Official statement

I, Sergeant Jayme W. Kohler, do hereby make this statement voluntarily and of my own free will.

On 29 March, 2002, Sgt Aaron Taylor, Cpl Jeff Rexroad, Cpl Jason Macha, Mario Reich, and I were riding mountain bikes in Fountains Park. We were approaching the outskirts of the park, where a short, rocky downhill section is that we like to ride, and decided to take it to show the riders newer to the park.

We rolled up the technical single track, one by one, and converged at the top to ride back down. At the same time a train was moving slowly past and it was then I noticed the railroad tracks and nearby station. It was full of people and I waved to a few. As I was waving I noticed three black men, all of slight build, two of average height and one short one, walking up the same trail we just rode up. I assumed they were trying to catch the slow moving train. They walked past the majority of the group and centered on Sgt Taylor and I who were the last two riders in the succession, me being in the back.

The man in the middle stopped and said to me “Sorry man. Where you going?” Sgt Taylor then said “Let’s go,” and Mario, Cpl Macha, and Cpl Rexroad began riding back down the rocky trail to where we left the park boundaries. I told the short man “Just down there,” and pointed down the trail at the first three in our group riding away.

At that moment the short man reached out and grabbed Sgt Taylor’s shoulder and a portion of his CamelBak as he was about to ride. Sgt Taylor screamed “Get back! Hey! Hey! Hey! Help!” and the man let go of his grip and jumped back a step. He then pulled a knife from his pocket and just stood there pointing it at Sgt Taylor and me. With the knife pulled, the man closest to me tried grabbing my CamelBak and I too brushed him off with an arm sweep. Seconds later, upon hearing Sgt Taylor, Cpl Rexroad came running back up the trail. When the man with the knife saw Cpl Rexroad approaching he began to wave the knife wildly around, alternating between Cpl Rexroad to his right, Sgt Taylor directly in front of him, and I to his left.

At that point the man directly in front of me put his right hand behind his back, as if to grab something, and Sgt Taylor hollered “He’s got a gun! He’s got a gun!” I took a step back to pose less of a threat and the man came forward a second later to close the gap between us and make another grab. He pulled his empty hand out from behind his back and it was then I figured there was a good chance he didn’t have a weapon of any sort or he would’ve used it by now.

With Cpl Rexroad’s arrival the three assailants were distracted just long enough for him to grab Sgt Taylor’s bike, which had fallen to the ground slightly downhill from the group, and start carrying it away for our escape. Sgt Taylor followed immediately behind him, with me taking up the rear pushing my bike. I maintained a visual over my shoulder on the three black men as we struggled to get down the rocky trail. The short man with the knife charged me, stabbing madly, and I swung the bike from low to high, diagonally across my body from my left hip, and struck him solidly in his upper body and head with the rear portion of the bike. He spun counter clockwise to the ground and apparently the knife flew in the tall grass, a fact which I didn’t know until much later in the confrontation.

With an even greater opportunity to escape unscathed, Sgt Taylor called out to me to grab the bike and run. His hands were free to further defend against more attacks so he maintained rear security as I continued my dash down the trail. Our downward movement took all of us, including our assailants, into the rockiest portion of the trail and they immediately recognized their advantage. With the short man back up on his feet but without his knife, all three picked up rocks fist sized and bigger and began throwing them at whoever they’d reach; Sgt Taylor being closest and therefore they’re primary target. I could hear Sgt Taylor yelling as the rocks impacted his body while he was back peddling, but I also knew he was still on his feet and coming my way.

After a particularly bad hit, which I later discovered had grazed his left cheekbone, I looked over my left shoulder and watched Sgt Taylor finally turn my direction and begin running down the hill to more quickly avoid the barrage of rocks. A split second after he turned a football sized rock sailed through the air and connected with the lower right portion of the back of his head, which was luckily still protected by his bike helmet and undoubtedly saved his life. His knees buckled and he fell forward in a counter clockwise spin to his right across to the opposite side of the trail and into the rocks and grass. He appeared to be completely unconscious from my perspective.

