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3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment rounds up insurgents, nets weapons cache

6 Aug 2006 | Lance Cpl. Ray Lewis

A routine patrol for Marines of 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment turned into a significant catch.  Marines captured four suspected insurgents and seized several weapons and bomb-making materials.

Marines assigned to K Company wrapped up the insurgents Aug. 6.  They took the four and the weapons without a shot fired.  The battalion is serving in the Habbaniyah area with Regimental Combat Team 5.

The operation seemed routine until Marines reached some homes about halfway through the city.

“Sixty percent of the things we found were things that people shouldn’t have had,” said Lance Cpl. Andrew R. Morrison, a 24-year-old team leader from Boynton Beach, Fla., assigned to K Company.

Suspected insurgents had a shotgun, AK-47 and SKS assault rifles, improvised weapons making material and rifle magazines taped together.

According to local laws, Iraqi families are allowed one AK-47 assault rifle per household to protect themselves.

“Taped together magazines are only used for insurgent purposes,” said Lance Cpl. Brandon S. Farmer, a 21-year-old team leader from Salem, Ohio.  “If you’re not an insurgent, you don’t need that.”

So the Marines investigated.

“They said one of two things: a Marine gave it to them, which was a lie, or they found it in the road,’” Farmer explained.

However, the interpreter with them picked up subtle inconsistencies.

So, the four suspected insurgents were detained and their half-dozen weapons were taken for further investigation.

“It’s good to know that we’re actually doing something,” Farmer said. “A lot of the time they find out we’re coming and get the stuff their not supposed to have out before we get there. This time I don’t think that they knew we were coming because this time we got them.”

“We were just supposed to confirm or deny the presence of enemy weapon caches and/or insurgents in a city south of Shark’s Fin,” said Cpl. Chris L. Lafave, a rifleman assigned to K Company.

The Shark’s Fin is a geographic area along the Euphrates River, west of Fallujah.

The 20-year-old team leader from Arnold, Md., said Marines were also tasked to look for IED-making materials and gather intelligence for future operations.

The operation was pulled off with a helping hand from Iraqi Army soldiers and Iraqi police. 

“We got good cooperation from the Iraqi police and soldiers,” Morrison said.

He said the assistance from the IA and IP was effective as a liaison between the Marines and local Iraqi citizens.

“We got the bad guys from the good guys without any escalation of force,” Morrison said.

Marines carried out the operation during the heat of the Iraqi summer under a blazing sun.  The searing temperatures took a toll on the Marines, but they still netted their prize.

“I was pouring water on me all day to cool off,” Farmer said.

He added he was sweating heavily and looked as if he just stepped out of a swimming pool.  The perspiration completely soaked his uniform. 

Still, the heat didn’t keep the Marines from completing their mission.  One of the company’s top leaders couldn’t be more proud.

“Those guys did a phenomenal job fighting the time and the climate,” said Gunnery Sgt. James M. Knuckles, company gunnery sergeant for K Company. 

The 36-year-old infantry staff noncommissioned officer from Englewood, Fla., said his unit walked away from the operation with no casualties or major injuries.  He chalked this operation successful by anyone’s measure.

“It was a long day,” Knuckles said. “But a good catch.”