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Marines find weapons during follow-on operation

9 Aug 2006 | Cpl. Brian Reimers

Marines recently spent three days conducting operations in the area south of Fallujah where they discovered several weapons and gathered information about insurgents operating there.

Marines from 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, along with Iraqi Army soldiers, swept through the predominately rural area during Operation Floodlight to locate insurgents and weapons targeting coalition and Iraqi forces.

Hundreds of Marines and more than 30 vehicles left the battalion’s forward operating base headed for Hasa to conduct the follow-up mission. 

The battalion located several weapons caches and rescued three hostages from enemy captors in a nearby village during a previous operation.

This mission was executed to either confirm or deny the location of more insurgent activity in the area.

C Company Marines discovered grenades, rifles and various improvised explosive device making materials while searching houses in the area.

“It was very important for us to find this stuff because any time we can take munitions out of the hands of insurgents it helps,” said Sgt. Jason E. Hermenau, a 28 year-old infantryman from Torrington, Conn.

A census of Hasa was conducted as groups of Marines cleared homes and stopped to speak with the local Iraqis. They asked questions about suspicious activity and what problems that the people had there.

“They agreed that since the last operation and our presence there, the insurgent activity had slowed dramatically and they appreciated us being in the area,” Hermenau said.

The battalion covered the entire village and its surrounding area for three days straight, with temperatures ranging from 118 degrees during the day and high 90’s at night.

“The insurgents need to know that no matter how hot it gets and how much they can try to run from us, we will chase them until we find them or they give up,” said 21-year-old Lance Cpl. Eugene M. Porcelli from Hauppauge, N.Y., who provided security for the battalion’s forward command center.

Hasa’s nearby main roads have been noted for their high volume of IED’s laid out to target Coalition convoys traveling on them.

“You aren’t going to find huge stashes of weapons and large numbers of insurgents on every operation, and this was one of those operations,” said 24 year-old Sgt. Brian J. Vitale, a motor transportation mechanic from Methuen, Mass.  “However, we were able to check in detail the roads and where IED’s are being used to try and hit us.”

In total, Marines discovered  artillery rounds commonly used to manufacture IED’s, rockets, several pounds of propellant, an insurgent training manual, grenades, rifles, ammunition and ski masks used to hide insurgent faces.

The operation was a success although the Marines did not find the same amount of weapons and insurgents as the previous operation.

“Part of the reason why it was a success, was because there wasn’t a whole lot out,” said Lt. Col. Christopher A. Landro, battalion commander, from Kennesaw, Ga. “It showed the anti-Iraqi forces our ability to work anywhere in our area of operation and with the Iraqi forces.”

“It keeps the ones who are trying to harm us on their toes,” Hermenau added.  “One minute we could be operating in the city and the next minute we could be out in searching a rural area— they never know where or when we are going to strike.”