I immediately dropped my bike and rushed back to where Sgt Taylor had fallen, just slightly ahead of Cpl Rexroad who had also seen Sgt Taylor fall. We both immediately came under heavy fire. As a rock came flying at me, I raised my left arm to protect my face and it struck me in the ribcage just below my left armpit. In the time it took for me to get to Sgt Taylor the short man was upon him and the other two were farther back due to my and Cpl Rexroad’s offensive advance. Cpl Rexroad picked up rocks of his own and laid down an impressive cover fire which gave me just enough time to get to Sgt Taylor, who had regained consciousness and was kicking frantically at his attacker from the ground. I knocked the short man back a few steps and immediately began to struggle with him. At this point I wasn’t aware he had dropped the knife and knew I had to use any force necessary to prevent further, more serious injury to myself or Sgt Taylor.

He dove at me head first, with his arms outstretched, and I seized the opportunity to put him in a blood choke with his head locked in my left arm at my waist. With my free hand I continued to target his kidneys and ribs and kneed violently into his gut to halt his assault. He continued to struggle so I stopped hitting him in order to apply more pressure to the choke hold. I grabbed my left fist with my right hand and wrenched up hard on his neck.

Sgt Taylor had, in the meantime, come to his senses and rushed to my side upon seeing our struggle. He punched him hard enough in the side to jolt the man’s body and even me as I continued applying pressure on his neck. This had little to no effect so Sgt Taylor hit one more time in the same area. Something cracked loudly after the second impact but I can’t be sure if it was his neck or ribs, and the man went completely limp in my arms. With the life threatening danger immobilized, I released my grip around his neck and he fell to the ground seemingly lifeless. He wasn’t moving at all so Cpl Rexroad and I grabbed Sgt Taylor on either side and began to double time from the scene.

With now only two free hands between the three of us, we grabbed to two most valuable bikes and continued to run. The bike I was riding, a Detachment Schwinn, was left in the grass alongside the trail being the least mechanically sound and having served its purpose as an invaluable weapon of opportunity. It also provided a perfect distraction to the men to avoid further pursuit. Much further down the road we met up with Cpl Macha and Mario who had already ridden away before the altercation began. We began walking to the vehicle entrance of the park and I immediately called Post 1 for a pick up.

After assessing our wounds and concluding that nothing was life threatening enough to require an immediate medivac, I called Post 1 back with a situation report. The van arrived; we loaded up all our equipment, minus one Schwinn, and evacuated the park without further incident. We returned to the BEQ, cleaned up as best we could, and met Cobus at the embassy. Sgt Taylor, Cpl Rexroad and I were taken to the hospital and Sgt Taylor was given a thorough exam for the injuries he sustained.

As Marine Security Guards we are trained to avoid a knife fight at all costs. I firmly believe that is precisely what we did at every opportunity and only reacted in self defense. I have no doubt in my mind that we were in mortal danger. This wasn’t an issue of giving up our bikes and going home with our heads hung low, it was an issue of self preservation and defending our lives. Further analysis, unclouded by the heat of battle and rush of adrenaline, left us with a very clear realization of the lack of self protective equipment we are allowed to carry. OC spray, at the very least, would have neutralized the entire situation before it had started. It would have given Sgt Taylor and I time enough to disorient our attackers and make a hasty escape before anyone got seriously injured or required medical attention. That was not the case on 29 March. We are empowered to protect American Embassy personnel, property, and equipment while on this program. It is our duty as Marine Security Guards. But what of when we walk out the embassy doors, past the hard line into the real world, and are left hung out to dry? We don’t have side arms, shotguns, tear gas, PR-24s, or even OC spray. It is many times over more dangerous on the city streets, regardless of how many liberty buddies you have which was proved in our situation, then behind these embassy walls and yet we have nothing but our wits to protect us. Never bring a stick to a knife fight or a knife to a gun fight. That is precisely how it was. We were empty handed, with very little as far as weapons of opportunity, and were forced to confront our attackers in order to escape, evade, and defend our fellow Marines. Loud, verbal commands only go so far and physical presence obviously had no effect, so an added measure of security is badly needed. OC spray is a must, at the bare minimum.

