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Friday, 3-Feb-2006 22:57 Email | Share | | Bookmark
IA stands alone - Karmah


Iraqi Battalion takes responsibility for sector
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20062364143
Story by Pfc. Christopher J. Ohmen

KARMAH, Iraq (Feb. 3, 2006) -- The Iraqi Army’s 1st Battalion, 4th Regiment, 1st Brigade assumed the battle space in and around the city of Nasser Wa Salaam which is in Regimental Combat Team – 8’s area of responsibility. Now the unit wants to extend its area of operations by assuming more of the area east of the city of Fallujah to include Karmah.

Members of the Iraqi Army battalion already show their presence in the city here by conducting patrols with Marines of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment and conducting raids in the near-by areas to capture possible insurgents.

“The IA’s that are with Company G are doing a great job of showing their presence in the city of Karmah,” said Capt. Joel F. Schmidt, Company G’s commander. “They go on daily patrols in the city with small groups of Marines and are doing most of the planning for the patrols themselves.”

Before one afternoon patrol an Iraqi lieutenant and staff sergeant were planning out the route for a patrol with the help of Staff Sgt. Jason P. Bennett. Using a transparency as an overlay for the route, the two IA soldiers traced their planned route with checkpoints.

The IA soldiers and Marines were then given their pre-patrol brief of the route and the plan for the patrol. With the Marines dispersed throughout the formation, the patrol left friendly lines to keep the city of Karmah safe from insurgents.

“The patrol went smooth with no incidents,” said Bennett. “The Iraqi Army soldiers get better every day they go out on a patrol.”

On that same evening, in the cover of darkness, the Iraqi Army with support from Company G Marines conducted a raid in the town of Karmah searching for suspected insurgents.

Staging in separate areas for the two simultaneous raids, the IA soldiers and Marines moved through the city to their assigned houses. At 2:00 a.m. the word was given for the two groups to hit their first house.

Hitting two different target areas with separate groups, they searched the houses for suspicious items and weapons. Each group searched their assigned houses. They talked to the residents and thoroughly searched the premises for suspected insurgents and weapons caches. They then patrolled back through the city to friendly lines. It was another success for the Marines and IA in Karmah.

“The Iraqi Army soldiers keep getting better and better each week that goes by,” Schmidt stated. “They get more used to and familiar with the city each time they do an operation, when they take over this area as well they will be ready.”

Marines and Iraqi Army Soldiers patrol the streets around Al Karmah, Iraq, in preparation for a night raid on an expected insurgent’s house Nov. 20.
Photo by: Pfc. Christopher J. Ohmen

Friday, 3-Feb-2006 22:54 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Sgt Barrow and interpreters


Ironton, Ohio, native manages units interpreters
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20062362347
Story by Pfc. Christopher J. Ohmen

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (Feb. 3, 2006) -- Being able to communicate with the local populous is an important part of every mission the Marines of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment conduct in their area of operations. In order to do this, the unit works with local Iraqi interpreters.

Sergeant Dustin L. Barrow, an Ironton, Ohio, native, is the enlisted interpreter liaison for the battalion. He ensures the translators are satisfied with what they have, while also ensuring they are doing their jobs to support the operations the companies carry out.

“This is the first time I have dealt with interpreters in my 10 years in the Marine Corps,” the 1992 Ironton High School graduate stated. “It has been an enlightening experience.”

As the Marines of the battalion interact with local Iraqis in their AO, it is essential for them to clearly communicate their intentions and find out what the locals need to further help them down the road to a democratic Iraq.

The first step in the process of getting new interpreters assigned to the battalion is screening by II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group to see if an interested Iraqi is qualified. The individual must have a firm grasp of the English language in order to even be considered. They must also have no past or present affiliation with any insurgents or participated in any insurgent activities.

Once II MHG clears the local Iraqi, then Titan Corporation, a federal government contractor, is allowed to hire the new translator. Titan pays their salary and coordinates some of their travel arrangements.

Taking a trip to meet them for the first time, Barrow starts the process of getting to know the battalion’s new interpreters. After assisting them with all the in-processing to issue protective gear and receive a Camp Fallujah badge, Barrow brings them back to the battalion to meet the unit leaders for which they will be working.

“I took a [four-week] Arabic language class back at Camp Lejeune (N.C.) that helps me to communicate with the Iraqi nationals,” Barrow stated. “I have heard a lot of stories from the interpreters about family stuff as well as what they did before the coalition forces arrived in Iraq. This helps me in being able to place the interpreters with the right company within the battalion.”

The battalion currently has eight local interpreters dispersed among the companies. These translators are considered “Category One” or “CAT 1”, meaning that they are local Iraqi citizens who have applied for and been accepted to be paid translators.

The battalion also has one Iraqi American working as an independently paid translator. This “CAT II” is a U.S. citizen with a security clearance. He is specifically assigned to the battalion’s commanding officer to serve as an interpreter between the commander and local Iraqi leaders.

Once Barrow has coordinated the assignment of the interpreter to the battalion and assigned him his gear, Barrow’s responsibilities with all the interpreters continue. Each month Barrow takes time sheets to each of them in order to pay them for the previous month’s work. Sometimes a company will bring their interpreters to the Combat Operations Center to be paid or to take care of any administrative or welfare matters. Other times, Barrow is required to go “outside the wire” on a convoy in order to accomplish these tasks.

This is an additional duty assigned to Barrow, a battalion administrator who works in the administration section.

“The translators provide an invaluable resource for the Marines in the battalion to help bridge the language barrier,” Borrow said. “When the translators help the Marines they are also helping Iraq get closer to their goal of an independent country for all Iraqis.”

Friday, 3-Feb-2006 22:49 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Cordon and Knock north of Karmah


Marines, IA conduct operation to disrupt insurgency
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20062361732
Story by Pfc. Christopher J. Ohmen

KARMAH, Iraq (Feb. 3, 2006) -- The Dec. 15 elections were fast approaching for the Iraqi people and the Marines of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment conducted operations to disrupt insurgents that might try to hinder the election process.

Corporal Peter D. Foster, 1st Squad leader for 1st Platoon, Company F, and his Marines helped conduct an Iraqi Army cordon and knock operation in a town north of Karmah to disrupt insurgent activity.

“We helped the Iraqi Army in the search for insurgents north of the city of Karmah,” the Southold, N.Y. native stated. “They conducted cordon and knocks on various target houses in the area.”

To cordon the search area, Marines from Company F were inserted by helicopters. Once the air elements had loaded the Marines, ground forces left for the objectives to arrive shortly following the landing of the air elements.

Taking different routes to reach the objectives, Marines from Company F, Company G, and the Battalion Commander’s Personal Security Detachment linked up with two platoons of Iraqi Army to search the village. Foster, a 2002 Southold High School graduate, and his squad were given the task of providing security for the IA as they searched each of the houses.

“The IA’s are much more organized than they were the last deployment,” Foster stated. “They have progressed a great deal since we have been training with them.”

There were more than 100 houses to search in the area North of Karmah, so the Iraqi Army soldiers and Marines started searching the area as soon as they arrived. Talking to numerous residents in the area and conducting through searches of the houses was the main effort for this operation.

“The Marines in my squad and the IA did a great job on this operation and completed the assigned mission with great success,” stated Foster.

Friday, 3-Feb-2006 22:45 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Company E tribute to LCpl Butler


Company E remembers loss of fellow Marine
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20062265528
Story by Pfc. Christopher J. Ohmen

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (Nov. 3, 2005) -- He had many good qualities that he shared with his fellow Marines, one of the most important was he always made time for the ones he loved.

Second Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 8, said goodbye to five excellent Marines who were lost in the line of duty, Oct. 21 and 29. One of them, Lance Cpl. Kenneth J. Butler, a 19-year-old Rowan, N.C., native, was a good friend and a good brother.

Upon learning of Butler’s passing, the Marines of Company E were left speechless. Despite the tragic loss of a good Marine, all that knew him agree that he has moved on to a better place.

The Marines from the company gathered in the battalion’s Motor Transportation building along with friends and guests from other units aboard Camp Fallujah.

At one end of the building, emblems were placed in memory of Butler. As the Marines’ Hymn played, an M-16A4 service rifle with bayonet was inserted by one Marine into a small pile of sand bags. A second Marine placed a Kevlar helmet on the butt stock of the down-turned rifle and hung a set of dog tags from the pistol grip. The last emblem to be placed was a pair of boots at the base of the sandbags.

Following the invocation by Navy Lt. Teddy L. Williams, the battalion chaplain, Lt. Col. James J. Minick, the battalion’s commanding officer, continued with comments about Butler.

