From the CO's Desk...
Dear Members of the America's Battalion Family,
It's difficult believe that it has been two months since our last Battalion Newsletter. May and June flew by as "America's Battalion" was fully engaged in combat operations in the Western Euphrates River Valley of AI Anbar Province, Iraq.
Your Marines and Sailors have become increasingly effective at identifying and taking insurgents and local terrorist operatives out of the community. Make no mistake, despite significant constraints and a very difficult environment, your Marines and Sailors are causing far more damage to the terrorists than the terrorists are able to cause us. We continue in our efforts to build relationships and trust with the local population and we are beginning to reap the benefits. On multiple occasions now we have avoided improvised explosive devices and other forms of ambush because the local population has informed us of the danger. Establishing an effective intelligence network that provides us with early warning of pending attacks and gives us the information needed to drive our own detention and ambush operations has been hard work and the Battalion has done it very well.
Concurrently, we have done much to advance the Iraqi Security forces. The soldiers of the 2d Battalion, 2d Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division are significantly more proficient than they were three months ago, and they are increasingly capable of conducting counter-insurgency and security operations independently. Task force 3/3 has also made progress in growing and training a police force in the Jubbah and Baghdadi area, and we are exploring options for creating a similar force in Haditha itself. We are confident that when the "Island Warriors'" of 2d Battalion, 3d Marines arrive in September, they will find a much improved security situation in the Triad.
Throughout a series of intense operations, your Marines and Sailors have continued to conduct themselves with utmost restraint and unprecedented professionalism. They recognize the strategic implications of their individual actions and they refuse to stoop to the immoral methods of our adversary. They are doing what our country has called upon them to do and they are doing it exceedingly well. I am honored to serve with them and I am awed by their selflessness and their dedication to our Nation and to one another.
As America celebrates its 230th birthday this July 4TH, I am reminded that freedom comes at a tremendous cost. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Sergeant Christoff, Corporal Estrella and Lance Corporals Yearby, Marin Dominguez, Luesink and Conboy. These Marines lost their lives here in Iraq since our last newsletter. Please remember them as you celebrate America's freedom, for they paid the ultimate price that all Americans may enjoy the blessings of liberty. They took the fight to the terrorists so that the terrorists could not bring it to the United States, and we are committed to seeing their work through.
Please continue to stay in close contact with your loved one through letters and any other means available. Your love and support are, without question, the most important contributors to your Marine or Sailor's morale. They give him the winning edge. Also, please know how deeply appreciative I am to all of you for the sacrifices I know you are making to enable your loved one to deploy and fight.
May God bless and be with you.
United States Marine Corps
Aloha to the families an d friends of Headquarters and Service Company,
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Corporal Michael A. Estrella's family and friends. Corporal Estrella, a Communications Platoon Marine attached to India Company, gave his life while serving his country on June 14, 2008. His brothers here in Iraq will miss him and will honor his sacrifice as we boldly continue the fight against the Anti-Iraqi Forces and train the Iraqi Army. His photograph and biography can be viewed by accessing the "3/3 Fallen Marines, OIF'" link. June continued to be a busy and productive month for Heart and Soul Company.
Marines from S-1, the adjutant Section, ensured that the nearly 2000 personnel that make up our task force received all the packages and mail our loved ones continue to send us were delivered in a timely fashion. They also continued to track the multitude of personnel that move from place to place on a daily basis, our casualties, and submitted awards. Our Battalion Chaplain made it a point to visit all the firm bases to talk to our men and conduct services. Our Battalion Judge Advocate General (JAG) advised the battalion leadership on legal issues, ensured required investigations were completed thoroughly and in timely manner, and taught various classes including "Law of Armed Conflict" and "Rules of Engagement." Our Career Planner began the reenlistment process for the Marines and ensured all required interviews were completed.
Our S-2 (Intelligence) Marines analyzed information from various sources to generate assessments and focus the battalion fight. These men also provided feedback on specific individuals the battalion would encounter during patrols, generated needed maps, managed the interpreters sourced throughout the battalion, directed intelligence surveillance, and managed reporters and our own combat reporting.
Our Operations Section (S-3) continued to provide command and control for our challenging mission while balancing our required tasks with our finite forces and resources. The section takes a combined arms approach by guiding our forces on the ground (maneuver), our fires (both mortars and information operations), our aviation assets, and applying all our technological assets. Our Jump Platoon falls under this section. They continued to provide security for the battalion commander and his staff as they moved around the battalion's area of operation and took on additional maneuver element type missions.
