Marines battle elements, complete mission

20 Jan 2007 | Lance Cpl. Erik Villagran

Rain or sun, Marines with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, complete their mission.

Marines from Weapons Company conducted security operations and performed cache sweeps through rarely traveled areas in relentless rain Jan. 11-13, 18-20.

“The rain affected our mission a little,” said Lance Cpl. David J. Spicer, a 23-year-old section leader from Grosse Point, Mich. “We were doing cache sweeps and we were getting bogged down. We had to dig a humvee out of the mud.”

Engineers sweeping the area had difficulties with the weather as well, Spicer said. Their boots and flight suits were soaked and caked with mud after hours of searching for enemy weapons.

Marines providing 360 degree security for the headquarters elements also had to weather the rain and harsh conditions. While they provided security they could see their breath in the humvee.  They scanned through the fogged up windows around their humvees in search of any kind of threat.

They fought the cold weather during the day by wearing multiple warming layers.

“I wear my gloves, long johns top and bottom, and a shirt,” said Lance Cpl. Matias J. Tafoya, a 21-year-old driver from Ortiz, Colo. “That with my flak is enough during the day, but at night a sleeping bag helps.”

Drivers of the humvees also provided a little warmth every hour for around ten minutes when they would turn the vehicles on and turn the heater on. They warmed the humvees sparingly so they could conserve gas.

Other Marines used creative techniques to keep their trucks warm inside without using gas.

“We took emergency hypothermia blankets and lined the inside of the humvee to keep us insulated,” Spicer said.

While drivers and dismounted troops worried about keeping Marines in their trucks warm, Marines in the turrets had to make sure their weapons stayed as dry as possible and keep rain from falling in through the turret hole.

“You have to keep the weapon dry,” said Lance Cpl. William J. Thorpe, a 20-year-old machine gunner from San Diego. “You have to deal with rust, outside the weapon and inside the weapon.”

The weather also made Marines on watch put their eyes to the limit to see anything outside their vehicles. Marines had to scan the area around them repeatedly to ensure they weren’t missing anything.

“The rain lowered visibility a whole lot,” Thorpe said. “Visibility was important on this mission because you can’t see if someone is sneaking up on you. It was the first time I saw it that dark in Iraq.”

Marines were content with how the mission went.

“We did an awesome job of keeping insurgents from trying to sneak up on us,” Thorpe said.

They were also pleased with how the cache sweeps went and the results they saw from the amount they accomplished in cold and rainy weather.

“With the time allotted to us we found a lot,” Spicer said. “Despite the conditions we were Marines and adapted and overcame.”