View Full Version : Marines cool off with new use for old socks

07-29-04, 06:32 AM
Marines cool off with new use for old socks
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200472945720
Story by Sgt. Jose L. Garcia

CAMP AL QAIM, Iraq (July 27, 2004) -- Marines from 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion use socks for other reasons than just their feet.

Patrolling the western border of Iraq can take a toll on the Marines and the water is a must for Marines to drink in the hot temperature that reach well over a hundred degrees every day in the summer.

Marines 1st LAR discovered the "sock method" to beat the heat and cool off the water. The story might sound a little ripe - if not the socks. Still, those who use it, would bet their boot, err .. socks, on it.

The first trick is to make sure there's an extra sock in the pack. Socks straight off the feet, even to Marines in the field for days and weeks at time, is just too funky.

Step two, wet the sock, seal up a plastic water bottle inside and set it in the shade for about ten minute. The end result is cool and refreshing, at least to a grunt slogging through temperatures topping a hundred degrees.

"It is a quicker way to cool down when you don't have any ice available to you," said Staff Sgt. Vince Peralta, a 30-year-old platoon sergeant for Weapons Company from Los Angeles. "Using the sock is better than just drinking hot water and there is a huge difference. That's why we always use it."

Marines unfamiliar with the sock method were hesitant at first but once the word got out as the thermometer climbed, everyone's daypack included a spare sock.

"I didn't believe it at first cause it didn't sound like it was real," said Cpl Robert D. Brooks, a 22-year-old from Ypsilanti, Mich. "Then I tried it and it convinced me. It actually works.

If it sounds, well, stinky, Brooks said think about the alternative when the water's been heating under the desert sun.

"Drinking hot water makes you sick to your stomach," he said.

The method itself is nothing new. Desert bags were popular for Marines during the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War. The square canvas bags would be filled and soaked on the outside. The idea is the moisture on the outside wicks away the heat as it evaporates. As long as the cloth covering - in this case, the old socks - stays wet, the drink stay cool.

"The key thing to all this is once you pour water on the sock you have to keep it in the shade or else it will take longer to cool down," Peralta said. "But on any given hot day you will catch me using the sock method just so that I can have cold water to drink."

The socks might sounds like a crude method, but it's perfectly palatable to the Marines who use it.

"I love it, cause I don't like hot water at all, even when I take shower I don't like to use hot water," said Lance Cpl. Joshua D. Crawford, 22, from Salem, Ore. "I like to use the sock method after making tea. I let it sit and cool off."

According to Crawford, everyone in LAR pretty much uses the sock method to cool down the water.

"I guess it's an LAR thing," Crawford said. "It helps Marines stay hydrated and they enjoy drinking the cool water. It helps beat the heat."

Some platoons carry ice, but the Marines say the ice melts and the water just gets hot.

"Ice don't last long in this heat," Brooks said. "So our alternative is the sock method. Once people try the sock method, they stick to it."


Cpl. Robert D. Brooks, 22, from Ypsilanti, Michigan, an infantryman with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, uses a sock to cool his water bottle. Marines from 1st LAR wet the sock, insert a water bottle inside and let it sit in the shade for about ten minutes and drink down the cool water.
(USMC photo by Sgt. Jose L. Garcia) Photo by: Sgt. Jose L. Garcia


Marines from 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion use socks for other reasons than just their feet. The Marines discovered the sock method to beat the heat and cool of the water in order to make it bearable to drink. They wet the sock, insert a water bottle and let it sit in the shade for about ten minutes.
(USMC photo by Sgt. Jose L. Garcia) Photo by: Sgt. Jose L. Garcia


07-29-04, 06:33 AM
Military judge delays reservist's court-martial <br />
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By: SCOTT MARSHALL - Staff Writer <br />
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CAMP PENDLETON ---- A military judge granted a defense request Wednesday to postpone the court-martial for a...

07-29-04, 06:34 AM
Saudi leading effort to encourage Muslim security force in Iraq

By: GEORGE GEDDA - Associated Press

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- With American support, Saudi Arabia is taking the lead in trying to form a Muslim security force to help Iraq overcome its 15-month-old insurgency, U.S. and Saudi officials said Wednesday.

Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed the issue with top Saudi officials after a stop in Egypt and had it on his agenda for Thursday's talks with Iraq's prime minister, Ayad Allawi, in Jiddah.

Word of the Saudis' effort came on the same day as a a suicide car bomb northeast of Baghdad killed 68 Iraqis and wounded 56 others. It was the insurgents' deadliest strike since Allawi took office as head of the interim government a month ago.

"We're taking this initiative because we want to help the Iraqi people reclaim their sovereignty as quickly as possible, because there is a tremendous desire in the Arab and Muslim worlds to help Iraq and because instability in Iraq has a negative impact on Saudi Arabia," said Adel al-Jubeir, a top Saudi government foreign policy adviser.

He spoke to reporters after Powell's meeting with King Fahd, Crown Prince Abdullah and Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.

A major Saudi concern in recent weeks has been the infiltration of militants from Iraq.