The force continuum is a powerful tool, but completely useless without the resources to facilitate its application. Steps need to be taken, in writing, to allow Marines alternative methods of self protection immediately.

JAYME W. KOHLER
SGT USMC

ShareThis

One Response to “Official statement”

  1. Jeff Rexroad says:

    Kick ass incident report, bro….didn’t even know this stuff was on the web until a friend of mine found it and showed it to

    me.

    I still remember this event as if it happened yesterday. I’m still working on my battle sight zero with my “rock gun.” lol.

    I hope all is going well with you…..take care.

    Sgt Rexroad- Unofficialy retired. lol.

Leave a Reply

The author.Born in the year of the Dragon, the author grudgingly accepts the fact he has too many interests and not enough time. A cyclist as long as he can remember, an avid yet inconsistent writer since age eleven, and a U.S. Marine since age twenty-one, the author also adds peak bagging, diving, snowboarding, and computers to his list of interests. Incidentally, he is aware of his inability to make a living from any but the Corps. The author accepts this as fact and remains optimistic. Feel free to drop him a line.

  • Jayme on Drill Instructor duty, Parris Island: A retrospective: I’m glad you found it at least a little helpful. I don’t think anyone can…
  • Gio on Drill Instructor duty, Parris Island: A retrospective: Read this before I went to the Drill field as a Sergeant and it seriously…
  • Jayme on Drill Instructor duty, Parris Island: A retrospective: I remember PCA’ers didn’t get leave after school. But I took a month after my…
  • DD on Drill Instructor duty, Parris Island: A retrospective: DI school is approx 11 weeks, does anyone know if time off is granted upon…
  • Raymond Potter on Drill Instructor duty, Parris Island: A retrospective: Send me an email. I am very interested in talking to you. As I…
  • Jayme on Calculated PFT/CFT Performance Worksheet (NAVMC 11622) in Excel v4.1.0 dtd 30 Jun 2017: Errors will happen if you don’t fill in DOB and Gender. Take another look…
  • old corps on Calculated PFT/CFT Performance Worksheet (NAVMC 11622) in Excel v4.1.0 dtd 30 Jun 2017: can you tell me why my pts for MTC and MANUF are not calculating? …
  • Jayme on Calculated PFT/CFT Performance Worksheet (NAVMC 11622) in Excel v4.1.0 dtd 30 Jun 2017: Glad it helped. Accessing this page via government computer is hit or miss, but feel…
  • SeanD on Recruit survival guide (politically correct remix): Ppl seem to forget what Marines do, they would like. Hats to train recruits to…
  • Kaylee on A mother’s PostSecret: There’s always another way to interpret something. One’s interpretation is an opinion, not a fact….
  • Jayme on A mother’s PostSecret: In your words, it makes perfect sense. But they aren’t HER words. Her words are…
  • Kaylee on A mother’s PostSecret: Maybe she’s just scared to lose him. I have several very close friends that joined…
  • Jayme on Better off a memory: Yes, it is. What was haunting? The visit? Your memory of this? The story?…
  • Your goddaughter on Better off a memory: Is this when you gave me that blue dolphin necklace? This…this haunts me….
  • Adda on Drill Instructor duty, Parris Island: A retrospective: Jayme, Spot-on! This must be the 6th time I’ve read this and my reaction…
  • Jayme on 5 things men want women to know: For the record, I’m a closet Danielle Steele fan. Read a lot of her books…
  • Brittany on 5 things men want women to know: It’s nice to see a man’s perspective on relationships as so many articles are written…
  • Jayme on 2009 Eastern Division [rifle and pistol] Matches results: What’s so special about that score in particular? Contact the range where the matches were…
  • Percival on 2009 Eastern Division [rifle and pistol] Matches results: Hey how can i get the scoring roster from a 2009 Far east division championships…
  • Jayme on Drill Instructor duty, Parris Island: A retrospective: Plenty of good stuff. None of it comes to mind right now though….