24th MEU's Army MPs capture weapons, suspected insurgents

11 Aug 2004 | Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon

After seeing a supply convoy ambushed early Wednesday, soldiers from the 118th Military Police Company (Airborne), working alongside the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, captured three suspected insurgents and recovered 11 weapons with ammunition.

The find came after the MPs, based at Fort Bragg, N.C., saw the convoy get hit while traveling south on Main Supply Route Tampa at about 1 a.m.

The MPs were positioned to the rear of the convoy behind a Marine patrol. When the convoy took fire, both the convoy and the Marines returned fire in the direction of the ambush. Once the fire ceased, the MPs pulled up next to the Marines and told them they were going to search the area from where the ambush had come.

"We drove around the ambush site for about half an hour," said Army Staff Sgt. Adam Shaw, 27, a Bangor, Maine, native and military policeman. "Then we spotted three or four guys in between two buildings. When they saw us, they started running."

The MPs quickly secured the two buildings and began sweeping and searching the area. During their search they found the weapons outside one of the buildings.

The weapons found consisted of three rocket propelled grenade launchers along with five rockets; 4 AK-47 assault rifles with more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, one RPK light machine gun; and three other machine guns.

After finding the weapons, they were put in a central location and the soldiers continued their sweep of the area.

Army Sgt. Domenic Lombardi, 22, of Torrington, Ct., led a team of two other soldiers and swept the area from west to east. During his sweep he found two of the three captured individuals.

"[Those guys] were hiding pretty well," said Lombardi. "They had their backs pressed up against the canal with long grass over the top of them."

Pressing further into the canal, the team found the third individual. All three detainees were brought back to the FOB for processing.

"This was a good find," said Shaw.

"There have been a lot of ambushes in the area between checkpoints ... over the last few weeks," added Lombardi. "I think we put a big dent in their operations."

The team agreed.

"It felt pretty good," said Lombardi. "We worked well together and just paid attention to detail. There are numerous canals in that area, so finding three personnel was really fortunate."