One of the things that I enjoy about being in the infantry is the unpredictability of what will occur during your day or night mission. Now granted there are days like the last couple, discluding the fire-fight we got in when life can be rough and extremely straight out dull. I always say it takes a particular something to be infantrymen these days.
I see it similar to being fire-fighters. In our case, we go straight into the fire-fight as the fire-fighter would go into the burning house; personally, I would rather dodge bullets, but I digress. When bullets are flying at you, something just comes over you, almost like a mischievous young boy feeling.
Now for almost two days straight the platoon has been in some fierce fire-fights, and everyone I have spoken with pretty much heard the whizzing of bullets through the air even some coming dangerously close to them dinging of the side armor.
No longer are patrolling just regular, go out take a peek at the city, dismount here and there, ask some questions, shake some hands and make some friends. Things are really getting ugly. We leave the FOB Falcon and make our way out to our designated AO, for the life of me I couldn’t even tell you the name of the AO or better yet spell it, but what does it matter, I am in Baghdad or basically Abu T-Shir.
Due to the Muslim holiday, Ramadan, things have picked up. We make our way down the road, and everything seems reasonable, kids out, and people driving around like madmen and occasionally crashing into each other when they see us coming, but all that is normal. As we drove down the street, an Iraq national waves us down, we stop, curious but still cautionary. You always have your guard up, because at any time all hell can be unleashed.
Staff Sergeant Rine yells back at the interpreter, “Ha what’s this guy saying”?
The interpreter Steve gets in the hatch and starts making sense of this whole thing. Well after 20 seconds, the squad leader tells us that someone just been murdered at a house. The second squad dismounted, leaving the third squad to pull security. I jump into the hatch, not falling on my butt this time and started scanning the area.
After a while of standing up in the hatch, explosion and smoke filled the air not far from our position. The word came over the radio that one of the Humvee patrols had been hit by IED, no one was injured.
The thing about having IED, mortars, and gunfire every day, you sometimes become unfazed by them. The one thing that still fazes me is the whizzing of bullets close by, that is a wicked sound. As we waited for the squad to wrap up their investigation, another explosion rocked nearby, this time the road filled with cars.
The insurgents were up to no good. After a good 30 minutes, the second squad made their way back to the truck, I jumped down out of the hatch so that the squad leader could do his thing. I ask the squad leader, Staff Sergeant Rine, what happened. He quickly briefed me,
“Uh, A guy in a car drove up to guy while he was outside his house, he told him to get in, and he didn’t. The person in the vehicle got pissed, jumped out of the car, pulled a pistol out, and threatened the old man.
The person standing on the sidewalk went to defend himself, while doing that he managed to get the gun. When he got the gun he tried to take off, as he did, he threw the pistol away, for some odd reason and then somehow tripped over some trash and fell, as he tried to flee for his life. The guy that he took the weapon from got up, took the gun and shoot him in the head.”
I looked at him puzzled, “OK, why didn’t he shoot the guy when he took the gun?” Staff Sergeant Rine answered sarcastically
“I know I would, but better yet, why throw the gun.” I laughed and sat back and tried to make sense of things.
As we continued the patrol, I was not really sure where we were or what was going on because I was in the troop compartment along with 10 other men, it was a packed house Our trucks ramp had a hydraulic issue, as well as an engine problem, so we had to do what we had to do.
We came to a stop shortly into the patrol in the middle of an open soccer field, the reason I knew this because the RWS was scanning and I identified the familiar soccer post on the screen. Staff Sergeant Rine got down from his hatch and told us what was going on. The second squad was going to conduct a presence walking patrol, nothing big and out of the abnormal.
The ramp dropped, and all of them went running out as if they had done thousands of times before. I jumped in the hatch and started scanning the big open field. In Iraq, there are so many shanty houses that are barely standing. Specialist Murray expressed his disbelief out loud, “How the hell does these people live like this, I couldn’t do it.” I answer him over the roar of the Stryker engine, “Bro it is easy to live like that when you have never lived any other…………BOOM…. BOOM., AK 47 as well as explosions followed by American forces firing back…rocked the blue sky……before I could finish all hell had broken out. Every once in a while you will hear some action going on in someone else’s AO, and you just ignore it and worry about what is going on in your area, but that changed quickly when the first of many bullets came whizzing by our heads.
I looked back and got Sergeant Lawrence to make sure that I was not losing my marbles and hearing things, he did not even have to look at me; I could tell he could hear and see the same thing. Boom…Bang…..zip. It seemed like whoever was firing at the other American forces saw us and started to unleash. The truck spun around quickly, trying to get a better picture of what was going on.
Zip…Ding…..Whiz. That is when things started to make a turn. I think we would have taken off toward the fight, but we had a second and first squad on the ground walking around, so our primary responsibility was to gather up the men. As we waited for the AK 47, fire became increasingly closer and louder. We could see rounds splashing all around in the dirt.
The radio was screaming fervent instructions, I really did not get the whole order, just to find the second squad and go to the fight. We drove due south for a little while. Meanwhile, the VC was trying to radio up to Staff Sergeant Rine, they needed to make their way to the truck, no answer…
As we drove down the road looking for 2nd squad, the whizzing of rounds overhead could still be heard. In the distance I saw what looked like a bunch of people running, I pointed it out to the VC…we stepped on the gas and made our way over to their position. 2nd squad just happen to be all the way down the road, so they had to bound all the way back 300 meters or so, meanwhile getting shot at and bullets whizzing over them.
Now that the squad was accounted for we now made our trip across the open field dodging everything from trash houses and those little whizzing sounds overhead. Everyone in the truck was pumped. “Let’s get some,” one of the guys said, everyone concurred and started getting excited. I still think it is funny that we get pumped about going into a fire-fight, where we all know that at any given time things may go black.
As we hit the corner, the insurgents opened up, but the 203 from Sergeant Lawrence put that guy to rest…….boom….followed by the ringing of Specialist. Murray with the saw. Then silence. “It was like a cheering squad in the troop compartment. A couple minute later, the silence ended. Wow…crap…..RPGS…….booom. That is when the whole arsenal of the infantry let loose, the 240, 50 cal, Mark 19, Saw, and the faithful M-4.
The bullets could be heard hitting things all around. On the radio, I could listen to something about reaper four getting hit by some rounds, but all personal were good, and they were still in the fight. The best part was to come.
The gunfire came to a halt, it seemed like everyone came to the conclusion that with all that firing someone had to be dead, and well that wasn’t the case. The word came over the radio that the Apaches were about to unleash some good old American whoop butt. I could see some guys prepping their cameras, but by the time they got them out it was too late…….boom……….then a big cheer from the guys in the hatch. I know one thing when it comes to blowing up stuff, men become little kids…we love it and live for it.
After a while the word came over the radio, we won of course. The bad guys lost….1 guy went to see Allah and one being carefully and professionally taken care of by medics. See, even if want to kill the bad guys and they happen to live we take care of them, there’s a saying,” One insurgent alive with info is better than him dead.”
After it was all said and done, we all came out alive and well and of course happy that we could be productive again in the war on terror. One minute you can walking and joking around and the next minute you can be fighting for your life and those around you, this place is no joke, and what you don’t hear in the news I will make sure you know.