In October of 2010, the 3/5 – 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, also known as the Darkhorse Battalion, was conducting “clearing operations” in Sangin, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The unit’s first squad was ambushed by the Taliban, inflicting high casualties. But it also revealed heroic actions of the Marines that will be chronicled in a new documentary. It is currently being filmed, to be completed by the end of 2021.
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Helmand Province, one of primary opium producing areas of Afghanistan, would also incur the reputation of the bloodiest fighting of the war. The Darkhorse Battalion sustained the highest rate of casualties of any Marine unit in the Afghanistan war.
The 3/5 Darkhorse Battalion
The mission of “clearing” Sangin was a “nearly impossible” one, it was said. It was a Taliban stronghold, where imbedded fighters wreaked havoc on anyone who came to help the villagers in the region. Into the ‘impossible’ came the US Marine Corps. The Darkhorse Battalion’s first squad was the Ronin 3 Platoon – the subject of the documentary by Producers Jeanne and David McKinney.
October 14, 2010
One of the squad’s machine gunners, Lance Cpl. Irvin M. Ceniceros, sustained a life-threatening sucking chest wound in the ambush. Despite the grievous injury, Ceniceros continued to fight, sending rounds down range while the other Marines advanced to safety.
As his fellow Marines tried to bring him to safety, Ceniceros remained on the trigger. And while he succeeded in saving numerous lives, the 21-year-old would eventually succumb to his wounds.
The son of Mexican immigrants who came to the U.S. in 1985, Ceniceros was beloved by his fellow Marines for his willingness to serve his country and his brothers. Eleven years later, Marines from the Ronin 3 platoon met to honor the Silver Star recipient during a filmed reunion that is forming the basis of a forthcoming documentary.Marine Corps Times
The producer, Jeanne McKinney soon learned that LCpl Ceniceros wasn’t the only hero in the battle for Sangin.
We’re going to get to hear stories that we would never hear. They were put together as a team to do a nearly impossible mission…These guys have a family — brotherly love that’s really hard to put words to.Producer Jeanne McKinney
McKinney found that even the Marines who sustained grievous injuries stayed in the fight. Some of the unit have remained in the Corps, others have retired, but they try to remain in contact. Supporting each other from the ghosts of war is essential, particularly from the intensity of the battle in Sangin. The Marine Corps lost 8 men, and many more wounded that day on October, 14, 2010. Other Marines in other Companies of the 3/5 were also involved in the clearing operations, but the documentary focuses on Ronin 3.
The Documentary trailer – a Reunion of Marines from the Darkhorse Battalion
Featured photo: screenshot of photo by Lance Cpl. Jason Morrison/Marine Corps
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