Friday, November 23, 2007

A time to give thanks...

This Thanksgiving has a little extra meaning this year. It is a time when we give thanks for the things we have, and to remeber that some of the most important things we have are those that we have always had or will always have; our friends and family. But this year, I have a little something more to be thankful for.

To take a few steps back, I'll go back and talk about the last couple patrols I went on. These were the first couple of patrols I had done since being back in Iraq. The first one, there was nothing really special about it. I was a dismount team leader and we did the usual amount of walking around, but I discovered that my body was going to take a little bit to get used to working 20+ hours at a time again. I ended up sleeping every opportunity I had. Fortunately I would have a couple days off before the next patrol. Since the weather has cooled down a lot, I'm not trying to split my time between dismounting and driving, so I should be dismounting a lot more now.

The next patrol turned out to be a true tester of my bodys willingness to function. The day started out like most other days, but after our stop for breakfast we were to do a dismount through a couple of the markets with some folks working for Civil Affairs. These are the people that do projects and whatnot to improve infastructure and peoples lives in certin areas. I was looking forward to this because this has a completely positive purpose and makes me feel as though I'm accomplishing something, even if I'm just pulling security for the people that actually do the work. Anyways, they ended up stopping and talking to just about everyone and we did a loop that would normally take 30 minutes to walk, and it ended up taking 3 hours!!! I was exhausted and sore and sitting back in my truck felt like heaven.

It would be short lived because we were to go check out some possible car bomb factory. We dismounted for that, with the Civial Affairs Maj. for some odd reason. I'm not real sure what business she had going with us but whatever. We found nothing and ended up being out another hour searching through various buildings. Ok enough already, I NEED A BREAK! :)

I'll use this time to gripe about a new rule that is in place. Its called, No More Lunch! Yes. Durring days that we are on patrol and outside the wire we may not stop by a nearby base that we normally eat at and have chow. Breakfast and dinner are still ok (for now) but lunch is a no go. Now this is completly moronic because this base is not far at all and if we were needed in sector for anything we could get there VERY quickly. But again, some officer who never goes outside the wire, and never puts in the hours and work we do, was probably eating a cheeseburger at lunch one day and had an epiphany. "Oh you know what, I think we could be more productive if we cut out a stop of lunch for these guys! Ahh, yes I'm a genius." Thats about how it went I'm guessing, and now, we are forced to eat MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) when there is no reason that we should have to. Hey buddy, there ain't shit going on in our sector. It'll be fine if we have a damn decent meal. But they're not the one making the sacrifice, so its not an issue to them. Makes me mad.

So back to the rest of the day. After lunch it was pretty uneventful and we ended up having to make a trip to the Green Zone for something, which was nice because I was able to have Subway for dinner. We had a night dismount planned acorss sector (its not really THAT far) which we got dropped off for on our way back from the Green Zone. At this point I was totally exhausted and just wanted to chill, but now there was this patrol I needed to do. My team was to be in front, so I took up point and led us around sector. I was pretty suprised how well I still knew the alleyways.

Just before we were almost back we had gotten word that the neighborhood we were in supposodly had 10 guys with AKs walking around in it. We were also told that there was an IA (Iraqi Army) patrol in the same neighborhood looking for them. I instructed my guys to keep their eyes open, but to make sure of what they were seeing so that we wouldn't get in to an accidental confrontation with the IA guys. Oh yeah, the 2 other guys on my team were new and BRAND new. The patrol picked up and continued on.

Very near the end, I turned in to this other alleyway and noticed an older kid sitting on a desk or something in the alley and through my nightvision, it totally looked like he was wearing a training bra. I though to myself, "What the fuck is he wearing?" The nightvision sometimes messes up colors and makes stuff look weird like that, so I tilted my head up to try and look at him with my eyes, but it was kind of dark. I had just focused back on him through the nightvision and had though how weird that was, when his friend, about the same age, whom I had not seen before came out from around him, about 5 meters in front of me. I noticed he had something in his hands and made out the shape of an AK-47. My heart stopped and I lost my breath. Myself and probably my team were done for. Fortunatly my head kept working and training kicked in as I drew my rifle on him, shining my tac-light on him and putting my visible green laser on his chest. Not taking any chances, I flipped my rifle to FIRE. I yelled for him to stop and to drop the weapon. The boy froze in place still holding his rifle. It seemed like an eternity, just waiting to see what he was going to do. Any movement other than a downward motion would of immediately triggered myself, as well as the guys on my team who at this point were now aimed at him as well, to unload on him, filling his body with 5.56mm holes. He made the right move and laid down the AK. I continued to pull security on him and his friend as the guys on my team moved up to search them. The other kid had an AK-47 that I had not seen, and together they had 5 full magazines of ammo. Both these kids couldn't of been more than 16 or 17, but apparently they were part of some security force that we, the US military, have been paying to keep things under control in some neighborhoods. I don't see why we would allow them to carry weapons, and personally I don't think they are, but beyond my control we gave them their weapons back and left to head back and link up with our trucks. My mind was still racing, thinking of all the other different ways that situation could of ended up. I'm thankful that, due to quick thinking and control on my part as well as both the new guys, we did not end up having to waste 2 kids that night.

Once we linked back up with the trucks we got word that the supervisior of the security force had found a weapons cache so we headed down there and dismounted AGAIN to go check it out. Sure as shit, they had found a cache alright. It was 8 or 9 RPGs (Rocket Propelled Gernades) and a couple mines. We gathered them up and took them out to the road and ended up having to wait forever for EOD (Explosive Ordanance Dispoal) to come out and taken them away. As bad as it is, I ended up locking my door in the back of the Humvee and racking out. I was totally exhausted, void of any energy at this point. But again, the proper handeling of those kids with AKs paid off, for I'm sure if we would of shot them, their "boss" would not have cared to help us out with the weapons cache.

So thats about it. That 2nd patrol was a LONG day and totally kicked my ass. But its ok because now any future ones won't be as bad. I now have a little extra to be thankful for this Thanksgiving as well. A potentially horrible situation was defused without incident, and I'm forever greatful that it went down the way it did. Thanksgiving was yesterday, and I didn't really do anything special. I had the day off, which was nice and for lunch they had the whole Thanksgiving day meal. It was pretty good. Nothing great, but for being in Iraq, I can't complain!


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6 comments:

Wolf Lover Girl said...

Glad to hear that things ended well! Nice job! And Happy Late Thanksgiving!

~ Wolf Lover Girl

Airbornedad said...

Hey,

Thanks for stopping by today. Hope your next patrols aren't nearly as eventful. You will be at Green Ramp sooner than you think. My son is on a four-day pass and is home this weekend. He goes back to Green Ramp next week, but this time to jump. Happy belated Thanksgiving.

Hope said...

Whew...ED..see? you're all over it. Good work. I do hope you can get some better rack time though.i'll be wishing mean things on that idiot who has you all eating MREs at lunch time.;)

willo said...

So glad to hear the incident ended well, as in "without incident" acutally. I'm glad you got to have the day off and there was a proper Thanksgiving meal fixed. Sadly, my boy was out for the day, so I'm guessing he had an MRE for his Thanksgiving. We are starting to look forward now to re-deployment of you all. I tell him that after Christmas we will start thinking in weeks instead of months. Hope you are catching up on some rest and getting some energy back.
thanks and prayers from this TX mom,

BrianFH said...

Close call, good work.

Oh, it's "grateful", btw, not "greatful". Unless you're greatly full? Or full of greatness? I guess the latter is a possibility ...

:-D

;)

David M said...

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