FALLUJAH, Iraq -- The Quick Reaction Force for 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment should add another word to their name – lethal.
Marines from the battalion’s A Company recently killed two insurgents and found a weapons cache while conducting operations against anti-Iraqi forces. The battalion is assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 near Fallujah.
It started out like most days for the Marines, whose mission was to be ready to react to any problem that came up, standing by with gear and weapons ready. Then a tip came in to the forward operating base. Insurgents were to meet nearby, armed and ready to attack the Iraqi Army.
“We got information that supposedly twelve insurgents were going to meet at a local gas station, getting ready to attack the IA,” said Sgt. Scott M. Lariviere, an infantry squad leader who helped lead Marines against the enemy.
Marines here use a “Quick Reaction Force,” or group of Marines standing by waiting to respond to anything that happens, to deal with missions that need immediate attention.
“QRF up!” sounded through the camp outside of Fallujah. Battle-ready Marines went running to the briefing area. A couple minutes worth of checks and essential planning, then they were gone. They poured into their up-armored humvees, heavily armed and destined to fight.
“We went pass the gas station and no one was there, so we kept moving south and came to an intersection,” Lariviere said as he described the mission’s start. “We found three Iraqi Army humvees halted there and at that point we noticed two vehicles set-up to ambush them.”
But before the Marines could act on their thoughts, the two small sedans hit the gas in a desperate attempt to escape the force they were now facing.
The sound of pyrotechnic flares burst from the turret gun of the Marines’ lead vehicle. Whether they saw the flares warnings them stop or not, the insurgents kept moving.
“Once they wouldn’t respond, I knew that they were insurgents,” said Lance Cpl. Timothy M. Brown, who watched the events unfold from the back seat of his humvee.
Marines found themselves in a high-speed pursuit leading through windy dirt roads and fighting to outmaneuver the agile sedans.
“I was just trying to get up there, catch up as soon as possible,” said Lance Cpl. Shawn J. Pitts, a rifleman driving the second humvee in the chase. “These guys were flying and they weren’t going to stop for anything.”
Suddenly dust cleared in front of the lead humvee to reveal a black four-door sedan, the second one running, crashed into the side of the road. Doors flew open and two men,
wielding AK-47 assault rifles and multiple magazines, dashed out to evade the mounted Marines.
“They ran into a home after we shot at them while they ran from us,” Lariviere said, 30, from Spencer, Mass. “We cleared the house and there were no signs of them.”
A now-frustrated team of Marines moved outside into the fields surrounding the vacant house.
“I identified one of them about 15 meters away,” Lariviere explained. “He popped up and started spraying rounds at us. It is amazing that none of us got hit. At that point we fired and killed him.”
But the Marines knew that there was still another insurgent in the area looking to kill them before they could get to him.
“We kept moving and found the other one lying in a ditch wounded from the shots fired while running,” Lariviere added. “He was armed and made a move at us, forcing us to eliminate the threat.”
Upon returning to the forward operating base with the insurgents’ vehicle, Marines found something that was well worth the day’s mission.
The sedan was loaded with weapons.
The list included AK-47 rifles, hundreds of rounds, several rocket-propelled grenades and launchers, a sniper rifle with high-power scope, grenades and a machine gun.
“With all of the weapons these guys had, they were obviously out to hurt and kill somebody,” Brown said, 22, from Nashua, N.H.
The Marines all agreed, the find was a good one and another threat had been eliminated for good.
“It feels good, just to know that we stopped the Iraqi Army and our Marines from getting hurt or killed,” Lariviere explained.
“Another two insurgents off of the street is always a good day. It makes me happy that we were there to stop them,” 23-year-old Pitts added, from Cranston, R.I.