2/5 news bits
CAMP SNAKE PIT, Iraq (Oct. 21, 2004) - By Lance Cpl. Graham Paulsgrove, 1st Marine Division - While completing their mission to provide Iraq with a safe and secure future, two more Marines were lost.
A memorial service was held Oct. 16 in honor of 2nd Lt. Paul Mike Felsberg, platoon commander and Lance Cpl. Victor A. Gonzalez, rifleman, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.
While engaged with Anti Iraq Forces Oct. 13, the two men died.
"These were brave men who served their country," said Lt. Col. Randy P. Newman, commanding officer, 2/5. "They remained forever faithful to their country and Corps."
Felsberg, 27, a native of Boynton Beach, Fla., was a prior enlisted Marine known for his excellent leadership, honesty and love for his Marines and the Marine Corps.
"Serving on both sides of the tracks made him a good leader," said Sgt. Erik Pacheco, squad leader, Company E, 2/5. "He led from the front. If he had it his way, he would go before his men. He was a great man and an even better Marine."
Felsberg was remembered as more than just a good leader.
"Most of you knew him as lieutenant, I knew him as Mike," said 2nd Lt. Nathan Kurland, platoon commander, Company E, 2/5. "He was a fellow Marine, my roommate and a good friend. The times I spent with him at work or play will not be forgotten."
Gonzalez, 19, a native of Watsonville, Calif., was known through the company for his humor and for being an outstanding Marine.
"He was a special Marine and a special man," said 2nd Lt. Patrick Lavoie, platoon commander, Company E, 2/5. "No matter how hard you tried or how miserable the conditions were, you could never wipe the smile off his face."
Everyone recognized his love for the Marine Corps and his fellow leathernecks.
"He was a great Marine and a great man," said Pfc. Tom Moran, rifleman, Company E, 2/5. "He had a positive influence on many Marines and would always make you laugh. Even if he had the worst day, he always had a smile on his face. I was honored to fight by his side. He is definitely a hero."
Despite Company E's losses, their will to fight has only been strengthened.
"We must now carry on with our mission to completion, to pay honor to them, as warriors and as men," said Newman.
Committed to their fallen friends and brothers in arms, the Marines of Company E continue to push forward.
"I want the lieutenant to know that we will keep striving to get the mission completed," said Pacheco. "Bye Sir."
AR RAMADI, Iraq (Sept. 24, 2004) - By Lance Cpl. Graham Paulsgrove, 1st Marine Division - They were armed, armored and ready when they showed up at a local pool hall in downtown Ar Ramadi. The man at the door happily let them in to look around. He understood what the Marines were after.
The Marines from 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, went into the heart of Ar Ramadi Sept. 24 to search door to door for Anti-Iraqi Forces, illegal weapons caches and equipment. Their intent was to disrupt insurgent activity in the area.
"The purpose of the mission was to disrupt the ability of the Anti-Iraqi Forces by seizing their material, interrupting their command and control and interrupting their operations over all," said Lt. Col. Randy Newman, 41, commanding officer, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.
The battalion did just that. Materials for the construction and detonation of improvised explosive devices, anti-coalition propaganda, weapons and various communication devices were seized during the raid.
"While no significant insurgent leaders were found during this operation, we interrupted the AIF's abilities to fight in Ramadi," said Newman, a native of Economy, Ind. "We have impaired their command and control, and interrupted their communication."
The mission also showed the people of Ramadi that the Marine Corps is in full force, working towards a common goal of decreasing the terrorist threat.
"This mission showed our presence," said Gunnery Sgt. Patrick M. Tracey, 37, a Pittston, Pa., native and company gunnery sergeant for Company F, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. "The Iraqis are good people and they are pushing for the same goals we are. We want them to know that if they tell us where the bad guys are, 2/5 will do something about it."
Some Marines feel that media reports coming out of Ramadi do not accurately portray the level of commitment the Marines have toward protecting the citizens of the city.
