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Joint operation helps displaced families return home

By Kirby Rider Pfc., MND-N PAO

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Spc. Nathan Lewis, rifleman in Company F, 52nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Fort Lewis, Wash., provides security at a checkpoint in Durah, Iraq, Feb. 13. Coalition forces and Iraqi army soldiers cleared the area of al-Qaida and helped setup a Sons of Iraq program.
Spc. Nathan Lewis, rifleman in Company F, 52nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Fort Lewis, Wash., provides security at a checkpoint in Durah, Iraq, Feb. 13. Coalition forces and Iraqi army soldiers cleared the area of al-Qaida and helped setup a Sons of Iraq program.

Feb. 21, 2008 — BAQUBAH, Iraq (Feb. 20, 2008) — Families displaced from a town near Baqubah, Iraq, were escorted back to their homes by the Iraqi army and Coalition Soldiers Feb. 13 during Operation Fierce Thrasher.

Soldiers from Company F, 52nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, from Fort Lewis, Wash., helped 39 families dislocated due to fear of terrorist attacks return to their homes in the town of Durah, Iraq.

“Today’s mission was to secure the village of Durah to allow the repatriation of the Sunnis into the village,” said Capt. Troy Mills, commander of Company F.

The coalition troops were assisted by soldiers from the Iraqi army’s 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 5th IA Division to clear the town of insurgents and improvised explosive devices.

After the clearing was completed, the Iraqi army kept the town secured while the Iraqi police and CF Soldiers helped displaced citizens move back to the village. They also helped create a new Sons of Iraq program and set up five checkpoints for the SoIs to operate in the town.

The 52 Sons of Iraq lived in the village at one time and are bringing their families back in the near future, said 1st Lt. Tyson Kampenhout, platoon leader in Company F.

Although more than 40-percent of the town was destroyed or looted by terrorists, the villagers were very happy to come back to their homes, and they said they were willing to work with ISF and CF to keep al-Qaida in Iraq fighters from reentering the town. The villagers also committed to rebuilding essential services like water treatment, electricity and schools.

“The essential services are pretty low. If anything was already setup, it is not currently operating,” Mills said. “Over the next few weeks, Civil Affairs and I will be going back into the town to reassess the essential services … and see what we can do to get them running again.”

After the joint forces vowed to help rebuild essential programs and keep the town safe from AQI and sectarian violence, more than 100 displaced families pledged to return to the town in the next three weeks. Some of the families have been living as far south as Baghdad, and had not been back to the town in six to nine months.

The operation lasted eight hours and accomplished three major tasks: al-Qaida in Iraq was pushed out of the area, a Sons of Iraq program was established and villagers returned to their homes.

“Overall the mission was a huge success,” Mills said.