Friday, August 17, 2007

Boom, here comes the boom!

Well after the last patrol, I am throughly exhausted. I can say that yesterday officially broke me off. Im feeling it today and am quite sore for it. We ended up being on our feet doing stuff for much longer than we have in a long time, and with the added heat and all that, it just drained us.

Yesterday was to be a pretty chill day, because at night we had a raid that we were to go on. To start the day off we were to go around to some of the banks in our sector and talk with them and assess their current situation. I was amoung the dismounts that day, and for each bank, Id hop out with a few other guys and we'd go with the Squad Leader in charge while he did his talking. There wern't many banks in our sector and so this was to be a pretty quick assignment.

At one of the banks we happened to go inside and I started to get bored. I went up to one of the ladies working one of the teller windows and decided that I wanted to open a bank account. I was trying to explain to her, but she spoke practically no english, and my level of arabic is far below asking to open an account. I pulled out my debit card and tried using that to explain, but I was still getting no where. Thats when an older gentleman a little ways back noticed and heard me and he called out that they did not offer credit cards. He rose from his desk and came over to me, and another team leader that at this point was interested in the same thing. We proceeded to talk with him for a while since he spoke pretty damn good english. Come to find out, it is not possible, at least at that bank, for an American to open an account. Well damn, that sucks. Apparently there is a bank somewhere else that offers this, but Im pretty sure its not anywhere near where I can go. Oh well, it was worth the try. I really had no intentions of using it, just thought it would be cool to say I had a bank account in Iraq.

As we were headed to our last bank, we rolled up in front of it and stopped the trucks. Just as the call came for the dismounts to get out and I was reaching for the handle to open the door, we heard a fairly loud explosion. Everyone kind of gave the same look, like "What was that?" but I was on my way out the door and on to the bank. We setup outside the bank and thats when I saw the people next to me making the face and hand signals for something tragic happening. I looked down this alley that they were facing down and thats when I saw the smoke. It wasn't a lot of smoke, so I wasn't sure if it was just a fire or what. We turned back to the people and asked if it was a "Qumbola" or bomb and they began saying yes and making the hand gesture of an explosion. Alright well I guess we've figured out what the explosion was. I looked back towards the smoke and it was becoming a thick, black cloud, associated with only one thing; a car bomb.

The guys were moving inside and I made my way back out the vechicles to let my squad leader know that the explosion was a VBIED that had gone. Just after telling him about that a couple shots rang out. The were close but not directed at us, and I believe they were warning shots from a passing emergency vechicle. I looked down towards the direction of the shots and saw people in the area begin to scatter on foot. Ok, well standing in the middle of the road is not a good thing right now, so I moved my way to the side and in to the bank. I let the dismount squad leader know about the shots and the VBIED, which was just a couple hundread meters down the road, and we loaded back up and headed down there.

At this point the smoke was thick, forming a dark ominous plume above the scene. We arrived to a 8 story parking garage that was billowing black smoke and flames. Emergency workers were on the scene and the firefighters we shooting water from below in an attempt to extinguish the fire. Things were hectic but not as hectic as the massive car bomb attack I was at before. After going around and talking with the Iraqi police, Army, and firefighters we came to find out that if anyone was killed it was probably only a couple of people. I mean shit, it went off in a parking garage! Not many people usually in there. We ended up staying there for a few hours, out in the heat, which began my exhaustion process. The Iraqi Army had a group of people they had detained that I guess they believed had something to do with the bomb. Hopefully they caught some of these bastards. I ended up finding out later that Iraqi EOD (bomb squad) found another unexploded car bomb.

After we finally left the scene and after doing a few small things we headed back to base to relax for a bit before we headed out for this mission. It was going to be late and last all night.

The mission we ended up having was a raid to try to grab some dudes we have been looking for. We ended up having to park at this other base that was quite a ways away and required us walking through some of the bad area that we used to have. It was to be a slow deliberate walk for we were going to be prepared for anything. Along the way some guys working at some bank began yelling "Wake up the Americans are here!" Not real sure why or really what happened because I wasn't right up front, but we ended up confiscating their weapons to include a couple of machine guns. They were Iraqi police and federal guards, so we couldn't detain them for having the weapons. While we were held up dealing with that we heard a burst of an AK off in the distance. My heart beat accelerated a little and once whoever was being shot out returned fire with a burst of their own, the adrenneline began pumping. For about a mintue a little firefight broke out probably about 600 meters away. They were shooting down this one road that was about 300 meters from me and I could hear the bullets snapping and popping as they passed down the road. The adrenneline was going full steam at this point and I was totally awake and alert, on edge, waiting for anything. Unfortunately nothing ended up coming about, and the rush and excitment I had from that began to fade, and it was back to sucking.

We continued on our way, and headed out towards our objective. Once there we began our raid and with what little energy we had left we began kicking in doors, clearing rooms, running up stairs and overwatching from rooftops. At one point I was outside of one of the homes pulling security, I began to hear several single shots from some kind of gun. Over the course of 5 mins there were maybe 15-20 shots fired. They sounded pretty close but no one knew where or what it was. I guess one of the resupply convoys began taking fire, but they never returned fire. I figure it was someone taking pop shots at they and they probably wern't able to identify where the shooter was. So we did our thing grabbed up some people and sooner than what was planned we were heading back. Because of the long walk and how long we had been on our objectives a lot of people were out of water and so we stopped in an alleyway and took a much needed break while a resupply on water came to us. Once we filled back up we began the trek back to the base. This time the pace was quicker and it was uneventful. I was sweating my ass off and sore as hell and all I could think of was that I just wanted to get back and get home.

We finally got back and after hours of wearing our shit we were finally able to take off our sweaty equipment and tops for a much needed airout. It didn't last long and before we knew it we were back in the trucks on our way back home. I was tired as hell and was driving, and to be honest I dont know how we made it back safe. I fell asleep at the wheel probably 15 times. Id nodd off, and then wake up 5 seconds later as I'm veering towards the side of the road. No one seemed to notice because they were all 1/2 asleep too. Thankfully I didn't hit anything and we made it back in one piece. After filling my aching stomach with some chow, I layed in bed, too tired to shower right then and slept for about 12 hours straight.

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Haole Wahine said...

Hey SGT, glad you made were able to drive everyone back safe, so you could post.

This piece is absolutely outstanding.

The drama, the comedy, the PICTURES, the TRUTH.

Gratitude and Prayers all around.

Beth said... glad you made it back safely! I agree, this was a great one, thank you for sharing the pictures!

You are always in my prayers sir!

Anonymous said...

A Midwest thank you for the hard work in the exhaustive heat. There are many folks back here keeping those serving overseas in their thoughts and prayers. Keep on keeping on.
Cathy B

Anonymous said...

So I'm guessing the beach volleyball tournament was postponed after that? Seriously, I am contantly amazed at what you guys have to deal with on a day to day basis. As often as I wish I was there with y'all, I doubt if I could survive one day of that.

David M said...

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membrain said...

Good post SergeantI Thanks for everything you're doing. Plus we got pictures this time. Good stuff.