HIT, Iraq -- The day after finding a cache underneath a hotel, Marines with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment patrolling in the area were given a mission to search a shop less than a block from the hotel.
The search uncovered a cache inside the store containing explosives, weapons, ammunition, communication devices, propaganda, timing devices and various wires used in improvised explosive devices.
“I’m really glad we found this stuff, and less than a few miles from where our base is,” said 24-year-old, Sgt. Dan J. Staheli, a Rockport, N.Y. native and 2nd Platoon’s platoon sergeant. “From the looks of this place it looked like a one stop bomb shop.”
As they began removing the cache, citizens began to gather in the area and the Marines were eventually approached by a local religious leader. By this time, they had called their commanding officer and a civil affairs officer to assess the situation and address the sheik and the public.
“We showed the people what we had found to let them know that we weren’t stealing anything and that we weren’t planting anything,” said 22-year-old San Angelo, Texas native and fireteam leader, Cpl. Joshua M. Duerstine. “Some of the Marines were understandably upset because they feel that some people know more than they tell us and that we continue to find things like this.”
Among the numerous items found were training manuals on how to make IEDS and other training manuals on how to use the equipment needed to detonate them.
Unfortunately, they were not able to detain the storeowner as he fled town earlier.
“That made us really think how serious our situation is,” Cpl. Charles J. Vancheri, a 26-year-old fireteam leader and Rochester, N.Y. native said.
An hour of loading their find onto the Assault Amphibian Vehicle, the Marines breathed a sigh of relief as they took away items that could potentially have harmed multinational force members and civilians.
“It feels good to have done this and be able to serve in a cause greater than myself,” Cpl. Daniel M. Butler, a fireteam leader and Corning, N.Y. native. “We certainly put a dent in their capabilities and hope in the future that we not only find things like these, but the evil people who would use them.”