Photo Information

As Marines in a Humvee from Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 2nd Marines provide security, Cpl. Vernon Place, of Yakima, Wash., a combat engineer with MEU Service Support Group 22, sweeps through an Iraqi field looking for improvised explosive device-making materials and weapons caches, Jan. 10, 2006. BLT 1/2 and MSSG-22 are both assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), which is conducting counterinsurgency operations in Iraq's Al Anbar province with the 2nd Marine Division.

Photo by Cpl. Christopher S. Vega

MSSG-22 engineers detect, destroy insurgents’ weapons

20 Jan 2006 | Cpl. Christopher S. Vega

Marines of the MEU Service Support Group 22's Engineer Platoon are helping to defang insurgents' efforts by locating and destroying their weapons in Iraq’s Al Anbar province, one cache at a time.

The engineers recently assisted the Iraqi Army and U.S. Marines with Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) in a sweep of a remote area suspected of insurgent activity.

As soldiers from 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division and BLT 1/2’s Company A provided security, the combat engineers swept the area with metal detectors and detailed visual searches, which led to the discovery of a weapons cache located on the bank of the Euphrates River.

“So far we have had a lot of success finding small arms caches,” said Sgt. Michael Hammond, of Frankford, Ill., the squad leader of the combat engineers assigned to MSSG-22’s Engineer Platoon.  “It’s definitely rewarding to all of us when we help find these weapons.”

Consisting of several fully-loaded AK-47 assault rifles, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher with grenades, a submachine gun, and bomb making components, this find is the latest in a string uncovered by Hammond and his Marines.

By some standards, the cache may have been small, but the excitement of the discovery and the impact it has on potential insurgent operations did little to diminish the engineers’ sense of accomplishment.

“Any find for us is a good find and benefits everyone – the Marines as well as the Iraqi soldiers and citizens,” Hammond added. “We are taking the weapons out of the insurgents’ hands one weapon at a time, one day at a time.”

“I think we are doing an extremely important job here,” said Cpl. Joseph Crowell, of Alpena, Mich., another MSSG-22 combat engineer.  “Every time we find a cache, I consider it one more Marine I’m helping get home safely, because each round we find might have someone’s name on it.”

In addition to MEU Service Support Group 22 and Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, the 22nd MEU (SOC) consists of its Command Element and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced).  The MEU is conducting counterinsurgency operations with an Iraqi Infantry battalion in Iraq’s Al Anbar province under the tactical control of the 2nd Marine Division.

For more information on the 22nd MEU (SOC)’s role in Operation Iraqi Freedom, visit the unit’s web site at
22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit