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Marines from L Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, pause along a berm while taking part in Operation Northern Forge, a mission designed to deny the safe havens on the north side of the Euphrates River to insurgents.

By entering a known insurgent safe haven, they severely dented the capabilities of the anti-Iraqi forces in the area. They found and destroyed hundreds of weapons, IED making materials, and explosives designed to kill Coalition Forces, Iraqi Security Forces and innocent civilians. (photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Zahn)
ALBU BALI, Iraq – Insurgents in Iraq"s notorious Al Anbar Province are finding out the hard way that there is no such thing as a safe haven from the reach of Coalition Forces.

For several months, insurgents have attacked with hit-and run-tactics, using the Euphrates River as a natural obstacle. They infiltrate across the river with small caches, attack across a large swath of the southern Euphrates River Valley and then withdraw north of the river to rest and refit for their next attack.

Operation Northern Forge, conducted by Marines from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, March 5 to 17, was designed to deny the enemy this tactic.

"The mission for Northern Forge was to disrupt insurgents north of the river," said Capt. Ryan J. Erisman, 32, from Assumption, Ill. His unit, Lima Company, was the battalion"s main effort for the operation. "These guys were using that (area) as a safe haven to rest, refit and then attack into our battle space south of the river, or into Ramadi or Fallujah."

The operation began on a clear night as the "Teufelhunden" battalion"s amphibious warriors inserted by boat onto the northern banks of the Euphrates. The next 12 days were filled with constant patrols, digging up weapons caches and sleeping in different locations every night. They were taking the fight to the enemy, actively seeking both the forces and the supplies that fuel the insurgency.

They eagerly looked forward to every mission because they knew the results would benefit their brothers on the south side of the river. This was a combined effort from the start designed to produce a far-reaching effect across the whole area of operations.

It didn"t take long for the Marines to start producing significant results. It seemed every reed line or orchard held a weapons cache that was quickly discovered thanks to the observant eyes of the Marines on patrol. They developed a natural instinct for finding caches, often merely looking at a canal or reed line and thinking it might be a good place to hide something. Sometimes the key is learning to think like the enemy; this perspective paid off.

In one cache alone they found over 100 mortar rounds, an amount described as "unbelievable" by Cpl. Steve D. Whiteman, a 28-year-old squad leader from Cincinnati.

"The engineers attached to me for the operation said that they found more ordnance and more caches, IEDs (and IED making materials) in the first seven days than they had previously found in seven months," added Erisman, the commanding officer of L Company.

The Marines had found hundreds of pounds of explosives, artillery and mortar shells, dozens of weapons systems and a vast assortment of materials to make improvised explosive devices. It was very rewarding to discover and destroying such large amounts of weapons meant to harm Coalition Forces, Iraqi Security Forces and innocent civilians.

"I enjoy doing my job," said Cpl. Steven C. Szopa, 28, from Columbia, Mo. "Whenever we do it right it always makes me feel good."

The Marines did not stay in any one location for long; the key to L Company"s success was day and night patrolling and resting only briefly. They depended on the local populace to help them, something the civilians seemed eager to do.

"The people welcomed us into their houses with open arms," said Lance Cpl. William R. Ellis, 20, Montgomery, Ala. "They felt safer with us around. They knew if we were in their house no one would attack them."

At the end of the operation, it was evident that a serious dent was made in the enemy"s capability to affect coalition activity south of the Euphrates. By entering a known safe haven for insurgents, L Company eliminated an immense amount of resources that would be used to attack Coalition Forces, and thus severely disrupted enemy activity.

The Marines, despite the long patrols, tiring work and sleepless nights would gladly undertake another mission like this, they said. The comments of Szopa, the squad leader for 1st squad, 3rd platoon echo the sentiments of many.

"Anything that will slow the enemy down and take away their ability to set up IEDs and to do harm to Coalition Forces I definitely want to be a part of," he said.

While it remains to be seen whether or not the enemy will return to this area north of the Euphrates, and what the long-term impacts of the surge will be, one thing is certain: If the insurgents return, L Company and the Teufelhunden Battalion will be ready to confront them wherever they appear.

Comments

  1. Great report, Maj. I know you would have liked to be back with the 3/6 for this one. Good job by our Marines on the ground!!

  2. Outstanding indeed. Great job and thanks for the information. In a recent comment I said North Vietnam was ready to sue for pease. Here is a link that is a must read for OMV readers.
    http://www.9thinfantrydivision.com/html/actualenemy.htm
    Here is an excerpt from that site.
    “By 1968, NVA morale was at it’s lowest point ever. The plans for “Tet” ’68 was their last desperate attempt to achieve a success, in an effort to boost the NVA morale. When it was over, General Giap and the NVA viewed the Tet ’68 offensive as a failure, they were on their knees and had prepared to negotiate a surrender.”

