Photo Information

Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Marines with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), patrol through farmlands to provide security in the area. Farmers in this area have started replacing poppy (in the foreground) with wheat (on the other side of the path). The Marines’ efforts to build relationships with the local populace aided in reducing enemy attacks on 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, and 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, by 60 percent. (Courtesy Photo)

Photo by Cpl. Marco Mancha

2nd Recon Second to None in Afghanistan

25 May 2011 | Cpl. Marco Mancha

Swift, silent, deadly -- those three words rest on the spear of 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion’s insignia.

The Marines of Bravo Company, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), have lived up to these words executing numerous missions and providing detailed intelligence for the units they have supported in the past six months.

“Our primary mission has been to just disrupt the insurgents’ flow of operations and provide reconnaissance for our infantry units,” explained Cpl. Collin Stookey, a native of Littleton, Colo., and a heavy machine gunner with the unit. “I think we’ve been able to successfully do that and more.”

Take Cpl. Kyle Godderidge, for instance. Earlier this year, the Smithfield, Utah, native with the unit was in a forward position in enemy territory when he and the Marines with him were suddenly engaged by the enemy using rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire.

The Marines were quick to return fire. Godderidge’s team began firing rounds with a MK-19 40 mm machine gun at the two enemy firing positions until a round jammed in the weapon. The Marine exposed himself to enemy fire while removing the round to clear the weapon.

His actions helped the team successfully counter the enemy’s attack by getting the weapon back in the fight. The Marine has also been wounded twice in combat and chose to continue fighting.

“You go out into unfamiliar territory and it’s kind of sketchy, but such an adrenaline rush at the same time,” explained Cpl. Steven Malachowski, a recon Marine with the unit and a Durand, Mich., native. “We’re all professionals out here and we do what’s needed to get the job done.”

This is just one example of the countless heroic actions these Marines have performed since arriving in November 2010.

Captain Adam Brochetti, the platoon leader for 3rd Platoon and a Surf City, N.C., resident, stated his Marines also conducted more than 100 mounted and dismounted patrols as a part of Operation Nemesis Sweep. The operation lasted more than two months and focused on ensuring units and local residents could travel safely on Route 611, a newly build road through a portion of Helmand province.

Their efforts in a one-day operation called Operation Havoc Rain were also significant when they conducted a series of missions to destroy several enemy river crossing sites along the Helmand River. On one of these missions, the platoon conducted a 2.5-mile foot movement with full protective gear and ruck packs weighing more than 100 pounds. Their goal was to rig explosives to a major crossing site under the cover of darkness. They were able to effectively destroy the entire crossing system of bridges and two small boats used by insurgents.

“The missions and the deployment as a whole have been a little different than I had originally anticipated,” said Cpl. Jebediah Stevens, a point man with the unit and Buffalo, N.Y., native. “We had heard a lot of things from (1st Recon Battalion), and our missions have been nothing less than successful.”

The battalion’s 2nd Platoon helped conduct nearly 60 days of observation and surveillance in hostile territory during the deployment. They also successfully conducted many raids and destroyed two main enemy crossing points along the Helmand River.

First Lt. Ryan Marty, the platoon commander for 2nd Platoon, explained it wasn’t all just “hooking and jabbing” for these Marines. His platoon also attempted to build rapport with key village leaders in the area.

Because of the relationship building with the local populace and the efforts of the Marines, they were able to reduce enemy attacks on 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, and 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, by 60 percent.

“I feel like what we’ve done out here has made a huge difference for the (local residents) and our neighboring units,” said Cpl. Thomas Gifford from Mesa, Ariz., and a point man with the unit. “Leaving this place, I know me and the rest of my team did our best and it definitely paid off.”

Editor’s note: 2nd Marine Division (Forward) serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.