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Santa Fe New Mexican Newspaper Archive: October 2, 2005 - Page 60

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Publication: Santa Fe New Mexican

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   New Mexican (Newspaper) - October 2, 2005, Santa Fe, New Mexico                                Last Insurgents have better Information Sunday October 2 2005 THE NEW MEXICAN H3H Continued from Page Hl In one video Lance Cpl Christo pher Dyer who graduated with hon ors last year from a Cincinnati area high school strums his guitar and does a mockheartfelt rendition of Puff the Magic Dragon as his friends laugh around him In a photo Kreuter rides a bicycle through a neighborhood swerving under the weight of body armor and weapons as Marines and Iraqis watch and chuckle Each video ends abruptly leav ing behind a blank screea Some are switched off as soon as they start some images just hurt too much to see right now Intense pace enormous area The August operation began like most of the squads missions with a rush into another lawless Iraqi city to hunt insurgents and do house tohouse searches sometimes for 12 hours in temperatures near 120 degrees On Aug 1 six Marine snipers had been ambushed and killed in Haditha one of a string of river cities that line the Euphrates filled with waving palm trees Two days later Marines in armored vehicles includ ing the 1st Squad rumbled into the area to look for the culprits Like other cities in this region Haditha has no Iraqi troops and its police force was destroyed earlier in the year by a wave of insurgent attacks Marines patrol roads on the perimeter and occasionally raid homes in the city which slopes along a quiet river valley Commanders say insurgents have challenged local tribes for control and claim Iraqs mostwanted terror ist Abu Musab alZarqawi once had a home here Since their arrival in February the Marines had spent nearly all their time on such sweeps or preparing for them sometimes hurrying back to their base to grab fresh clothes and then heading off again to cities that hadnt seen American or Iraqi troops in months The intense pace of the opera1 tions and the enormous area their regimental combat team had to cover an expanse the size of West Vir ginia caught some off guard The combat was certainly not what the 21yearold Williams had expected I didnt ever think wed get the softspoken justlfitfthebasicviewbftnfeAmeriv can public if cant be that bad out In some sweeps residents warmly greeted the Marines But in others such as operations in Haditha and Obeidi near the Syrian border the squad members met gunfire and explosions In the Obeidi operation in early May another squad from Lima Company suffered six deaths Williams himself perhaps saved lives once spotting a gunman hidden in a mosque courtyard said platoon commander The night before the Aug 3 opera tion an uneasy Toland couldnt sleep Instead he spent his last night with his squad members talking and jok ing trying to suppress worries the mission was too predictable for an enemy that knew how to watch and learn I had concerns that the operation was hastily planned and executed with significant risks and little Toland said The road had been checked by engineers and other units Marine commanders say But insurgents had been clever hiding the massive bomb under the roads asphalt I Several Humvees first drove over the bomb but the triggennan in the distance apparently waited for a vehicle with more troops Then as the clanking sound of their armored vehicles neared a massive blast erupted caused by explosives weigh ing hundreds of pounds It threw a Amphibious Assault Vehicle into the air leaving it burning upside down The blast was so large that Toland and his radioman Williams trav eling two vehicles ahead and not injured thought their vehicle had been hit by a bomb They scrambled out to inspect the damage but instead found the blazing carnage several yards down the road A total of 14 Marines and one Iraqi interpreter wef e killed Sudden devastation There was no time for grieving not at first There was only sud den devastation then intense anger as the Marines pulled the remains of their friends from the vehicle Then there was frustration as they fanned out to find the triggerman Instead they found only Iraqis either too sympathetic toward the insur gency or too afraid to talk Although the bomb had been planted in clear view of their homes residents claimed they had seen nothing of the men who had spent hours digging a large hole several feet deep and concealing the bomb It was a familiar and frustrating problem They are totally complacent with whats going on said Maj Steve Lawson of Columbus Ohio who commands Lima Company The average citizen in Haditha either wants a handout or wants us to die or go In a war where intelligence is the most valued asset the Marines say few local people will divulge action able information that could be used to locate insurgents Some Iraqis apparently fear repri sal attacks from militants Many just want to stay out of the crossfire Oth ers hate the Americans enough to protect the insurgents Marines say lookouts in cities