FALLUJAH, Iraq -- His eyes scanned the city structures, still blanketed by the cover of pre-dawn darkness. He stood as tall and attentive as anyone might be with the proud heritage and surname that predates his hometown.
The warrior, Lance Cpl. Corey Bloomfield, thought back to the events of March 2003 as he and his squad prepared to step off on their latest mission. He recalled watching the President's ultimatum to Iraq's tyrannical leader at the time, and soon after, the "shock and awe" campaign to level the regime and help the country's people establish a new, free nation.
It had been then that he decided to leave college and join the Marines, feeling that he too had a part to play in the Global War on Terrorism.
Now, more than two years later, another sleepless morning awaited the Tecumseh, Mich. native. Today would bring another routine hours-long patrol to top off a string of nonstop operations he and his fellow Marines have conducted since mid-March. Nonetheless, the 25-year-old infantryman clutched his rifle tightly and kept his wits about him, knowing that the security of a democratic Iraq rested on simple, often boring missions like these.
"My squad alone has already done well over 100 patrols since we've been here," Bloomfield said. "It gets really repetitive, but it needs to be done, that way the insurgents never know where we're going to strike next."
On Aug. 20, this former student of Washtenaw Community College joined his fellow Marines with Company B, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and Iraqi Security Forces in conducting their latest Operation Hard Knock.
During this four-hour-long foot-mobile patrol, the Marines and Iraqi troops searched for weapons and explosives inside homes within Fallujah's Dubat region, known as the "officer's district" because many of Saddam Hussein's former military officers live their retirement out here.
Previously, improvised explosive devices had detonated around this area, and Iraqi soldiers had discovered other explosives nearby.
The troops searched for similar munitions Aug. 20 but also gathered census data on the populace and asked residents if they had witnessed any insurgent activity in the area.
The evolution yielded no arms caches, but Bloomfield said performing these operations is essential to gathering local area intelligence while keeping terrorists on their toes.
"We're always on the move, so they (insurgents) know we could hit up their house, anytime, anywhere," he stated.
This is only one counterinsurgency mission Bloomfield's company has conducted over their past several months here. Operating out of an abandoned housing complex in Northern Fallujah, Bloomfield and fellow Marines constantly plan and carry out new operations to rid this former terrorist hotbed of its lingering insurgency.
Starting in March and continuing for several months, Company B Marines helped provide security in the city's Jolan Park region during Operation Greenback. At this ruined fairgrounds, Iraqi officials handed residents reparation payments for damages done to their homes and businesses during the battle for Fallujah last year.
Meanwhile, Marines from Bloomfield's company and ISF personnel patrolled the surrounding streets, searching for terrorist activity. "We've also done tons of raids, vehicle check points, and set up hundreds of observation posts near major roads to watch for people laying IEDs," Bloomfield explained.
The Marines regularly receive tips from local informants and military intelligence on terrorist whereabouts, and routinely conduct vehicular, personnel and home searches to nab them.
It hasn't all been offensive operations for Bloomfield's unit, however.
In May, the Marines worked alongside ISF personnel to participate in Operation Blackboard. The troops visited several local schools to hand out pencils, chalk and blackboards, as well as visit with the headmasters and headmistresses to inquire about what future supplies their students might need.
Now, more than five months after arriving here, Bloomfield still weathers the hot days and remains motivated to play his role in the fight against the anti-Iraqi insurgency.
"I've enjoyed seeing some of the good and bad parts of the world here in Iraq, and I've also enjoyed seeing the people's culture," he stated. "I've learned that even though being here is a lot different than all the action I saw on TV, it's all been worth it. We're helping make this a safer place."