News: 1st Recon makes history in Helmand, 2nd to follow their steps
Story by Cpl. Ned Johnson
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – While today’s mission may not resemble the glorified amphibious assaults from the Marine Raiders of World War II, the Marines and sailors of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion accomplished their mission with the same efficiency, tenacity, and ferocity, wreaking havoc on the enemy while providing security to local villagers in Helmand province.
After seven months of ‘locating, closing with, and destroying the enemy,’ Marines and sailors with 1st Recon Bn., 1st Marine Division (Forward), held a transfer of authority ceremony with 2nd Recon Bn., at Camp Leatherneck, Dec. 7.
Despite multiple successful missions deep beyond enemy lines, one of the Marines’ biggest achievements is that each man will be safely home for the holidays.
“In all the things we accomplished, all the Taliban fighters we removed from the enemy’s ‘Alpha Roster,’ we did not lose a man,” said Lt. Col. Michael Mooney, commanding officer of 1st Recon Bn. “We are all very joyful and grateful that we are all going to be home together.”
While Recon Marines are well-trained professionals, having received advanced training ranging from scuba qualification to military airborne school, Mooney says their courage and determination is what impressed him the most.
“These men are quiet professionals; they do it without fanfare or trumpets blowing; they do it for the love of the reconnaissance mission and the love of their brothers,” said Mooney, who has commanded the battalion for 36 months. “No one sees them getting on helicopters at 2 a.m. or living in Afghan compounds in the 120 degree heat of the Helmand summer.
“But I know who does see them — the enemy,” said Mooney, a native of Annapolis, Md. “The enemy knows these men and fears them.”
Nothing proves this more than the nickname the Recon Marines received from Taliban fighters — “Black Diamonds”. The name comes from the mount worn on the Recon Marines’ helmets that is in the shape of a diamond. For the Taliban, the Black Diamonds became a force they would avoid at all cost.
“We first heard it over the radio in Trek Nawa,” said Cpl. Micah Fulmer, a reconnaissance Marine with 1st Recon Bn. “It followed us to Sangin and they said, ‘Don’t mess with the ‘Black Diamonds.’”
The Marines of 2nd Recon will continue the same mission, with the same message to the Taliban.
“The enemy is going to know and fear 2nd Recon too. They are not going to know what hit them,” Mooney said. “They are going to know the ‘Black Diamonds’ are in their backyard and it is going to be hell on earth for them.”
As the Marines of 2nd Recon prepare to take over the mission, their commander had a few words of encouragement for them.
“We have our work cut out for us, but I know that you will accomplish every mission and task assigned to you,” Lt. Col. Lawrence Hussey, commanding officer of 2nd Recon Bn.
Hussey also added that the Marines will be able to go behind enemy lines and provide security in places where Marines have not been in years.
The Marines of both units live by words from the Reconnaissance Creed – “To be a Recon Marine is to surpass failure; to overcome, to adapt and to do whatever it takes to complete the mission.”
The Marines of 1st Recon have proved those words that would make their Raider forefathers proud, and the Marines of 2nd Recon prepare to follow in their footsteps.