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Marines find Rockets near Akashat

AKASHAT, Iraq (March 13, 2008) -- A mushroom cloud of sand and debris rose from the ground Thursday, signifying the completion of a good day’s work.


March 13, 2008; Submitted on: 03/15/2008 04:33:11 AM ; Story ID#: 200831543311
By Lance Cpl. Paul Torres, 1st Marine Division

Marines with Company H, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5 watched as the second weapons cache they had found in three days was eliminated.
Company H had been tipped off by Iraqi Police on the location of the first cache several days before the find.

“We have been working with the IP’s in Akashat,” said Sgt Manuel A. Callejasrodas, 26, from Lynbrook N.Y., who is a guided missile system operator and platoon sergeant with Green Platoon, Company H.

“They gave us the location and we went out and identified what types of weapons were there,” said Callejasrodas.

The cache was located about 15 kilometers east of the town of Akashat, where Company H has been conducting security patrols and collecting intelligence. Among the weapons found were 14 rockets that were later destroyed.

Since Company H assumed command of this area of operation from the Army, tips about weapons caches have been flooding in. Most of the information comes from the community within Akashat.

“(The Iraqis) pretty much give us (tips on) everything we find,” said Sgt. Jesse Ramirez, 22, from Modesto, Calif., who is a field radio operator and platoon sergeant for Green Platoon, Company H.

The tip on a second cache, located about 17 kilometers north of Akashat, came the next day.
“We received a tip from a human intelligence source who had a lot of information about the location,” said 1st Lt. Blaine N. Barby, 24, from Beaver Okla., who is a platoon commander for Blue Platoon, Company H.

When a tip is received, the Marines try to get as much information as they can to ensure the cache find is authentic.

Once on sight, Marines with Blue Platoon approached the wadi cautiously and cordoned off the area to await the arrival of Explosive Ordinance Disposal.

“We are always thinking, what if this might be an ambush,” said Ramirez.

The primary cache was located in a wadi about 5 feet deep and contained seven Chinese rockets and about three dozen empty 155 artillery cases.

The Marines maintained the cordon until EOD arrived to wire and detonate all unexploded ordinance.

“It is important for us to maintain security on the spot to make sure the insurgents don’t come and move it before EOD gets there,” said Ramirez.

Most of the caches found recently have been in remote locations.
Community relations have played an important role in keeping the insurgent presence out of Akashat.

“This is their homeland, and they are able to help us out as much as we help them,” said Ramirez.