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1/5's Bravo, Combat Engineers find weapons, ammo

3 Apr 2005 | Cpl. Tom Sloan

Marines with 4th Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment and Company A, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, both under 2d Marine Division, discovered illegal weapons and ammunition during a weapons caches search on the outskirts of the city here. The two units' combined effort uncovered four 120 mm shells, a 155 mm shell; several live and empty 7.62 rounds, explosive detonation cord, a live fragmentation grenade and one rocket launcher during the five-hour search of several acres of farmland along the banks of the Euphrates River. Corporal Jeff B. Starr and his fellow Marines with 4th Platoon were first on the scene and conducted a hasty search for insurgents. Starr's squad encountered a group of Iraqis having lunch."I asked how they were doing," said the 21-year-old from Seattle who's on his third deployment supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. "Then I asked what they were doing here and if they were armed."One of the men spoke English and explained they were working on a nearby bridge and were on their lunch break."They weren't armed, and they weren't doing anything suspicious," the section leader with 2nd Squad, 4th Platoon said.After 4th Platoon secured the area, the engineers moved in and conducted a thorough sweep of the region. Armed with shovels, metal detectors and superb training, the engineers like Cpl. Timothy D. Hendricks and Lance Cpl. Cole E. Young worked in together and combed the search area. "We've trained for this enough that we know or have a good idea of what to look for," said Hendricks, a team leader with 2nd Squad, 1st Platoon, Company A.When training alone isn't enough, the engineers rely on their equipment."By listening to the metal detector, the shape patterns told us that something was buried here," said Young, a 20-year-old Green Bay, Wis., native. "We dug down and found a fragmentation grenade," the combat engineer with 2nd Squad continued while searching a room in an abandoned warehouse.Many of the items were found stashed in and around the abandoned warehouse."It looks like (the insurgents) have been shooting at us from this building," explained Gunnery Sgt. Walter G Siquieros, the platoon sergeant for 4th Platoon, Company B. According to the 31-year-old Calexico, Calif., native insurgents have a clear shot from the building at an area where Marines often conduct patrols.Marines with 4th Platoon loaded the day's finds into their HMMWV (Humvees) so it could be destroyed.Making the trip back to their firm base at Camp Junction City though meant they had to travel a road notorious for improvised explosive devices.The Humvee that Cpl. Donald W. Ball, a team leader with 3rd Squad, 4th Platoon, was riding in was on the road less than a minute when it hit an IED."I knew we were going to hit one," said the 22-year-old from Salt Lake City while sitting in the up-armored vehicles turret. "We almost always do when we drive on it. I was more aggravated and frustrated than scared. I was a little concerned, though, because I just found out I'm going to be a dad."The IED didn't do any significant damage and the Marines all returned safety having completed the mission.