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Photo by Lance Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr.

3/4 commanding officer led troops to success in Fallujah

7 Aug 2005 | Lance Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr.

It is the dream of infantry commanders to lead their troops in a combat zone, eliminate the enemy threat and bring their Marines safely home. For Lt. Col. Andrew R. Kennedy, the 40-year-old commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, Regimental Combat Team-8, that dream is a reality. He credits the Marines and their superb training for this accomplishment. “Looking at everything we’ve been asked to do, the Marines have done a magnificent job,” said Kennedy, a native of Mt. Vision, N.Y. Upon their arrival here in January, the Marines of the battalion took over daily stability and security operations within the southern half of Fallujah and the outlying peninsula. To provide security for such a large and populated area, the Marines were called upon to complete a number of daily missions and tasks to keep the citizens and each other safe. “They did it all, from working with the people, to manning entry control points, to daily patrols and collecting information," Kennedy said. "They’re the guys who got it done." In addition to the daily operations inside Fallujah, the battalion conducted seven offensive operations to disrupt terrorist cells in the area. As a result of these operations and the daily activities in the city, the battalion detained more than 400 suspected insurgents in and around Fallujah. “We’ve taken a lot of bad guys off the street since we got here,” Kennedy said. Another measurable achievement of the deployment was the amount of weapons and explosives found by the battalion. In April, Marines of the battalion uncovered the largest cache of weapons and explosives found by the 2nd Marine Division in Iraq. As an added highlight to the battalion’s efforts fighting insurgency in Fallujah, only one Marine was seriously injured and no Marines were killed in combat. “Every commander wants to bring all of his boys home,” Kennedy said. “It’s not always something you can do.” Despite the battalion’s commendable efforts during the deployment, one Marine was lost to a tragic accident in the city. Lance Cpl. Juan C. Venegas, a scout sniper for the battalion, died in a vehicle accident almost halfway through the deployment. “It was a terrible thing what happened to Venegas,” Kennedy said. Despite the loss, the Marines of the battalion can look back on the deployment positively, with the city itself standing as a monument to the efforts of the battalion, according to Kennedy. “All you have to do is take a look at the city,” Kennedy said. “The competence of the Iraqi forces, the population, the improved standards of living; all of it reflects what we’ve done here.”