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This blog exists only as an archive. It is a journal that serves as a window into my life as a Marine combat veteran serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; it was written with no filter, no politics and no agenda. Please feel free to follow my journey from beginning to end. Welcome to my life.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pics on Motomail

Just so you all know, you now have the option of sending a picture along with motomail, so if you have pics you want to send me along with the letters, set up an account. Instructions are on the right hand side of this website.

Pictures From the Z

Having a look on a rooftop.
Piram and Doc Campanali, ready for a patrol.

On the roof.


Taking over carrying the radio for one of our heat casualties.



Having a little chat on the radio.



Ready to go resupply Alpha squad at night.



Me and Colbert, with our "damn we made it" faces after the 400 meter machine gun dash.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

New Books

Some recent packages have beefed up my ‘to read’ list. I got the new book by the author of The Kite Runner (one of my favorites), titled A Thousand Splendid Suns. I also got a book I’m excited to read called Good Muslim, Bad Muslim that delves into the rise of muslim extremists, from, I think, their point of view. The most interesting book that someone has sent me was written by the sender himself, titled Red Meat Cures Cancer, it’s a satire about America.

I’m so glad I got these because I had run out of books and attempted to better myself by reading a classic, The Sound and The Fury, which to me was classically awful. NOT my style. I left it at an Iraqi house thinking maybe they would appreciate it more.
The whole of the 11 or 12 days we were out this time was pretty crazy. The bad vibe we had was set by the experiences that I wrote about below regarding our two engineers being wounded. It didn’t really ever pick up until about three days before we left.

So what made this op so bad? Where does one begin? How about three members of my squad went down as heat casualties in the days that followed. Each on of them had core body temperatures that exceeded 103 degrees. If you aren’t aware, that’s high, and its really bad news if it’s 125 degrees outside. Those aren’t really ideal conditions to try and bring down a fever in. It goes without saying that we got some good practice at giving IV’s, and something called the "silver bullet", which, if you know how a core body temperature is taken, you shouldn’t have a hard time figuring out.

What next? Well, we were out on a patrol, south of the platoon patrol base when suddenly we heard an enormous explosion to the north. It was so loud that we thought we were caught in a mortar storm, but it came over the radio that MAP platoon’s patrol base had been hit by a suicide car bomb. Next thing that came over the radio was get your asses their, fast. My team took point and we started heading north. We figured that with the route we were going to have to take to circumnavigate the canals we had about a 2.4 k movement. I moved up to second in order of movement to try and keep the whip on my point man, he set a FAST pace. But, the recipe of full gear, middle of the day heat, rough terrain and two pogues who never patrol attached to the squad because of the heat casualties equaled some serious trouble. We had 3 guys puke up their lunch on the way over. When we finally got there and I crested the berm and laid eyes on the waste I could only stare. We had heard on the radio a medevac request for 14 surgical and urgent surgicals, that’s the most I’ve ever heard. Looking at the destruction I could only imagine how bad they must have been (by this point the medevac had already happened). I was relieved to find out that not a single one of them was life threatening and no limbs had been lost, just lots of major lacerations from secondary shrapnel inside the house. This wasn’t so much a suicide car bomb as it was a suicide dumb truck, a big orange one to be exact. The crater it left would have made a killer swimming pool, and the force of the blast actually took a 10 ton humvee and flipped it through the air like a toy, landing on its side in the middle of the courtyard. The force must have been incredible. Anyways, we had to hold security while MAP went through the wreckage and tried to find all their gear, recover vehicles, etc. Meanwhile, our doc was busy dosing out IVs to guys in the squad who had shown us their lunch on the way over. All in all, it wasn’t an average Tuesday.

Things didn’t slowdown for us though. The next day we were in an overwatch position observing an intersection when we heard our patrol base get mortared. Watching mortars fall around where your buddies are sleeping isn’t exactly what you want front row seats for.

The next day it got weird. Muir and I were talking in the house, and he was telling me about how 4th platoon had let insurgents sneak up on a truck at their patrol base and plant an IED underneath that they later detonated. No kidding, just as he finishes this story we hear a boom. We thought it was mortars again, but someone comes in yelling that there was a blast under our 7 ton truck. No way. We got confirmation that an IED had just detonated under our truck. Muir and I just start laughing. You want to know the weirdest/worst thing about it? Al Qaeda forced a 6 or 7 year old kid to plant the bomb. Our post had actually seen the kid walking around in the area of the truck with the backpack. Is that awful or what? On top of that AQ walked up to a house in the small village we were based in, dressed as farmers and carrying AKs in rice bags. They took a family hostage and watched us from their house, and when they left they made them take us a message that if we didn’t leave that night they were going to kill all of us. Real classy Jihad Joe.

