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3/8 finds huge weapons cache

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200539114918
Story by Lance Cpl. Athanosios L. Genos

CAMP FALLUJAH, IRAQ (March 3, 2005) -- During regular operations around Fallujah and Al Karmah March 3, Marines from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment found their biggest weapons and ammunitions cache since they arrived in Iraq in January.

Marines from Weapons Company uncovered various types of ammunition and weapons systems buried in the dirt as they followed up on recent intelligence reports of a possible cache.

Engineers from the battalion began digging and searching with shovels and entrenching tools, until support from heavy equipment arrived, finding 284 assorted mortar rounds, 3 mortar base plates, one mortar tube, 234 mortar fuses, 830 rockets, 16 surface to air missiles, 5 rocket propelled grenades, and 5,994 loose and linked ammunition.

"So far this is one of the biggest caches I have ever seen, and others are saying the same thing," explained 2nd Lt. Perry Aiken, Platoon Commander, 2d Combat Engineer Battalion.

Thousands of pounds of the materials were found on the first and second day, while more was waiting to be dug out of the ground. As the "Big Dig" continued, the Commanding General of 1st Marine Division, Major General Richard F. Natonski visited the Marines and Sailors to show his appreciation for their hard work.

"Many Marine and Iraqi lives are being saved from the efforts made here finding this cache," said the Battalion Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Stephen Neary.

Certain types of weapons and ammunition were taken for intelligence purposes while the rest was destroyed in controlled detonations. The weapons taken for intelligence were used to gain more knowledge on insurgent capabilities. The rest of the cache was destroyed so that no further use would be made of the material.

"Once we got it all together, we conducted controlled detonations of all we could destroy," said Aiken.

Marines of the battalion are continuing their mission of finding insurgents and their weapons caches all throughout the area of operation. Whether patrolling by foot or driving on the main service roads, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment is taking the fight to the insurgents as they fight the Global War on Terrorism.

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