  3. dad this is why we cant leave until we have made those evil bastards payfor killing my brothers, heres a short list of my fallen brethren, in the ohio guard unit that fell. Its not even a third of that unit that got killed by the fuckers in that country, and i can attest to the carnage their because i could still feal the evil when i patroled those streets. So you can understand why i want to go back, for every person that was murdered on 9/11 and for every marine that came home to his mom in a box. And what i cant believe is that these liberal anti war fucks want to say pull us out and to let our brothers who have died in vien. Thats beyond treason, and in my opinion, the pelosi’s and murtha’s are worse than our enemy, who at least has the courage to face me on the battlefield. Love your son. Semper Fi
    July 10
    Staff Sgt. Joseph P. Goodrich, 32, of Allegheny, Pa., died from indirect enemy fire while conducting combat operations in Hit, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Moundsville, W.Va. During Operation Iraqi Freedom He was attached to Regimental Combat Team-2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Lance Cpl. Ryan J. Kovacicek, 22, of Washington, Pa., died from indirect enemy fire while conducting combat operations in Hit, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Moundsville, W.Va. During Operation Iraqi Freedom He was attached to Regimental Combat Team-2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    July 28
    Lance Cpl. Christopher P. Lyons, 24, of Shelby, Ohio, died when his unit came under attack by enemy small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades while conducting combat operations in Cykla, Iraq. He was assigned to the Marine Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Columbus, Ohio. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, his unit was attached to Regimental Combat Team-2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Cpl. Andre L. Williams, 23, of Galloway, Ohio, died when his unit came under attack by enemy small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades while conducting combat operations in Cykla Village, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Columbus, Ohio. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, his unit was attached to Regimental Combat Team-2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Aug. 1
    Cpl. Jeffrey A. Boskovitch, 25, of Seven Hills, Ohio, died as result of enemy small-arms fire while conducting dismounted operations outside Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Brookpark, Ohio. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Lance Cpl. Roger D. Castleberry Jr., 26, of Austin, Texas, died as result of enemy small-arms fire while conducting dismounted operations outside Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, San Antonio, Texas. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Sgt. David J. Coullard, 32, of Glastonbury, Conn., died as result of enemy small-arms fire while conducting dismounted operations outside Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Brookpark, Ohio. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Lance Cpl. Daniel N. Deyarmin Jr., 22, of Tallmadge, Ohio, died as result of enemy small-arms fire while conducting dismounted operations outside Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Brookpark, Ohio. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Sgt. James R. Graham III, 25, of Coweta, Okla., died as result of a homicide, vehicle-born, improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations near Hit, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Reserve’s 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Broken Arrow, Okla. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, his unit was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Lance Cpl. Brian P. Montgomery, 26, of Willoughby, Ohio, died as result of enemy small-arms fire while conducting dismounted operations outside Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Brookpark, Ohio. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Sgt. Nathaniel S. Rock, 26, of Toronto, Ohio, died as result of enemy small-arms fire while conducting dismounted operations outside Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Brookpark, Ohio. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Aug. 3
    Lance Cpl. Timothy M. Bell Jr., 22, of West Chesterfield, Ohio, died when his Amphibious Assault Vehicle was attacked by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Columbus, Ohio. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Lance Cpl. Eric J. Bernholtz, 23, of Grove City, Ohio, died when his Amphibious Assault Vehicle was attacked by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Columbus, Ohio. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Lance Cpl. Nicholas William B. Bloem, 20, of Belgrade, Mont., died when his Amphibious Assault Vehicle was attacked by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Billings, Mont.
    Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Dyer, 19, of Cincinnati, Ohio, died when an improvised explosive device hit the Amphibious Assault Vehicle in which he was riding while his unit was conducting combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Columbus, Ohio. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, his unit was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Lance Cpl. Michael J. Cifuentes, 25, of Fairfield, Ohio, died when his Amphibious Assault Vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device during combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Columbus, Ohio. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Lance Cpl. Grant B. Fraser, 22, of Anchorage, Alaska, died when his Amphibious Assault Vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device during combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.
    Sgt. Bradley J. Harper, 25, of Dresden, Ohio, died when his Amphibious Assault Vehicle was attacked by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Norfolk, Va.
    Sgt. Justin F. Hoffman, 27, of Delaware, Ohio, died when his Amphibious Assault Vehicle was attacked by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Columbus, Ohio. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Sgt. Jerry L. Ganey Jr., 29, of Folkston, Ga., when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his dismounted security patrol. He was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 648th Engineer Battalion, 48th Infantry Brigade, Statesboro, Ga.
    Spc. Mathew V. Gibbs, 21, of Ambrose, Ga., died in Baghdad, Iraq, when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his armored personnel carrier. He was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 648th Engineer Battalion, 48th Infantry Brigade, Statesboro, Ga.
    Cpl. David Kenneth J. Kreuter, 26, of Cincinnati, Ohio, died when his Amphibious Assault Vehicle was attacked by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Columbus, Ohio. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Lance Cpl. Aaron H. Reed, 21, of Chillicothe, Ohio, died when his Amphibious Assault Vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device during combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Columbus, Ohio. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Lance Cpl. Edward A. Schroeder II, 23, of Columbus, Ohio, died when his Amphibious Assault Vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device during combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Columbus, Ohio. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Cpl. David S. Stewart, 24, of Bogalusa, La., died when his Amphibious Assault Vehicle was attacked by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Gulfport, Miss.
    Lance Cpl. Adam J. Strain, 20, of Smartsville, Calif., died as result of enemy small arms fire while conducting combat operations in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif. During Operation Iraqi Freedom his unit was attached to 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    Sgt. 1st Class Charles H. Warren, 36, of Duluth, Ga., when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his dismounted security patrol. He was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 648th Engineer Battalion, 48th Infantry Brigade, Statesboro, Ga.
    Lance Cpl. Kevin G. Waruinge, 22, of Tampa, Fla., died when his Amphibious Assault Vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device during combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Gulfport, Miss.
    Lance Cpl. William B. Wightman, 22, of Sabina, Ohio, died when his Amphibious Assault Vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device during combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Columbus, Ohio. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
    rom a Marine.

