CAMP DELTA, Iraq -- Early in the morning hours of May 3, the Lowell, In., native led his squad into the city of Al Karmah during Operation Clear Decision, searching for weapons and insurgents.
Sergeant Greg Zieba and his 1st Squad were part of the joint operation conducted by 3d Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment and the Iraqi Security Forces to root out insurgent activity, bring security to the local community, as they successfully secured the city of Al Karmah.
The battalion successfully searched over 400 houses and 40 businesses. The operation with the Iraqi Security Forces was a success because the operation was conducted safely, insurgents were detained, and the relationship with the local populace improved, setting the conditions for Iraqi self-governance according to Lt. Col. Stephen Neary, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment Commander.
The operation began before the sun had risen; helicopters dropped leaflets explaining what the citizens were to do upon the Marines arrival and then the 1991 Lowell High School Graduate’s squad and the rest of 1st Platoon, Company I began their mission searching through many houses and businesses.
Zieba’s and Company I’s house-to-house search was mirrored by Marines with Company L on the opposite side of the city. The companies worked “shoulder-to-shoulder” rooting out insurgents and weapon caches, according to Capt. Brian L. Jenkins, Company L commander.
“We were moving right along with Company I, where sometimes we could look around the corner of a house and see them a block or so over,” Jenkins stated.
The movements of Companies I and L were covered by Weapons Company, which provided constant and steady security on the roads around the city.
“If the enemy were to hit inside the city we could close the city in a heartbeat making sure no one could enter or leave while the rifle companies tracked down the insurgents,” Capt. Ed Nevgloski, Weapons Company commander, explained.
As Zieba and his fellow Marines continued the search for weapons or anti-coalition propaganda, Iraqi citizens went to the Civil-Military Operations Center to submit their claims for the damage caused to their homes or business.
“During an operation like this, with all the locks that are cut and doors damaged, we see a lot of claims for those type of things,” explained Capt. Rick Belliss, the Judge Advocate General representative at the CMOC, and Albany, N.Y., native.
Still, Zieba ensured Marines followed proper procedures so damages would be minimal. Leadership and proper supervision during the operation led to minimal claims from Iraqis and an overall successful operation.
“Every time I brief them before a patrol, I harp on professionalism in everything we do,” Zieba said. “I use the maturity I have gained over the years to help the younger Marines become more professional when we are conducting the searches of homes and businesses.”
They continued for two days searching every building and making sure no area was left unchecked.
“The first night we didn’t stop until about 11 p.m., and when we stopped security was posted and the corpsmen came around and checked everyone,” Zieba stated. “We were able to get a few hours of sleep before we soon headed back out on patrol at 5 a.m.”
The second day of operations was just as intense, yet very rewarding for the Marines. The companies were given bottles of water, stuffed animals, and soccer balls from 5th Civil Affairs Group to pass out to children in the streets.
“We passed out the toys while we were out clearing houses, giving us a chance to teach the parents more about us and who we are through their children,” Jenkins explained.
The efforts Zieba and his fellow Marines of the battalion and Regimental Combat Team 8 made in Operation Clear Decision assisted in the stabilization and security of the community here while disrupting insurgent activity in the area.
According to Zieba, they were able to get the mission accomplished successfully with no casualties and uphold a good relationship with the people of the city during the entire operation.