Featured News

Combat train hauls and protects Iraqi recruits

28 Aug 2006 | Lance Cpl. Erik Villagran

“America’s Battalion” Marines recently conducted a mission that had them transporting an unusual cargo in unfamiliar terrain.

Marines from 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment’s G Company provided security for an Iraqi Police station during an Iraqi Army recruiting drive.  Marines from the battalion’s Combat Train Two also transported Iraqi Army recruits from the station to the processing center in Fallujah.  It was a journey that took Marines from the rural dusty farm roads they usually travel around here to the bustling urban terrain of Fallujah.

“Our mission was to take the Iraqi recruits from the IP station to their training area,” said Lance Cpl. Diego A. Corrales, a 19-year-old driver from Phoenix, Ariz. “After we dropped off the first group of recruits we had to wait for another call on when to pick up more.”                                                                      

The pick-up point was within a marketplace. The convoy rumbled in to make their pick up and all eyes in the marketplace went to the hulking armored trucks.  Vehicles stopped and pedestrians halted to watch with curiosity.

“It was intense going through the marketplace,” said Lance Cpl. John V. Trew a 21-year-old driver from Ten Mile, Tenn. “There were so many cars in the streets. I was thinking that any one of them could be a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.”

Three Marines escorted Iraqi recruits to the convoy to be transported to Fallujah for further processing. The convoy security force commander exited his humvee and escorted the recruits to the seven-ton truck they would ride in.

“It was nerve wracking,” said Cpl. Daniel M. Dresch, a 21-year-old security force commander from Columbia, S.C. “It was my first time in the city like that. I thought something was going to happen, but everything went well.”

Marines didn’t receive any problems from the Iraqi people. The only problem the convoy faced in the marketplace was making the turn to get out. They had to make a U-turn in a cluttered area to get out the way they came.

“The turn was pretty tight,” Trew said. “I had to back up to complete the turn. I was nervous that I might hit one of the civilians because there wasn’t a lot of room to make the turn.”

Marines made it out of the marketplace and continued the mission of transporting the recruits to the processing center before they were sent to Habbaniyah for their boot camp.

The tensest moments of the convoy came while they were making the trip into Fallujah.  Marines used escalation of force procedures twice when approaching cars failed to yield.

“A white pick-up truck went through an Iraqi vehicle checkpoint,” explained Cpl. Daniel M. Dresch, a 21-year-old security force commander from Columbia, N.C. “We took one shot at the vehicle and the IP’s took two shots. The vehicle stopped after being fired on and the IP’s searched it.”

Nothing significant was found during the search.

It was an unusual mission for the convoy, Dresch said.  It was a mission they don’t ordinarily do, but one that will eventually work Marines out of a job.  These recruits will be tomorrow’s Iraqi soldiers, providing security in their own country and eliminating the need for Marines to patrol the streets.

“The combat train did well,” Dresch said. “They exceeded my expectations for their first time in the city. They did everything they were trained to do.”