
Part three: The last battle

Go to Defend Our Marines main page