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Thursday, June 14, 2007

First LAR always on watch, even in enemy’s nightmares

11 Jun 07
By Cpl. Ryan C. Heiser
2nd Marine Division

RAWAH, Iraq - There is an old saying, ‘All that is needed for evil to win, is for good men to stand by and do nothing.’ Marines like Lance Cpl. Marco N. Garces and Cpl. Diego A. Romero, like the rest of their battalion, refuse to stand by and do nothing.

Garces and Romero, scouts with Company D, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 2, were part of a patrol early on the morning of May 27, 2007, in the city of Rawah, Iraq, which overlooks the Euphrates River.

“Our patrols maintain our presence, especially at night,” said Garces, a native of Corpus Christie, Texas. “It lets the citizens know that we don’t slack off, and we are still out there doing our job, protecting them.”

A half moon shined down on the empty streets as the patrol made its way out of the company’s headquarters. Their footsteps echoed in the silence as each man used his flashlight to peer into dark corners and down empty alleyways.

“It would be so easy for the enemy to plant IEDs (improvised explosive devices) if we didn’t patrol at night. There would be a lot more mischief, and it would give the enemy a great chance to smuggle things into the city,” said Garces.

The Marines said the night patrols are essential to maintaining the city’s safety, and preventing injuries and even death.

“Night-time is the only time when we can’t visibly see the entire city, so it is important we make sure to eliminate any blind spots by sending out patrols to canvass the area, no matter what time it is,” said Romero, a native of San Antonio.

Romero said he would hate to see the devastation that would await the company if they didn’t send out patrols one evening.

“It would suck for whoever had the first patrol the next morning,” said Romero. “There would be casualties and a lot of dead Marines. Not just us either, the locals would get torn apart. The bad guys don’t care who they hurt, and the civilians rely on us to make sure stuff like that doesn’t happen.”

The duo said the patrols also have an affect on their brother Marines.

“It gives a peace of mind. We know we always have guys out there, so we are safe. As long as someone is always watching, there is a much lower chance of anyone getting hurt,” Romero said.

“I don’t know if anyone would sleep if we didn’t go out at night. Nobody can plant an ambush or an attack if you’re always there, always watching,” Garces said.

The patrols aren’t just the Marines’ responsibility; they also get the local Iraqi Police, or IPs, involved in the nocturnal activities.

“It’s a relief that we take the IPs with us,” said Garces. “It’s good for the locals to see their own guys watching out for them. It has to make them feel better to know that we aren’t the only ones keeping them safe, their own brothers and countrymen are looking after them too.”

The Marines said the night duty just comes natural, and they couldn’t imagine going any length of time without someone in the city, ‘watching their backs.’

“Evil never sleeps, the enemy never sleeps, why should we? I hope he does sleep though and dreams about us, standing outside his door, listening to him breathe. We are always out there, and he knows it. We’re even in his nightmares,” Romero said.

Photo - Lance Cpl. Steven R. Greene, a scout with Company D, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 2, uses his flashlight to peer into a dark corner while on a night patrol. The Marines say they patrol at night in order to maintain a constant presence throughout the city.

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