Earlier, Saud told reporters that discussions about a proposed security force were at a preliminary stage. He refused to provide details.

Powell, who is on a weeklong visit to Central Europe and the Middle East, declined comment.

His spokesman, Richard Boucher, said, "We discussed some ideas tonight with the Saudis that they have been discussing with others about how to facilitate the deployment of troops from Muslim countries. The goal is to help Iraqis establish security. It's a goal that they support, that we support and we'll keeping talking to them about it."

Saudi officials said the kingdom is normalizing relations with Iraq for the first time since Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.

President Bush, in a telephone call Wednesday to Abdullah from his Texas ranch, thanked the crown prince for meeting with Powell. "The two of them discussed the situation in Iraq and Saudi efforts to fight terror on its own soil," said a White House spokesman, Trent Duffy.

Iraqi opposes deployment of foreign troops from neighboring countries. Some of the countries mentioned as possible participants in a security force -- Malaysia, Algeria, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Morocco -- are from far outside the region.

The U.S.-led coalition force in Iraq numbers 160,000; all but 20,000 are Americans.

U.S. and Saudi officials declined to describe the proposed Muslim force as a supplement to the coalition. They said that if the Muslim force develops, coalition troop numbers could be drawn down as security conditions improved.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been informed about the initiative, a senior Saudi official said. It was not clear whether a Security Council resolution would be required to authorize a Muslim force.

The Arab League has been reluctant to confer legitimacy on the interim Iraq government because of the continuing U.S. troop deployment.

League spokesman Hossam Zaki said Wednesday the organization's general stand on the deployment of troops was that any request for troops "should come from a legitimate Iraqi government, the force should not be part of the occupation of Iraq and should be authorized by a U.N. Security Council resolution and under U.N. leadership."

Zaki indicated the league could not stop individual member states from sending troops to Iraq. He said members had reacted in different ways to the interim government's call for troops.

In Morocco, a Foreign Ministry official said he could not immediately comment on Morocco's stance in regards to sending troops to Iraq.

Not a single Arab country is now a coalition participant and the numbers of Muslims in the coalition is believed to be scant. Politically, it would be far easier for Muslim countries to commit themselves as a group rather than individually.

American and Iraq efforts to lure new members into the coalition have not borne fruit. Indeed, Powell has exhorted coalition members to remain steadfast in their troop commitments to Iraq.

The coalition membership has shrunk from 36 to 31 in recent weeks. Militants in Iraq have resorted to kidnappings against foreigners and other violent acts to encourage coalition members to abandon their commitment.

Their most significant victory was the Philippines, which agreed to withdraw its 51-member unit from Iraq to spare the life of a kidnaped Filipino truck driver.



07-29-04, 06:35 AM
Retired cops help Marines advise Mahmudiyah's policemen
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20047295437
Story by Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes

CAMP MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq (July 26, 2004) -- Marines from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment are getting a helping hand from the long arm of the law.

Three International Police Advisors, all retired cops from the United States, recently arrived to give Marines help in training and advising Mahmudiyah's fledgling police force.

The three former policemen are bolstering the professionalism of Iraqi Police. The IPA currently has more than 200 retired policemen working in Iraq to help build and train the police force.

"Our first step is to develop a working relationship with the police chiefs in the area," said Robert N. Voytko, a 59-year-old retired policeman with 29 years on the force from Hagerstown, Md.

Twenty-nine years with the police force taught Voytko a lot about running a police force and he intends to pass his knowledge on to the Iraqis.

"Our second step is to identify the problems we have and then our third step is to work with the organization to overcome them," Voytko added.

The three men are starting with initial assessments of the police stations in the area and will later move on to teaching classes and accompanying the policemen on their beats.

The team plans to spend ten months in Mahmudiyah working with the three police departments in the battalion's area of operations. The long time span gives the retired policemen the opportunity to take time to do things right, according to one team member.

"Time is not of the essence here," explained John Chapman, a 61-year-old from Joshua, Texas. "We need to get them operating first and then we can work on refining their skills."

Chapman has stacked up 15 years working for various police and sheriff's departments to the team. He said people in the community needed to feel comfortable with police presence.

The idea of an operational police force is going to take some time to catch on here, he added.

One of the largest problems the new police force in Iraq will encounter is overcoming the fear instilled in them from being associated as police. Police and Iraqi National Guard soldiers are often targeted by anti-Iraqi forces.

"One task for us is to instill confidence in the police force out there," said William R. Womack, a 46-year-old from Bastrop, La. "That's the only way we're going to overcome that threat."

Womack brought 20 years of experience with the Morehouse Parish Police Department before coming to Iraq.

"These are all problems any society runs into post-war," he explained. "It took the U.S. a few years to get everything together. It'll be the same way here."

The policemen must not only overcome language barriers but also cultural ones. The Iraqi version of personnel management differs from the ones familiar to the former policemen.

"In the police stations here the chief wants to have a hundred percent visibility on everything that goes on," Chapman said. "In our departments we're used to issuing a task and trusting it will get done. It's done differently here."

