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‘New England’s Own’ makes presence clear in bomb hunting mission

27 Apr 2006 | Cpl. Brian Reimers

Local citizens are clearing the way for Marines to search their homes.

Marines from Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, conducted a sweep of homes in the Abu Sudayrah village, near Fallujah, April 26.  It was part of an effort to rid the area of improvised explosive device.

“Historically, Coalition forces have been hit by IEDs along the main road that runs along side of the town,” said Maj. Bennett W. Walsh, commander of Weapons Company.

Two Mobile Assault Platoons with a variety of mounted weapons were deployed to assist on the operation.

“We went out there to help lessen or prevent the attacks on troops traveling through the area,” said Staff Sgt. Edward L. Ewing, a platoon commander with Weapons Company.

The Abu Sudayrah village lies next to a main supply route used by not only military traffic, but civilian traffic as well.

“The highway is a haven for the enemy to place explosive devices that could harm innocent Iraqis or military convoys,” explained Walsh, a 36-year-old from Springfield, Mass.

Dismounted Marines, along with Marines manning vehicle-mounted weapons, cordoned off the area in order to eliminate anyone trying to disrupt the operation.  As security set into place, Marines approached homes with Iraqi interpreters to relay messages to citizens.

“We are here to make sure that there is nothing in your house that could be harmful to you or Coalition forces,” an interpreter shouted. “Please come outside so that we can search for anything bad.”

“Showing citizens that we are there to help them and not to harm them is important to us,” said Cpl. Terrente S. Burke, a vehicle commander with Weapons Company, from Dorchester, Mass.

Marines searched the house, room by room, looking for any possible evidence of enemy presence.

“You have to look for anything that could be used for intelligence,” said Sgt. Evan A. Guerreo, a vehicle commander from Houston. “We were looking for suspicious activity, IED materials and weapons.”

Interpreters spoke to people waiting outside to gather knowledge about the area, as the search party made its way down the row of homes.

Marines did not find any direct evidence showing insurgent activity in the village, but there was proof of local citizens believing in the Marines’ mission.

“We did not find any bomb making material,” Walsh explained.  “What we found was a group of Iraqis who were excited about their future and had high hopes for times ahead.  The people were incredibly supportive of what we were doing.”

Marines said they expect “dry holes,” adding that part of the job if denying insurgents  a safe haven.

“Even if we don’t find anything, we can disrupt the insurgents by showing them that we are in the area looking for them,” added 29-year-old Ewing, from Kingsport, Tenn.