Task Force Tacoma patrols wire, nabs shelling suspects

By Maj. Stephan Richey
and Spc. Amanda Labrum
81st BCT PAO

While patrolling outside the LSA Anaconda perimeter April 20, Soldiers of Task Force Tacoma received a report of enemy rockets launched.

The team discovered the suspected point of origin was not far from their location and a dismounted patrol reported people riding a motorcycle away from the suspected area. Led by Sgt. 1st Class Norman Valdez of Company A, 579th Engineer Battalion, the patrol maneuvered into position to intercept the two Iraqis.

Valdez stood on top of his Humvee and gestured for the two Iraqis to halt. One of the Iraqis provided his identification card for the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps as he told the Soldiers he was "ICDC." The other man had no identification.

TF Tacoma headquarters ordered Valdez and his crew to detain the men. One man appeared to be extremely nervous, smoking excessively while the other one remained calm and appeared to be smiling.

Staff Sgt. Dennis Sarla, Co. A, 579th EN Bn., and his team took the Iraqis into custody and escorted them through the gate. They then escorted the men to Spc. Heather Gardiner for residue testing.

Gardiner is trained to test for residue indicating contact with any sort of explosive device. These two tested positive, one for TNT and the other for both TNT and an explosive, Hexahydro-Trinitro-Triazine known as RDX.

The results from this test could be used in court to convict suspects.

TF Tacoma is comprised of Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 81st Brigade Combat Team, Company B of the 185th Armored Battalion, Soldiers from the 898th Engineer Battalion and Co. A of the 579th EN Bn.