By Sgt. 1st Class Kerensa Hardy, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)January 16, 2008
CAMP STRIKER, Iraq - A routine gathering with local leaders resulted in the discovery of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device factory near Hamid Shaban Jan. 13.
Acting on a tip from an attendee at the meeting, Rakkasan Soldiers from Troop A, 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), acted quickly and found what appeared to be a makeshift VBIED workshop about a mile away from the gathering.
"We came up with a quick plan and headed that way," said Staff Sgt. Adam McMurray, a platoon sergeant from Aydlett, N.C., who provided command and control for the mission. The Soldiers had to find their way to the house, about a mile away, without detailed directions or a grid coordinate.
Once at the location, the house was cleared by a team of Soldiers led by Sgt. Walter Nickel, from Pago Pago, American Samoa.
"After the house was cleared, we noticed that the kerosene heater was still on, the Chai (tea) was still hot," McMurray said. "I mean, we had just missed these guys."
The most valuable find was in front of the house - four vehicles suspected to be used as VBIEDs. One vehicle had wires running from the inside to the trunk. McMurray said it was blatantly obvious the vehicle was intended to be used as a VBIED.
The Soldiers found more explosives and a homemade rocket launcher. "We found a bunch of paperwork ... a lot of explosives, mortar rounds and bomb-making materials and weapons," Nickel said. "There was stuff just ready to get hooked up to explosives. It seemed to me they were just getting ready to do something, they were just getting things together."
"We feel great that we found something that could've caused a lot of damage to Coalition Forces," said Sgt. Jose Rivas, from Nashville, Tenn.
"It was a long day but it was worthwhile."
An explosive ordnance disposal team showed up just before midnight to detonate the cache.