getthumbnail2Combined Anti-Armor Team 1 and Marines with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, uncovered weapons and drug caches during a two-day mission here Oct. 19-20.

The cache consisted of weapons, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, 50 pounds of heroin, cocaine, homemade explosives and IED-making materials. The villages where most of these compounds are located have been known to be used by the Taliban.

The mission was to deny the enemy the ability to use compounds in the area to launch attacks and plant IEDs in nearby roads, said 1st Lt. Travis C. Onischuk, 26, the CAAT-1 platoon commander.

“We’re going to hit them where they think they have safe haven,” said Onischuk, from Edina, Minn.

Marines throughout Weapons Co. gathered together to clear the roads and villages of enemy interference, and established hasty vehicle checkpoints and route-clearance teams that would comprise one line. The line pushed forward in one direction and acted as a giant net to sweep through the area.

Searching house to house for weapons and IED-making material with the help of Afghan National Army soldiers, Marines found three loaded magazines belonging to an assault rifle that was nowhere in sight. At first it seemed the magazines were the only suspicious items discovered.

“There were mostly women and children there so no one was real suspicious of anything,” said Cpl. Martin Galvan, a machine gunner with CAAT-1, 1/5. “I was tapping on a wall and it sounded real hollow in one spot. I punched it and my hand went right through.”

“Once Cpl. Galvan found the first fake wall, we went back through the house and started to search everywhere,” said Cpl. John Mensch, an assaultman with CAAT-1, 1/5. “A lot of the stuff we found was hidden behind false walls, or wrapped inside piles of clothing.”

Marines detained an Afghan man for questioning, believed to be a member of the Taliban.

“I am glad we were able to find all of the stuff we did,” said Mensch, 21, from Meredith, N.H. “Hopefully we made difference by confiscating all of it.”

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