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1/8 Marines provide security, military presence around Fallujah

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 2005126321
Story by Cpl. Randy L. Bernard

FALLUJAH, Iraq (Dec. 31, 2004) -- The idling 7-ton trucks rattle the Marines mounted up in the bed. Their half-closed and tired eyes stare off into the distance of this bitterly cold and dark December morning. They wait for their convoy to start rolling in the direction of their observation post to begin their mission.

The Marines of Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, do this every day to provide security to the outlying farmlands of Fallujah.

“We are a show of force, meaning we are there and we aren’t going anywhere,” said Cpl. Robert M. Landers Jr., a team leader with 3rd Platoon. “We are still out here trying to make Iraq a safe and secure place for the Iraqis.”

Since major conflicts have ceased within the sprawling ‘City of Mosques,’ 1/8 pulled out of the city to take part in the security and stability operations in the rolling farms and villages just outside of Fallujah.

“We are walking around and sleeping in the dirt out there, patrolling seven to 15 kilometers through the farmlands and then waking up at three in the morning to do it again,” said Landers, a 21-year-old native of Berkley, Mass. “It is important for us to be out there though to keep people from crossing our area back into the city.

The mere presence of the Marines out in the farmlands serves a purpose in thwarting a potential insurgents.

“We make sure that the outskirts of the city are safe,” said Cpl. Wayne E. Bowman III, point man with 3rd Platoon. “We make sure that no insurgents are sneaking back through these farms into the city. We go to our observation posts as a show of force to let them know that we are occupying the area. While we are out there on patrol, we keep an eye out for any military-aged men and weapons."

Transitioning from fierce combat within the city only weeks prior, the new mission for the company is a change of pace for the Marines.

“It’s a lot different, you feel a little safer out here than you do inside of the city,” said Bowman, a 22-year-old native of Watertown, Tenn.

Aside from the sense of security, the operation aims at once again showing the Iraqi people that we are here to help.

“It’s a big difference, we aren’t getting shot anymore. That and moving around the city it was like you couldn’t trust anyone, but now it’s like we are running up to every little kid and shaking their hand,” said Landers.

Though the Marines aren’t dodging bullets out in the hills, they have one enemy that is even more relentless than the insurgents - the weather.

“Cold – its real cold at night,” said Bowman. “But we do build a campfire at night, and that is a definite morale booster. It helps pass the time and it gives a little bit of social time to talk to one another and joke around.”

Despite the bitter cold, the Marines sleep out in the dirt, waiting for first light to move out again.

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