Thursday, March 27, 2003

Drowned Marines in full gear,

By Bill Gertz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES, "Two Marines drowned in southern Iraq after attempting to cross a canal without a safety line while wearing heavy gear and rifles, The Washington Times has learned. The Marines were identified by the Pentagon as Cpl. Evan James, 20, of Hancock, Ill., and Sgt. Bradley Korthaus, 28, of Scott, Iowa. Both were part of a Marine Corps Reserve engineer company in Peoria, Ill. ... In a statement, the Marine Corps said: "For unclear reasons, four Marines were crossing the Saddam Canal. Two of the Marines made it across, and according to witnesses, two other Marines went under water and have yet to be found." ... However, J.M. Eddins Jr., a photographer for The Washington Times assigned to a Marine Corps supply unit in Iraq, said the men were sent across the canal without taking the precaution of removing their heavy equipment or rifles. Also, the men were not tied to a rope or cable that could have been used to pull them out, he said. "These two guys went into the water with full camouflage gear and rifles and they sank to the bottom like a rock," said Mr. Eddins, who was on the scene shortly after the Marines disappeared and spoke to Marines in the area. "Everyone is really [angry] about this. It was just a needless tragic accident," he said. One observer in Iraq said the Marines were ordered into the canal by a reserve major in charge of the 6th Engineer Support Battalion ... "

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