(AFGHANISTAN II) The village became empty as we rolled through. Shops locked up and locals went inside, never a good sign. We looked around for awhile to find the voting center, our objective for the following days. Once we determined where it was we then headed back through the narrow streets to the company patrol base as it started to get dark. Early the next day we had several kids outside our lines that were from 7-12 yrs old. Not hurting anything just interested. The kids got beat up pretty good in this part of the world, really mistreated and lack of care for their survival. One particular kid kept telling us that he knew where the Taliban was at. We got this a lot as tribes would say this to have us go attack a feuding tribe next to them to have us do their dirty work and wipe them out. However this kid was persistent and continued until he convinced my 1stSgt, (right hand man). The 12 yr old told us how the Taliban killed his parents and tried to kill him, as he shows us his 6 inch scar o his head from a shovel. I asked him if he would take me to the house where they were but he was too scared to and wouldnâ€™t until we talked about it for awhile. Then he agreed but didnâ€™t want to be seen as he was scared that he would be killed for brining us there. We quickly formed a plan as it was late afternoon. Confirmed our plan with higher HQ and then quickly executed it with 3 7-tons and a few gun trucks. We were all pumped to go get some and all were filled with adrenaline. The kid was scared as he was in the back of my hummer pointing the way. Yelling in Pashto Arabic which I could only make out certain words as my â€œTerpâ€� tried to convert quickly as we began to shout at one another over frustration. The kid was getting more and more scared as he pointed and scrunched in his seat. He was really scared now as he wet himself. We were close and were ready to get ambushed any second. We approached the house with two platoons in the back and sides blocking and condoning off and one clearing. The US Army attachments with us were shocked at how quickly the Marines hit the place and began our assault. The house (compound) was sealed off and as the assault group entered loud yelling was heard, the kind when people get dead. Adrenalin was flowing through every one as fighting aged males began to escape out windows in the back. No shooting yet which is a good thing. The awaiting plts were discipline to not shoot unarmed men but to capture them as they ran directly into the two platoons. One was running off and a Sgt of mine did a spectacular open field tackle on him right out of the Top Ten plays of the day. There was nothing but a dust cloud when he tackled him. The entire place had large, I mean BIG dogs as their cheap security, did I mention that they were big? How about mean? The owner of the house we were clearing, a HVT (high value target) was tipped off as we made our way through the river bed towards their house. However, he didnâ€™t clean the place out and it ended up being one of the biggest caches found in the area. Containing rockets, recoilless rifles, radios, mines and dozens of other weapons and ammunition. Being savvy they would bury weapons under donkey crap and under ground. This was no big deal as we had engineers with us with metal detectors with them to check fake walls. One room was empty, too empty as one of my guys threw a softball size rock against the wall in frustration because they didnâ€™t find anything in there. When the rock hit the wall it went through. Now these houses are built with 2 foot thick mud walls, rocks donâ€™t go through bullets donâ€™t go through the walls. The Marine looked and discovered it was a fake wall and cases upon cases of soviet mortars lie behind it. Now we had the place contained but night fall was approaching and we quickly decided that with all of our detainees (30) we werenâ€™t going back they way we came because that would spell ambush for sure. I decided to hunker down there for the night and arranged to have the detainees flown out the next morning. It got cold that night as we accumulated all of the cache. We had the detainees surrounded in a field outside and they were freezing. We all carried an extra chow with us and all had â€œsnivel gearâ€� cold weather gear on us as well. This was just after the abu ghraib prison deal so we did things by the book. They were cold, hungry and tired. As we searched d them we provided security and gave the detainees â€œourâ€� chow and â€œourâ€� cold weather gear as the Marines froze and went hungry. We defiantly treated them better than ourselves. One of the detainees gave in and told us everything that we wanted. They were ready to sell out their brother and they did. He provided us with enough info to catch the one we missed later that week that ended up being yes, his brother. We discovered a dead fighter who had been hit the day prior in an ambush. We asked the locals do you know him? They all said nope. Then we separated them and asked one of the m the same question and they replied the same. Then we asked them where does he live and they pointed to the house next to theirs. He lives next to you but you donâ€™t know him? Geniuses!!! We