Weapons cache found in Tal Afar

82nd Airborne Division
Story by Sgt. James Wilt

Date: 10.19.2005
Posted: 10.19.2005 13:07
News ID: 3404
Cpl. Hayes organizes weapons his unit found during a raid

Pfc. James Wilt
82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs Office
Oct. 18, 2005

TALL AFAR, Iraq -- Paratroopers from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, and Company B, 307th Engineer Battalion, 82nd Abn. Div., uncovered a cache of weapons during a raid on a house here, Oct. 18, 2005.

The combined unit unearthed seven assault rifles, one medium machine gun, six hand grenades, three anti-aircraft rounds modified for use as hand grenades, seven ammunition vests, over 2,500 rounds of ammunition, 30 magazines and materials thought to be used to make improvised explosive devices.

Working off of a tip from a local resident, the paratroopers searched the house last night in an effort to uncover any weapons there.

Three assault rifles and two ammunition vests were found during the initial search, said Staff Sgt. Jason R. Gillis, an infantryman with Co. B, 2nd Bn., 325th AIR.

The informant who gave the unit the tip approached the paratroopers a second time to tell them that he believed there were still more weapons inside the house, Gillis, a native of Goldsboro, N.C., said.

Again following the lead from the informant, the troopers returned to the house in the morning armed with a metal detector and digging tools.

Once in the target room, the unit's metal detector didn't find anything beneath the stone lined floor, said Spc. Christopher L. Sharp, a combat engineer, with Co. B, 307th Eng. Bn.

Undeterred, Sharp and Pfc. Valentino R. Cuellar, also a combat engineer, began moving rocks to search for any recently moved soil, Sharp, a Dallas native, said.

Picking up a rock by the doorway, Sharp said, he noticed the dirt was not packed down like the rest of the floor.

After removing more rocks, Sharpe found a barrel buried in the dirt.

Inside of the barrel was the largest cache Co. B, 2nd Bn. 325th AIR has found in their sector, Sharp said.

The paratroopers removed the weapons and filled in the hole were the cache was buried.

Moving on to search the rest of the house and surrounding area, the Soldiers found electronic devices believed to be used for making IEDs.

No detainees were taken as the house was unoccupied.

The raid was part of the 82nd Airborne Division's efforts to make the streets here safer for the Iraqi people.

"Look at all the stuff that we found, how many lives we probably saved," said Cuellar, a native of Los Angeles.

The paratroopers will remain in the city for an undetermined amount of time and will continue to conduct operations here in an attempt to maintain stability in the region.