So where did the 11 days ever improve? Well we moved out of the area, we missed our deadline though, damn, not exactly men of their word are they? Looks like they tried to keep it though, because for the next three days they made what amounted to an attempt.

The attempt began early one morning. We were out on a patrol and decided to set up on the roof of a house to observe a sector that the Iraqi Police were working in. So were up there, watching the Iraqi police move around when all the sudden they get attacked by AQ. We were about 400 meters away when this happened and we could only see the IP’s, not AQ, which made it so that we could not engage to help them (it doesn’t help that for the most part IPs do not wear uniforms). It was really weird. I remember thinking back to history classes where they said that in the opening battles of the Civil War people would come out from the nearby villages and picnic while watching the fight. That’s kinda what this felt like. It was relatively easy to keep the mood light, even though we were watching men shoot at each other, because if you’ve ever seen most of these guys shoot, you know they aren’t going to hit each other. Anyways, I felt like I was at a Lakers game or something. It seemed like the only thing that was missing was nachos, a cold, vastly overpriced beer, and a giant foam finger. We would actually cheer when we saw them do something tactically sound. The fight lasted for about 30 minutes, at which time the IPs drove by where we were, all smiles, seeking our praise, acting like they were in a ticker-tape parade.

The attempt continued. Our Alpha squad then punched out a patrol into the area that the fighting had taken place in to try and find some intel on what was going on. Well, they didn’t bring an interpreter, so my squad had to pick him up and take him to them. As we were patrolling towards them we heard gunshots in the background, but this is completely normal in the Zaidon, and its easy to tell when its dangerous to you. It goes like this-

-If you hear the gunshot, they aren’t shooting at you, because bullets travel faster than sound.

-If you hear a whiz, they’re shooting around you.

-If you hear a snap, and then the rifle fire, scream an expletive and then either run or get down, because they’re shooting at you, and they’re actually coming close.

Well, the gunshots soon turned to whizzes. We were in a completely open field. I mean Iowa farmland open, like Idiots Out Wandering Around, Field of Dreams open. So we picked out pace up a little bit. Then we heard a snap, and then we heard a lot of snaps. It was about time to get the piano off our back, we ran for the house that Alpha was in, got there about 150 meters later, and got in.

"Well, we got the terp now, so you guys can go ahead and head back."

If I hadn’t been doubled over wheezing I would have said something in protest. Luckily the fire started to subside, so heading back actually didn’t sound like a bad idea, especially since we hadn’t slept in two days and rest was waiting for us back at the patrol base.

We had a total of about 400 meters to cover going back, all of it tilled farmland with intermittent canals and one solitary house halfway there. We decided to run for it in teams. My team would be last. I had it so that me and the other biggest guy in the squad, LCpl Kelly, were the last ones to go, so that we could pick up anyone that may get hit. The first team runs for it and makes it to the halfway house. No fire taken. Allright, this might not be too bad. My team went. Snap. Snapsnapsnap. Snapsnapsnapsnapsnapsnap. Well, this isn’t exactly going as planned. The team already there opened up with some cover fire, and who other than 'Machine Gun Steve Wherry' opened up from where we were running from on a 240 machine gun.

I have seen a lot of action movies in my life, you know, the cheesy shoot from the hip, never have to change magazine in my weapon type, and in them a lot of things that I figured I would never do in combat. One of those is the commando roll. No one actually does a forward somersault in full gear. I put that debate to rest because I saw a sand pile right in front of the house I was running to and I head over heels somersaulted right into it, snaps chasing the whole way.

Gee, that was fun, luckily we’re only halfway! We get to do it all again! This time we got smart and started popping smoke canisters like it was Halloween in Madison and ran back through a yellow cloud.

So, Al Qaeda actually wants to do this, huh? Coming over here I never pictured being in a fight that would be sustained over hours, let alone days. But, AQ was being feisty and wanted to stick around.

Alpha fought from the house they were in for the remainder of the day. Bravo squad had dibs on the next day, and then it was us on day three. Back at the patrol base we were using marksmen to take them out, and calling in artillery counterfire missions on them when they fired mortars at us.

