RAWAH, Iraq --
Marines boarded the helicopters Sept. 16 as the sun slowly peaked over the horizon, ready to execute the mission they had rehearsed. The early morning promised a comfortable flight compared to common mid-day temperatures of over 110 degrees. When they touched down at their destination, cool, calm and collected, they began their search.
The “Warlords” of 4th Platoon, Company F, Task Force 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5 landed in al-Anbar province in search of a known improvised-explosive-device maker. The Warlords conducted the mission to support an Iraqi Army assault element.
“We are going to a small village to cordon and (search) buildings to either capture him or find out where he is hiding,” said Sgt. Yardell Richardson, 22, a section leader with 4th Platoon.
Yardell, who is from Oxonhill, Md., worked as part of the assault element for the operation and worked closely alongside the IA personnel.
“At times it’s stressful because of the language barriers,” Yardell said. “They get over-excited about the operation and we have to bring them back down and get them to move as a group with us.”
Company F does not conduct raids without an IA assault element. With each operation Co. F. undertakes, they incorporate additional Iraqi Army personnel, paired individually with Marines.
“We have been working with Marines for a while now,” said IA Maj. Raed Mohammad Abed Al Husien, the executive officer for 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division. “Everyone has experience and knowledge of some sort, and Marines take their missions very seriously. Marines and the (Iraqi Army soldiers) work together and we succeed together.”
Although the Marines did not capture the individual who sparked the initiation of the raid, Co. F has discovered IED-making material and insurgent equipment on previous missions.
“We’ve found about five IEDs and two caches consisting of all the IED components not assembled yet: mortar rounds, detonation cord, ammunition and anti-Coalition Forces propaganda,” said 2nd Lt. Louis Perez, 24, 4th Platoon commander, from Tampa Bay, Fla.
Due to a decrease in enemy activity over the years, outcomes of operations do not always meet the expectations of what Marines would like, but the Marines keep pushing throughout the deployment, hoping to bring down the enemy and end once and for all insurgency in Iraq.
“We still keep the hunter mentality, and when the birds hit the deck our heads are in the game,” Perez said. “The Marines want to catch somebody and feel privileged to do this.”