Our Logistics (S-4) Marines worked hard to ensure that our companies were well supported from ensuring the readiness of the equipment that provides our men protection to ensuring that enough air conditioners and refrigerators were sent to the firm bases in order to coo1 our men down when they return from missions. The motor transport section successfully ensured that well over ninety percent of the hundreds of vehicles our task force uses remained operational. Our armorer section has amazingly been able to fix hundreds of weapons and optics on the spot, no matter what time of day or night patrols came in with problems. The supply section continued to acquire gear needed by our men, provided oversight of the multitude of contracts required to run all our firm bases, and continued to ensure the accountability of the millions of dollars of gear we use throughout our battles space. Our dining facility section continued to provide oversight of food preparation here at Haditha Dam and the firm bases, finding imaginative ways to keep our men pleased and their stomachs full.
Communications (S-8) Platoon significantly improved radio, phone, and data communication between the Battalion headquarters at Haditha Dam and Weapons Company in Baghdadi - the furthest company firm base. The men from this platoon are responsible for far more gear than a typical battalion as well as gear that they had to learn how to operate through on-the-job training. They have been constantly working to fix and improve our ability to communicate.
Our Truck Platoon attachment that provides the leadership and operators of our combat logistic trains conducted a dozen re-supply missions in June successfully. They have been working constantly in getting much needed supplies to all our firm bases. In addition to this, they supported a battalion operation in Dulab providing supplies and a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) ability to the force on the ground.
Our Battalion Aid Station fortunately was not too busy with anything serious here at the dam. The Sailors here at the dam mainly focused on routine sick call issues and conducted training in order to ensure their readiness. The Corpsmen at the firm bases did provide the needed first aid to our men with battle injuries ensuring that their were addressed immediately. Happy Birthday to our Corpsmen as the Hospital Corps celebrated its 108th birthday this month.
Our Guard Force Platoon proved, once again, that every Marine is a rifleman and reinforced that our company is the heart and soul of the battalion. The EOD security squad (Freelance) continued to spend more time on the road than any unit at the battalion providing security for the Explosive Ordnance Team to deal with Improvised Explosive Devices (lED) that our combat patrols found. They have responded to five and six calls in one day in order to ensure the safety of the patrols. The other two squads from guard force provided security for Combat Logistic Trains and the Temporary Holding Area (THA). Both groups were extremely busy with the dozen Combat Logistic Trains missions and the multitude of detainees that the companies bring back to the dam. Along with providing security, the THA Security squad also assured that the detainees were treated professionally and with dignity.
Mobile Assault Platoon Three participated in multiple missions. They provided over watch at check points, which have been effective in disrupting the enemy's activities. They discovered a rather large IED while they were on one of these check points, potentially saving many lives. They conducted Counter Insurgency Operations in Haditha Dam village and across the Battalion Area of Operations when they were detached to support two battalion and company operations in Dulab and Barwana. They conducted raids, cordon and searches, cache sweeps, civil affair missions, and multiple patrols. Under their new leadership, Second Lieutenant John G. Kennedy, the platoon has truly come together.
On top of all this, the men of Headquarters and Service Company continued to stand several posts ensuring the internal security of the dam. They have maintained the cleanliness of the 40-acre Haditha Dam as we hosted three separate distinguished visitors and the Pre-Deployment Site Survey from our sister battalion, 2/3. It has been truly amazing to see how versatile our Marines and Sailors can be and how responsive they are to support the rest of the battalion's needs.
The men remain focused on completing their mission. I recognize they are able to stay focused because of all the love and support they are receiving back home. I understand how challenging it can be to have your husbands, fiancés, sons, fathers, friends, and loved ones so far away for a long period of time. However, the fact that you have been able to deal with all the daily trials and tribulations back home and keep the men here focused on their job is truly a combat multiplier. Having these Marines and Sailors able to focus on their job saws lives. We could not do it without you, and for that I am truly appreciative. I am also very thankful for all the individuals, groups, and organizations that do not know us personally but support us with prayers, emails, and care packages. So many have come in, that I am certain makes it challenging for all our men to acknowledge it immediately. Know that we are all indebted and forever grateful.
