Friday, November 30, 2007

The patrol from hell...

It is good to be back at the FOB, let me tell you. The last venture out in to the city was another long one, lasting a couple days, and my God did it suck ass. Time dragged on for what seemed like an eternity, and it was a tester on the moral of the soldier. To make matters worse, my understanding of the deployments of Vietnam have changed. I had always thought that deployments were 2 years, but apparently it was 1. The whole time I had it in my head that if they did 2 back then, well 15 months isn't bad. Now that bubble has been burst.

The patrol started off normal. Things were going alright during the day, and nothing really exciting or special had happened. After our break for a lunch MRE, we got word that the security force that we've hired and are working with in our area had found yet another weapons cache, so we moved out to their location to secure it. When we got there they had most of it uncovered and we basically set up security around the house that it was found in. Looking over at the pile of explosives they had was astonishing. I had never seen so many rounds. Shoot this was only the 2nd cache I had ever seen and this was turning out to be a big one.

A lot of the rounds were rusted and just looked unstable and to add to the fact that there were just so damn many of them, we called up the bomb guys to come check things out for us. We ended up having to wait a couple hours for them to show up and during that time I ended up going inside the hose and seeing more of what they had in this cache. Theres was ever MORE stuff inside the house. Once I came back out in to the street we had a lot of time on our hands and there were a ton of these armed security guys around so we started talking with them. Many of them were pretty cool and I no longer believe that they are former militia guys that converted to what they are doing now. Many of them had bad things to say about JAM (the Shiite Militia) which used to have a big presence in the area.

So EOD (the bomb guys) finally showed up and came and checked the rounds and layed them all out to get a count and take some pictures. I couldn't tell you how many rounds there were, but it was a LOT!! They had mortars of all sized, from 60mm all the way to the big bad boys, the 120mm. They had RPGs and some other explosive stuff. There were weapons, tons of ammunition and wiring and all sorts of stuff to create IEDs. This was a HUGE find, and it was awesome being a part of getting this stuff off the streets. After almost 4 hours at this cahce we finally were able to get out of there. The EOD guys were probably going to be busy for quite some once they got back and got to work on all those rounds.

Later that evening we ended up swing back my the FOB for something. My squads truck had been having some power issues due to a bad pulley for the alternator and at one point we had lost power to everything electical in the truck. I'm suprised the truck was even still running. We ended up trading out and getting another truck so ours could get dropped off with the mechanics. On the way out, almost everything was going wrong with getting off the FOB. I won't go in to the details, because it makes us look fucked up, but thats not the case. It was just one of those days. Once off the FOB we started rolling down the road, when all of a sudden inside of our truck we hear as loud 'whoosh' sound that isn't stopping. My grenadier who was driving started yelling "What the hell is that? Whats going on?!?" I told him I didn't know just as smoke begins to fill the truck. I took a deep breath and was unable to breathe. I thought it was this fire suppression system we have in our truck and I started yelling "I can't breath! Its the fire supression system sucking the oxygen out! AHHH!!!" I flung the truck door open as we are still driving down the road. At this point, everyone is partially freaking out and the driver stops the truck and we all come running out, not knowing whats going on. It turns out the fire extinguisher (different than the fire supression system) randomly started shooting the chalk powder out, which was the reason no one could breathe. We got loaded back up, everyone laughing their asses off! This is not going to be a good night!

That night we ended up doing a dismounted patrol and once again I was on point and we ran in to some more armed guards. Apparently they knew where some dude was we were looking for and we ended up following them to this house. It was freaky because the 4 armed guards had black ski masks that they wore and they were hauling ass, almost running, to this house. I was up front trying to keep up with them while the rest of the guys behind me were steadily falling back. At one point I couldn't see anyone past the guy right behind me and I was getting worried. I had the gut feeling I was being led in to an ambush. These guys also had their tactics down as they pulled security down alleyways that they crossed and everything like that. Once at the house the started pulling security on the door, the roof, the other roofs and down the alleyway. I was totally shocked as I was getting my team ready to enter in to the home. We ended up storming in and clearing everything. There was a man and his wife there but it wasn't who we were looking for and they had nothing in the home. Oh well, sorry for the intrusion.

We finally got to where we were to bed down for the night and I think I was in bed at around midnight. At 0345 in the morning we get woken up to head out and check out some explosions. Awesome. As expected it was nothing and we just ended up getting up and heading out there as a waste of time.

The rest of the next day was pretty relaxed. We ended up dismounting in one of the markets to sieze some scooters. Apparently there are new rules now that forbid the scooters in the markets, but somehow they are all over the place. We ened up seizing 2 of them and putting them on the Humvees and driving them to an Iraqi police station for these people to pick up there. (insert sarcasm) Bet they really learned their lesson! I felt like such an asshole while doing this too, and you could tell we definatly wern't making friends out there that day. Glad Im doing an extra 3 months to take people scooters away from them in the markets. Yay for me!

That night we wen't on a dismounted patrol which was origionally supposed to be a short one. Well, like most plans, it ended up going to shit and turned in to a fairly decent walk with a quick snap raid thrown in the mix. The raid yielded nothing and after a bit of walking and not much to show for it, I was ready to link back up with the trucks and wait for time to slowly pass until we were to head back. Right about the time we were to head back we got word that there was some target location we were to go to in order to break up some plan for a future attack on coalition forces. Wonderful. We headed out and got everything set to do the raid. My squad was to go in and do all that fun stuff. We ended up going in 2 different houses and finding a whole lot of nothing. Sorry, nothing exciting, just another waste of time! :) Oh well, once it was over, we were on our way back to our base to finally come home. Those couple of days felt like a week and more than ever was a looking forward to being back on the FOB. Hopefully things will go a little smoother next time.

Digg this story! Add to! Subscribe to this feed!


Nixon said...

Cool story man, thanks for sharing. Out of curiosity, where the Iraqis you were working with IPs or CLC?

Anonymous said...

John McCain recently visited Iraq. He came back and says that the troops told him "to let us win". How true do you think that is? Do most troops in Iraq feel like Iraq is on the verge of becoming a real country?

Anonymous said...

Awesome writing! Thanks for letting us know what is really happening in Iraq. You and your men are in our prayers for success during this deployment and for a safe return back home.

Nixon said...

Good first-hand insight from the front line. It really helps puts things into perspective about why violence has gone down for guys like me who just read reports all day. Thanks for all you do.

Long-time RN said...

Sorry your bubble is burst on the Viet Nam deployment time frame. Gotta be tough to stay focused and strong through the last three months of a 15 mo deployment. Lots of people back here keeping you in their thoughts and prayers. Thanks so much for taking time to write.
Cathy B

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 12/03/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

Anonymous said...

Just think of how many lives you have saved by finding and securing that cache! You may not see the good you are doing in the mundane things you have to do, but rest assured you are making a positive difference! Keep up the good work!

Wolf Lover Girl said...

LOL on the fire extinguisher!!! Come on, we have to laugh at your expense. :-)

Glad you're getting those nasty scooters off the street, they might run you over. :-)

And what do those people think when you "invade" their house and it's not the one you're looking for?

~ Wolf Lover Girl

Anonymous said...