Marines return to Fallujah, no shots fired

12 May 2004 | Sgt. Jose E. Guillen

Marines returned to the center of Fallujah May 10 only to find a peaceful reception.  It was a stark contrast to the gunfire and rocket attacks they experienced a month ago.

Marines and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers, along with Iraqi police, patrolled through the city.  It was a mission that was carried off without a single shot fired, despite fears that it would erupt in more gunfire.

"Everyone had the impression we would have a fight because the city hasn't been cleared," said Master Sgt. Arthur Trader Jr., operations chief for Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment.  "We're surprised we had no engagement with enemy because the Iraqi Army has only been in the city for a short time."

The battalion initially planned and rehearsed the mission that called for a much larger convoy of tactical vehicles, but decided against it, opting instead for a less provocative stance.

"An entire company was ready to go in, but the (commanding officer) and the general reduced the size to get the Iraqi Army and police involved," Trader said.

Despite traveling light with just ten vehicles, the rest of the battalion of infantrymen waited outside the city in preparations to move in, if needed.

"Mortars were set - ready to go, and we were beefed up with other weapons," Trader explained.

Although the patrol may have kicked off with anticipation, the success of the uneventful mission proved the cooperation between Coalition Forces and Iraqi soldiers.

"Our intent was to demonstrate the operability between Coalition Forces and the Fallujah Brigade," said Maj. Andrew J. Petrucci, the executive officer of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment.

Petrucci added the Marines wanted "to show the citizens of Fallujah that their Brigade can secure an environment for both citizens and Coalition Forces."

1st Marine Division's Commanding General, Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis also met with the commander of the Fallujah Brigade, Iraqi Gen. Mohammed Latif, a former Iraqi Army general during Saddam Hussein's reign.

The meeting was a first step to cultivate ties for peace and redevelopment of areas throughout the city damaged from battle, Mattis said.

"We made good history because it didn't turn into a fight - we didn't come here for a fight," Mattis said. "We need to keep building one day of peace, rebuild a house here, repair damages there and shake hands with the Iraqis."