The fight lasted about 3 days. We got a lot of em. It helped that we called in 2,000 pounds worth of precision smart bombs on them. You think AQ would have learned their lesson when we dropped some 500 pounders on them the first day, buuuut no. You would also think they would learn that Marine Corps marksmen can reach out and touch you at about 1,000 meters. Lucky for us they stuck around.

Well, now here I am, back in Camp Fallujah. We finally have something now where we can say that we really did make a significant difference over here. There are definately fewer terrorists in the Zaidon now.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Prayers

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.
Finally, after nearly two weeks, 3rd Platoon was allowed to exit the Zaidon. I think the Dirty Z is trying to one up itself every time we go out there on the miserability factor. There's a lot of stuff to talk about, I'll try and get most of it down later. Thanks for all the emails and well wishes.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

"BEAT IOWA!" Enough said. Well, not quite. You see I have an enormous distaste for the University of Iowa's football team and when I was in Madison last fall for a game, I picked up this pin at the bookstore. So I started rockin' it out here Full Metal Jacket 'Nam style, but the higher ups didn't see it fit into the "war on terror" thing. I don't see it that way, so here's to terrorizing the Hawkeye's this year.

One more Iraqi sunset behind us. I've seen probably around 150 of them and each one brings me closer to home.

Roberts with his promise right before he got on the freedom bird out of Iraq, if I see you in Vegas you might see him too.

Bullard, on patrol, with Colbert in the background.

This kid wanted to be a Marine, so I let him try on my gear. That flak jacket weighs about 60 pounds all together, so his dad had to help him out a bit.

This one wanted some candy.

Rocking out with some dude that I offended when I guessed his age to be older than his brother's. His response, "I have TWO wives, he has only ONE!", drew some laughs.






Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Anthrax Vaccine

The Marine Corps has decided to give me an anthrax vaccine. No thanks. Apparently we can refuse it but we have to talk to the entire chain of command, translation: you can't refuse it.

This is the first installment in a series of something in the ballpark of 6 shots. I don't even know why we need it. Only Senators and Congressmen have to worry about anthrax, I haven't gotten any letter mail with powder in it so far. What they need to give me is a camel spider vaccine. They could vaccinate the hell out of me for that.
Finally got some access to a laptop and a thumb drive, so now I have some time to sit down and talk about things. We only spent about 7 days out this time, not quite 10, but of course it still feels like forever. Wasn’t quite as hot, and wasn’t quite as humid, but I think the bugs are mutating into something worse than before. The Marine Corps has a solution to this problem, it comes in a little green tube. Doc simply called it bug juice, he said it had pretty good levels of DEET so I gave it a try. Before I went to bed I put it on my arms and legs, a little dab on the back of the neck, a bit on the shoulders, I thought I was good. I laid down, put on my iPod, closed my eyes and prepared for a horribly sweaty 4 hours of shallow slumber. About five minutes into my fitful rest I felt like I was on fire. Literally, I felt like Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights. It was as if he had made me rub extra strength Icy/Hot on, and the thing is, it wasn’t a prank. The Marine Corps answer to bugs lies somewhere in a lotion that’s 50% diesel fuel, 30% camel urine, and 20% God only knows what.

Of course it didn’t help that the houses we were picking to stay in were completely overrun with spiders. I won’t dwell on the spider subject much anymore, but if you can actually feel the exoskeleton of the spider crunch under your boot it’s a bad sign.

I have a killer case of combat tan going on right now. From my neck up and my elbows down I look only 50% Caucasian. Of course then I get back from patrol and peel off my flight suit and shirt and the rest of my body hasn’t seen the light of day in about 6 months, which is NOT good for my return to California.

The insurgents only messed with us once this past week, which was a welcome change of pace. I think they had maybe planned on bothering us a little more, but when they rolled up on our patrol base and fired their AK’s at us, and we returned with a 30 round automatic burst from a MK-19 grenade launcher, they lost their nerve a little. LCPL Wherry was the guy that returned fire, which has only added to his growing legend as "Machine Gun" Wherry, aka "Ma Deuce", aka "Johnny On the Spot With Automatic Machine Gun Fire". You see, Wherry has been behind the heavy guns in just about every major engagement we’ve been in as a platoon. When Windsor was hit, it was Wherry behind the .50 cal, dismantling buildings brick by brick to get us out. Two weeks ago when we were ambushed by the market, it was Wherry that got behind the 240 and put rounds down on the house from about 1,000 meters away. The thing is, he isn’t even a machine gunner, but he’s the envy of the platoon.

