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Marines keep strong hold on position near Fallujah

17 Aug 2004 | Sgt. Jose E. Guillen

Marines dodged bullets and mortar fire to grab hold of key terrain south of Fallujah Friday.

The Marines of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment are keeping a strong position at Traffic Control Point 8 to deter anti-coalition forces from transporting munitions.

"This position is vital, so we're ensuring no enemy personnel are transporting weapons in and out of Fallujah," said Sgt. Fernando Rafael, a squad leader in Weapons Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

"We're just trying to keep the peace out here because this road is important," said Sgt. James Eldridge, a 24-year-old team leader with the company, from Lynn, Mass.

While TCP 8 is subject to random rocket attacks, the company is dishing out their own mortar assaults at enemy pockets in Fallujah.

"Our mission is to support the company, snipers and tanks with indirect fire with 60-millimeter mortars," said Cpl. Ronald C. Mollohan III, a section leader with Mortars Platoon.

"Weapons Company is helping out with 81-millimeter mortars - it can get busy," added Mollohan, a 24-year-old from Frankfurt, KY.

Rafael said that because of the AIF's lack of technology like night vision, enemy activity is at a minimum in the evening.

"It's only busy during the day because they can see us," Rafael explained.

Even so, engaging the enemy can be a challenge.

"The indirect fire from the enemy is the most challenging because they're out of range of small arms at times," said Capt. Timothy J. Jent, the 37-year-old commanding officer of Company K, from Sparta, NJ.

Rafael said his company will eventually rotate out of position, but they feel they have given their enemy something to remember.

"The Iraqis have definitely felt our presence because we haven't had too many enemy personnel attempt to come through our vehicle checkpoint," Rafael said.