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Photo Information

CAMP HADITHAH, Iraq -- An Iraqi farmer is stopped along a road near the camp where Marines of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment conducted a search for roadside bombs and mortar positions, April 19. The search was prompted by a recent mortar attack that hit the dam. Two Iraqis separate from the man's group were found with a rifle, explosives and bomb making material. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Stephen D'Alessio (RELEASED)

Photo by Sgt. Stephen D'Alessio

3/25 protects citizen of Hadithah

19 Apr 2005 | Sgt. Stephen D'Alessio

Marines from Company L, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines swept for mines and explosives in the farm villages below the dam, April 19, in an ongoing effort to thwart the insurgency. The Marines protect Iraqi citizens and military camps south of them in the vital area in and around the city of Hadithah. Late in the afternoon, the Marines piled into their Humvees, weapons fully loaded and rolled out the gate one-by-one. They carried the essential squad automatic weapons and MK-19 automatic grenade launcher mounted in the turrets of their trucks. On their first stop, a few Marines swept the area with metal detectors, searching for land mines, improvised explosive devices and other weapons. These dangers have been a serious threat to convoys and patrols in western Iraq and the immediate area of operations of battalion. Only a few days ago, insurgents fired a barrage of mortars at their base. “The recent mortar fire has sparked new missions into the area we suspected the insurgents to have fired from,” said Capt. John Kasparian, a 38-year-old East Longmeadow, Mass native and adjutant with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines. Marines searched the area and located where they believe the mortars were fired from. “We wanted to find the actual mortar system, some rounds or the guys who fired them,” said Sgt. Alex Rozanski, a 25-year-old Dublin, Ohio native and mortar man with Company L. “At least we found where we think they were fired from,” added the 1998 Dublin Coffman High School graduate. While the Marines searched the area, they also questioned those who passed by on the road. A few of them mentioned they heard the mortar attacks coming from nearby their houses, but didn’t see anyone at the time. The Marines with Company L try their best to get information from the locals when they can. Technology can only provide so much, according to Lance Cpl. John Fisher, a 21-year-old Columbus, Ohio native and mortar man. “They usually don’t understand what we’re saying, but they can tell what we’re looking for,” said the 2001 graduate of Thomas Worthington High School. “I’ve learned a few essential phrases that help us extract information from them – one of them is please,” continued Fisher, who they call ‘The Gentleman’ because of his politeness with the locals. “I always start off my conversations with God bless you – it’s just more polite,” he added. During every stop, the Marines swept the sides of the road and continued their quest to find the insurgent mortar men. One house proved to have clues. Two men were cuffed and detained for later questioning after the Marines found explosives and what could possibly be bomb making material. Boxes full of wires and black powder were discovered as well as an AK-47 rifle. The discovery that really assured the Marines of their assertions had been the remains of mortar parts – some the size of 122 mm mortars that were suspected to have been the ones fired at the base days before. “I don’t know how many more mortars are out there, but if we can find one at a time, I’m confident that we’re doing something to make a difference,” said Fisher.