I'm just doing my part; Marine helps raid Taliban weapon haul.
A TEENAGE Teesside Royal Marine helped smash a massive weapons haul in a frontline battle against the Taliban.
Jake Alexander, 19, from Stockton, is part of Arbroath-based 45 Commando, Yankee Company, currently in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.
Jake and about 120 other Marines took part in "Operation Lion" in which they uncovered a huge weapons cache, a suspected explosives factory, and captured a Taliban command post.
Moving in the early hours of the morning, under the cover of darkness, the Marines patrolled through the freezing conditions over rugged ground towards their line of departure on the banks of the River Helmand.
Constant vigilance was required to the ever-present threat of mines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) as well as the risk of suicide attack.
At sunrise the group moved over treacherous land riddled with canals and irrigation ditches towards the area of Mazak, around 2km north of Forward Operating Base (FOB) Inkerman.
With the threat of booby traps and IEDs in their minds the Marines searched compounds and questioned locals to gauge the level of enemy movement influence.
Using dogs and metal detectors, more and more weapons were uncovered including machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, timers, detonator cord, IEDs and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
A US specialist disposal team had to be flown in to blow up the weapons.
Speaking from Afghanistan, Jake said: "Operational tours are all part of being in the Royal Marines, and of course, I'm just doing my part.
"The operation was a real success, we all felt that we had achieved something. The components and ordnance could have killed or injured many people and it was good to know that we had almost certainly helped save some lives.
He added: "I'm looking forward to getting home and catching up with all my friends and family."
Jake's father Keith, 46, said: "I think it's the biggest ever find. When I heard about it I was so proud and over the moon. I'm always very worried about him and his mates.
"Every time it comes on the news about troops being injured or killed we're motionless. But it's what he's always wanted to do and what he's been trained to do."
Jake has two brothers, Ronnie, 21, studying business at the University of Teesside and Josh, 16, who's at college.
Mum, Sharon, 41, said: "He's had friends that have lost limbs and been shot but then he is in one of the most dangerous places he could be.
"I always knew he would end up doing something like this."
Sharon is eagerly awaiting her son's return in April. She said: "It's just nerve-racking, me and his girlfriend are wishing the days away. We are going on holiday when he gets back."
Girlfriend of more than three years Demi-Lee Snaith, 18, said: "I'm really proud of him, he's dead brave. It seems worthwhile him being out there when he finds something big like this. I hate him being away. He's my best mate."
Lt Col Jim Morris, Commanding Officer, 45 Commando Group RM, said of the raid which took place between January 19 and 21: "They displayed all the trade mark qualities of the Royal Marines executing this operation with cunning, determination and bravery."
The operation was a real success, we all felt that we had achieved something.
The components and ordnance could have killed or injured many people and it was good to know that we had almost certainly helped save some lives - Jake Alexander, left, and the haul of weapons he helped to uncover, above
FAMILY LOVE: Jake pictured, above left, with brothers Ronnie and Josh, with girlfriend Demi-Lee, above, and with proud dad Keith, left