Congratulations are due to the following Marines who were promoted in June:
Corporals Craft, Flores, Lloyd, Nazzaro, and Tinajero;
as well as HM1 Broomes who was frocked this month.
Capt Nick Nuzzo
H&S Company, 3/3
Hello to all the members of the India Company family from Haditha,
We have crested the mid-point of our deployment in Iraq, and while it may not seem so to all of you back in the States, for your Marines here in country the time is passing very rapidly. The Marines are staying focused on the myriad of tasks we must accomplish, and this helps to keep the days flying by. As Marines, it is part of our nature to use half-way points as a time to reflect on the time gone by and the days that lie ahead. It is a time to remember the battles we have fought, a time to take stock of our accomplishments, a time to renew the bonds of brotherhood that have kept us together, and a time to sharpen our swords in preparation for the unfinished business at hand.
Over the last three and a half months, your Marines have matured in a way that is almost imperceptible when observed day to day, but is striking when viewed from a wider perspective. Every Marine in the company, almost to a man, has become wiser, more responsible, more appreciative of simple creature comforts, and infinitely more aware of blessings once taken for granted. It is a true test of a man's character to operate in this environment for several months. One can react to this environment in one of two ways: he can either let himself be overwhelmed by the complexities, frustrations, and hardships; or he can embrace the challenges with a spirit of sacrifice and cooperation, and turn the hardships we face into an opportunity to better himself, to forge himself into a man of character, honor, and principles. Without question, the Marines of India Company have chosen the latter path. They have been tested in fire, honed to razor sharpness, and have reached their potential. They are their best selves, men who by sheer force of will and against their natural inclinations have molded themselves into the image to which they had aspired.
The difference between your Marines and our enemy is a case study in contrasts. As our enemy conducts wild, reckless attacks in crowded streets that seek to disrupt the peace and stability created by the mere presence of India Company Marines in Haditha, your Marines respond with calm resolve, careful identification of friend and foe, and precision fires. As the temperatures climb past a sweltering 130 degrees and swarms of gnats and flies gather around the faces and inside the helmets of India Company Marines, your Marines respond with quiet, businesslike professionalism, stoically enduring these and a thousand other maddening annoyances. As the enemy and the environment conspire against us with frustrations, pain, and aggravations to wear down and tear apart the bonds of brotherhood that keep us together, your Marines respond with a light-hearted
joke and a laugh, and this humor and camaraderie melts away the irritations of combat and tightens the ties that bind us together. When men of character are working together and selflessly looking out for one another, even in the face of great adversity, there is absolutely nothing that can stop them.
Please take solace in the fact that your sons, husbands, and brothers are never alone in this fight. They are surrounded by their brothers in arms twenty-four hours a day. They are lifted on the wings of prayers by thousands of people, many of whom they have never met, every second of everyday. They are sustained by memories and remembrances of times spent with all of you, their family, friends, and loved ones. Your Marines draw strength from each of you, and are depending on you every day. I am eternally' grateful for all of the undying support each and every one of you give the Marines of India Company.
In the spirit of remembrance, India Company bows our heads in sorrow at the recent loss of our brother, Corporal Michael A. Estrella, who paid the ultimate sacrifice during actions against the enemy on 14 June 2006. Corporal Estrella was the epitome of a selfless, dedicated, professional leader of Marines. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family' during this extremely' painful time, and we offer them our deepest sympathies and unyielding support. He was well-respected and loved by all Marines in the company, and all who knew him and were lucky enough to call him a friend feel truly blessed to have been touched by the life of this wonderful human being. Corporal Michael A. Estrella will be sorely missed, but he will never be forgotten. Semper Fidelis.
India Company would like to congratulate the following Marines and Sailors on their recent promotions:
Corporal Steven Depreaux
Sergeant Mikkel Boiser
Corporals Daniel Alfieri and Timothy Grajko
Lance Corporal's Joshua Stiglet, Steven Strain, Douglas Torres, and Daniel Wiesen Hospital Corpsmen First Class Reid Crocker and Yahahn Thompson
Hospital Corpsmen Third Class Yury Inochkin and Shawn Mikkola
Congratulations to Corporal Daniel Alfieri and his wife on the birth of their daughter, on 9 June 2006.
