Nine Marines from Nevada, California, Utah wounded in Iraq
LAS VEGAS — The stories of how nine Marines reservists from southern Nevada, California and Utah were wounded in Iraq began to emerge Thursday in phone calls home and military accounts of fighting in Baghdad.
One from Las Vegas fell from a building while avoiding sniper fire. Another was wounded in the leg by a sniper’s bullet. A third was hit in the arm by shrapnel while carrying a wounded buddy out of the line of fire.
“This was a firefight,” said Capt. William Gillarducci, commander of the Marine Peacetime-Wartime support team at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in North Las Vegas.
Gillarducci said the unit came under attack Tuesday by mortar, rocket-propelled grenades and snipers while going building to building in the Iraqi capital city.
Most of the other wounded received shrapnel wounds, said Capt. Chico Manning, the family liaison for the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines headquartered in Encino, Calif. The families of each of the wounded had been notified, he said.
The injured Marines were being treated at field hospitals and might be moved to the hospital ship USS Comfort or flown to Germany or Spain for more care, Gillarducci said.
Sgt. Michael James Dunn, 26, still has shrapnel in the back of his right arm, and was being taken to Kuwait for treatment. He told his mother during a 5 a.m. phone call that he wants to rejoin his unit.
“He said they were in an intense firefight and he was running with a wounded Marine on his back when he was hit,” said Liz Lampsa of Las Vegas. “He wants to go back and finish the fight. He’s my hero. I’m very proud of him.”
Dunn also talked during his five-minute telephone call with his wife, Lori, who gave birth to their first son, Kyle James, two weeks ago.
Lance Cpl. Melvin Segovia, 21, of Las Vegas, telephoned home about 3 a.m. from somewhere in Iraq, telling his family he was wounded in the thigh.
“He says he’s doing better,” said his sister, Cindy Segovia, 17. “He can’t really walk. He said he loves us. He couldn’t talk long.”
Cindy Segovia said her brother was activated from reserve to active status shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Segovia and Dunn worked together briefly at a Las Vegas car dealership, where their supervisors said Segovia worked as a teenager in inventory control and Dunn worked for three years in the service department. It was not clear if they knew each other at work.
Randall Stone, dealership service manager at Bill Heard Chevrolet, said Dunn has a license plate on his car that reads, “TRU GRIT.”
Sgt. Jason B. Hathaway received back and ankle injuries when he fell from a building while under sniper fire, said 1st Sgt. Randy Golden at the reserve center in North Las Vegas.
“I told his wife not to panic, because it’s not as bad as it sounds,” Golden said.
Three Marines from Utah — Lance Cpl. Roger Anderson of Clearfield, Cpl. Wayde Broberg of Midvale, and Cpl. Scott Lee of Ogden — received superficial shrapnel wounds, officials said.
“All of them are OK,” said Marine Capt. Jason Dougherty in Salt Lake City. “It’s mostly just flesh wounds.”
The California wounded were identified as Cpl. Jesus Vidana and lance corporals Jimy Guerralemus and Jesus Hernandez, each from the Los Angeles area.
Guerralemus received a shrapnel wound in the face, Gillarducci said.
Manning said the reserve unit had deployed about 1,000 Marines from the three states to serve with the 1st Marine Expeditionary force in Iraq.
Nevada’s first casualty in the war was Marine 1st Lt. Fred Pokorney, a 1989 Tonopah High School graduate, who was killed in action March 23.
Marine Lance Cpl. Donald John Cline of Sparks, has been missing since a March 23 fight near Nasiriyah.