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1/5's Bravo goes after blast master

25 Mar 2005 | Cpl. Tom Sloan

Marines with 1st Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, searched several houses in the western part of the city here March 25.The Marines were looking for a man suspected of being a member of the jihad group Jaysh Mohamed, which means "Mohammed's Army" in English, said 1st Lt. Cole M. Clements, a platoon commander with 1st Platoon, Company B. The group is connected with producing improvised explosive devises and has been linked to several IED attacks, explained the 24-year-old Douglasville, Texas, native.Improvised explosive devices make driving anywhere in the city dangerous for the infantry battalion, which is here conducting operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. They've also been used against the Iraqi Security Force Commandos working entry and vehicle control points.This mission required the Marines' convoy to travel one of the most infamous roads in the city in order to reach their destination.Located in a rural area where there are few businesses and houses, "it's the most dangerous road in Ramadi," said Staff Sgt. Thomas H. Campbell, platoon sergeant, Headquarters platoon, Company B. "It's full of IEDs."The 30-year-old from Greenville, S.C., explained the insurgents place more IEDs on the stretch of road because few Iraqis live along it. They're usually larger and more destructive, too."They put bigger ones there because they aren't worried about hurting their own people," he said. Lance Cpl. Marco R. Camalich, rifleman and driver for Company B's commanding officer, knows first hand the dangers associated with the two-mile stretch of road. "We were driving it not long ago and an IED went off," the 21-year-old San Diego, native remembered. "The shockwave moved the (humvee) and damaged it. No one was hurt, though. We pushed through and accomplished the mission."Camalich remained focused behind the wheel and drove the humvee, limping on two blown rear tires, back to his company's firm base at Camp Junction City. "You never want to be there very long."Luckily, though, the Marines didn't encounter any IEDs along the road this time. Staff Sgt. David Menusa, 1st Platoon's platoon sergeant, and his Marines arrived safely and began searching 20 houses broken into two different sectors.The 32-year-old from Tracy, Calif., tasked two of his squads with searching houses and the other two with providing security from the vehicles on the streets.Twenty-five-year-old Sgt. Michael A. Lianoz, squad leader, 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Company B, from Los Angeles and his Marines searched several houses for the man they were after. They questioned residents in each house to find out if they knew him or his whereabouts and checked the their identification cards.They also looked for illegal weapons and weapons caches.The Marines providing security in the streets had company during the three-hour mission.Scores of Iraqi children grinning from ear-to-ear surrounded the Marines keeping vigilant watch on their comrades' locations.The children showed off for their visitors by speaking the few words of English they knew and by doing other tricks.Sergeant Willie E. Brown, squad leader, 2nd Squad, 1st Platoon, Company B, found several children who new a few numbers in English. He showed them how to count to 10 by counting on his fingers. The presence of children is a good sign progress is being made to win the hearts and minds of the local populous, according to Cpl. Juan C. Loera, team leader, 2nd Squad, 1st Platoon, Company B."You can tell we are making a difference," said the 21-year-old from Gilroy, Calif. "When we first got here earlier this month, they were afraid and wouldn't come out to greet us, now they are all around us. It's good that we are having this kind of interaction."Loera and other Marines providing security gave the children pens and paper, soccer balls, sunglass and candy."These children will be running Ramadi in ten years," said 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Patrick C. Weaver, rifleman, 2nd Squad, 1st Platoon, Company B, of Liberty Mount, Okla., while sitting atop a humvee scouring the narrow streets for threats. "It's important that we make a good impression on them now so they will be our friends later down the road."The mission ended without incident and without finding the man they were looking for or any illegal weapons or caches.Concluding the search mission and winding up empty-handed isn't always a bad thing, explained Clements. He said it shows the Marines have cleansed the city of a lot of terrorist and weapons, and their efforts to keep them out are working.