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CAMP HURRICANE POINT Ar Ramadi, Iraq (May 12, 2005) - First lieutenant David T. Russell, the platoon commander for 1st Platoon, Company W, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, cleans the barrel of a PKM machine gun he and his fellow warriors took from insurgents during a mission in the city. The 24-year-old from Austin, Texas, and other Marines with 1st Platoon killed three insurgents while responding to a casualty evacuation request. The Marines discovered a rocket propelled grenade launcher, a PKM machine gun with more than 100 armor-piercing rounds, a Romanian assault rife, three AK-47 assault rifles and more than 300 rounds of ammunition. Photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan

Photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan

1/5’s Weapons Company takes insurgents, weapons off Ramadi streets

12 May 2005 | Cpl. Tom Sloan

Marines with 1st Platoon, Company W, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, killed three insurgents and uncovered weapons and ammunition during a mid-day mission in the city here. The infantry battalion’s quick reaction force (QRF) was responding to a casualty evacuation request from Marines with Company C when they happened upon the enemy, according to 1st Lt. David T. Russell, the platoon commander for 1st Platoon. Russell, a 24-year-old from Austin, Texas, said he and his warriors encountered five, armed insurgents at an intersection close to where three Marines with Company C, who were wounded when their humvee hit an improvised explosive device (IED) during an earlier mission. The men were all wearing masks, and one man was armed with a machinegun, he said. “They were within a kilometer of our (extraction point),” he said. “We engaged them and dropped three. The other two took off running.” Corporal Bret J. Bell, a machinegunner with 1st Platoon, is partly responsible for permanently taking the insurgents out of commission. The 22-year-old from Stone Mountain, Ga. was positioned in the turret of a humvee and provided accurate fire against the insurgents with his M2 .50 Caliber Machine Gun. “I saw them as we approached the intersection,” recalled the 2002 Shiloh High School graduate. “I swung my weapon on them and fired off a burst.” The insurgents, frightened by the gun’s blast and the dust kicking up around them, fled the scene, Bell said. “They dropped their weapons and started to run,” he said. “I hit one guy as he ran across an alley.” Sergeant Tim R. Cyparski, a section leader with 1st Platoon, was in the humvee behind Bell and aided in the fight. “I had my gunner open up also and provide interlocking fire,” said the 27-year-old from Erie, Pa., adding the insurgents looked surprised to see him and his Marines. “They had the deer in the headlights look.” The 1997 McDowell High School graduate said the one-sided battle lasted less than a minute. After the fighting, the Marines pickup up their wounded comrades with their medevac vehicle – an up-armored high-back humvee – and conducted a hasty search of the battle site. Russell said 1st Platoon recovered a Romanian assault rife, a PKM machine gun with more than 100 armor-piercing rounds and a rocket propelled grenade launcher the insurgents dropped on the ground when they fled. Three AK-47 assault rifles and more than 300 rounds of ammunition was found in the trunk of a vehicle nearby, added Russell. The insurgents’ close location to the site of IED blast where the three Marines were injured led Marines with 1st Platoon to believe they were organizing an attack, Cyparski said. “It looked like those guys were setting up an ambush to attack the medevac of the Company C Marines,” he said. First Platoon foiled their plans, though. “We got there before they had time to set up the ambush,” he said. “We were fortunate to stumble upon them before they could establish and conduct the ambush. They showed us today how they fight. They run away like cowards.” Cyparski and his fellow 1st Platoon Marines took their wounded comrades to the medical facility at Camp Ramadi for treatment. Two Marines sustained minor bruising and abrasions and will soon return to duty, according to 2nd Lt. Eldon W. Beck, legal officer and adjutant for 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. The other Marine’s injuries where more severe, he said. “His left leg has an open fracture and he will be going home,” he said. Beck said the Marine is currently undergoing surgery at the Field Surgical Unit in Taqaddam. “His injuries aren’t life threatening,” he said.