are always cautious with dead body as the enemy likes to booby trap their dead for us to find, bury and get blown up. The Men were ready to get the detainees out of there when one of the other tribal leaders of the next village came to â€œclaimâ€� the weapons we found. He had two thugs with him (120lb 4ft homo looking excuses for men) armed with AKs and RPGs. These 4ft tall guys in their man dress and eye shadow (homosexuality rages like crazy there, seriously) were doing their best to intimidate us. Hello do you not see the 120 man Marine Infantry Company surrounding you?? You are in no room to demand crap, you are surrounded by elevated gunned positions. He again told me to give him the now high pile of weapons to him once again. I replied â€œnot only no but hell no. â€œTerp phrase that how ever the hell you want to.â€� See my terp and I had a talk. I told him if I get loud he gets loud. If I whisper he does the same. It worked pretty good. Sometimes my terp would get a bit excited and bite off more than he could chew and tell them more than what I said by adding a few extra words. Thatâ€™s another story though. So now these two thugs charge their AKs to threaten us, which should have gotten them shot but instead two 6 ft country boys of mine came from behind and body slammed them, disarmed them and hog tied them. I told their â€œleaderâ€� now you have to play nice. No weapons for you, one year (he didnâ€™t get the Seinfeld soup nazi joke). If I did give them to him he would use them to attack the same village when I left. No way. We set numerous satchel charges on the cache and blew it up with him watching with his two thugs. The next day the detainees were moved out and we began security on the voting center and medical capabilities center. The voting center was easy because they wanted to vote but couldnâ€™t because they were threatened. Now that we were there everything was ok. Now the medical center was like a war zone. We flew in the docs and they werenâ€™t out in the field for as long as us, they were clean and we were pretty smelly by now. Everything came out of the wood work. Everything medically possible to be treated by the Americans. You name it medically we saw it. We provided security as the docs treated. I happen to notice a stack of Pakistani made Pepsi off against the wall. Although we were out in the middle of nowhere you could get anything just about. I made a deal to buy all of it with the shop owner and spread it out to the men. It wasnâ€™t cold but it didnâ€™t matter. I was being watched though. I could feel eyes burning through me and almost wanted to aim in on them. But as I turned it was a small 3-4 yr old girl. Dirty nasty little â€œthingâ€� sitting there. I looked at her and she at me. Its taboo for a female to look a man in the eyes in their customs. She was too young to know or care. I got up and moved towards her and she protected herself and flinched like I was going to smack her. I crunched down on a knee and spoke easy to see if she would like a Pepsi. She probably never had one in her life and was scared. I open one for her and took a drink and then set it in front of her. She just looked at it as a bigger kid grabbed it and began to run. I snatching him up by the collar I made him give it back. She took it and sat down next to me on the edge of the busy street. We just sat there and she and I enjoyed a hot Pepsi in the middle of hell with dozens of kids and adults surrounding us. I wasnâ€™t worried as I had a full combat platoon providing security and occasionally intermingling with the local people. I didnâ€™t know what these kids future would be once we departed here but I know that as we sat there no one was hurting these kids, at least while I was there. The MEDCAP was a success although a couple dead bodies remained outside the walls as relatives brought us their recent dead relatives to revive. The docs left departed and we began to shrink our defense and prep for departure. The kids were curious as kids will be kids where ever you are I guess. It was a good mission and my Marines did good and helped a lot of people. COMBAT UPDATE We have bee traveling a lot recently and we went through Ramadi and Fallujah. Fighting is about the same but a lot of IEDs. Today there was a helo crash close by which took the lives of two Marine pilots. We were to the sight quick as small fighting continued around the area. Fallujah is much quieter than Ramadi compared to how it was a couple years ago. The last couple of days of Ramadan have failed to materialize in fighting as the insurgents wished and I guess the will have to wait and eventually go see if they really get their virgins or not. To those who had fallen today and their families from all branches, God Bless and Semper Fi.
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Keep up the good work. I've got a Marine in a military history class I'm teaching and he's off to Iraq come spring. Keep safe, and keep doing god's work.
Capt B - I can totally picture you sitting there with the little girl. There's a huge amount of progress yet to be made, so that those children can grow up healthy and safe.
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