I'm sure you hate seeing that headline on this blog as much as I hate typing it. Unfortunately I am bringing you all another prayer request for two of our guys who were badly wounded the second night we were out in the Zaidon. Our two engineers, who have been attached to our platoon since we have been in the Zaidon, were badly wounded the second night we were down there. Since I only knew them for about a month, I'm going to withold their names from this post.
My squad and I went out on a pretty routine mission with them to sweep for weapons caches. We found an abandoned house that had bullet casings all over it and we spent about 20 minutes investigating. Satisfied that nothing was to be found there, we began to make our way out of the building. I was the second to last man out. As I was walking away, LCPL Arguello followed behind me and I heard a loud bang. The whole squad hit the deck, thinking a grenade had been thrown behind us. I turned around expecting to see Archie a mess, but instead I see him just standing there, stunned, with smoke around his feet. I thought maybe he had accidentily fired his weapon, so I started yelling at him. He swore he hadn't.
I moved up with the engineers to investigate a little more. What we found scared the living hell out of me. We found a homemade pressure plate device (sometimes called Christmas tree lights, because that's what they look like), two blasting caps and some copper wire. IED. We started uncovering some dirt and found a 120mm artillery shell. It had been wired as a booby trap, and if the terrorist hadn't failed out of Tech School and wired the blasting caps incorrectly, myself and about 3 other Marines would have been in a world of hurt.
So we called up EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) and told them the story. They began to come out and we cordoned off the house. We were waiting for about 4 hours when they finally arrived. CPL Williams went to a canal bridge to link up with the team, and, right as he was about to step on the bridge, he looked down and saw another pressure plate, another booby trap, right at the edge of the bridge. His boot was about 6 inches away. Luckily, EOD was there so they dismantled it. That's when things went to hell.
After they dismantled the bridge bomb, CPL Williams, the two engineers and two other Marines were making their way back to the bridge to link up and lead them to the house. While they were walking up, one of the engineers stepped on a third booby trap, and this one was rigged correctly. He was directly above the blast when it went off, and the other engineer was right beside him.
When I got on there it was chaos. Our doc and the EOD docs managed to save their lives, and we got them on a helicopter in time. But I just recently received word that they are both already stateside. One of them has lost both his legs and some of his left arm, the other has shrapnel to 60% of his body.
It's awful to think about. These Marines had literally walked over this booby trap 3 times, back and forth to the bridge. It was pure dumb luck.
I don't know how they're doing, and I don't know if I'll ever speak to them again. But I'll never forget that night. It was awful. In one instant their lives were forever changed. It made me think- it's one thing to go out and risk your life daily, that I can handle, because if it ends, I'll never know any better. But now I realize how much you go out and risk your dreams, and that's harder to grasp and handle, because when those are taken from you, you have to live with that. I am not saying that their lives are ruined, dreams shattered. Their lives are still before them, but they are forever altered. Many of the things they probably wanted to do are no longer possible for them, and that is hard to swallow.
Remember them tonight.