Giving the new policemen empowerment to complete tasks is something the team will work on during their time here, he added.

"Eventually we'll be able to show them our method of doing things does work," Chapman explained. "That's a little ways down the road though. It's crawl, walk then run."

Marines with the civil affairs team, which oversees the police force here, are happy to have the men aboard. The professionalism and experience the men bring to the team are invaluable assets to the Marines who only know the military way of doing things.

"It's good to have people who know the other side of things," said 22-year-old Lance Cpl. Joshua J. Abraham, from Medina, Ohio. "That experience they have goes a long way here."

The radio technician works with the civil affairs team and sees the retired cops every day.

He added military units don't really understand what these Iraqi policemen are going through. But now Marines have a new base of knowledge with policemen who have been there themselves, starting at the bottom.

"The retired policemen even go out with us on house searches and help us clear rooms," Abraham said. "Their experience is helping the Iraqis and the Marines here."


Three International Police Advisors recently joined Marines in Camp Mahmudiyah to train Iraqi police there. The three policemen bring more than 60 years of experience to the battalion. Their mission is to advise and supervise the police districts which belong to the Lejeune battalion. From front to back - John Chapman, a 61-year-old from Joshua, Texas. Chapman brings 15 years working for various police and sheriffs' departments to the team. In the middle is Robert N. Voytko, a 59-year-old from from Haegertown, Md, served 29 years as a cop. In the rear is William R. Womack, a 46-year-old from Bastrop, La. with 20 years of experience with the Morehouse Parish Police Department.
(USMC photo by Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes) Photo by: Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes



07-29-04, 06:36 AM
Marines stock up on dinar as souvenirs <br />
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division <br />
Story Identification #: 200472944640 <br />
Story by Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr. <br />
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CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq (July 18, 2004) -- Saddam...

07-29-04, 07:39 AM
August 02, 2004

Road stops dicey duty for new unit in Fallujah

By Gordon Lubold
Times staff writer

NASIR, Iraq — Leathernecks with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, say if they do their job right, they’ll be out of work soon.
The Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based battalion arrived here in June to continue security and stabilization operations near Fallujah.

It’s quieter in and around Fallujah these days and the Marines of 3/1 now are getting their operational feet wet, conducting missions that should shift more security responsibility to the Iraqis, said Maj. Clark Watson, 3/1’s executive officer.

“We would like to work ourselves out of a job,” he said.

The unit is beginning some reconstruction and civil affairs projects, addressing water and power issues in the area, but it’s also training the Iraqi National Guard, formerly known as the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, at a training base about 10 minutes away from its base camp.

Since Pentagon officials in April opted not to send Marines all the way into Fallujah and instead turned the security mission there largely over to a brigade of Iraqi troops, 3/1’s mission mainly involves raids and security patrols.

But the mission that gets the most focus is vehicle checkpoints. During one recent patrol, a squad of Marines in heavily armored Humvees pulled to the side of a main freeway here, dropped a spiked chain across the road, shined one Humvee’s headlights into oncoming traffic and began stopping cars.

Cars, trucks and buses, some probably carrying the very insurgents Marines are seeking, fly down the freeway toward the checkpoint, easing off the gas at the last minute as a Marine flags them down.

Fresh from pre-deployment training, the Marines speak Arabic with surprising ease. They are using key Arabic phrases at checkpoints, including “please get out of the car,” “open up the trunk” and “you can go now.”

“We learned five new words every day for a week,” said Pfc. Jay Phillips, a 23-year-old mortarman from Marquette, Mich.

Dozens of vehicles, including a Chevrolet van with about 60 rugs stacked on top, were stopped during an hourlong checkpoint operation July 11. All the Iraqis cooperated with the Marines’ demands.

“America my friend,” said one Iraqi before getting back into his Chevy Caprice Classic and roaring off.

Although searching cars and people is the main objective, the checkpoints offer a chance to find “turnarounds,” cars or trucks that, upon seeing the checkpoint, stop and turn around. Marines chase them down and often find they’re carrying caches of weapons, money or other illicit materials.



07-29-04, 08:29 AM
11th MEU Marine awarded Navy Cross for legendary day during OIF
Submitted by: 11th MEU
Story by: Computed Name: Cpl. Matthew S. Richards
Story Identification #: 200472973735

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HOTEL, Iraq -(July 29, 2004) -- A hero is oftentimes thought to be one who overcomes some great obstacle for the betterment of his fellow man. Such legends flow freely throughout our society, especially in the Marine Corps, and their memories offer motivation to the weakest and strongest.

First Sgt. Justin D. Lehew doesn't believe in them.

"There is no such thing as a hero, but there is such thing as a Marine," Lehew, company first sergeant, Company C, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), said after recalling the events of a dreadful day over a year ago.

The story of Jessica Lynch was well publicized, but the story of the Marines who came upon her unit's position an hour after the ambush, and the hellish battle those Marines endured that day, isn't as well known.

Lehew, a gunnery sergeant at the time, was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions that day, March 23, 2003. More than a year later and in the same country in which he earned it, Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force, personally presented the medal to Lehew on July 24.

