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Lance Cpl. Migdad Mustafa, a combat engineer with Company A, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, works with an Iraqi contractor Sunday at the Tahadi power plant. The engineers with 3rd CEB placed 265 Bangalore Torpedoes in pre-drilled holes to blast through a bed of limestone for Iraqi contractors. The Iraqi contractors are making a cooling pond for the generators. Once the project is completed, the power plant should supply the residents of Al Anbar province with additional power.

Photo by Cpl. Shawn Coolman

Continual friendship one explosion at a time

20 Apr 2008 | Cpl. Shawn Coolman 1st Marine Division

Marines with Company A, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, made easy work out of breaking up a limestone quarry April 20, and enabled Iraqi contractors to continue work on the Tahadi power plant project. 

“The Tahadi power plant has been halted due to the lack of equipment to break through a bed of limestone,” said Gunnery Sgt. Marco E. Flores, 33, company gunnery sergeant, Company A. “We’re going to break through the rock which will provide water, (cooling pond), to the power plant.”

“From there they are going to be able to do the rest of the work on their own to pull water to the generator,” said Flores who is from Lincolnshire, Ill.

The newly re-activated battalion, who began their seven-month deployment in April, started making friends early on this successful mission.

“This is one of our biggest missions after being re-activated,” said Flores. “I was an instructor at engineer school seven months ago and most of these guys I taught. We’re doing a great job so far for being such a young company.”

The Iraqi contractors were extremely thankful for the young company of engineers, and the engineers responded with 265 highly explosive bangalore torpedoes to break through the limestone. 

The bangalore torpedoes were placed in approximately 70 pre-drilled holes in the bed of limestone that were created prior to the Marines arrival at the power plant.

In a quick sequence of explosive events, the bed of limestone that was impeding the Iraqi contractors’ way was turned into a mound of broken up debris that the contractors could easily manage.

“Approximately half the area of the al-Anbar province will be sufficiently supplied with power once this project is done,” said Haitham Al Hadithy, an Iraqi contractor in English.

The power plant project has been an ongoing project by Iraqi contractors and Coalition forces, and has forged strong friendships between the two.

Before the Marines could part ways, the Iraqi contractors expressed their appreciation with a large feast for a job well done by the Marines. “Thank you for all your work,” said Hadithy, to the Marines. “We will continue working on the generators to supply power to everyone.”

Although this particular mission was accomplished, many more missions lay ahead for the Marines of Company A, 3rd CEB.

“We accomplished our mission, and now we can move on to the next one to help the Iraqis,” said Flores.

1st Marine Division