August 4, 2005
Memphis Marine Helping Hinder Iraqi Insurgents
by Cpl. Tom Sloan
AR RAMADI, Iraq (July 26, 2005) — Marines with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, including Lance Cpl. Joel M. Myers, a rifleman with 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, Company A, are seeing evidence of success in their fight against the Al Anbar capital’s insurgency by using Snap Vehicle Control Points.
By using the VCPs, which usually entail Marines hastily cordoning off a section of road and searching all vehicles and people within, Marines with the infantry battalion have captured a number of insurgents, according to Sgt. Fidel A. Alcoces, platoon sergeant, 2nd Platoon, Company A.
First Battalion, 5th Marines, operating in the city for the past five months conducting security and stabilization operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the VCPs are proving beneficial, said 29-year-old Alcoces from San Antonio, TX.
Alcoces and his Company A comrades recently captured a high value target using the procedure.
“We did a snap VCP last week and discovered a sniper rifle in the trunk of one of the cars we searched,” he said. “That was a huge catch for us.”
Alcoces said the driver of the vehicle was suspected of being a sniper and was taken to a detainee facility. Enemy snipers are responsible for the deaths of several Marines with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines.
The three-time OIF veteran’s infantry battalion conducted a battalion-wide operation July 25 in the city’s marketplace, which is usually heavily congested with traffic. The mission chiefly involved conducting a mass VCP. Two platoons of Iraqi Security Forces assisted the Marines in the undertaking.
The mission kicked off during the evening with Marines from Company W rolling into the marketplace with their armored Humvees and establishing a cordon.
After the Marines blocked off the streets’ exits to prevent people from fleeing they set off smoke grenades to give Company A Marines and ISF cover from snipers as they rushed in on foot.
Operating within the smoke screen, Lance Cpl. Michael S. Fisher, a squad automatic gunner with 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, and fellow “Alpha” Marines searched scores of vehicles and personnel.
“We’re looking for weapons and bomb making material,” said 21-year-old Fisher from Minneapolis. “You never know what you’re going to turn up when searching this many vehicles,” added the 2002 Armstrong High School graduate.
The Marines and ISF searched over 100 vehicles and twice as many personnel during the mission, which lasted approximately an hour.
“The searches went fast,” said 1st Squad Leader, Sgt. Thomas Evans, 24, from Fairfield, Calif. “The Marines did well and the ISF did, too.”
According to Alcoces, the operation sent an important message to the insurgents.
“We will stop at nothing and spare no expense or effort to catch them,” he said. “If the insurgents keep coming into town with weapons and bombs we’re going to catch them.”
Alcoces explained that insurgents might be using the marketplace as an area to swap weapons.
“We’ve seen them in the area before with the trunks of their cars open, and everyone was walking around,” he said. They shut everything down and left as soon as a Marine convoy approached. It’s a crowded location, but we’re willing to cordon off a whole block and search everything.”