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Marines and IP build a better barrier

AKASHAT, Iraq (March 16, 2008) -- Where garbage-strewn concertina wire once lined the streets, a cleaner more professional-looking traffic control point now stands.


March 16, 2008; Submitted on: 03/22/2008 06:27:30 AM ; Story ID#: 200832262730
By Lance Cpl. Paul Torres, 1st Marine Division

On March 16, Marines with Company H, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5 dragged concrete barriers into place while waiting for a local contractor to show up with a bulldozer.

The concrete barriers were used to form a serpentine to provide security for the control point located on the front road into the town of Akashat, Iraq.

“The reconstruction of the Akashat TCP is a joint effort among the Akashat Iraqi Police and 3rd LAR Marines,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jeremiah C. Johnson, 28, from Elko, Nev., who is a Light

Armored Vehicle crewman and company gunnery sergeant with Company H.

Marines worked for three days filling in dirt mounds, dragging concertina wire, rearranging concrete barriers and providing constant security.

“The first step was to remove all dirt berms and to fill in all of the holes in order to make the town start to look as it did before,” said Johnson.

On the first day, the Marines were lucky enough to gain the assistance from a re-supply convoy to help stage the concrete barriers.

“We used a wrecker and a forty-foot flatbed to load up and move the barriers,” said Sgt. Justin R. Genovese, 25, who is a convoy commander for Motor Transportation Platoon, Headquarters and Services Company, 3rd LAR.

The final phase of the project found the Marines and the IP meticulously restructuring the serpentine. An IP communicated to the bulldozer operator in Arabic and Marines with Blue Platoon gave hand signals to guide and align the barriers.

“It was great to see (the IPs) get into it and be just as concerned about the little details as we were, said Johnson. “They really showed some pride in getting the details right.”

“It looks much better than it did before,” said Major Fawzi Ahmad Khalifah, the chief of police in Akashat. “We still have a few things left to do.”

The final touches to the project will be added later when the IP paint all of the barriers to make them look more professional. At the entrance to the town, there will also be a sign that says, “Welcome to Akashat.”