The Battle of Nasiriyah started early on March 23, 2003, when an Army supply convoy took a wrong turn into Nasiriyah and was ambushed. The ensuing firefight killed 11 soldiers and led to six more being captured, including Pvt. Jessica Lynch, an incident that was widely reported.
The soldiers who survived the ambush were rescued by the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, to which Lance Cpl. Thomas Blair was assigned the night before. Later that day, the Marines attacked north into the city along the same route where the supply convoy was ambushed.
Several companies, including Blair's Charlie Company, were trying to secure two bridges in Nasiriyah — one crossing the Saddam Canal and another crossing the Euphrates River. The lead company, which was supposed to provide cover for those that followed, got stuck in the mud.
When Blair's company crossed the first bridge, they came under heavy fire including machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar and artillery fire. Blair got out of his Humvee to help defend the rest of the unit as it crossed the bridge.
He fired his Stinger missile at an enemy position, then began helping to load nine wounded Marines into a Marine Amphibious Assault Vehicle, all while under enemy fire. Blair also got into the armored vehicle to provide security as it tried to evacuate the wounded.
The vehicle was hit at least four times by enemy rocket-propelled grenades before it also came under friendly fire. A forward air controller in another Marine company mistakenly believed the vehicle had been taken by the enemy and called in a strike by an A-10 Warthog that fired a Maverick missile, obliterating the vehicle.
A yearlong investigation could not determine whether those inside the vehicle were killed by enemy fire or the Maverick missile.
U.S. military records