Photo Information

HADITHA, Iraq (May 25, 2005)- Cpl. Newton, the squad leader of 3rd Squad, 3rd Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team-2 posts security during a sweep of northern Haditha. Kilo Co. was supporting 3rd Bn., 25th Marines during Operation New Market to clear the city. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Lucian Friel (RELEASED)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Lucian Friel

3/2 ends deployment in Al Qaim, returns to US

20 Sep 2005 | Lance Cpl. Lucian Friel 2nd Marine Division

In February, the Marines and sailors of 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team-2 deployed to the relatively lawless area of Iraq, Al Qa’im, about 20 miles from the Iraqi-Syrian border.Seven months and three major operations later, the Marines and Sailors of Task Force 3/2 celebrated the accomplishments of their deployment and their return home to the United States. Lt. Col. Tim Mundy, the commanding officer of 3/2, explained his battalion’s mission here in Western Iraq.“Our mission was to disrupt and interdict insurgent activity out here in the west. We disrupted their operations so they couldn’t push further east into Ramadi and other capital cities of Iraq,” Mundy explained.INDIA STANDS UPTheir mission and abilities were put to the test on April 11 at Camp Gannon in Husaybah, Iraq, when Company I faced an organized attack from insurgents trying to break through the camp’s perimeter and kill Marines and Sailors.The insurgents attacked the camp with two back-to-back suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive devices and constant heavy small arms fire.The Marines of Company I were able to repel the attack due to a large counter-attack conducted by the entire camp. They only had three Marines medically evacuated for minor injures. All three were able to return to duty.“It was inspiring to see a company of Marines fight back like they did. These Marines were calm against a raging storm,” Capt. Frank Diorio, commanding officer of Company I, continued. “I truly am humbled to be amongst them.”One month after the attacks at Camp Gannon, the Marines of the battalion launched what would be one of the largest offensive operations since the operations to clear the city of Fallujah, Iraq, in November 2004.MATADOROperation Matador was conducted from May 7-15 to clear the region north of the Euphrates River above Al Qa’im.“Nobody had really been north of the river in probably a year, except for maybe one small helicopter raid. It was just a tough area to get into,” Mundy continued. “It was a safe haven for foreign fighters up there, and we were able to push north of the river and fight through that whole area.”The Marines were engaged by the enemy from the very beginning of the operation. They found themselves in a firefight in the town of New Ubaydi, Iraq on May 8. The firefight lasted the entire day, the Marines killing 60 insurgents.All in all, Marines estimated they killed over 100 insurgents and detained 39 in their weeklong sweep.INSURGENTS FEEL THE SPEARIn the end, Operation Matador led to another major operation in late June, this time in the city of Karabilah, Iraq. The operation was Spear.“Through Matador we learned that there were a lot of foreign fighters right there in central Karabilah, so we went through that area and cleared it,” Mundy said.According to Mundy, the battalion accomplished a lot during the operation including freeing tortured Iraqi civilians.“We freed some Iraqi citizens who were being tortured by the terrorists, discovered a lot of intelligence, paper work and weapons. We accomplished a lot in that stronghold in an urban area, which was difficult to fight through,” Mundy explained.The Marines were engaged in a five-hour firefight at the beginning of the operation, which ended up being a proving point for the Marines and the Iraqi Security Forces attached to the battalion.“My first thought when it started was to get cover and find out where they were at. Once I realized where the enemy fire was coming from I went to work,” said 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Nathan W. Pesch-Scott a squad automatic weapon gunner with Company K.“After seeing the ISF that day, from my point of view, I definitely believe they will eventually have the ability to take control of this country,” continued the Laingsburg, Mich., native. “They impressed me. That was an intense fight that no one at home could ever truly understand, and those guys proved themselves.”THE QUICK STRIKEAfter Spear, in early August, the Marines of the battalion we called on to clear the city of Haqlayniah 100 miles southeast of Al Qa’im, during Operation Quick Strike, after their fellow Marines of 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines lost 20 Marines in only two days.Sgt. Jeffery J. Swartzentruber, a squad leader with Company K, explained how it felt conducting the operation.“It felt good to know that we were helping fellow Marines who are having a hard time,” said the 2000 Tarravella High School graduate.During the operation the Marines did what they did so often. They cleared a large urban city, which according to Mundy was incredible to watch them do.“We pushed companies through areas which required the Marines to be violent against the enemy when he fights, and then turn around and deal with civilians and families. They did an amazing job of that,” Mundy explained.LOOKING BACKMundy recalled what he was expecting when he and his battalion first deployed here.“It was hard to anticipate everything that we ran into out here; India Company fighting off the attack that the enemy ran against Camp Gannon in April for instance. The multiple SVBIEDs in a real complex attack,” he continued. “All the mines we ran into. I was reading all the intelligence and talking to 1/7 (1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, the unit 3/2 replaced) before we came out here, so I had a pretty good idea of what we were getting into, but the amount of mines that we’ve run into was more than I originally thought.”According to the Marines of Company A, 4th Combat Engineers Battalion, attached to 3/2, the Marines unearthed 52 mines, had 10 mine strikes, found 20 weapons caches, discovered 32 IEDs and three IED factories.When Mundy looked back on this deployment, he made it very clear that it has been the highlight of his career.“I look at everything that the Marines of the battalion have done and I am proud of it. This deployment has really been the highlight of my career, because you’re getting to do what you train to do and seeing what young Marines can do,” Mundy continued. “It’s really amazing to watch young Marines step up and taking charge; the dangers we’ve faced and what they’ve done in that threat.”When asked about how many insurgents his battalion killed, Mundy replied, “I deliberately avoid thinking about that, because in my opinion, no amount of dead terrorists will equal the loss of one of our guys. We certainly have done our fair share of removing a lot of the insurgents and terrorists from the planet, so I’ll leave it at that.”Although the Marines of 3/2 had great success, it didn’t come with out a heavy price. They suffered the loss of three Marines who fought with honor and made the ultimate sacrifice: Lance Cpl. Kevin Smith, 20, a rifleman with Headquarters and Service Company, Lance Cpl. Lawrence R. Philippon, a rifleman with Company K and Lance Cpl. Adam J. Crumpler, also a rifleman with Company K.Mundy explained how the battalion dealt with the losses.“You always think about the guys you lose. I think the Marines and sailors did a tremendous job of honoring their sacrifice by continuing the mission,” Mundy said.As the Marines and sailors continued the mission in Western Iraq and now have finished their deployment, Mundy summed up the deployment by crediting his small unit leaders and young Marines with the battalion’s success.“With the success of all our operations and day to day tasks out there I can never say enough about how great our young Marines and small unit leaders are when put to the test,” Mundy continued. “They stepped up and really surpassed my expectations. So I hope people look at our success out here and realize that it was done on the backs of those Marines.”