I mentioned in a previous post that I have been debating on what to do my last two years in the Marines when I come back from Iraq. In that one I was debating between coming back to Iraq next year leading the squad. I think I have found what I really want to do though. My buddy Muir is trying to reenlist into a new unit called MARSOC, which stands for Marine Special Operation Command, and is the Marine Corps’ first step into the official SOCOM community. They are currently trying to find qualified candidates to fill their ranks since its only 2 years old, and after this deployment I will meet all those requirements. I would only have to extend my contract for 12 months (so I’d do 5 years instead of 4) and I would be stationed at Camp Pendleton, on the coast, far away from 29 Palms. I’m only hoping that I can get my chain of command to let me go, they’re notorious for not letting guys try and get out until they have two deployments in with the battalion. We’ll see where it goes. Right now I’m working on getting my secret clearance, which is the first step.

Well, it’s about time to wrap this one up. I’ve been back in Camp Fallujah for 14 hours, and I already have two showers in. That might sound a little over the top, but I think as much filth came off in the second one as the first, and I feel round three coming up.

PS- if anyone contacts you about my secret clearence, which is a possibility please don't mention the following- Anything that had to do with 206 Marion Street, my employment at Wando's, Sunday Fundays, that curious thing that happened with the Le Claire sign post in high school, having a bar in my front lawn in college, Halloween 2003...just do me a favor and say you can only recall my upstanding citizenship and dedication in the classroom.
Just got back from the Zaidon again. I really don't have time to put anything up right now, but I'll be back later. Take care.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Peace out Boberts

Cpl Roberts officially left the platoon to return to the United States yesterday. It was a pretty funny goodbye, with lots of promises involving booze cruises and the like upon our return in a few months. After 4 years of service and 3 deployments to Iraq, I suppose it was about his time to stop rolling the dice. Like I mentioned earlier, he was accepted to Cal-Berkley, so that is where you will find him this fall (as well as in Vegas and Madison, I convinced him to make those trips as well).

Near Beer

Had my first real experience with Non-Alcoholic beer last night. My experience lasted 12 ounces. "Near Beer" is the worst thing man has ever created. Ben Franklin once said "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy". NA Beer is proof that God has a sense of humor.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Just wanted to write and ask that you please not waste your time getting into arguments on the comment section of this site. This is for two reasons:



1) This site really isn't worth arguing about.

2) I get an email update every time someone posts something, and it leaves a ton of messages in my inbox, which is fun if they're nice and lighthearted. I'd rather not wait 10 minutes for my inbox to load only to see a philosophy debate unfolding...I skipped enough of those back in college.



This doesn't mean don't post, and I'm not trying to censor what anyone has to say. I couldn't really care less what people think of me, what I'm doing, or how I'm doing it. I'm going on regardless. But there are different forums for these discussions. Like a boxing ring. Or the Octagon.



Secondly, if you are the mother of a Marine in my platoon, company, batallion, etc, please don't tell him you read this, and please, pretty please don't tell him you cry when you do. Everyone has a different comfort level for sharing things, if your son does not want you to know these things, I don't want to be the guy breaking them to you. I did not tell a soul I serve with that I write this thing, but I have had a lot of guys come up to me and say "Dude, my mom wrote me an email and said she reads something called a blog that you write on the internet, I don't even know what the @#$! a blog is". Usually I just deny any knowledge.



And one last thing. If you write me a personal email, I'm sorry if I don't reply. This whole New York Daily News article really jumped me, I had no prior knowledge of it and yesterday was the first I had ever even heard of it. I have been swamped with emails, and I really don't have time to respond to them, so just know that we all appreciate your support out here. If I have time to respond I will, I'm not just ignoring you.

Cookies

Thank you Mrs. Pittlekow for the Bucky Badger cookies that you made. They actually inspired this new strategy for winning the war in Iraq. Now some may call this a stretch, but I need you to follow me on this one, and I’m gonna need you to recall the transitive property in math.
Allright so here it goes. The Wisconsin Badger’s mascot is named Bucky. Bucky is what we call a badass. During a game against Michigan State, I saw Bucky pound the MSU mascot Sparty (a Spartan) into the turf (he and the cheerleaders actually picked him up and racked his family jewels on the goal posts). So Bucky beats down a Spartan. The Spartans, according to the movie 300, smoked the Persians, which included modern day Persians and Iraqis.

