CAMP KOREAN VILLAGE, Iraq -- The small but highly-specialized group of Marines and Sailors perched themselves on rooftops with sniper rifles and binoculars scanning ahead for targets. Their job is vital, because from their vantage point they may spot a triggerman for a car bomb, a concealed insurgent firing from a house or an enemy sniper preparing to shoot infantry on the advance.
The Marines and Navy corpsmen with 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, temporarily assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2 during Operation Steel Curtain last month, are not asking for any glory in the limelight. Despite the countless hours of training under their belts, Recon Marines do not boastfully consider themselves elitist over other Marines—even though their individual training records would give a strong basis to prove otherwise.
They went about their work very professionally and quietly, receiving thanks for their work from infantrymen and asking for nothing else but an opportunity to help.
“People have the misconception that we are an asset to be supported,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Shepley A. Reimer, 30, of Colorado Springs, Colo., and platoon reconnaissance corpsman. “In reality our job is to make the job of other units easier. We are support for the infantry.”
During the Operation Steel Curtain offensive against insurgents in Husaybah, Karabilah and Ubaydi, Iraq last month, Recon Marines from 1st Platoon were in front of the battle. They helped in setting up assembly areas, provided guides for infantry companies to move into attack positions and provided security for Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, temporarily under RCT-2, as they moved thru dense urban areas.
A radio operator with 1st Platoon described in detail one particular instance their extensive expertise came into use during the thick of battle.
“During the first day at Ubaydi, we met some heavy resistance,” said radio operator, Sgt. Shawn N. Talbert, 23, of Kenosha, Wis., of the house-to-house, block-to-block fight against insurgents. “We were able to coordinate our forward units to support the infantry, provide medical aid and combat demolition to those directly engaging the enemy.”
In the gritty urban environment where Coalition Forces faced off against insurgents, the Recon Marines felt as if they had made a difference and their deeds were their justification.
“I know we are directly responsible for thwarting the enemy twice through our over watch,” said Reimer, referring to times Recon snipers took out enemy threats. “We also called for an air mission against insurgents dug in a heavily fortified position.”
When asked about their role during the operation, Recon Marines re-emphasized their role in backing the mission and not being the main effort.
“In our supporting role, we allowed Company E to do their job more effectively,” Reimer said. “If we can do that, I can say we have accomplished our mission.”