5th Marines enter Baghdad suburbs

By RICHARD TOMKINS  |  April 8, 2003 at 12:03 PM
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WITH THE FIFTH MARINES, Iraq, April 8 (UPI) -- U.S. Marines rolled into northeastern suburbs of Baghdad Tuesday where thousands of cheering Iraqis yelled, "America, America, America," and "Bush, Bush, Bush."

The Marines, led by Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, entered the area after fording a tributary of the Tigris River.

Iraqis held up children, waved white flags and showed no hostile intent. The sincerity of their emotions was unquestionable.

The crescendo of welcome increased as an Iraqi woman led the Marines to a children's prison where than more than 160 youngsters were freed.

"It was really something, the children just streamed out of the gates and their parents just started to embrace us," said Lt. Col. Fred Padilla, commander of the 1st Battalion.

Further into the suburb, at a large Baath Party headquarters, the Marines had to push people back who wanted to welcome them. The crowd had been busy looting the headquarters of everything that wasn't nailed down.

At a nearby agricultural research factory and facility, scenes of people tearing away things was repeated. Again, there were cheers for the Marines.

"I feel really good today," said 1st Sgt. Bill Leuthe of Bravo Company. "I think we all do."

The suburb is definitely a poor section of the city with open sewers and garbage strewn everywhere.

Later a patrol of Marines went deeper into the suburb without incident. More such patrols were planned.

There was an incident that marred the entrance. At a village on the approach to the suburb, a man in civilian clothes jumped a wall and a ran toward the lead vehicle, nicknamed the "Pork Chop Express." Three Marines in another vehicle gunned him down when he put a rocket-propelled grenade launcher to his shoulder, preparing to fire.

The arrival in the suburb culminates a long journey for the 1st Battalion from the Kuwaiti border that began March 20 and further tightens the noose around Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party lieutenants.

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