Friday, November 9, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 9 Nov 2007

From MNF-I, Pale Horse Troop Finds Two Caches Buried in Soccer Stadium.

BAGHDAD — Soldiers from Troop P, 4th Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment (SCR), currently attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, found two weapons and explosives caches while on patrol in the Ramaniyah neighborhood, Nov. 5.

Buried under the bleachers of a soccer stadium in two locations, the Soldiers found (45) blocks of C-4 explosive, (33) mortars, almost (2000) rounds of ammunition, a rocket-propelled grenade and launcher, (2) sniper rifles, (2) protective vests and (1) grenade.

Capt. Marcus Melton, commander of ‘Pale Horse’ Troop of the Vilseck, Germany-based 4-2 SCR, said the cache find was quite uncommon for the area he and his men patrol on a regular basis.

“We've found random weapons during cordon and knocks, but never a bulk cache like this before," he said. "The area is checked often, and we're still trying to figure out how they got (the weapons and explosives) in there.”

The soccer stadium was checked just a few weeks ago, thus implying that the cache had been recently placed according to what Melton could tell from the last time his troops were there.

“This will definitely have an impact on whoever's operation this was,” Melton said. “Someone isn't very happy with us right now; that's for sure.”

Sgt. Chris Meyering from Rochester, N.Y, Spc. Danny Lee from Brooklyn and Staff Sgt. Elliott Davis from Lakewood, Wash., found the first cache buried under the bleachers after tamping the ground with a shovel. Meyering heard it hit something hollow-sounding and began to dig immediately.

“As soon as the shovel hit, I knew what it was,” he said. “I was pretty happy knowing that weapons were getting taken off the street.”

The first cache was the smaller of the two and was buried in a wooden box. After it was found, the troops began searching the stadium more thoroughly and came upon the second cache, which was slightly larger and buried in what looked like a chest freezer.

Melton said much of the mortar rounds and explosives found were in brand-new condition; still wrapped and in original containers with date stamps as recent as earlier this year.

Meyering, a combat engineer during the Gulf War, said the amount of explosives found could've been used to make “vicious” improvised explosive devices, even more powerful than ones made out of mortar rounds.

Melton said he was very proud of his troops and especially the three Soldiers who found the cache and dug it up. Meyering, Davis and Lee are expected to receive medals commending them for finding the weapons and taking them out of the hands of would-be terrorists.

“Regardless, medals or not, this takes weapons off the streets, and that means more to me,” Meyering said.