News: Explosive tandem demolishes bunkers, supports Operation Jaws
Story by Cpl. Timothy Lenzo
KAJAKI, Afghanistan – The Marines rush to take cover behind a berm, as the countdown begins.
“Five, four, three, two, one,” a Marine yells as some cover their ears and others turn away from the area.
The explosion shakes the ground beneath the squad, sending dust and dirt flying off their uniforms and putting a ringing sound in their ears. As the dust and smoke settles two Marines examine the blast area for their handy work.
Lance Cpl. Cameron Brown, a combat engineer, with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, partners with Lance Cpl. Jeremy Corea, an assaultman with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 6. The two Marines make a very explosive tandem, working together to not only overcome obstacles but destroy them.
“I work with him pretty much every (operation),” Brown said. “We work well together and get the job done efficiently.”
Corea and Brown join forces when making decisions regarding demolitions. They first teamed up when the battalion deployed in March and instantly connected.
“(Corea and I) are pretty close now,” said Brown, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo. “Working together, it became a good relationship.”
Brown and Corea found a common ground not just in related jobs, but in their personal lives. Both Marines are married with Brown’s one-year anniversary coming in July. Corea had his first child last April.
Combat engineers fill a variety of jobs with battalions, ranging from sweeping for improvised explosive devices to demilitarizing bases.
“The versatility of our job is extremely interesting,” Brown said. “You can go from blowing something up one day, to building a fortified position; or you could be tearing down an entire patrol base, all in (one) week.”
Assaultmen’s jobs also cover a wide range.
“(Assaultmen) are the resident experts of demolitions and rockets,” said Corea, a native of Elk Grove, Calif.
Together Brown and Corea developed a formidable partnership of explosions and a necessary asset to their platoons.
In the first three days of supporting Operation Jaws, Brown, Corea and the other engineers and assaultmen attached to Golf Company, 2nd Bn., 5th Marines, used 60 sticks of C4, approximately 100 pounds of explosives.
They destroyed various insurgent fighting positions including bunkers, murder holes and doorways. Murder holes are small holes in compound walls made to fit the barrel of a rifle that insurgents use to engage the Marines from the opposite side of the wall.
One bunker in particular provided an example of the value of what Brown and Corea accomplish.
“The bunker that we encountered yesterday was intertwined with a compound wall,” said Corea. “To us it looked like it had a tunnel going into the compound.”
Corea and Brown assessed the bunker and decided two wall charges with four sticks of explosives each would destroy the bunker.
After they leveled the bunker, another explosion occurred.
Brown explained that the blast from their charge caused IED materials within the tunnel to detonate.
The second explosion served as a reminder of how Brown and Corea help protect the Marines – preventing their fellow Marines from entering potentially dangerous areas.
“It may not look like we save a lot of lives, but we do,” said Corea. “We can drop a stick of C4 and blow up an IED and no one will ever have to worry about it. Not only are we helping our (Marines) but we are helping the locals. They might not know there is an IED there and accidentally step on it.”
Brown and Corea’s partnership during Operation Jaws helped ensure their platoon took no combat-related casualties. They work together because of their common goal – to help the Marines.
“We help each other out,” Corea said. “We have a pretty stellar team.”
Editor’s Note: The 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines are currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 6, which is part of Task Force Leatherneck. First Marine Division (Forward) heads Task Force Leatherneck, the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest), and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.