"This is something you'll probably never see again," said Conway, to the MEU Marines that witnessed the Navy Cross being awarded. "This is second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor."

Lehew was a platoon sergeant for Company A, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Task Force Tarawa, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. They were riding their way through Iraq in amphibious assault vehicles.

"I can remember the day pretty vividly," he said.

Just outside of An Nasiriyah, his unit was the foremost unit overtaking the area where 8,000 Iraqi soldiers were thought to be surrendering.

Taking enemy fire the entire way there, they received a distress call from American soldiers in the area. It didn’t make sense to them because his Marines were supposed to be the foremost unit there.

"I jumped on the ground and started asking the Marines if they had seen any soldiers around," Lehew said. "They said they hadn't seen anything."

After pushing forward they began to see burnt Army vehicles and after a little further, soldiers began to appear.

"I saw one pop up in the field we were in, then another popped up on the other side waiving his arms. Then we saw soldiers popping up all over the field waiving their arms," he said.
The Marines just happened to come upon them an hour after the soldiers were ambushed. The Marines did their best to help the injured while under enemy fire.

"I put my corpsmen with the Army medics, and the soldiers were saying the reason many of them were alive was because of my Marines. I think it was because of their medics doing such a great job," he said. "This wasn’t a (combat arms unit), but they did what they could for an hour until we arrived."

Lehew then had his Marines help the best way they could. They started "lighting up" the Iraqi infantry so they could help evacuate the injured.

"An (Army) warrant officer came up to me saying he was missing half his soldiers," Lehew said. "That turned out to be the group that was captured including Jessica Lynch."

Wasting no time, the order to press into An Nasiriyah came. While Marine Corps tanks were busy engaging the enemy in the outskirts of the city, the AAVs pushed into the city.

"Our job was to take the southern bridge," he said.

As soon as they moved into the streets a white van with a blue stripe pulled out in front of them and fired a rocket-propelled grenade. The thin-skinned AAVs swerved, successfully avoiding the RPG. The AAVs were all alone once they arrived at the bridge.

"Once we got on top of the bridge it got quiet for a minute. Then all at once it seemed like Armageddon opened up from all angles of the streets," he said.

There was an Iraqi ambulance that was careening toward the front of the convoy. Lehew fired a warning shot but the ambulance refused to stop, so the Marines opened fire on the cab. But when it stopped, Iraqis clad in black jumped out of the back and ran below the bridge to a weapons stockpile there. Many cars followed suit.

"Swarms of Iraqis started converging on our positions," Lehew said. "There had to have been hundreds."

Many Iraqis started firing RPG's out of windows, doorways and cars.

"They were using women holding babies as spotters," Lehew said. "But we had to hold the bridge at all costs."

Reinforcements for Lehew's unit eventually came -- Marine Corps tanks.

"I jumped up on the turret of the tank and peeled off the Marine's earpiece and told him to fire on a building that RPGs were coming out of," he said. "And when I jumped off, no sooner than my feet touched the ground the building was leveled."

It was right next to a mosque that was left untouched.

Lehew ran back to his Marines while under heavy fire the entire time.

"Then I remember our driver, who was from Georgia, said 'Hey look at those guys going the wrong way with their ramp open,'" Lehew said.

It was an AAV from another company whose mission was to take the northern bridge. Its back ramp had been blown open.

"I ran 70 meters to the back of that AAV," he said. "The cargo hatch was blown in."

On the way to the northern bridge, the AAV had been had stopped to "surrendering" Iraqis who surprisingly ambushed them by turning around with AK-47s, RPGs, and Iraqi artillery, which had been plotted beforehand.

This particular AAV had tried to come back into the city but an Iraqi with an RPG jumped behind it and fired into its back.

"When I was inside the AAV I saw a sergeant I knew was dead," Lehew said.

He began to pull out anyone he could, but he wasn't alone.

"When I got to the vehicle there was a young doc from Puerto Rico following me," he said. "He was really scared but he said 'I'm here as long as you're here gunny.'"

While still under continuous fire, Lehew was hurriedly pulling bodies and body parts out but he began to lose faith that anybody in the AAV had survived.

"We were about to leave the vehicle. I stepped into the center of the vehicle to clear the radios and I heard a Marine gasp," he said.

The Marine was underneath the AAV's hatch and was badly injured. The Marine had been reaching for his rifle when the AAV was hit.

"Doc held his head as we ran him back to our vehicle," he said.

That was one of many wounded the two began to carry back. They soon moved them all inside a nearby house.

"You could hear Iraqis in the back side of the house," Lehew said. "All I had was wounded Marines, no weapons. So I helped stabilize their wounds and I ran out to gather up weapons."
There were casualties everywhere and no one was defending them.


07-29-04, 08:29 AM
"I grabbed two of the Marines that were shell-shocked," he said. "I grabbed an M-16 and racked a round. I said 'If anybody comes through that way, shoot them. If they come this way, don't shoot them.'"

Lehew distinctly remembers a Marine he saw who was blown completely out of an AAV. He hobbled up to Lehew with several pretty bad injuries.