Capt Andy Lynch
India Company 3/3
Dear Families and Friends,
Greeting from Haqlaniyah, AI Anbar Province, Iraq. The Marines and Sailors of Kilo Company continue to pursue our nation's interests while conducting combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This month places us at our mid point in the deployment and allows us the opportunity to look back at our accomplishments since our arrival. The thought of returning home has not affected our mindset and we remain focused on the mission at hand.
The progress we have made since our arrival into country is truly amazing. At the individual level, the preparation end execution are at a quality that is well beyond even our best expectations. As our proficiency increases, we continue to develop new tactics, techniques, and procedures that assist us in completing a challenging mission set. Company level operations with our Iraqi Army counterpart and the support of the local populace are critical to our success. This also facilitates civil military operations such as, handing out school supplies at the local schools and reestablishing a medical clinic in Haqlaniyah. Operations like this allow the community to see us in a different light. This also cultivates support while facilitating the flow of information.
We continue to work with local government officials to seek applicants for an Iraqi Police force in our area of operations. The relationship of security and trust with the local community and the Marines and Sailors of Kilo Company has developed and we encounter many friendly faces while conducting security patrols. Although the heat increases daily, we are acclimated and continue to press with daily operations.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to our fallen comrades, fellow Marines and their families who are recovering from wounds received during operations. Please keep them in your thoughts.
Promotions for June:
HM 2 Jones, Sgt Kitgareanirootama, HM 2 Paez,
Cpl Bone, Cpl Gillland, Cpl Monsegue, Cpl Tyler (Combat Meritoriously),
LCpl Estremera, LCpl Mutchler, LCpl Standford, PFC Monroe
Promotions for July:
Sgt Gazzam, Cpl Galarza,
LCpl Garcia, LCpl Leopold, LCpl Polimeni Jr, LCpl Smith, LCpl Warren, LCpl Wehmeier
Awardees (Cerlificate of Commendation):
Cpl Dool, Cpl Tyler, and LCpl Gill
Joinng our family:
Despite our busy schedule we will continue to make every effort to keep our families informed on our progress throughout our deployment. We would like to thank all of our extended femilies, friends, sponsorrs, and sup'porters for their continued effort to help us accomplish our mission and maintain focus We would also encourage all of our family members to visit our company websiteat: http://www.mcbh.usmc.mil/3mar/3dbn/kilo.htm We are able to update this site monthly. We continue to receive mail, however, our connectivity for emsi1 is being addressted to allow us to email withour family and friends. The use of satellite phones at the Forwsrd Operating base (FOB) is moderate. Given our current configuration, you should expect to hear from your Marine or Sailor at least once every two weeks. Our continued thanks: go out to our Company Key Volunteer,, for continuing to keep our families informed. Mahalo! Semper Fidelis!
Capt Bred Kroll 1stSgt: Vincent Santiago
Company Commander Company First Sergeant
Kilo Company, 3/3
Dear Family and Friends of Lima Company,
During June the Marines of Lima Company, 3/3 passed the half-way point of their deployment to Barwanah, Iraq in support of Regimental Combat Team-7. The deployment has brought numerous challenges to the Marines and Sailors yet through it all we continue to be victorious in every endeavor. Our focus continues to be the training of the Iraqi Army, performing partnered counterinsurgency operations, and preparing the Iraqi Army to take over the independent security of the AI Anbar Province. Due to the hard work of the Marines and Sailors of Lima Company and the proud spirit of our Iraqi Army brethren that day may soon be a reality.
The Marines of Lima Company continue to take the fight to the enemy daily. The victories, large and small, are too numerous to name. To watch the young Marines of Force Lima it is easy to see that the legendary Marine fighting spirit is still alive and well. With older, more experienced Marines such as Gunnery Sergeant Roger Kraft kicking in doors and leading the charge as the Marines take the fight to the enemy, and Staff Sergeant Jeff Foss leading multiple Marine mobile assault sections and training the Iraqis in mounted infantry tactics, the wisdom of years of success is being passed to a younger generation of Marines and our allies. Non-Commissioned Officers such as Sergeant Kyle Feeney, Corporals Mark Wilson, Gary Soupier, and Chris Pena are leading everything from sniper teams and infantry squads on the ground to controlling fixed and rotary wing aircraft support to the preparation of the food we eat. The young Marines are a spirited group of warriors. They are enthusiastic, motivated, and bursting with Marine Corps pride. Marines like Lance Corporals Adam Kelikaapaua, John Wielke, Michael Richmond, and Corey Barrows inspire their leadership with their courage under fire, their efforts behind the scenes and the zeal in which they perform every mission. With Navy Corpsmen such as HA Michael Vigo and HN Leo Perez on duty, standing shoulder to shoulder with the Marines during every encounter, the Marines are in good hands.
