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Marines with 3rd Platoon, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 head into the Euphrates River near Haditha, Iraq, May 25. Sailors with Riverine Squadron 3, Detachment 3, RCT-5, assisted Marines in the mission of clearing islands in the river. Sailors provided Marines a ride from one island to another. The Marines and sailors battled through scorching heat to accomplish the objective.

Photo by Cpl. Erik Villagran

Marines go island hopping in Iraq

25 May 2008 | Cpl. Erik Villagran 1st Marine Division

Marines with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 aren’t afraid to get their feet wet in an effort to deter insurgent activity.

Company L Marines conducted cache sweeps on islands located along the Euphrates River with the assistance of sailors with Riverine Squadron 3, Detachment 3, RCT-5.

“We conducted the sweeps in order to clear weapons caches or anything that the anti-Coalition forces might use,” said Sgt. Jason M. Hayes, 21, an infantryman with Company L from Carson City, Nev. “We started sweeping river banks and islands from Haditha Dam to the south.”

The Marines and sailors began the operation early in the morning. They convoyed to an entry point along the river and carried rubber boats off seven-ton trucks.

“Unloading the boats and loading them back up was rough,” Hayes said. “The engines for the boats weighed around a hundred pounds a piece.”

Once the boats were prepped and ready, the Marines and sailors went to work on getting them into the water. It was a difficult task due to the fact that they had to carry the boats down a steep embankment. Marines slipped and slid into mud and water with each boat. By the time all the boats were in the river, some of the Marines were drenched up to their waists.

Nonetheless, Marines began the search with the sailors, navigating the boats through the Euphrates.

“They drove us where we needed to go, and we’d get out at each island,” Hayes said. “They provided security for us on the river.”

The services operated together flawlessly to accomplish the mission.

“I was surprised with everything we got accomplished,” said Petty Officer 1st Class David L. Crutchley, 30, an engineman with Riverine Squadron 3 from Stevensville, Md. “(The Marines) were proficient with everything they did.”

As the day wore on, Marines not only had to conduct the searches, but had to cope with the unforgiving sun of Iraq. Their camelbacks were sucked dry and had to be re-supplied with water throughout the operation.

“It was really hot out there,” Hayes said. “The sun was radiating off the water and everyone was feeling it. Having all our gear on in the sun drains you.”

The scorching heat didn’t slow the Marines down, however. During the mission, they uncovered around 50 pounds of propellant, which is used in improvised explosive devices.

It was the first time the Marines with Company L, had operated with the boats, and they were pleased with how the mission turned out.

“It’s always a different experience working with new elements, but I thought it went well,” Hayes said. “It was the first time we were out in the (boats), but we adapted quickly and made it work.”

1st Marine Division