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24th MEU (SOC) ROWPU site is scene of action and good deed

6 Apr 2003 | Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

April 5 started out as a typical day for the Marines from MEU Service Support Group 24, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) working at the Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit site.

The water purification Marines were making enough water to support the entire MEU, which is currently conducting ground combat operations in support of the push on Baghdad.

The site security team was in position and conducting business as usual, when Cpl. Brian Murray, military policeman, MSSG-24, 24th MEU (SOC) and Jacksonville, Fla. native, noticed a vehicle approaching the water site.

"The MP (Murray) called out 'vehicle approaching' and I moved up with him," said Cpl. Regan David, cook and security team member, MSSG-24, 24th MEU (SOC) and Orlando, Fla. native. "No civilian vehicles are supposed to use this road so everyone (took position at) the berm and got ready."

"After the vehicle made the turn and started heading towards us, Cpl. Murray signaled for the vehicle to stop," said Cpl. Randy Isaacson, combat engineer and M-240G gunner on the security team, MSSG-24, 24th MEU (SOC) and Rochester, Wash. native. "But the driver kept coming, so everyone was signaling and yelling for the it to halt, but it just kept coming."

"Once I saw that it wasn't going to stop, I told the (military policeman) that when he got to a certain distance I was going to shoot," said David. "He came closer so I fired one shot and hit the vehicle's radiator."

"Once Cpl. David fired the shot, I had my finger on the trigger ready to (fire) my 240, but I waited just one second to just see what would happen, and the guy suddenly jumped out of his vehicle and had a white flag in his hand and started saying 'no Sadam, no Sadam'," said Isaacson.

"When he came out of the vehicle we approached him and told him to get on the ground," said David. "Then we searched him and his vehicle and both were clean, so we walked him into the ROWPU area and waved down an approaching convoy."

The convoy then radioed back to the main camp and informed them of the situation. About half an hour later one of the translators spoke to him and found out that the reason he didn't want to stop, was because at the Iraqi checkpoints, the soldiers pull people of the their cars, beat them and take whatever they want from them, said David.

"It turns out that the guy lives not too far from the ROWPU site and was on his way home from work," said Isaacson. "He was just afraid to stop."

When news that a shot was fired from the ROWPU site hit the main camp, a reactionary force was sent to the site to see what was happening. It just so happened that the reactionary force was from the MSSG's maintenance section.

We went out there as the reaction force," said Sgt. Brian C. Bessett, motor transport mechanic, MSSG-24, 24th MEU (SOC) and New Smyrna Beach, Fla. native. "When they decided to let him go me and (CWO3 Christopher Hedgcorth, maintenance officer, MSSG-24, 24th MEU (SOC) and Portsmouth, R.I. native.) helped him patch up the radiator."

"Basically all we did was give him a temporary fix, but through the translator we also gave him directions on how to fix the problem permanently," said Bessett. "He seemed happy that we helped him out. I am sure he was glad he didn't have to walk home."

"From what it looked like, that car was probably the only thing that guy really had," said Isaacson. "I'm sure he appreciated the help."