All in a Day’s Work
Story by Sgt. Luis Delgadillo
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq – Overnight rainfall and high winds boded ominously for the morning’s mission but as the sun rose, clear skies greeted Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.
On Jan. 6, Soldiers of Company B, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, conducted Operation Mauser, to re-familiarize themselves with an area just two kilometers southwest of Patrol Base Hawkes.
Staff Sgt. David Springer, infantryman and squad leader with Company B, said he and his fellow Soldiers were going to an area where just a month prior they had received enemy contact.
Even with sunlight breaking through, morning temperatures were in the low 40s and the night’s stormy weather turned the dirt roads to muck.
The mud made movement slow, but the pace was steady. First Lt. Jeno Giorgi, platoon leader for 2nd platoon, cleared the first house and met its owner, then took his Soldiers to the neighboring residence approximately 400 meters away.
As they approached the farm house, Giorgio’s Soldiers reported the dilapidated home was abandoned and had been padlocked.
Soldiers of Company B, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, march toward their objective during Operation Mauser southwest of Patrol Base Hawkes Jan. 6. The operation will re-familiarize the Soldiers with an area of southern Arab Jabour where residents still fear al-Qaida. Photographer: Sgt. Luis Delgadillo.
In an instant the morning’s silence ended.
The familiar crack of AK-47 gun fire aimed in their direction forced the Soldiers to the nearest cover.
Immediately, the Soldiers nearest the contact side of the platoon located their adversaries 200 meters to the south and began exchanging rounds.
Spc. John Pierre Figueroa and Staff Sgt. David Springer, infantrymen with Company B, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, stand ready to return fire after a brief firefight with insurgents southwest of Arab Jabour Jan. 6. Photographer: Sgt. Luis Delgadillo, Multi-National Division-Central.
The suspected insurgents broke contact, but in an attempt to thwart their escape, Soldiers of Company B used a grenade launcher to discourage the enemy’s movement.
Firing three grenades, Spc. Carlos Lopez, an infantryman and team leader for Company B, attempted to halt the enemy’s retreat by denying them escape routes.
In another attempt at halting the enemy’s getaway, Cpl. Keith McKern, a forward observer, said he called in the coordinates for mortars and delivered two high explosive 120 millimeter rounds on the opposite side of where the grenades had landed.
Believing they had pinned down their assailants, a squad of Soldiers maneuvered toward the enemy.
Moving quickly and carefully, the squad’s caution paid off when they came across a suspected pressure plate improvised explosive device.
A common tactic for insurgents, the PPIED is used to kill, injure or slow Coalition Forces on the attack.
With the support of an explosive ordnance disposal team the obstacle was removed and the search continued.
A pressure plate improvised explosive device, found by Soldiers of Company B, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment as they attempt to maneuver to cut off the enemy’s escape route, is destroyed by an explosive ordnance disposal team southwest of Arab Jabour Jan. 6. Photographer: Sgt. Luis Delgadillo.
After a thorough search of the area, they determined the insurgents had indeed fled.
“To me, it’s just like any other day,” Giorgi said. “It’s not the first time we’ve been shot at.”
Though their attackers had escaped, Giorgi said the tactics they use are a way for insurgents to harass Company B and prevent them from gaining a foothold as Coalition Forces move further south in Arab Jabour.
Since the 1-30th Inf. Regt. arrived in Arab Jabour and other nearby areas south of Baghdad, they have made steady progress in killing and capturing al-Qaida leaders, effectively disrupting the terrorists’ organizational structure and pushing them further south.
Since the establishment of PB Hawkes in mid-September, the Soldiers of Company B have been at the forefront of 1-30th Inf. Regt.’s push south.
In addition to establishing security for their area, Giorgi said they are working to improve the quality of life for villages surrounding their patrol base through microgrants and access to clean water.
By holding close the sacrifices of their fellow Soldiers and with the knowledge they’ve gathered over the past seven months, Company B will continue to work at what they do best: hunt insurgents, diminish their resources and help ordinary Iraqis take a stand against al-Qaida extremists.