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2nd Lt. Jon M. Mueller, a 29-year-old platoon commander, patrols by a mosque near Mudiq, Iraq Nov. 8. Mueller and other Marines of Jump Platoon, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment were there to keep the roads safe with their vehicle checkpoints. Mueller is from Denver and serves under Regiment Combat Team 5 and will be conducting operations for the next several months.

Photo by Cpl. Ray Lewis

Marines stop insurgents with hasty vehicle checkpoints;

15 Nov 2006 | Cpl. Ray Lewis

Iraqis now drive on safe roads thanks to the Marines who set up vehicle checkpoints here on a daily basis.

That credit goes to Marines of Jump Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment.

"It's making it harder for insurgents to move any contraband through the main routes of travel," said Sgt. Robert E. Mitterando, platoon sergeant for Jump Platoon.

The 24 year old from Mastic Beach, N.Y., and his Jump Platoon use hasty vehicle checkpoints, on-the-spot car searchs, to control what traffic comes in and out of their area of operations.

Mitterando said the searches have been working. He recalled one instance specifically.

"We waved the flag and usually guys stop, but this guy didn't stop," Mitterando said. "That's when he finally stopped. Then we dismounted and searched the vehicle."

Mitterando and his crew didn't find anything in the car so they tested the guys' hands for any ammunition residue. One man tested positive for gun residue and the other tested negative.

"However, we took both in because one was consorting with the other," Mitterando said.

Mitterando said those men weren't the only ones they've caught.

"I'd say that we've picked up at least seven people from hasty VCPs from five different vehicles," Mitterando said. "We're going to keep doing like were doing. It's an ongoing effort."

Marines of Jump Platoon think in time their efforts will show the bad guys that no one can just smuggle anything anywhere, said Cpl. Michael L. Deibert, a 23-year-old vehicle driver for Jump Platoon, who is also an administrate clerk from Allentown, Pa.

"We do VCPs to catch insurgents and IED-making materials," Deibert said. "It also shows civilians that we're in a continuous effort to fight insurgents and keep them safe."

Many Marines think the checks will also help keep their team safe.

"It makes the convoy safer," said Cpl. Mario O. Huerta, a radio operator with Jump Platoon. "We don't have to worry about suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices."

It's because the 22 year old from Dallas makes an example out of cars that break the rules. Huerta remembers one time they had to stop a vehicle that refused to halt. When Huerta and others searched the vehicle, they found that the driver didn't own the truck.

"He had no keys," Huerta said. "It's probably stolen."

He was right. Huerta and his fellow Marines found that the driver had to pluck wires under the dash to turn the truck off.

"The vehicle was 'hot wired,'" explained Sgt. Coleman Hyer, a motor transport mechanic with Jump Platoon.

It was then the 21-year-old dismount from Lebanon, Ore., and the rest of the Jump Platoon apprehended and detained the two men by a building there.

"Then I Company sent out a patrol of troops from their combat outpost to tow the truck and escort the detainees out of the area," said Cpl. Craig Ledsome, Desgrosseilliers' driver who also doubles as a radio operator with Jump Platoon.

The 24 year old from Austin, Texas, said all the events happened in front of the Iraqis shopping at the marketplace there. That's how he and his fellow Marines like it. The Jump Platoon wants their hasty VCPs to keep Iraqis safe and send a strong message to insurgents and their associates.

"If you were a car thief or burglar and you saw your friend getting 'rolled up,' you'd think, 'Damn, these guys mean business,'" Hyer said. "We're not playing around. If you work with insurgents or are an insurgent, we're going to stop you."

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