"Some newspapers are saying that we have surrendered Ramadi to the insurgents, but that is false," said Newman. "So if nothing else, we showed the people of Ramadi that we are willing to go into the heart of the city whenever we want. We are not going to let the insurgents terrorize Ramadi's citizens."
The Marines of 2/5 completed the mission but not without coming across hostile insurgents.
"It is important that the citizens of Ramadi know that we are out there in an attempt to separate the good men from the bad men," said Newman. "(The bad men) will not find safe haven in downtown Ramadi."
As the Marines of Company F fought to separate the good from the bad, one of their brother's in arms lost his life.
"We had a road locked down and as we were driving away I heard 'Tap-tap-tap' behind me. A transformer went down and then all hell broke loose," said Sgt. Daniel I. Lebron, 24, a native of Long Island, N.Y., and a rifleman with Company F, 2/5. "I jumped out of my vehicle and engaged a target downrange."
The Marines managed to repel the enemy's attack and continue on, but the loss of a fellow warrior would not go unnoticed.
"Our Doc, dodging rounds, got to him in less than a minute but he was already dead," said Tracey. "It is hard to say it was a successful mission when you lose a Marine."
With their mission complete, the Marines and Sailors headed back to camp, dismounted their vehicles and removed the heavy flak jackets they had worn for the past eight hours. The AIF activity had been thwarted for the time being.
"If they come back, we are committed to fighting them and providing a safe city for the people of Iraq," said Tracey.
COMBAT OUTPOST, Iraq (Sep. 24, 2004) - By Lance Cpl. Graham Paulsgrove, 1st Marine Division - Though his life is over, his legacy and spirit live on.
The Marines and Sailors of 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, gathered at Combat Outpost to pay their final respects to their fallen comrade, Pfc. Timothy Shane Folmar, a rifleman with Company F.
During a patrol through downtown Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 24, Folmar was hit by enemy fire during an engagement with hostile insurgents.
"We come here to seek closure and try to understand why a friend, a fellow human being has been lost," said Lt. Col. Randy Newman, commanding officer, 2/5. "We try to understand and respect the fact that he was dedicated to his duties, executed them as a Marine flawlessly and paid the ultimate sacrifice because he understood his call to duty here in Iraq."
Folmar, a Senora, Texas, native, was known through his platoon for his sense of humor work ethic and always striving to improve himself.
"Shane was a good friend, with a great personality," said Lance Cpl. Jose Osornia, a rifleman with Company F, 2/5. "He would never complain and he could always make you laugh. His platoon and company will miss him."
While Folmar's peers recalled the man, his commander remembers the Marine.
"He never complained, he never fell out and he never quit," said 2nd Lt. Robert Jones, a platoon commander with Company F, 2/5. "He never wanted to let anyone down, that was the type of Marine he was."
Folmar was killed doing his duty by advancing and engaging the enemy, and he will be remembered as a true warrior.
"When he died, this Marine was taking the fight to the enemy," said Cpl. Widener, a squad leader with Company F, 2/5. "He would never let up, he would never quit, he was a true spirited warrior. We will continue the best we can, but it will be hard to fill his place. He will be deeply missed by me, his squad and platoon."
Although he is gone, Folmar will live in hearts and minds of his brothers in arms.
"I am sure he is watching over us now, protecting us. He is gone but not forgotten," said Capt. Edward Rapisarda, company commander, Company F, 2/5. "Semper Fi, Shane Folmar."
CAMP HURRICANE POINT, Iraq (Oct. 26, 2004) - By Lance Cpl. Graham Paulsgrove, 1st Marine Division - The Marines and Sailors of 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, gathered here Oct. 24 to pay their final respects to their fallen brother in arms, Sgt. Doug Bascom.
Bascom, 25, a platoon sergeant with Weapons Company, 2/5, was killed while engaged with insurgents Oct. 20 in downtown Ramadi.
"We are here to honor a man who always did everything he could," said Lt. Col. Randy Newman, commanding officer, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.
Bascom was a member of the Individual Ready Reserves out of Colorado Springs, Colo. He was mobilized and assigned to 2/5.