As we look to the future we are involved in numerous civil affairs projects to include improvements at multiple water pump stations, purchase of 80 traffic signals, sewage system repairs, increased water purification capabilities, and repairs of several schools. These improvements will greatly enhance the quality of life for the local residents.
The Marines of "Force Lima"" are highly motivated, dedicated, and continue to act as true professionals in all endeavors. Along with our Iraqi brethren we are making a significant contribution to the peace, security, and future success of the region.
We would like to congratulate the following Marines who have earned promotions to their present rank in June:
Cpl Travis Bennett, Cpl Clay Hoover, Cpl Nathan Lego
LCpl Jeremiah Hubert, LCpl EloutTalballa
Capt Mike Hudson
Lima Company, 3/3
Family and Friends,
Once again I bid you greetings from Western Iraq.
Happy belated Father's Day to all of the fathers out there!
The Marines and Sailors of Weapons Company continue to maintain a high standard of professionalism as they conduct combat operations against a determined foe. The first three months of hard work and constant presence in the area have led to a dramatic decrease in the enemy's ability to influence the local populace and conduct disruption operations against Coalition Forces. Though we face a rapidly changing environment on a daily basis, the sturdy professionalism and dedication of the company's Marines and Sailors is achieving positive results against an enemy who would seek to do harm to both us and the local populous. Our area of responsibility has shown dramatic improvements since our arrival, with the local residents feeling safer now. This is evident as more civilians begin to talk openly with Coalition Forces and provide information on insurgent activities in the area.
Weapons Company continued to make significant progress in our Area of Responsibility during the month of June. We initiated a number of projects to improve the infrastructure. In doing so we established positive relationships with local civic leaders.
Though our mission here remains the same, Weapons Company's successes have been largely due to its interaction with the Iraqis, the Iraqi Army, the Baghdadi populace and the ensuing relationships established with all. We continue to make huge strides in human relations as we fight the War on Terror and bring those to justice who attempt to disenfranchise the people or undermine the government.
Happy Anniversary to the following Marines and their spouses: Staff Sergeant and Mrs. Veach, Sergeant and Mrs. Darnell, Corporal and Mrs. Mehlhoff, and Lance Corpora I and Mrs. Morel.
The following Marines were promoted to their present rank in June:
Corporals Brinker and Bennett
Lance Corporal Hubert.
Happy Birthday to the following: Sergeants Darnell and Kolniak, Corporals Chartier, Mercer, Felli, and Zehl, and Lance Corporals Dessaro and Norton.
To the family and friends of Weapons Company, 3D Battalion, 3D Marines, thank you for your continued overwhelming support. As always our focus remains on the mission at hand, but our prayers and thoughts are never far from our loved ones. At the time of this writing we are past the halfway point of this deployment, and that much closer to completing our mission and returning to you. On behalf of the Company...Mahalo.
Major Eric Kelly
Weapons Company, 3/3
Greetings to the Families and Friends of "America's Battalion",
The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the church at Corinth:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
He likens the discipline he exercised in his life of faith to the discipline of an athlete; an example that his audience could relate with. As a marathon runner, this passage resonates with me. I've run six marathons in my life and, let me tell you, they don't get easier. In order to finish well, I've got to train and exercise discipline prior to and during the 26.2 mile course. A life of faith requires the same tenacity and rigor; it requires focus and discipline. So allow me to encourage you today, set your sights on the goal and stay the course, the rewards far outweigh the cost!
Your Marines and Sailors of 3d Battalion, 3d Marines are in a marathon of their own. We've crested the mid-way point but we still have a significant portion of the race to run before we cross the finish line. I am confident they will remain focused and disciplined through the remainder of this deployment. They continue to do great work and this region is benefiting from their hard work and sacrifice.
America has celebrated her 230th birthday and with it, I am reminded of the price her sons and daughters have paid to secure the freedom that we all enjoy. Please take the time to thank a Veteran and continue to keep America's service members in your thoughts and prayers.
LT Paul Tremblay