Ghost Soldiers Discover Secret Room, Hidden Cache
March 5, 2007
MOSUL, Iraq (Army News Service, March 5, 2007) - Two Garryowen troops assigned to Ghost Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, netted one of the largest weapons caches in the Ninewa Province Feb. 9.
Located in a walled-off compound, the cache was discovered by Pfc. Ryan Kennedy and Spc. Isaiah Johnson, both infantrymen assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment.
"Our battalion got information that there was a weapons cache in one of the lots in the city," said Kennedy.
When Kennedy's platoon arrived in the suspected area, the Soldiers began taking small-arms fire from a mosque across the street. After securing the area with the help of Iraqi Army troops, the Soldiers detained 10 suspects.
"We pushed forward to continue searching another lot after another platoon moved up to secure the detainees," he said. "There were four garages and a small building with two rooms in it; one was like a tool room and the other was like a living area. We cleared the building and the garages."
After a brief search by 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Sgt. Shen O split his team up for a more comprehensive search.
"Me and Specialist Johnson went back to the room that was like a living area and started busting all the floor tiles," Kennedy said.
"We saw a sink and tried turning it on," Johnson said. "It didn't turn on. At the time, we didn't think anything of it."
The two continued busting floor tiles to see if the ground would give way. Kennedy eventually busted the inoperable sink.
"Once we broke the sink, we saw there weren't any pipes under it," Johnson explained. "The XO (executive officer) noticed there was no grout between the tiles."
"We could tell something was wrong with it because the tiles under it were real loose," Kennedy added. "I hit it with a sledgehammer and it fell through. We could clearly see some rocket-propelled grenades, bags and different types of munitions.
"We were overjoyed to find the cache. All these months we weren't finding anything. We were going on raids, searching vehicles. When we saw it, we just started yelling out, 'Hey, we found it; we found the cache!'"
After discovering the secret room beneath the sink, a member of the explosive ordnance disposal team was called into the compound to check the area for dangers. Once he deemed the area safe to enter, other troops began arriving to help remove the items.
"There was everything you could name in there," Johnson recalled. "Missiles you shoot helicopters with, grenades, mines, wiring, cell phones, tons of AK-47s and ammo. It took us several hours to get it all out. It made us feel happy finding that stuff, knowing the enemy couldn't use the weapons against us.
"It was sneaky how they had it set up, with the sink and the stove. They tried to make it look like it was a kitchen. We put the clues together and we figured it out," Johnson bragged.
The day's find included 30 blasting caps, about 250,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition, 25 grenade fuses, 37 high-explosive anti-tank weapons, 100 unfused grenades, one Iranian PG-7 grenade rocket, six Chinese 75mm APERS rocket fuses, 13 French 68mm SPAMV rockets, 72 rocket motors, 10 Iraqi 40mm rockets, 221 mortars, 300 various fuses, 40 pounds of propellant, 50 pounds of detonation cord, 13 PG-7 launchers, 17 AK-47 assault rifles, one Russian machine gun, two sniper rifles, one PKC machine gun, 40 million Iraqi Dinar, more than 400 fake identification cards, and various Motorola radios, including one Iraqi police radio believed to have belonged to an IP who had been previously kidnapped and subsequently killed.
"People can say I found it, but everyone was searching that day," Kennedy said. "We were all working really hard. Everyone was covered in sweat even though it wasn't that hot. It was back-breaking labor."
Fellow Soldiers also found Iraqi Dinar and fake IDs nearby.
In recognition for their part in the discovery, Johnson and Kennedy were given a 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Coin of Excellence, which was presented to them by their first sergeant.
"It was a large cache. They knew it had to be right under their feet," said 1st Sgt. Eric Volk. "These guys are very determined to have a positive impact in this area. They've got a lot of pride, and I think they feel like they've finally achieved that big step against the insurgency. I couldn't ask for any better troops than what I've got."
(Sgt. Paula Taylor writes for the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs.)