FALLUJAH, Iraq -- For most folks, spring cleaning ends around April or May with the yard in order and the garage neatly organized.
For Lance Cpl. Scott Pierre and his squad of Marines, house cleaning season has just begun. It wasn’t dust bunnies and dirt these Marines were after.
Starting before dawn, the 21-year-old Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native, fellow Company C, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment personnel, and Iraqi Security Forces took to the city streets to conduct Operation Hard Knock July 16.
“Throughout this mission I was the point man, so I’d go in first to search the houses we went to,” stated Pierre, a squad automatic weapon gunner with Company C’s 2nd Squad, 3rd Platoon. “We’d also look for any weapons caches and IEDs (improvised explosive devices). We were basically walking around the area, trying to disrupt the insurgency.”
While other infantrymen from the 2002 Coconut Creek High School graduate’s battalion wired off a sector of Northwestern Fallujah, the Marines from Company C walked alongside Iraqi soldiers and policemen searching every house within the enclosed area.
At each stop, military personnel would gather census data on the populace, such as how many residents lived there and what their ages and genders were. Pierre’s unit uses this information to gather intelligence about the social structure of neighborhoods within Fallujah, along with asking the citizens if there was any terrorist activity in their area.
This is the third operation of this type the military forces have conducted since arriving here in mid-March. Thus far, Hard Knocks have netted IED-making materials and several insurgents.
“I try to be fair with everyone while we’re out here, but sometimes it’s hard because you don’t know who’s good and who’s bad,” Pierre said.
He added that his suspicions about the general populace have heightened since he and his squad members survived an IED explosion several days ago. Coalition and Iraqi personnel continually attempt to convince the citizens to reveal insurgent whereabouts and activity to prevent such incidents.
“It’s hard to talk to the people sometimes because of the language barrier,” Pierre continued. “The heat also gets pretty bad out here. I’m from Florida and it gets pretty hot over there, but out here it’s like another degree of heat. On days when it’s 130 outside, this dry heat feels hotter than a blow dryer.”
The hardships the Marines endure here, however, bring about better security for themselves and the Iraqis. During this evolution of Hard Knock, American and Iraqi forces confiscated possible IED-making material and detained some suspected insurgent supporters.
“This mission was hot at times, but it wasn’t all that bad,” Pierre stated, recalling the eight-hour long patrol.
His close-knit squad’s tactical proficiency and effective teamwork has contributed to this and previous counter-insurgency operations’ successes, he added.
“We do it the best, that’s just how we roll,” Pierre exclaimed. “Everybody contributes to the success of the squad. Charlie Company gave us three of the best NCOs (noncommissioned officers, which are small unit leaders) to work with us, and get us up to par to where we are today. They’ve all been to Afghanistan before, and they’ve taught us a lot.”
Since the battalion arrived here, Pierre’s squad has put their combined experience and enthusiasm to use by working alongside Company C and ISF personnel to constantly patrol the once-troubled city streets.
According to battalion intelligence personnel, Company C has detained the highest amount of battalion-level wanted targets during their time here.
Pierre will continue working alongside fellow Marines and Iraqi personnel to scour the city of its persistent terrorist scourge.
“Every mission we do has its ups and downs, but we still try and have fun while we do it,” he said. “We do our share in helping to capture the bad guys.”