"This kid came up to me and said 'I can still fight gunny,'" Lehew sighed. "So I put a rifle in the kid's hands."

The intense fire never seemed to let up. Lehew knew he had to get all these men out of there.
"I started screaming over the radio net to get a medivac," he said. "Finally we started seeing birds in the air."

He saw the several helicopters overhead and began to set up a hasty landing zone.

"That pilot needs to get a Distinguished Flying Cross because he landed in one of the hottest LZ's with power lines and poles all around," he said.

Then Lehew and the doc began running Marines "a couple football fields" to the helicopter.
"The last thing I saw was a Marine's feet hanging out the back of the bird," he said.

Lehew and his Marines put the rest of the casualties in an AAV, and with the tanks firing to the left and AAVs firing to the right, they sped back out of "Ambush Alley."

"They had all the advantage points. They were firing so many RPGs from the rooftops it's a miracle nobody died in that convoy," Lehew said.

On their way back, they started seeing burnt up shells of AAVs every hundred yards. They ran into the Iraqi Command and Signal Group at a "pistol's distance," according to Lehew.

Twenty minutes later they were called to go into an assault four kilometers away.

After the dust had cleared and the battle was done, Lehew and his men had evacuated 77 casualties from the scene.

He can remember that there were some Marines that all he could do to help them before they were evacuated was to "sit with them, hold their hand and tell them they'd be alright."

Around midnight of that night they were told the Fedayeen were mounting a 2,000-man counteroffensive against them.

"We were very depleted on ammo and chow, but my Marines still had the attitude of 'Bring it on!'" Lehew exclaimed. "I was lucky enough to go through all this with one of the greatest group of Marines ever."

They never had to fight that battle because Marine artillery broke up the offensive before it ever made it to Lehew's men.

Lehew feels the events of that day showed the steadfast courage of this generation of Marines.
"I've heard some say this video game generation is weak, and that they could never live up to the legend of those at Tarawa and such," Lehew said. "These Marines fought more courageously than I could have imagined. Right now, the Marine Corps is the best it's ever been and it will only get better."

He holds no less confidence in his current Marines with Co. C, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, than what he holds for those he went to war with.

"These guys are just as good," he said. "The Marine Corps is built upon the back of the infantry rifleman."

Lehew believes the Marine Corps' greatness comes from Marines pitted in days like this one and the camaraderie that comes from fighting side by side.

"Every Marine came into the Marine Corps to fight. They either have something to prove to themselves or someone else," he said. "It's the kids that can't hold their personal life together that win battles. It's the kid the platoon teases, or the kid that his buddies tease because he shoots marksman, that holds off half the Fedayeen. His biggest fear is not that he'll fail, but that he'll let his buddies down. What makes us elite is that we don't want to let each other down."


Navy Cross recipient 1st Sgt. Justin D. Lehew, company first sergeant, Company C, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), recounts the day during Operation Iraqi Freedom when his amtrac unit was engaged in heavy fighting in An Nasiriyah. Lehew was awarded the Marine Corps' second highest medal for his heroic actions that day. Photo by: Cpl. Daniel J. Fosco



07-29-04, 10:34 AM
Injured Marine keeps his focus as he is treated for eye injuries

KEITH PHUCAS , Special to The Times 07/26/2004

NORRISTOWN -- Earlier this month, a doctor at Wills Eye Hospital, in Philadelphia, picked tiny bits of shrapnel out of Sgt. Matthew Crawford’s left eye with a needle and tweezers. Four pieces were removed the first day; three more a few days later.

For now, the 24-year-old Marine Corps reservist from Upper Darby, who was wounded in an explosion in Iraq, can’t focus his injured eye to read even the largest "E" on an eye chart.

As the Humvee carrying Crawford and four other Marines passed a roadside fruit stand in Baghdad on June 29, an improvised bomb blew up. Crawford was sitting in the back seat.

"The thing I remember doing is sticking my hand over my face," he said. "Everything went black for me."

Flying shrapnel pierced his eyes, face, one hand, an elbow and a calf. The percussion from the blast punctured an eardrum.

Given the magnitude of the blast, Crawford said he is fortunate to be alive. He believes he owes his survival to the steel armor plates installed on the Humvee door’s and side panels earlier this year.

"That armor definitely saved our lives," he said.

Though the armor saved Crawford and Cpl. Matheusz Erszkowicz, of Passaic, N.J., three other Marines in the vehicle were killed.

Marine Cpl. John Todd III, 24, of Bridgeport, Lance Cpl. Patrick Adle, 21, of Bel Air, Md., and Sgt. Alan Sherman, 36, of Brick, N.J., all died at the scene.

The five Marines belong to Bridge Co. Bravo’s 6th Engineer Support Battalion, based at the USMC Reserve Training Center in Folsom, Ridley Township. The engineering outfit specialized in building and repairing bridges but also helped rebuild hospitals and schools in the war-torn country.

The armored Humvee was leading a 20-vehicle convoy the morning of the tragic incident.

