Well I suppose its about time to sit down and write about what I was up to for the ENTIRE month of October.
All in all, the training wasn't that bad. For the first three weeks we essentially repeated all the training that we had been doing for the four months leading up to Mojave Viper. So that would include the ranges that I have talked about below, 400, 410A, 210, and the DAC. One of the big differences was with the DAC (Deliberate Assault Course). Over the summer when we did it is was basically a giant waste of time, but this time we loaded up into amphibious assault vehicles and actually got out fo them to get in on a little of the action. While we were in them racing to the first objective an artillery battery was firing over our heads while planes and helicopters were flying by dropping bombs and shooting missiles, that creates some pretty intense fireworks. As we drew closer, we called off air and our tanks and AAVs started to engage the targets with their main guns. When we finally drew in close enough, we ceased fire with the main guns and me and the rest of the infantry guys dismounted and started rushing the objective over about 300 meters of open terrain. We seized that, loaded up and went to ojective two, about another 10 miles away. Objective two was a specially designed and built village of about 28 buildings made of special rubber walls that absorbed bullets, it was also equipped with pop up targets in the windows and bunkers. We advanced on the city outside our AAVs and started to cleard it building by building with live ammo and grenades. This was just about the scariest thing I've ever done because you have guys shooting in a 360 degree range, going into buildings and sometimes firing back at a target in your direction. At one point I was in a room that I had just cleared and a guy outside the window thought that he saw a target inside and sprayed a 20 round machine gun burst in through the window. I about lost control of my freakin bladder.
The last two weeks were spent out at an entire town that had been constructed and modeled after an Iraqi town, this one called Wadi Al-Sahara. It had a marketplace, police station, mayor's office, basically everthing. It also had about 100 full time Iraqi roll players that wore authentic Arab garb and spoke only in Arabic. Some of them were bad, and some of them were good. But we basically just trained in there everyday, interacting with the people, doing raids on suspected houses, gathering intel, handing out food to people, it was awesome training because it felt so real with the people there.
For the last four days of this training we basically had a 4 day war. The bused in about an extra 300 Iraqis and completely filled the town. From there we did everything like we would in Iraq, patrol, stand post, hand out generators, go meet with the sheikh, set up vehicle check points, but the situation was such that the majority of the town was hostile. Over the 96 hours I got about 4-5 hours of sleep total, we were constantly on ops, whether we were doing night insertions into a building to have overwatch on a bridge or raiding a suspected insurgent house. On the last night, insurgents over ran the perimeter of the Iraqi Army base and kidnapped a Marine in my platoon, so my whole batallion of about 500 infantry Marines surrounded the city and cleared every single room in every building until we eventually found him at about 4 am. It was a pretty crazy sight. At one point during all of this my observation post and a small patrol we had sent out in close proximity were ambushed. It was at night so all you could see were muzzle flashes and these artillery simulators going off every where. It was pure chaos, it looked just like that scene in Black Hawk Down when they are penned up in the building and attacked at night.
Anyways, I'm back, I'm done with it. I'm not too pleased that I had to miss an entire month of football, but I'm gonna do my best to catch up. Give me a call or leave me a message because I haven't talked to any of you in a long while.