Photo Information

Hit, Al Anbar, Iraq (July 22, 2005)--Greenport, N.Y. native, Sgt. Oscar F. Aguilera, a 24-year-old squad leader with 4th platoon, Company "K", 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment shows an Iraqi man a picture of a friend's family in order to show that they all had families and loved and continued to dangerous jobs such as this. (Official USMC Photo by Corporal Ken Melton)

Photo by Cpl. Ken Melton

3/25, ISF patrol Hit, Iraq, to disrupt insurgency

6 Aug 2005 | Cpl. Ken Melton 2nd Marine Division

Marines with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, and soldiers from Company 1 Iraqi Security Force recently conducted a familiarization patrol in the surrounding area. The Marines and ISF soldiers are here to provide a permanent presence in the city after completing Operation Saif (Sword). “In the past multi-national forces have swept through cities and left after a week or so,” said Sgt. Oscar F. Aguilera, a 24-year-old squad leader with 4th platoon. “But now that we are here we showing the people that we won’t be leaving and we will stay and continue to fight the insurgents in their town.” As the Marines began to leave their base, a local family was preparing to leave the area because of the insurgents’ threats of mortar attacks. Most the families had already left the area a few days prior, after a mortar attack missed the base and hit civilian houses and buildings. Aguilera asked the family to stay and continue with their daily lives.“I took my helmet off when I talked to them in order to gain their trust and to prove that we are trying to make their area safe,” said the Greenport, Long Island, N.Y. native. “It was a small sacrifice to help build positive working relationships with the people.” While on patrol ISF soldiers and Marines handed out Iraqi flags, toys, and candy, provided by 5th Civil Affairs Group, to children while meeting with local leaders and people of prominence. As temperatures reach upwards of 130 degrees, they seek shelter from the heat in abandoned buildings or larger homes with the permission of the owners.“This isn’t a house clearing missions anymore so we ask the owner’s if we can come and rest and regroup for a short while,” said the 1999 Greenport High School graduate. “Some are scared that insurgents will see us and come back later and hurt them, others are happy to have us over and often engage in conversation when we arrive.” Most wonder when they can return to their business and other day-to-day tasks. Aguilera ensures them that they want them to continue with their daily lives, but to keep in mind restricted areas and rules mandated by multi-national forces. In doing this, insurgents are less likely to attack and the civilians can continue to make a living. After they rest for a few minutes, they continue on their way to the local hospital and a council member’s house. Along the way, some of this sections inhabitants’ retreat inside their homes. The soldiers and Marines remain watchful of their surroundings as they walk along the road. As they complete their other objective visits, and move into a different section closer to their base they receive a warmer welcome. Aguilera can relate to the people’s attitudes towards war and new government from personal experience. “I spent my childhood in Managua, Nicaragua during a civil war and I know about terrorists,” said the sophomore from Fairmount State University in West Virginia. “My family helped our country before we came to the United States and I want these people to help out just like we did. “It’s their country they shouldn’t fear to walk their own streets.” At the end of the six-hour patrol, he feels they are slowly but steadily making progress in Iraq. With the help of the ISF, he feels this small patrol was a success. “We are like the new kids in school,” Aguliera said. “We are slowly learning the people and surrounding areas and one day we will be able to make an even bigger positive impact. “Until then I’m just glad to say I was there and I was glad to do my part.”