would often launch flares as their vehicles approached In this region ruled by Sunni tribal loyalties few voted for the new central Iraqi government and many suspect the military is punishing them and empowering their longtime rivals the Shiites of the south and the Kurds of the north From a squad leaders perspec tive the intelligence never helped me accomplish my said a squad leader in Lima Company from v who fought alongside the 1stSquad mrbughbut their tour Their intelligence is better than Owens said Pushed back out The night after the attack Wil liams couldnt sleep He stayed near his radio listening to the heavy sob bing of fellow Marines that punc tured the night around him He thought of his best friend Lance Cpl Aaron Reed a 21yearold with a goofy demeanor and a per petual smile now dead A world without his second family had begun The young men Williams had planned to meet up with again back in the States had vanished in a matter of minutes He alone Yet from a military standpoint it was important to press on to show the enemy that even their best hits couldnt stop the worlds most pow erful military The Marines were ordered away from the blast site to hunt insurgents just one hour after the explosion They stayed out for another week searching through dozens of homes in the nearby city of Parwana and struggling to piece together intel ligence about who had planted the bomb I pushed them back out the door to finish the said Lawson They did it but they were crying as they pushed As word spread back in the United States that 14 men had been killed the Marines on the ongoing mission couldnt even at first contact their families to let them know they had survived Doubts about progress Marine commanders say the large scale raids in western Anbar prov ince have kept the insurgency offbal ance killing hundreds of militants and leaving a dwindling number of insurgent bases in the area They say the sweeps are critical to beat back the insurgent presence in larger cities such as Ramadi and Baghdad where suicide bombings have been rampant But among some Marines and even officers there are doubts whether progress has been made The insurgents lurk nearby capable of launching mortais and suicide car bombs and quietly re entering cities soon after the Marines return to their outskirt bases Weve been here almost seven months and we dont control the Gunnery Sgt Ralph Per rine an operations chief in the bat talion from Brunswick Ohio Its no Even commanders acknowledge that with the limited number of and Iraqi troops in the region the mission is focused on disrupting and interdicting the insurgency that is keeping them on the run and not controlling the cities Its maintenance said Col Stephen W Davis commander of all Marine operations in western Anbar Because this out here is where the fight is while the success is happen ing downtown while the constitu tion isbeing written and while the referendum is getting worked If I could bring every insurgent in the world out here and fight them all day long weve done our For Williams the calculation is much more visceral and personal Personally I dont think the sweeps help too he said qui etly on a recent day sitting in a room at the dam crowded with Marines resting from a late mission the night before You find some stuff and most of the bad guys get For as much energy as we put in them I dont think the output is worth he said a Marine forthree years I has Instead in these last days in Iraq he thinks of home and fishing in the clear streams of Montana He hopes to open a fishing and hunting gear shop once he returns and complete his bachelors degree in wildlife biol ogy He looks forward to seeing his mother his only surviving parent and traveling to her native Thailand this fall He said his best memory will be the day he leaves Iraq His only good memories he said are of his friends Of Dyer 19 an avid rap music fan who would bop his head to Tupac Shakur He played the viola in his highschool orchestra and had planned to enroll in a finance honors program at Ohio State University Of Reed his best friend He was president of his high school class from Chillicothe Ohio and left behind a brother serving in Afghani stan Of Cifuentes 25 from Oxford Ohio He was enrolled in graduate school in mathematics education and had been working as a substitute teacher when he was deployed I think the most frustrating thing is theres no sense of accomplish Williams said Youre biding your time and waiting But then you lose your friends and its not even for their own countrys Profiles of the 14 Marines killed in August blast Stewart We will have to accept results of the vote on the I raqi constitution Continued from Page Hl ners in the defense of their country It didnt happen that way People will support that government which best demonstrates its ability to gov ern That begins with security And that security was never really forth coming It wasnt that people didnt respond favorably to the prospect of a democratic society They did But the government of South Vietnam was never able to convince the South Vietnamese people that Saigon could effectively govern the country either in their own defense or in