AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Corporal Elvis Zdionica, with the security force here, engaged insurgents who targeted the camp, June 7 preventing them from inflicting any damage or casualties from their mortars.
He and his fellow Marines with 2nd Squad, 1st Platoon, from the camp’s security force were on a routine nighttime patrol, scanning the area surrounding the camp for insurgent activity. Normally the patrols end quietly. The Marines go back to the camp, clean their weapons, debrief and call it a night. Only this time, they found trouble.
Corporal Zdionica, a 22-year-old Binghamton, N.Y. native and squad leader with the platoon was one of the first Marines to take action when the insurgents made their move.
“We were on an observation post mission at around twenty-one thirty or twenty-two hundred (9:30 to 10:00 p.m.) when we heard mortars fired,” said Zdionica. “We didn’t know exactly where the first mortar came from, but when the second went off we moved.”
His squad, which was mounted in armored humvees, reacted quickly to eliminate the threat. Corporal Nicholas Dantez, a 25-year-old, Lake Charles, La. native and 1997 Highway High School graduate noticed a suspicious vehicle and took appropriate measures. He and his fire team watched closely with their night vision goggles to find a point of origin for the mortar fire.
“From our position I could see a car pull up nearby and several men ran out,” said Dantez. “Moments later we saw a flash and then we knew they were insurgents trying to mortar the camp.”
The men advanced on the insurgents and took a few well-aimed shots to stop them from eluding the patrol. The insurgents scattered and hid in the bushes. One of the insurgents was hit, but managed to evade capture. Another was hiding from the Marines.
But not for long.
The Marines formed an offensive posture and patrolled the streets and neighborhood for the insurgents. By that time, the mortar men had left their position leaving all of the equipment to include the actual mortar tube and ordnance.
One Marine finally spotted a culprit and attempted to capture him.
“He was lying in the fetal position all crunched up when I found him,” said Lance Cpl. Bryan Scott, a 21-year-old Frederick, Md. native and 2002 Urbana High School graduate. “He was trying to hide, hoping we would miss him, but we flexi-cuffed and detained him.”
The Marines secured the area and brought the detainee back to base to undergo further questioning. Their mission to protect the Iraqi citizens and the camp was accomplished. The mortars that the insurgents did fire, didn’t hit the camp, leaving no damage to the nearby area.
The 2nd Marine Division, which deployed here early this year, has been involved in ongoing stability and security operations in partnership with Iraqi Security Forces and the Iraqi government.
Mortars are used to target both the Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces in the Al Anbar Province. The Marines eradicated another threat and brought another insurgent off of the streets.