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1st Marine Division

Camp Pendleton, CA
‘Outcasts’ cast out cache

By Cpl. William Skelton | | March 5, 2006

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A single word summed up three days’ worth of searching for Marines here. 

“Jackpot!”

Marines from Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, discovered a weapons cache Sunday, March. 5, in the northeastern Al Anbar Province.

Marines with Mobile Assault Platoon 3 – known as the “Outcasts” – uncovered a large munitions storage site near an abandoned house. The armaments found are commonly used to make improvised explosive devices.

“We believe it was some kind of IED factory and safe house,” said Navy Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jeffery D. Fishel, the 44-year-old platoon commander for MAP 3 from San Diego.

The Marines from Weapons Company who make up the MAP teams are base out of Camp Fallujah, unlike their counterparts in the battalion’s other companies.

MAP 3 began a three-day operation on Saturday that led to Sunday’s discovery. 

The countryside of the eastern Al Anbar Province is vast with fields and dry desert soil. Every few hundred yards huge wells can be seen pumping water into irrigation ditches to water crops. Surrounding the wells are large sand dunes, sites Marines often search for weapons caches.

“I was tasked with taking my squad out to look for weapons caches,” said Cpl. Paul A. Bennett, a 21-year-old squad leader from San Diego. “After searching two-to-three wells, I was tasked to search an abandoned house to stay in for the night.”

Engineers attached to the squad began searching the house with a metal detector after arriving at the location.  After a few minutes of searching, a Marine cried out “Jackpot!”

“We found a variety of weapons in this cache,” said Cpl. Tyler L. Huffman, a 21-year-old assaultman from Elko, Nev. “We found everything from propane tanks to suicide vests.”

The cache yielded a large sum of weaponry.  The Marines found six 122 mm rounds, four 60 mm mortars, two anti-tank mines, three suicide vests and 39 propane tanks. 

“Two sets of the 122 rounds were already daisy-chained together ready for an IED,” Fishel said. “The tank mines … I have never seen anything like those two before.”

The Marines also dug up medications during the sweep of the house. The medicines were pain relievers found near the suicide vests.  Marines suspected insurgents use these items before their suicide attacks.

“It’s a good feeling getting these things off the streets,” Huffman said. “All the hard work is worth it to know that another Marine isn’t going to die by these weapons.”

The Marines wouldn’t begin to speculate how many lives were saved by the search, seizure and disposal of the cache. Saving one life is worth any number of hours in the sun, Bennett explained.

“I wish people back home would understand that we are out here doing our job just as they would normally do there job any day,” Huffman said. “People need to understand that the Iraqis need a chance to live their lives as well as we do in America. 

“The more munitions that are taken from the hands of the insurgents the closer the Marines are to reaching the goal of returning control over to the Iraqi forces and getting the nation on its feet,” Huffman added.

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