  4. This is what our Marines feel.
    Dad, the crats are trying their evil schemes again, trying to pass a bill to pull out the troops by sept 2008. Well, FUCK that. And the afghans are saying there was a marine slaughter in afghanistan. Bull shit. They got hit by a VBIED ( Vehicle born improvised explosive device), and fired at gunmen ambushing them and now they want to say marines massacred innocents? This is bull shit dad, fucking bull shit. They pulled the entire unit out of that area because of this. Anyways, i’m too pissed off to think tonight so i’ll talk to u on the phone tomorrow, i’ll give u a call, love u dad. Semper fi.

  5. Last post from a Marine.
    Every time i see a flag draped coffin it only strengthens my resolve to bring those fucks to justice. And to believe the crats want to leave and let their deaths be for noything is like treason to me. I saw the movie 300 today, and it ment alot to me, because we were the spartans in iraq, it was our radio call sign, and our ethos, our creed, ” we shall not falter in the clashing of spears” as they said, was our motto too. We are the modern day spartans, and every battle field we go to, the enemy always remembers that small number who did so much devastation, the Infantry Marines. Well, i’m going to bed, love you dad. Semper fi, (ALWAYS faithful).

  6. Things aren’t much different from the days of NAM and the days in IRAG. Only today we have better trained, better equipted, and better educated service members,my hat is off to all of them.
    I was lucky enough to be with the 1ST FORCE RECON assigned to 2ND BATTALION 7TH MARINES.They called us battalion scouts (oh how we hated that name)we went through some nasty ass training to be called RECON not scouts.
    Many times we were out in the bush with just a ka-bar and 45. and ordered not to engage with the enemy unless fired on first.
    Our assignment was to get a head count,moral of the enemy,and weapons they had, then slither back through the bush and out of sight wondering if we could find the L.Z. for our ride home.
    Its tough going out with three men when your’e used to being with a squad of 13-15- well trained MARINES.
    It really didn,t matter, we knew we had our two beers per man per day waiting for us at the beer wagon.Yeh man time to unwind .For some it was mail call,for some it was a well deserved nap,others the chow hall then back to the bunker for a night of black jack,and wait for the next call.
    I know our troops today don’t have it much better than we had.
    SUPPORT OUR TROOPS THEY SUPPORT YOU
    I

  7. Support your troops, they support you
    This is a quote that I hope all of us use in every day conversation, I know I will be using it as a tag on my email as well as on my PGR sign off.
    My little Sgt. has some fund raisers coming up, and I believe we have found a new slogan for her to use! Thank you!

  8. Sgt Taylors mom.
    Also i like to tell people,if you dont stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them…OOH RAH.

  9. After reading all of your heart wrenching posts I got hard ALL over my body. LOL
    Is it me or are marines the dumbest *&&&* in the world? Maybe that’s why we, in the U.S. Army, would send them out FIRST to take all of the casualties until we could zero in on the NVA positions.

  10. Hey everyone. I am trying to get ahold of someone with 4’th recon out of billings, montana. I’m with 1’st AD and looking for a good reserve unit when I get off of active duty in 2 months. Thanks.
    Cpl Taylor
    chevyman_ast@yahoo.com

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