Todd, who stood to man the machine mounted on the Humvee’s roof, had his upper body exposed to the full force of the explosion. Adle was driving the Humvee; Sherman rode in the front passenger seat.

And though the 12-inch-square windows in each of the vehicle’s four doors are 3 1/2 inches thick, Crawford said the Marines had their M-16s pointed out the open windows. In hindsight, this left the men vulnerable.

But with the windows shut, the desert sun heats the inside of a Humvee as hot as an oven.

According to casualty information from MilitaryCity.com, 180 military personnel have been killed since May 2003 by improvised explosive devices, called IEDs, placed in or near roadways in Iraq.

After the combat phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom was declared over in May, insurgents began ambushing U.S. military convoys with makeshift bombs.

Some attackers hid explosives in soda cans or behind trash on the side of the road. Others outfitted artillery shells with fuses that could be detonated with a remote device, such as a garage-door opener.

Keeping a safe distance away, insurgents could lay in wait for U.S. convoys, then detonate a bomb when vehicles reached the spot where explosives had been placed hours before.

Yet as IED incidents increased during the fall of 2003, killing and wounding soldiers and Marines, U.S. military officials were slow to respond to the threat.

At an April 21 House Armed Services Committee hearing, Chairman Duncan Hunter admonished military acquisition officers for dragging their feet.

"We’ve got a military acquisition system that doesn’t work," Hunter said. "We’re not going to get this (steel) into (the Iraq) theatre at this rate."

A Conshohocken steel plant, ISG Plate, began making 3/8-inch steel plates to armor Humvees, and other military vehicles, in November 2003, according to ISG plant manager Gary Sarpen.

At that time, the government wasn’t sure how much steel it wanted ISG to make.

"Some of the initial stuff, we did in two weeks," Sarpen said. "A lot of this has been on the fly."

Typically, ISG makes large rectangular steel plates -- 24 feet long, 8 feet wide -- and ships them to military depots around the country where the plates are cut to make the armoring kits. Eventually, the kits are shipped to Kuwait or Iraq and bolted onto vehicles.

Since last fall, Sarpen estimates his plant has produced about 25,000 steel plates for the kits.

The plant also produces steel used on the factory armored, or up-armored, Humvees manufactured by AM General in Mishawaka, Ind. The steel plating is mounted on the new vehicles at O’Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt, in Fairfield, Ohio.

The Conshohocken plant also manufacturers "bird cage" armor for the lightweight Stryker vehicle.

Despite the company’s obligations to its other customers, Sarpen said, the plant has not had a problem accommodating orders for the steel armor.

"As (the government) has asked for more (steel), we’ve been able to meet schedules," he said. "We have met every commitment."

A spokesman at the House Armed Services Committee commended ISG’s efforts to make the steel on short notice.

"They really played a critical role," the spokesman said. "They pulled out all the stops to do this."

There are currently about 16,000 Humvees in Iraq, according to the House Armed Services spokesman. Of these vehicles, 7,622 have been outfitted with the armor kits. And there are now 4,342 of the new up-armored Humvees in Iraq.

According to U.S. Central Command, Humvees in Iraq without armor will be outfitted with kits by the end of the year. Figures on how many other military vehicles in Iraq have been armored was not readily available.

The Armed Services Committee spokesman said Humvees in low-risk regions of Iraq would likely not be armored.

"You don’t want to armor all of them, because it wears the vehicles out faster," he said.

To effectively defend against IED attacks, he said, a holistic approach that combines armoring with human intelligence, surveillance and electronic countermeasures is best.

"Armoring is the right thing to do, but you must prevent the threat by getting out in front of it and catch (the attackers)."

As the June 29 explosion demonstrated, armor plating doesn’t guarantee protection from every variety of roadside bomb.

Promising prognosis

After Crawford was injured in the blast, his eyes were swollen shut and his face was black and blue.

From Iraq, he was flown to Landstuhl, Germany, for his initial treatment, then sent to back to the states to the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md.

On Tuesday, Crawford is scheduled to undergo surgery to remove metal wedged above his cheekbone.

"There are two pieces that are in my face," he said.

His doctors predict he’ll eventually recover sight in his left eye, and for that, he is grateful.

"If (shrapnel) has gone straight through my eye, I would have been blinded (permanently)."

His diminished hearing, too, may restore itself, doctors say.

Crawford is employed by Midwest Surgical, a company that provides medical equipment and services to small hospitals for cataract surgery. As a surgical technician, he sometimes assists during eye surgery.

"I can’t believe it happened to me," he said, referring to his eye injury. "I work on eyes, but now I’m getting my eyes worked on."



07-29-04, 12:32 PM
Marines deliver Jordanian-donated military gear to Iraq <br />
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division <br />
Story Identification #: 20047286352 <br />
Story by Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr. <br />
<br />
<br />
<br />

07-29-04, 02:37 PM
Iraqis Pay Tribute to U.S. Service Members
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., May 27, 2004 — As the sound of "Taps" wailed from Army Sgt. Major Henry Sgrecci's bugle today, seven Iraqi citizens pressed their new prosthetic hands against their hearts at the Tomb of the Unknowns here to honor U.S. service members who have given their lives in Iraq.

