Photo Information

An Iraqi Policeman stands at the gate of the Huriyah Police District Headquarters in Ramadi, Iraq, Dec. 2. The chiefs of police of local Iraqi Police stations met at the headquarters to discuss operations within their areas of operation.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jerry Murphy

The ultimate sacrifice, an act of professionalism

2 Dec 2008 | Lance Cpl. Jerry Murphy 1st Marine Division

Capt. Ali Rezaij, an Iraqi Policeman (IP) at the Taamen Police station in Ramadi, Iraq, spent his last hours on Earth ensuring the safety and well-being of his fellow Iraqis.

Rezaij had spent an exhausting night sitting at the bedside of a sickly woman he escorted to the hospital. He stayed with the women, whom he did not even know, into the early morning hours and then returned to work the next day not knowing it would be his last. That afternoon, Nov. 13, he responded to a report of a vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED).

At the scene, Rezaij cleared two houses near the site of the suspected VBIED, sending two families a safe distance down the street. He ensured that children playing soccer in the street were out of harms way. Rezaij reportedly did all of this despite suffering from influenza and not having slept in more than a day. Once the scene was clear of civilians, Rezaij took it upon himself to inspect the vehicle, which exploded into flames and took his life.

 “Capt. Ali sacrificed everything to save the lives of children and families he hardly knew,” said Lt. Col. Hathim Abdallah, the chief of police of the Huriyah Police Station. “He was one of the most professional IPs in the area and we will miss him here in the Huriyah Police District.”

Rezaij’s story of professionalism and sacrifice is the most recent of many heroic stories within the ranks of the IP.

And stories like Rezaij’s are helping the people of Iraq to grow more confident in the professionalism of their local IPs.

Today, the IPs are taking the lead, using training they received from Coalition forces (CF) to conduct missions and investigations.

“You always need professionalism in any business and now we strive on it,” Abdallah said. “In the past we did certain things wrong. We arrested people with little evidence because we didn’t know how evidence worked. The Marines trained us well and taught us the right things.”

Capt. Brian O’Shea, the commander of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, the latest unit to assist IPs in Ramadi, said he has full faith and confidence in the abilities of the IPs.

“The professionalism of the Iraqi Police has increased in many different ways; from small everyday occurrences to the overall mission. Everything from tactics, mounted and dismounted patrols, to planning and executing has improved,” O’Shea said. “It used to take them 45 minutes from receiving the call of an incident to the time they left the gate. Now, they get the call, stand in formation for a brief, and are out the gate.”

According to O’Shea, the IPs’ quality performance has led to a significant improvement in the security of Ramadi throughout the last several months.

“The road ahead for Ramadi security looks bright because of the team in this room,” O’Shea said in a meeting with the chiefs of police in the Huriyah Police District, Dec. 2. “In Iraq, its’ neighboring countries and around the world people will see the confidence in security in Iraq and will invest money into the country, which will in turn create more jobs for the Iraqi people.”

As Iraqis continue progressing toward taking problems into their own hands, stories like Capt. Ali Rezaij’s will surface and paint a picture of the strides they have taken in re-building their country.

1st Marine Division