Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Welcome to Baghdad!

So theres one thing that I could never imagine and thats being straight out of basic training and coming right to Iraq. For me, it took almost 2 years in the 82nd before I finally deployed. Something that is almost unheard of, but thats to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, I ended up getting caught up in restructuring the division, and went places that kept me from deploying sooner. I was always bitter about this. One of my good friends from basic and airborne school got to Ft Bragg and 30 days later he was on his way to Afghanistan for 5 months.

Well the reason I mention this is because over the past several months we have had a few new guys come in to our company here and there. Our platoon had only received 1, but the other day we ended up getting 3 new guys. WOW! Well, time to start getting these guys up to par. My squad didn't end up getting anyone new, so most of the work of getting these guys trained up would be within their perspective squads.

They ended up heading out with us for their first time for 2 days outside the wire. For this patrol I was filling in for my squad leader who is on leave, so I was the TC (Truck Commander) which is always fun. Also when we dismounted I was to be one of the dismount team leaders. Well because the new guys don't know how to drive a Humvee yet or how to gun a machine gun properly, they ended up as extra passengers and thus became a part of the dismount team. This would be fun.

The first dismount these guys even went on would be a night dismount. I had one of the guys from my normal team and one of the new guys. I knew he would need extra attention so I would have to make sure and keep an eye on him. We ended up dismounting and heading back into the alleyways. It was more packed than normal since Ramadan is in full swing and during the day people can't eat or anything, so the night becomes the time for eating, praying and socializing. Fortunately for us, thats all it has consisted of, at least at this point almost 1/2 way through.

Anyways, we were walking through this one busy alley when all of a sudden I see this kid that couldn't of been more than 6 years old come out of another alleyway with a gun in his hand. He wasn't pointing it at us or anything, but the second I saw it my heart skipped a beat. He saw me notice him and ran back in to the alley he came out of, but then stopped a few meters in and turned back to look at me. Now I wasn't sure if it was a real handgun or a toy, but all I know is it looked pretty damn real. Once he stopped I began yelling at him to get away and go inside. Its not safe for him to run around like that, and I was giving him the benefit of the doubt that it was a toy. This is also common for all the kids to have toy guns at this time. Well new guy, this is Baghdad, you have to be ready to make split second decisions and be prepared for anything. I was thinking later that I don't know what I would of done if he would of fire the thing. I don't want to think about it.

We continued on and at one point we came to a road to cross. My team was in the back of the patrol and everyone in front began running across the street. I remeber thinking before we got to the road that there was going to be a car that wasn't going to stop. I dont know why I thought that, but sure enough once I began running across I noticed a car on the far side comming at us. I gave him a second but he wasn't slowing down, so I raised my rifle and clicked my tac-light on. For some reason it didn't look like it went on to me and I remeber thinking "Well damn what a great time for my batteries to die on me!" I guess it did actually go on, but I was oblivious to this. The car still was not slowing down so I shouldered my rifle and yelled at the top of my lungs. The car was getting close and I had just flipped my safety off and was a split second away from firing a warning shot when all of a sudden they slammed on the brakes screaching to a halt. Sheeew. All of this happened as the new guy was 1/2 way across the street and I can only imagine what he was thinking!

The rest of the patrol was uneventful and we ended up linking back up with the trucks tired and sweaty. The next night we ended up doing another dismounted patrol in a different area. Overall the patrol went pretty smoothly with the exception of constantly being told different directions on where to go. My team was up front this time and I was leading and we ended up stopping several times to turn around and go a different way. It wasn't that I was lost, because I knew exactly where I was going. Apparently those in charge kept changing their mind about where they wanted to go. Oh well.

Once we got back, myself and the dismount squad leader sat down with the new guys to go over the patrols and some other information. We explained a lot to them about what its like, what to expect and how to be. They seemed to be taking to it pretty well. They all mentioned that the first night they were overwhealmed and nervous, but the 2nd patrol it wasn't as bad for them. Thats good. Over time you will eventually figure out where to look and what to do and it wont be such an overwhelming experience. Overall they did good, better than I would of expected for a patrol of a bunch of new guys. Hopefully they continue to take to this quick and can integrate in to how we do things quickly.

We ended up coming back in, dirty, exhausted and ready to crash. It was a long couple days and my combined sleep for the previous 2 nights was about 8 hours. Thank God for 'Monster' engergy drinks!!

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Haole Wahine said...

Thank God for energy drinks and the 82nd, NEW GUYS and all. Thanks for taking the time to keep us updated. Your efforts on all fronts are bearing fruit.

Get some rest ! ! !

David M said...

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A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Anonymous said...

Leadership means never letting a "new guy" out of your sight...it also means taking the time to teach them right. Seems like you're developing into a great leader! Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great job you're doing with the new guys !!!