collecting the taxes However there are other factors to indicate are not yet mired in a quagmire that came to define the war in Vietnam First though the has suffered more than dead in the Iraq war with thousands more wounded that does not come close to casualties in Vietnam where we sometimes had killed in a month or less Until the casualty rates begin to approach those of the Viet nam war a massive politically potent antiwar movement seems urJikely Second though the Iraqi insurgents seem amply armed they do not have a source of supply equal to that the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong had in China and the Soviet Union Nor is there an Iraqi Ho Chi Minh to serve as a nationalist hero But just as we dimly understood the political dynamics of South Viet nam we barely grasp the internal dynamics of Iraq The Bush admin istration never thought that it was necessary The White House and the Pentagon were beguiled by the false promises of louche Iraqi exiles like Ahmed Chalabi We have little option other than to accept the October vote on the pro posed Iraqi constitution and the vote in December for a new parliament Whatever the minority Sunnis might think the most likely outcome is a loosely federated Iraq with Shiites enjoying a large measure of autonomy in the south and the Kurds maintain ing their present autonomy in the north The Sunnis will have to make out as best they can That may not be a recipe for peace but it is likely to be political reality The US and its part ners will have little choice other than to soldier on train Iraqi security forces as best they can and plan for a struc tured withdrawal That may be some years down the road William M Stewart a former Foreign Service officer and Time mag azine correspondent lives in Tesuque He writes weekly on foreign affairs The Associated Press A look at the 14 Marines who died Aug 3 when their vehicle was hit by an explosive during combat operations south of Haditha Iraq Assigned to 1st Squad 3rd Platoon Lima Company 3rd Battalion 25th Regiment Lance Cpl Timothy M Bell 22 of West Chester Ohio Bell had wanted to be a Marine since he was 6 His bedroom was filled with Marine posters and even a camouflage Marine blanket covered his bed When his parents took him to deploy for training with his unit he had just one message for them said his step mother Bell He just said This is what I was born to she said Always protective of his three younger sisters Bell joined the Marines in part because he wanted to protect them Its very important for me that everybody knows that he did this for said his father Timothy Michael Bell Sr My son was the last of the John Waynes but Lance Cpl Eric J Bernholtz 23 of Grove City Ohio Bernholtzs parents remembered their son as a constant joy in a video played at his funeral Even when he broke curfew as a highschool student his parents said their son could have them laughing within minutes with his goofy sense of humor and memorable smile Adam Bernholtz who is deaf gave his younger brothers eulogy in sign language As he finished he signed I love you I cant wait to run and hug Lance Cpl Nicholas William B Bloem 20 of Belgrade Mont From an early age Bloem was cer tain about his career plans During his first conversation with his highschool sweetheart he said he wanted to be a It was definitely his calling in life I dont think he could have asked for a better way to said Kacie Ouano Bloem planned to enroll at Montana State University and dreamt of eventu ally becoming a senior officer inthe Marine Corps It appealed to that part of him that wanted to overcome something that was seemingly said his father Al Bloem Lance Cpl Michael J Cifuentes 25 of Oxford Ohio At the middle school where he taught Cifuentes arrival as a substi tute teacher was met with cheers from teachers and students alike Principal Sharon Cifuentes as an who exhibited a specialwillingness to help students requiring home instruction He was always willing to take the toughest she said He was a real team A 2002 graduate of Miami Univer sity Cifuentes enrolled in a mathemat ics education graduate program before his unit was activated in January Cifuentes is survived by his parents Gregory and Carolyn and his fiancee Tara Reynolds Lance Cpl Christopher Dyer 19 of Evendale Ohio Dyer graduated with honors last year from a Cincinnatiarea high school where he played the viola in the school orchestra He had planned to attend Ohio State University in January His father said he joined the Marines because of his sense of duty and the challenge to be one of the John Dyer said he and his wife Kathy saw a mature and proud son when they visited him during his predeployment leave in Las Vegas Nev He said that he couldnt be happier with the way his life had worked out to this his father said Lance Cpl Grant B Fraser 22 of Anchorage Alaska Fraser had a wide range of interests from acting and playing the piano to sports such as mountain biking scuba diving and tennis But a defining moment was his decision to join the Marines in 2003 The day Grant enlisted was a water shed day for all of said his god mother Lynn Manley What a happy guy he was that day I saw him after boot