IRAQ: Temecula Marine killed in Islamic State rocket attack – Press-Enterprise
U.S. casualties in war on ISIS
U.S. military killed in the 19-month-old campaign against the Islamic State:
October: Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler, 39, of Roland, Okla., was killed during a Special Operations raid to free prisoners of the Islamic State in the northern Iraqi town of Hawijah.
Saturday: Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin of Temecula, amid enemy rocket fire at a base in Makhmour, southeast of the Iraqi city of Mosul.
Louis F. “Louie” Cardin was the second-youngest of seven siblings, who as a child always wanted to follow the older kids around. He even followed one of his older brothers, Vincent, into military service.
Cardin, who graduated from Chaparral High in Temecula in 2006, joined the Marines that year as a field artilleryman and deployed to Afghanistan three times.
Staff Sgt. Cardin’s latest deployment, to Iraq, ended tragically Saturday, March 19, when he and several other members of his unit were hit with enemy rocket fire at a base in Makhmour, a town southeast of Mosul. The attack happened near the front line with the Islamic State. Cardin’s death was the second in the campaign against the militants, according to the U.S. military and Iraqi officials.
A senior Iraqi army officer in Makhmour said two rockets landed about 8:20 a.m. Saturday on the U.S. camp, a small, closely guarded facility where American advisers have been based for several months helping Iraqi army and peshmerga forces battle Islamic State fighters nearby and preparing for an offensive to recapture the key Iraqi city of Mosul. “Several” other Marines also were injured in the rocket attack, according to a Pentagon statement.
Cardin had been assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Pentagon officials said Sunday. A defense official told The Washington Post that a company of Marines from that unit arrived in Iraq about a week ago. They are providing force protection for coalition military advisers in the region.
Vincent Cardin, 33, of Hemet, recalled his younger brother, who would have turned 28 on April 27, as a funny man. He said he most recently heard from his brother March 10 via a Facebook message, when the siblings discussed getting their mother a ring for her birthday containing all of their birthstones.
The kids grew up in Anza and Aguanga before moving to Temecula, Cardin said. Louis Cardin was not married and had no children.
Vincent Cardin, who was serving in the Army when Louis Cardin joined the Marines, said there were a lot of good-natured jokes at the family table about two brothers serving in the two different services.
An American flag and a Marines flag hung outside the Temecula home of Cardin’s sister, Polly Lyons, on Sunday.
Louis Cardin was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, three Afghanistan Campaign medals, an Iraq Campaign Medal and three Sea Service Deployment ribbons, according to Stars and Stripes, a U.S. Army-owned newspaper.
ISLAMIC STATE TARGETED
Cardin’s death “reminds us of the risks our men and women in uniform face every day,” the Pentagon statement said.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the service members involved, their families and their coalition teammates who will continue the fight against ISIL with resolve and determination,” it added, using an acronym to refer to the Islamic State.
Cardin’s death has drawn attention to the deployment of Marines and sailors from Navy ships in the Middle East in the military campaign against the Islamic State.
The defense official, who spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said Marines from the expeditionary unit have moved on and off the ships into Iraq for months. They are traveling with the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, a three-ship Navy unit that includes the USS Kearsarge, the USS Arlington and the USS Oak Hill. It arrived in the Middle East in October. The U.S. troop presence in Iraq is capped at 3,780.
U.S. officials did not specify the precise role of the Americans serving on the base. But elite Marine Raiders are deployed in Iraq with a mission similar to that of the Special Operations forces there.
The base lies within a larger peshmerga facility and next to an Iraqi army base on the outskirts of Makhmour, a town 30 miles south of Irbil, the Kurdish regional capital, which the Islamic State seized briefly in 2014.
Makhmour is expected to become a major focus of any offensive to retake Mosul, and Iraqi army reinforcements have begun arriving there in recent weeks in preparation. The Iraqi officer said that mortar and rocket fire frequently hit the Iraqi army base, making it unclear whether the attack that killed the Marine was targeting the Americans.
Brett McGurk, the U.S. special envoy to the coalition formed to fight the Islamic State, last week declined to predict when the offensive might take place, but he said it had effectively begun, with operations elsewhere aimed at severing supply routes and isolating the city. “It’s already started. . . . It’s a slow, steady squeeze,” he told a forum at the American University of Iraq at Sulaymaniyah.
He indicated that a full-scale offensive may take time. “It’s going to be a long campaign,” he said.
Staff writers John M. Blodgett, Brian Rokos, The Washington Post and City News Service contributed to this report.