We're really starting to get spoiled with these safe, simple 6 day ops. I'm happy to say that we once again did not get shot at, not even once. That's not to say things are completely safe over here, there's still danger and Marines are still getting hurt. One unfortunate case happened up in Karmah with one of our other companies, Echo. There was a bomb that went off alongside a dismounted patrol, seriously wounding two Marines. One of those Marines happened to be good friends with a few guys in our platoon, and particularly with one guy in my squad. It was a rough time for him when he found out, especially since he's already lost two of his closest friends over here, Howey and Windsor, and now a third friend of his has lost his leg. It really just shows you that not all of the pain guys take away from this place are physical.
Like I said though, our six days went by very uneventfully. The first three days were pretty much cake. We were expecting that to continue the final three days, but at the midway point we were told we were going to an area called Rufush. Now I'm going to have to put this in perspective for you. Rufush is a place that we have only seen labeled on a map. All that we have ever been told about Rufush is that it's THE al Qaeda stronghold in the Zaidon. Rufush is their Berlin, their Iwo Jima and Khe San (ok, not quite that bad). The only time we had heard of Marines going through Rufush is when we had pushed an entire batallion plus through there about 3 months ago, and when we did that we found a gazillion weapons and torture houses that would make Hostel 2 look mild. Great, grand and wonderful. We are almost done with our tour, and they want to send us to Rufush. Alone. Well, we didn't have much say in the matter, so we went. What a let down. We got there and it was like the suburbs. I spent most of my time on patrol playing with little kids and Beanie Babies. Seriously. It really helped show us that our efforts and sacrifices in the area HAVE payed dividends. This place is safer and more stable than when we arrived, and that is a good feeling.
Turns out that a raid we did a few ops ago (I didn't write about it) actually produced some good results. We really didn't think much of the grab at the time, we had gotten intel that a top AQ leader in the area was having a meeting with his top lieutenants and we went to crash the party. We prepped for it like we were storming Normandy, but when we got there we kicked in about 3 doors, cleared out 3 houses only to find some big, fat, Colonel Sanders looking dude sleeping on his roof...big target found. He really wasn't the evil looking guy we were expecting. Anyways, turns out this guy's been in the terror biz since the 70's, so I guess he was a good find. I would have expected someone who had been doing this for thirty plus years to not get caught while sleeping in a yard, buuuut who am I to say?
That story kind of leads me to another funny bit about Iraq. I was recounting the story to my sister, and her response was, "So let me get this straight. You kicked in 3 doors, ran through the house screaming "clear", banging into everything, and the guy was still asleep when you got to him?"
You see Iraqis will sleep through EVERYTHING. They wake up for no man. Sometimes we will go to a house to set up an observation point, maybe to watch a road or bridge or something. We'll knock on the door, banging as loud as we can, when we get no answer we assume it's either abandoned or the family isn't waking up, so we just walk in. Normally they will be sleeping on the roof because it's so hot. We'll walk upstairs and set up security on the roof, the whole time the family is just knocked out on the ground on mats. If they do wake up, they might barely rise up on their elbows, rub their eyes, look at us indifferently, and lay back down. Sometimes, when they don't wake up, they'll get up with the sunrise and find 13 Marines sharing their roof. That can be comical. The best is when the wife starts smacking her husband because he did a rotten job of security. This last time we were out we set up at a house on the roof, with the family sleeping. I was on the first watch shift, so when the sun came up I was asleep. I awoke to, "Mista, Mista, hobus?" When I opened my eyes this little girl was holding a piece of hobus bread her mom had just baked for me. I looked over where her dad was laying and he was sheepishly eating his piece. I just laughed and started eating. There you have it, a little Iraq Culture 101.