camp and there was a tree trunk where his long graceful neck used to be Grant was exactly where he wanted to Sgt Justin F Hoffman 27 of Dela ware Ohio Hoffmans mom chuckled at his quirks the playful voicemail messages left on her ceil phone the endless online chats his curious ability to eat mealworms at pet shops Justin was more or less a reality Carole Hoffman said of her son who graduated from Ohio State University and worked in information systems at a healthcare services com pany Hoffmans sixyear commitment to the Marine Reserves was up last year but when he learned his unit was going to be activated he signed up again Lately he had enlisted family mem bers to scout for a diamond ring He teased about proposing as soon as he got off the said his girl friend Teri Price I cant imagine my future without him i loved him more than Cpl David Kenneth J Kreuter 26 of Cincinnati Kreuters fellow Marines remem bered him for his constant jokes Sometimes he would ask them to take photos of him politely knocking on doors an ironic contrast to the stan dard photos of Marines barging into suspected homes thats how David would want peo ple to remember said Eric Wiete n a friend in Ohio You couldnt help but j think he was Kreuterearned his bachelors degree f in criminal justice one year ago from the University of Cincinnati He is vived by his wife Chrystina and his son Christian who was born during his deployment J Lance Cpl Aaron H Reed 21 of Chillicothe Ohio Reeds friends all remembered him for his laugh and smile which would i immediately be followed by him push ing up his glasses He was always somebody who could make you said Billie ter a friend And he was always really In high school Reed was senior class president who ran on the track and crosscountry teams He was a great recalled friend Abbey Coates Especially breakfast eggs bacon sausage and i gravy biscuits and he used garlic in everything Then he left his mess for us to clean she said with a laugh Lance Cpl Edward A Schroeder II 23 of Columbus Ohio Schroeder attended Sunday school every week and he also had a wicked sense of humor one time he went to a Halloween party in a Tonya Harding costume complete with a lead pipe Heavily involved in his church youth group Schroeder often volunteered at soup kitchens was a counselor at Boy i Scout camp a lifeguard and a volun teer emergency medical technician I just remember him always giving back to said Ty Monk a friend He didnt pick and choose either He I did what everyone else didnt want to and he did it with a Lance Cpl William Brett Wight man 22 of Sabina Ohio When 6yearold Kelly Crowe was scared about taking a dip in the Atlan tic her 5yearold friend Brett Wight man said they would take that first splash together I never felt safer in my Crowe said during Wightmans funeral You were always my protector Now you M are my guardian Wightman dreamt of being a Marine as a young boy In high school he was an athlete selected prom king and n enlisted in the Marines even before he graduated would play with those Joes tSRd hed say Im going to grow up be one of these said his aunt Missy Luttrell All of his life thats ali l he would talk r Assigned to 3rd Battalion 25th Regiment i Sgt Bradley J Harper 25 of Dres den Ohio A police officer in Virginia Beach Harper said his deployment was a chance to help bring security to Iraq Its two different Harper said before he left This is my chance to go to do my part The sooner you get over there the sooner you get He was exactly what we wanted in an officer and a said Harry McBrien the recruiter for the Virginia Beach Police Department He was an allaround awesome guy and a real go Harper is survived by his wife Ken dra i Cpl David S Stewart 24 of Boga lusa La s Stewart was committed to the tary he volunteered for his second tour of duty in Iraq In 2003 Stewart was awarded the jj Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal after he risked his life while his armored vehicle was under attack The weapon jammed and Stewart climbed i to the top turret while under fire to repair it A few minutes later he did it again f He was a Marines Staff Sgt Jerod Murphy said during Stewj arts funeral q Stewart is survived by his parents a brother and sister and his fiancee Andrea Burkenstock of Lafayette La Lance Cpl Kevin G Waruinge 22 f of Tampa Fla Waruinge grew up in Kenya and 1 moved to Tampa in 1998 with his par ents He had recently become a citizen and hoped to pursue a career in criminal justice but first he wanted n to be a Marine joining shortly after he i graduated as an honor student from n high school He just couldnt wait to be a K said the Rev Bruce Turner rj pastor of West Gate Baptist Church Thats what he wanted He was an African boy who was Waruinge previously served one tour in Iraq returning home to resume studies at Pensacola Christian College But earlier this year he volunteered to return for yet another tour He believed in this country and 1 freedom and said family friendri Elaine Pavan Information from The Advocate A of Baton Rouge The Cincinnati 2 Enquirer and the Anchorage Daily Ij News contributed to this report T   

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