The seven men, all Iraqi merchants, have been in the United States since mid- April to receive their new "bionic" hands to replace the ones amputated by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein as punishment for trading in U.S. currency. In addition to providing them with new $50,000 prosthetic hands, U.S. doctors in Houston also removed the tattoos Saddam had imprinted on the merchants' foreheads to draw further attention to their misdeeds.

During this week's visit to Washington, D.C., the Iraqis made a pilgrimage today to Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place for 65 service members killed in Iraq. There, the group laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns to honor U.S. service members killed while overthrowing the brutal regime under which they and millions of other Iraqis had suffered for decades.

Nasaar Jondi, one of the merchants, reflected on his predicament nine years ago, as he sat in prison waiting for Saddam's doctors to chop off his right hand. The night before his sentence was carried out, Jondi wrote his wife, "Do not be sad. Hopefully Allah will replace my hand with an even better one." Today, as the proud recipient of a new prosthetic hand made possible through donations by U.S. medical facilities, medical staff, companies and citizens, Jondi reflected on his new fortune — personally and as an Iraqi citizen -- and the cost that made it possible.

"Without the tremendous sacrifices of American servicemen and women, we would never have had a new beginning and a new Iraq," he said.

Like nearly all Iraqis, Laith Agar had seen unforgettable suffering and death under Saddam —which he said gives him a greater appreciation for life and an appreciation for those willing to lay theirs down for others.

"Life is the most precious thing for a human being, and these people have made the ultimate sacrifice," said Agar, a resident of Baghdad. "They came to Iraq and died for Iraq and for all humanity. We will never forget the contributions these heroes have made."

Basin Al Fadhly said he wanted to visit Arlington National Cemetery to pay tribute to America's fallen warriors "and to express gratitude to the American people and the American Army that carried out the liberation of Iraq from Saddam."

For Hassan Al Gearawy, the visit to Arlington was a way to express his appreciation to the families — particularly the mothers — of U.S. service members killed in his country's liberation. "I wanted to salute them and express my thanks and gratitude to the mothers of those martyrs," he said.

Earlier this week, the group visited the White House, where President Bush told them he was "honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein."

The president praised Dr. Joseph Agris, a plastic surgeon based in Houston, who conducted the surgery to put new prosthetic hands on the Iraqis, and Don North, a documentary producer who brought the plight of the seven merchants to Agris's attention.

"These men had hands restored because of the generosity and love of an American citizen," Bush said. "And I am so proud to welcome them to the Oval Office."


Seven Iraqi merchants put their new prosthetic hands across their hearts May 27 while laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in honor of U.S. service members killed in Iraq. Photo by Donna Miles



07-29-04, 04:46 PM
24th MEU Arrives in Iraq
Submitted by: 24th MEU
Story Identification #: 2004728111551
Story by Capt. David E. Nevers

FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq (July 28, 2004) -- Six weeks after the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit dispatched its initial element to the Middle East, the last of the MEU’s leathernecks arrived in Iraq this week as the unit prepares to begin operations in the province of North Babil.

The long journey from its home base at Camp Lejeune, N.C., took the MEU through Kuwait, where Marines and sailors trained and acclimated to the desert heat before heading north.

Within days, the MEU will assume operational control of a heavily populated area south of Baghdad that includes the cities of Mahmudiyah and Iskandariyah. As it relieves Army units being transferred elsewhere in Iraq, the 2,200-strong MEU will be beefed up with additional Marine forces, including 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines and Alpha Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.

Their mission is to assist local Iraqi authorities in establishing security and stability for the nearly 900,000 citizens of the province. The most urgent priority is to empower Iraqi police and national guardsmen with the skills they need to combat enemy insurgents.

The MEU commander, Col. Ronald J. Johnson, met with community leaders this week and pledged his unit’s assistance in ridding the area of those seeking to sabotage Iraq’s peaceful, democratic future.

“The enemies of Iraq are criminals and terrorists trying to exploit a country in transition,” Johnson said. “But the good people of this great country are gaining strength, slowly but surely, and the terrorists’ days of mayhem and murder are numbered.”

Johnson was quick to add that he had no illusions about the dangers his Marines and sailors face during the months ahead. Indeed, before the unit had completed its movement into Iraq, the MEU suffered its first casualty. Lance Cpl. Vincent M. Sullivan, an infantryman assigned to Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, was killed by an enemy mortar round July 23.

In a letter this week to families of his Marines and sailors, Johnson vowed to take the fight to the enemy.

“We do not intend to wait for these thugs to terrorize the neighborhood,” he wrote. “To the greatest extent possible, working with the Iraqi authorities, we will engage them on our terms. We will seize and maintain the initiative, letting nobody stand in the way of our efforts to assist the Iraqi people.”

Before their work with the Iraqis swings into high gear, Marines and sailors will be laboring to prepare their forward operating bases to support sustained operations.

