February 2-5, 2006
Operation Smokewagon was a four-day venture with Iraqi Army soldiers and elements of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. Staged in numerous villages south of Hit, Iraq, soldiers looked for insurgents and weapons caches.
The majority of the house-to-house searches were conducted by Iraqi soldiers and Marines with Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion., 2nd Marines' Bravo Co. and Golf Battery.
These units, supported by MEU Service Support Group 22, battled rain and muddy terrain while maneuvering through small villages and the numerous irrigated fields along the Western Euphrates River valley northwest of Ramadi.
During the second day of the operation, Iraqi Army soldiers and the Marines of B Company were crossing a canal when they came into contact with insurgents. With half of a platoon across a canal, one fire team pushed ahead to clear an abandoned building, when they were met by more enemy fire.
As more Marines were crossing the canal, less than 100 yards away, shots rang out throughout the field. The Iraqi soldiers and Marines returned fire and formed a line to flank the building in an attempt to flush the insurgents out.
While taking fire, the Marines pushed to the building in squad rushes, a tactic taught as early as recruit training. When the Marines and Iraqi soldiers reached the building, three insurgents ran out with their hands raised, surrendering. They were quickly searched and moved away from the building, past the bodies of three insurgents who were said to have opened fire earlier on the Marines to start the engagement.
During a check of the dead insurgents, one reportedly had a belt laden with explosives strapped across his chest. Another insurgent had a grenade, pin pulled, in his now lifeless grasp. Iraqi soldiers and Marines got back from the dead insurgents, in case the explosives detonated.
Marines got accountability of the area and checked for casualties. After all Iraqi soldiers and Marines were accounted for, fire teams were sent to clear the canal adjacent to the building the insurgents were using. There were reports of another insurgent who fired and then ran into the brush by the canal.
While checking tall reeds in the canal, Marines found and killed the fourth reportedly armed insurgent who had evaded the Marines after the initial firefight. The body and weapon were pulled out of the knee-deep mud of the canal banks.
The company continued with their mission of clearing houses and later joined with BLT 1/2's Golf Battery to conduct sweeps of larger villages.
Iraqi soldiers with 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division and Bravo Co., Golf Batter , were said to have found and destroyed numerous weapons caches over the next two days, including several improvised explosive devices and rocket propelled grenade launchers.