Marines, Soldiers team up to battle insurgents, destroy weapons cache

4 Sep 2004 | Cpl. Paul Leicht

Following an insurgent improvised explosive device attack on coalition forces here Sept. 3, Marines and Soldiers killed two insurgents and captured four others during operations to destroy a suspected weapons cache.

While transporting casualties stemming from the attack against U.S. military forces near the Euphrates River, an Army UH-60 Blackhawk medical evacuation pilot spotted boats, at least one containing rocket-propelled grenades, fleeing the area and called in their location.

"I thought the boats may have been repositioning themselves to ambush our movement during the MEDEVAC mission," said Army Capt. Michael P. Gill, pilot, 507th Medical Company (Air Ambulance).

Subsequent to Gill's observation, helicopter gunships and fixed-wing aircraft from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing moved in to observe and fire on the boats.

Gill, a Long Beach, Calif., native added that he was happy he could help save the lives of several Marines while helping them get a little "pay back" as well.

Marine close-air support confirmed two boats fleeing the IED site. After firing on one boat containing RPGs secondary explosions were reported.
Moving ashore to unload suspected munitions crates, four men from a second boat then surrendered to pursuing Marines from 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment on the river's shores. The weapons cache was then destroyed by Marine close air support.

Applauding the superb air and ground coordination efforts of the Army MEDEVAC (helicopters) and Marine close-air support, Maj. Gen. Keith J. Stalder, commanding general, 3rd MAW, said that through their efforts the insurgents in the boats were detected moving weapons and supplies.

While expressing condolences to the families and friends of the fallen Marines, Stalder also noted that every Marine and Sailor on the 3rd MAW team must continue to observe everything to "stay steps ahead of the insurgents."

Flying more than 1,300 hours since February, the Army 507th Medical Company (Air Ambulance), based in Fort Hood, Texas, is supporting I Marine Expeditionary Force operations in the Al Anbar Province.