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1/7 Marines ready to roll thanks to 3/7

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200491653332
Story by Cpl. Randy Bernard

AL QAIM, Iraq (Sept. 12, 2004) -- Stopping the flow of weapons and explosives is the first step in preventing crime and fighting in Iraq.

Marines with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, have been doing just that for the past seven months. Now, the task lies in training the incoming Marines with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, to continue the mission, and ensure that these weapons and insurgents are found.

"I think the turnover we are doing is going to be helpful for them," said Cpl. Daniel Junco, a section leader for Combined Anti-Armor Team Red, Weapons Company, 3/7.

According to the 25-year-old native of Miami, the new Marines from 1/7 would have been better prepared if there was communication between the forward units and the rear. "The feedback from here should have been sent back to help better train them. It is sad that the ultimate lesson is experience itself."

Even without the feedback, the Marines from 3/7 are giving 1/7 detailed lessons in close air support and action on contact. Their goal is to give 1/7 a firm hold on the area.

"Our (area of operations) is very, very large," said Sgt. Ryan L. Hall, section leader with 1/7's CAAT Blue. "It's got a lot of activity, it has a lot of (improvised explosive devices), (rocket propelled grenades), and it has a lot of traffic."

With the knowledge of what they might encounter, 1/7 is ready to continue the mission 3/7 has left them.

According to Hall, 27, of Abilene, Texas, it is good to have the experienced Marines from 3/7 show them the ins and outs and what to expect.

"First, (The Marines with 3/7) were taking just the vehicle commanders out," said Lance Cpl. Jon D. Lewis, a vehicle commander with 1/7 weapons company, CAAT Blue. "Now, it is my vehicle going out with one of them."

CAAT Blue operates along the Syrian border, establishing a presence and security along its roads. One of the tools that the team uses to end the fighting in the area is a VCP, or vehicle check point.

According to Hall, a VCP is set up along roads, and vehicles are randomly screened and searched. The passengers must provide identification, while the vehicle is searched for weapons and explosives.

The goal behind catching these insurgents and weapons is to prevent them from massing and causing trouble in Iraq.

No matter what challenges 3/7 has faced and 1/7 is about to encounter, they both share an understanding of the role they play.

"I think that our job plays a crucial part in the whole big picture of Iraq," said Junco.

"We are helping the Iraqi people," said Hall. "We come through their towns on patrols trying to keep them safe. When we go to their houses, the Iraqi's say 'thank you'. As far as what we do here, it is a very important job."

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