HADITHA, Iraq -- As night fell on the city of Haditha, Marines with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, and Iraqi Security Forces headed into the northern part of the city to begin Operation New Market. Co. K traveled from their area of operation, Al Qa’im, about a hundred miles north to support 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment’s efforts to root out insurgent activity in their area. Operation New Market utilized offensive maneuvering to clear the city of Haditha, which included Company K clearing northern Haditha and setting up a blocking position to allow Marines with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, to clear the southern part of the city. Two platoons with the company and a group of soldiers with the Reconnaissance Company, 7th Iraqi Division contributed to the mission’s success. 3rd Platoon was a part of the company’s main effort and for Lance Cpl Luis A. Cruz, a team leader with 3rd Squad, this would be only the second time he worked with the ISF. “It’s a good thing to have them with us, because it lets the Iraqi people know that Americans are not trying to take over their country,” the Rochester, N.Y., native said. “I think it was a good experience for us, because they know things about Iraq that we don’t, and they can communicate easier with the locals.” The ISF soldiers also appreciated the time they spend with the Marines and felt that it will better prepare them for assuming control of their country. “I’ve worked with the Marines for about six months. I watch them and learn from them. These are good operations we do in Western Iraq, and I think they are helping my country become a better place for my people,” explained Gunnery Sgt. Aeshor Beghidan, 36, an Iraqi Security Forces platoon sergeant. The Iraqi Recon Co. and the Marines worked together to clear the city, conducting cordon and knock operations and house to house searches, throughout the north. During these cordon and knocks, Marines and the Iraqis received warm welcomes from the Iraqi citizens. “The people were mostly real welcoming and hospitable, offering us food and drinks. They all allowed us to search their homes with no hesitation, which made our job easier,” Cruz, a 2002 Wilson Magnet High School graduate, explained. The Marines and ISF cleared city block after city block, but the true reward for their efforts were found in the fields that they searched along with homes. “We found about three good-sized weapons caches in fields that surrounded the city. We found over three hundred high-explosive mortar rounds, an RPK (machine gun), a rocket propelled grenade launcher and rounds, rocket boosters and a large amount of ammunition,” said Lance Cpl. Michael M. Miller, 21, a combat engineer with 3rd Platoon, Company B, 4th Combat Engineers Battalion, who found two of the caches using a mine detecting device. Miller, a Harrisonburg, Va., native describes finding weapons caches as “an awesome feeling.” “When we find things like that, we have just saved peoples lives. The insurgents can’t use these weapons anymore because we found them and blew them up. It makes me really happy and giddy inside,” explained the 2001 Fluvanna County High School graduate. All in all, the Marines of Company K and the ISF felt that this mission was successful. They killed 12 insurgents, detained 30 suspected insurgents, found weapons caches and helped their fellow Marines accomplish their mission in a different area of operation. “I think my team did a good job out here, and it was a good experience working with the Iraqi Recon soldiers. I look forward to continuing to work with them to stabilize their country,” Cruz explained.