“We honor these men who answered their county’s call and selflessly gave their lives so others may live in peace,” said Minick. “Thomas Paine said in 1776: These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

“Honor, courage, commitment, loyalty, selfless service. Marines and sailors of Company E and Task Force 2/2, these are the words I hear from you,” stated Capt. Timothy S. Brady, Butler’s company commander. “Listening to you speak of your brothers in arms, I know of their character and of their heart.”

As the words of Brady lingered with the Marines, Lance Cpl. Robert P. Backus, Butler’s friend and fellow member of the company, stepped up to the podium to say goodbye to his comrade in arms.

“Jay was like a brother to me, as I am sure he was to many of you,” Backus stated. “He was a good Marine and an even better friend. What we must do now rather than drown in our sorrows at the loss of a friend; we should honor him by living every one of our lives the best that we can. This is what Jay would want. He will be missed.”

Following the kind words of Backus, Company E first sergeant, 1st Sgt. Dalton V. Pinnock called role with three Marines answering ‘Present!’ Then he called Bulter’s name.

“Lance Cpl. Butler…Lance Cpl. Butler…Lance Cpl. Kenneth J. Butler!”

There was no reply.

“Present Arms!” commanded Brady to the company.

The rest of the Marines saluted, as “Taps” was played to honor their fallen comrades.

“Dismissed!” commanded Brady.

The Marines quickly formed a line to say personal farewells to Butler before the emblems at his memorial. Many of the Marines snapped a salute and touched his Kevlar helmet to show their respect.

“They embodied everything it means to serve your fellow Marines, your unit, and your country. I am humbled to have had the opportunity to serve amongst such men,” Brady stated.

Marines from Company E place the down-turned rifles into the sand bags during the Nov. 3 memorial service for the fallen Marines and sailor of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment.
Photo by: Pfc. Christopher J. Ohmen E tribute to LCpl Butler

Lance Cpl. Robert P. Backus, friend and fellow Marine, says some words about Lance Cpl. Kenneth J. Butler during the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment memorial service, Nov 3.
Photo by: Pfc. Christopher J. Ohmen E tribute to LCpl Butler 2

The Marines of the battalion show their respect to the fallen Marines and sailor by placing their hand on top of the Kevlar following the memorial service, Nov 3.
Photo by: Pfc. Christopher J. Ohmen E tribute to LCpl Butler 3

Wednesday, 1-Feb-2006 03:24 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat V!

LCpl Michael McGraw

U.S. Marine Corps
Lance Cpl. Michael McGraw

Marine’s Actions Help Save Platoon

By Cpl. Athanasios L. Genos
2nd Marine Division
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., Jan. 31, 2006 — There they were, moving into an area known to be a hot spot for insurgent activity when it happened Oct. 2, 2005. Gunfire, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades began flying around them as they took cover and started their assault on the enemy’s position in Karmah, Iraq.

Lance Cpl. Michael A. McGraw, a 20-year-old automatic rifleman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, stood up early on in the attack to begin the movement on the enemy when he was struck in the lower leg by heavy machine gun fire.

McGraw was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with a combat "V" Jan. 25 in a ceremony here for his actions in the face of danger.

“I thought I was fine when it first happened,” explained the native of Clarence Center, N.Y. “I thought I had gotten hit by a brick or something until I tried to get up and my leg crumbled beneath me.”

McGraw knew what he had to do when they were attacked, he said. He stood up and began providing suppressive fire as the enemy was attacking his platoon’s position.

McGraw’s bravery enabled his platoon to move safely away from the main sectors of fire and mount a counter offensive.

“When I stood up, I took a round through my lower leg that ended up shattering both bones in my leg,” the 2004 Clarence Central High School graduate said.

McGraw’s actions permitted his fellow Marines movement to close with and destroy the enemy. He was pulled off the line of fire by his squad leader and was tended to by his corpsman during the first few moments of the firefight.

Currently, McGraw is recovering and walking with a cane, and remains thankful to be alive, he said. He is hoping for a full recovery from his wounds and continues enjoying his job as an infantryman, he said.

“I have always known that I was supposed to be here doing this,” McGraw said.

Many of McGraw’s commanders praise him and his fellow Marine’s efforts fighting the global war on terrorism.

“It’s the (privates first class) and lance corporals who are out there doing the job and getting it done,” explained Maj. Christopher Dixon, executive officer, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. “I am impressed with his (McGraw’s) actions out there.”

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