FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Whether overseas or in America, upholding justice, law and order has come as second nature to Scott Redhead since his late teenage years.
“I was fresh out of high school when I was hired as a cadet with the Maryland State Police,” stated the 21-year-old LaVale, Md. native. “I worked for the commercial vehicle enforcement division, and we pulled over the big tractors to inspect and weigh them. We made sure they were within legal limits.”
As a cadet, Redhead found himself answering to his troopers as a recruit would a drill instructor. It was this job that prepared him for the adventures he’d soon tackle head-on.
“I was a cadet for six months, and then I decided to go to college,” explained the former student of computer software design at Allegany College of Maryland. “It just wasn’t for me, so I worked as a security guard until I decided to join the Marine Corps (in May 2004).”
Both a sense of civic duty and an appetite for challenges lead Redhead to undertake the rigors of recruit training and a military lifestyle.
“When I went into the recruiter’s office, he wasn’t like the recruiters from the other branches who would offer you things. He said, ‘What makes you think you can join us?’ I liked the element of challenge, and the fact that I’d have to earn everything, every step of the way.”
And earn his daily bread he does as one of thousands of Marines braving the sweltering heat of Iraq in hopes of stabilizing the historically-embattled nation.
For their part in this ongoing war, Redhead’s unit, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, has conducted counter-insurgency operations in and around Fallujah since mid-March. As an infantryman with the battalion’s Weapons Company, 2nd Combined Anti-Armor Team, he has joined his fellow Marines and Iraqi Security Forces on hundreds of patrols, raids and operations to purge the city of the remaining insurgent elements.
“Operations here are getting to be routine, but there’s always an element of danger,” he stated. “We’ve gotten more used to what’s going on, and everything flows more smoothly. We still always stay on our toes, though.”
Insurgents here continue emplacing roadside bombs and explosive devices aboard vehicles. These bombs are the insurgents’ most effective weapons in Iraq.
In an effort to quell this insurgency, Redhead’s battalion conducted Operation Rolling Barrage July 19. This is the fourth mission of its kind the unit’s Marines have done this summer.
During Barrage, Redhead, fellow Weapons Company Marines and M1A1 Abrams tanks wired off a sector of Northern Fallujah, preventing traffic from breaching their defensive perimeter while other elements of the battalion swept through the enclosed sector to look for weapons and suspicious activity.
This and previous operations show insurgents that coalition and Iraqi military forces still maintain a strong presence in Fallujah, and that they continue working together to eradicate terrorism here. Their combined efforts during the past four months have kept peace in the area, according to Redhead.
“This deployment has been very rewarding; I see that we’ve made a lot of progress in the time we’ve been here,” he continued. “Fallujah was a major terrorist stronghold not too long ago. Now, people walk about freely. All the smiles, waves and ‘Hey misters’ we get from the kids make it worthwhile. I’m very happy to say that I’m involved in this.”
The past several months and seemingly endless missions have taken their toll on the Marines, however. Redhead is only one in a unit of more than 1,000 troops who copes with the stresses of a combat zone and separation from family daily.
“Of course I miss my daughter, Chastity, but I try not to think about my family too much. Concentrating on the mission helps the time go by here a lot faster,” Redhead stated.
The desert climate and operational tempo can often be as brutal as the terrorists Redhead battles, and this too wears down the Marines.
“We’re uncomfortable, experiencing 120 degree heat here everyday, and wearing pounds of body armor,” Redhead said. “We’re always on the move, always working. We joke around by saying, ‘Day off, what’s that?’ We all definitely earn our money around here.”
Several years of military service and future deployments await Redhead. Nonetheless, he remains motivated to carry out his mission in Iraq, and continue serving Corps and country with zeal.
“I’m already planning on staying in the Marine Corps, but I’m thinking about making a career move into a field that will give me training for a skill I can use in the outside world. I love the Marine Corps, and everything about it. This truly is a band of brothers, and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”