"Sgt. Bascom came here as a combat replacement," said Newman. "He was dedicated to his duties, executed them as a Marine flawlessly and paid the ultimate sacrifice because he understood his call to duty here in Iraq."
Bascom was known through the company as a dedicated, caring and great man.
"As soon as Sgt. Bascom joined Weapons Company, he was an integral part of our unit," said Capt. Patrick Rapicault, commanding officer, Weapons Company, 2/5. "He cared about his Marines, was dedicated to our corps, always led by example and his positive attitude will always keep us motivated."
Marines under his care looked up to him as a leader and as an extension of their own family.
"With Sgt. Bascom, I finally had an older brother," said Lance Cpl. Brent Hauk, a rifleman with Weapons Company, 2/5. "He took care of me, took blame for me and watched out for me. He did everything an older brother is supposed to do, not because he had to, but because he wanted to."
"He volunteered to come out here," said 1st Lt. Phillip Sprincin, a platoon commander with Weapons Company, 2/5. "He chose to be a part of the solution, not to stand on the sidelines and watch."
Additionally, Bascom was known for being a good friend and loving his job.
"The morning before he left us, I watched him run back and forth from the hooch to his humvee, getting ready to go out, smiling the whole time," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory McFarland, a corpsman with Weapons Company, 2/5. "He was smiling because he was going out the gate. I will always have his smile and his friendship."
Although he is gone, Bascom will be remembered for a long time to come by those who served alongside him.
"He will always be with us," said Sprincin.
CAMP HURRICANE POINT, Iraq (Sept. 29, 2004) - By Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Garcia, 1st Marine Division - Whether riding down the streets of Iraq positioned behind a 50-caliber machine gun turret or in the back of an armored vehicle, they look like any other rifleman in the Marine Corps.
But these Marines aren't riflemen, they're mortar men with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. Normally, they are an independent group of Marines with the capability of unleashing the destructive power of 81mm mortars on the enemy from a distant position. In Iraq, they will ride and fight alongside their fellow Marines on the ground.
"Every person in those vehicles is doing something completely different from what they are used to," said1st Lt. Paul Callahan, 31, native of Trout Run, Pa., and former 81mm mortar platoon commander for 2/5. "Our 81mm mortar platoon was split in half and integrated into combined arms anti-tank platoons. Basically we are operating as mobile assault platoons."
When the mortar men got the order assigning them to heavy machine guns, these Marines cancelled their scheduled training with mortars and started training to operate machine guns and handle various other tasks.
"What we did for six weeks was train the mortar men as vehicle commanders, machine gunners, drivers and radio operators so we could operate as a movable force for escort missions, raids, cordon and searches and whatever might be tasked," said Callahan. "Some of these drivers didn't even have a drivers license, so the first time they've really driven is here in country in combat."
By taking on these new roles, the mortar men would be able to reduce the amount of damage that mortars are known for causing.
"The mortars were set aside to reduce the amount of collateral damage," said Sgt. Aaron Cadorette, 29, a platoon sergeant with Weapons Company. "Mortars have a large kill radius. It is overkill. This type of environment doesn't call for it. This way, we are on the ground and in the streets were we need to be."
Although there currently isn't a need for the mortars, Cadorette and his fellow mortar men haven't put them out of their minds.
"They are on standby though," said Cadorette, a native of Twining, Mich. "We have them here with us. If they said get them, we can easily break them out."
Although mortars aren't being utilized, Weapons Company has many tasks for their Marines to handle while in Iraq. Currently, Weapons Company is the quick reaction force for the battalion. Within the company, mortar men can be called on to provide escorts, assist in raids, sweep roadsides for improvised explosive devices, conduct cordon and searches and be the quick reaction force at the company level.
"The strength of the Marine Corps is the Marine's ability to adapt and overcome," said Callahan. "These Marines are no exception. They 're just as strong and reliable as any Marine before them."
And like many of the Marines before them, these mortar men hope to make a difference.
"It would be nice to be able to see that progress was being made, to see some changes or at least know progress has been made when we are finished," said Cadorette.