For more information concerning the 24th MEU, visit the MEU’s Web site at www.usmc.mil/24meu.



07-29-04, 08:42 PM
Iraqi official's children kidnapped

By Pamela Hess
Pentagon correspondent

Ramadi, Iraq, Jul. 29 (UPI) -- Three children of the Iraqi governor of Al Anbar Province were kidnapped Wednesday from their Ramadi home in a bloodless assualt by an unidentified group of insurgents.

About two-dozen newly minted armed Iraqi police guarding the house gave in to the attackers without firing a shot, according to U.S. officials, who suspect an inside job.

It would not be the first time in Ramadi. Several months ago, when local officials had sent American forces to another location, the Ramadi police station was attacked and all the police disarmed.

Details are sketchy and evolving, but according to U.S. reports, between 15 and 80 heavily armed attackers approached the house in downtown Ramadi Wednesday. They lined the 24 police guarding the building against the wall and disarmed them at gunpoint.

The attackers took the governor's three male children but let his daughter go. They also stole approximately $38,000 and jewelry.

It is not yet clear whether the kidnappers want ransom or want to exchange the children for Gov. Abel Alkareem Burgess Alzaldin.

One thing is clear: The police upon whom security will ultimately rest in Ramadi failed in every way to do their jobs. They did not note the type of vehicles or their license plates and failed to notify U.S. forces or the Iraqi National Guard to back them up. In the 24 hours since the attack, they have failed to do any detective work at all, according to a U.S. report.

Government officials and security forces are regularly targeted by insurgents across Iraq, with children and family members kidnapped or killed on a regular basis.



07-29-04, 09:30 PM
U.S. Soldier Killed; Dozens of Anti-Iraqi Fighters Captured
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2004 -- A U.S. soldier from the 1st Infantry Division was killed by small-arms fire today near Hawija, Iraq, and 39 members of an "anti- Iraqi forces" cell were captured during a combined U.S.-Iraqi raid near Ar Rawashi, according to Multinational Force Iraq officials.

The U.S. soldier died when his patrol came under attack at about 1 p.m., according to officials in Baghdad. The soldier was evacuated to a military medical facility after the attack and was pronounced dead there. The individual's name is being withheld until next of kin is notified.

U.S. and Iraqi National Guard troops conducted the raid near Ar Rawashi. It resulted in the capture of two known targets, Iman Aziz Ahmen Thahe and Nsaif Lateef Hadi. No further information about the two men was given.

Military officials said the raid was conducted to capture members of an anti- Iraqi forces cell that is suspected of conducting seven improvised-explosive- device attacks against coalition forces since March.

The detained individuals were transported to a Multinational Force Iraq base for questioning. No soldiers were injured during the incident.

Elsewhere a day earlier, an offensive raid by Iraqi forces July 28 resulted in the deaths of 35 insurgents and the capture of 45 more. The large offensive operation by 280 Iraqi National Guard soldiers and police officers began north of As Suwayrah, in the Wassit Province, military officials in Baghdad reported today.

Eight Iraqi security force members were killed and nine wounded in the operation. More than 50 mortar and artillery rounds and other munitions were captured in the operation, according to a Multinational Force Iraq press release.

U.S. ground forces and aircraft provided support for the operation as Iraqi soldiers conducted a cordon and search of 30 buildings and received small-arms fire.

In other news:

Iraqi police may have prevented an attack in Baghdad after finding five rockets and two loaded rocket launchers in a cemetery in central Baghdad today.

U.S. soldiers detained seven individuals, including a member of Muqtada al- Sadr's militia, July 28 for photographing a government building in Najaf. One individual was identified as Ahsan Hadi Toman, a member of Muqtada's militia. Ahsan is suspected of being responsible for kidnappings in the area, according to officials.

Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division transported the individuals to a Multinational Force base for questioning.

In a separate incident, 1st Infantry Division soldiers apprehended another individual following a rocket attack on a Multinational Force base near Tikrit July 28. That person was transferred to a military facility where he tested positive for explosive residue.

Near Baqubah, 1st Infantry Division soldiers thwarted an IED attack July 28 after wounding two anti-Iraqi force members as they attempted to plant the device.

Military officials said the soldiers found four mortars, two artillery rounds and 250 kilograms of TNT buried in cement with trigger material nearby. The IED was defused and destroyed without further incident.

One wounded insurgent was evacuated to a military medical facility for treatment and will be held for questioning. The other escaped, military officials said.

The Central Criminal Court of Iraq July 28 sentenced an Iraqi man to 18 months prison for illegal weapons possession.

Witnesses identified Kamal Muyayyib Salem as being involved in attacks against international forces. Military officials said 1st Infantry Division soldiers captured Salem during a raid conducted on April 5 on a house in Ad Duluiyah.

The raid netted 18 circuit boards and various electronic components including switches, batteries, resistors and clock parts. According to military officials, the components are believed to be of the type used in making improvised explosive devices.

A three-judge panel, upon testimony provided by 1st Infantry Division soldiers and two Iraqi National Guard soldiers, convicted the detainee of possession of "special category weapons."