But before they go home, Cadorette hopes to eliminate as many insurgent fighters as possible in their area and do it with out losing any Marines.
"The Marines are doing an outstanding job," said Callahan. "They have been in a few firefights already and they conducted themselves brilliantly, putting down accurate suppressive fire and killing the enemy when they needed to, but also showing restraint when the situation dictated."
With the mortar men's new knowledge they only become more effective and efficient Marines.
"Part of being with Weapons Company means being a jack of all trades," said Lance Cpl. Edmond Parent, 22, a native of Berlinton, Vt., and a mortar man with Weapons Company. "I can jump behind anything in our arsenal and effectively deploy it or teach it."
2/5 Fallujah 2007
The motions come to me now without much thought: flack jacket buttoned up, helmet and goggles strapped and on, gloves on, magazine in, pistol locked and loaded. I climb into the HUMMER knowing what I have to do to be safe and leave the firm base. Today I am riding outside the wire into the city of Fallujah with the Marines of 2nd Battalion 5th Marines. This mission is a little different as I have my Commanding Officer (CO) with me, from Quantico, he is also in country serving in the Joint History office in Baghdad. He has come out west to see me and spend some time with the Marines in the field. Something deep inside of all Marines will have them march towards the sound of the guns and battle, I cannot explain it, but I sense that is what has brought the Colonel out West and his visit to me. It is good to see him and brings back a face I know from Quantico, as so far I have been by myself in Iraq making friends as I go. I did not come out here with a unit or people I trained with, I came alone, and I welcome a familiar face.
When I mentioned to people before I left the States that I would be based in Camp Fallujah their eyes grew wide and they looked at me as if I were a man headed to a death sentence, or that perhaps I had completely lost my mind as I volunteered to go. No doubt this city has a reputation as a killing ground and has seen its share of bloodshed, men going above and beyond and often giving the final full measure with their lives. Their blood and souls are a part of this city; Fallujah will long be remembered in Marine Corps history, for the valor of men who found something deep inside of them here and for those who did not go home.
We ride out in a six vehicle convoy along with the Commanding Officer of 2/5, a tall man of quiet professionalism, dedicated to his craft and his Marines. Today's journey we will visit various out posts within the city and stop at two Iraqi police stations. I watch as the CO meets with his Marines at the various stops and quietly talks with them, a shepherd of sorts tending to his flock, keeping their spirits up and letting them know what a great job they are doing. At one stop I watch a squad of Marines coming in off a patrol in the city, drenched in sweat, tired and hungry, the CO asks how they are doing and they respond with "Great sir". Some of these young men are not even 20 yet. Looking for America's best?...follow me and I will show them to you.
Riding from post to post I cannot help but notice the children who come out and watch as we drive by. They wave and smile, their parents look on quietly with little emotion in their face. I cannot help but think they have seen too much in such a short time. I think of my own daughter and how lucky we are in the United States as I force a smile and wave to the to the children of this war torn city.
Changes are taking place here similar to those I reported in Ramadi, in fact the Battalion is operating in the same way with Marines out in the city with some changes to adapt to the Fallujah specific issues. But this is not the same city my friend and fellow Field Historian Maj Joe Winslow covered back during operation "Al Fajr" in 2004 when the Marines went street by street sweeping north to south several times with tremendous fighting in this urban environment. Today things are moving forward in a positive sense, a sign that lives taken here were not in vain.
After spending 7 hours in the city one cannot come away without acknowledging progress is being made, but are we getting closer to closure out here in the western badlands? Looking at Ramadi and Fallujah, I am encouraged to believe so, but time will tell.
The Colonel and I compare notes when we get back and share our thoughts on the day's events. He wears a smile that only another Marine could understand. I am hot, tired and hungry, he asks how am I doing, and without hesitation I reply "Great sir", and smile quietly.
Two pictures to this post: The first, the hope for the future of this country, the children. the second, a reminder that this is still a war zone with a dismounted patrol screening for the leading edge of the convoy I was riding in.
Posted by Mike Sears on Friday, June 29, 2007