All we need to do is send Bucky over here. He wouldn’t even need a weapon, he’d just Chuck Norris round-house kick everyone in the face.

(Please, nobody email me telling me I’m a horrible person for comparing modern day Iranians and Iraqis to Xerxe’s army, this is light hearted)

The Worst Ten Days

Just got back from maybe the most miserable 10 day stretch of my life. I’m not sure I’ve ever quite had this combination of misery, thirst, heat, humidity, fatigue, lack of sleep, work, shot-at’s, mortar attacks, suicide bombers, bugs, spiders, heat rash, prickly heat, filling sand bags, carrying sand bags, stacking sand bags, diving for cover, headaches, adrenaline rushes, fire-team rushes, hunger, sun, sweat and aches. But now I’m back.

We were only supposed to go out for 6 days, we got extended to 8, and then extended to 10. Since we only packed for 8, we really started running low on water. Running low on water in Iraq, in 110 degree heat, with stagnant pools of canal water evaporating around you is like a bar in Madison running out of beer during happy hour. Nobody was happy. At one point my squad had to insert into a location to watch a critical intersection in our area. We were going to be there for 24 hours before getting relieved, so we had to pack in all of our water. I humped in a full case, but only managed to get 3 bottles because everyone else was running low. At one point I had to pee incredibly bad, which I though was weird, because I was sweating gallons but only drinking tea cups. I went to pee, and it was close to the color of Coke. Not trying to be gross, but that’s some serious dehydration. I’m not sure that I have ever gone 10 staight days where I never once stopped sweating, but that’s how it was out there. You would lay down to sleep and you would just start dripping sweat. Your pillow would soak straight through, there was definitely no "cool as the other side of the pillow" effect. Combine that with the bugs. I felt like I was in a "Feed the Children" commercial where they show all those starving kids with flies crawling around their mouths and eyes. I used to always watch that and think "how can you not swat at them???" Well I figured it out. It’s a combination of lack of energy and not being able to tell the difference between a fly and a bead of sweat rolling down your skin.

What else made this a pretty bad 10 days?? Well al Qaeda decided they wanted to come out for a few rounds. The first few days were pretty mild, except for all the stories we were hearing from people in our area. It seemed that every household you talked to had a horror story about what al Qaeda had been up to in the area for the past two months. Then around the fifth day, we were at a patrol base when about 6 of them decided to start unloading some AK fire into our house. I of course was sleeping, and awoke to the incredibly loud crack that rounds make as they snap past the air around you and impact cement. We ended up repelling that attack pretty easy with the machine guns mounted on our trucks.

A couple days later, at a different PB, second platoon had some dumb terrorist try and hit them with a suicide car bomb. He drove past their patrol base, which was about a kilometer away from us, realized that he couldn’t get past their security measures, and just blew himself up about 30 meters away from their house. It was so big it rocked us into thinking we were getting hit. What an idiot. This illiterate ass probably sucked at life, got duped into thinking he could get a ticket to heaven, got a class on some boom boom, was told where to find us, drove there and wasted himself on a fireworks show that hurt no one and pretty much damaged nothing. Turns out he sucked at jihad too.

Let’s see what else. One of our squads got fired on from a mosque. Real classy al Qaeda. Fire from the one building we’re not allowed to engage. That one only last a few minutes. Second platoon was fired on from a house and a car on a patrol, I watched them call in air support from the rooftop of our PB, once again jealous that someone else was getting to do it. But I only had to be patient…

I think it was the next day. I was on patrol with the squad, on a mission to go sweep for IEDs along a road. We were walking towards a market place that is a pretty big trouble spot for us. When we got about 300 meters away, we were opened up on from about 3 different machine gun positions. This trumps all for the scariest moment of my life. I’ve been shot at numerous times over here, and I’ve been in a major firefight, but the difference here was the enemy had tracers. That means that I could SEE the rounds coming in at us. It was a classic ambush and the squad was right in the kill zone. The worst part was we were out in the open, and there was NO cover. We all dove into some waist high grass. I was sure that we had taken at least 3 casualties in those opening seconds but miraculously we took none, a real miracle. As we were organizing our response in the grass you could hear rounds impacting all around you, and you could hear them ripping through the grass over our heads, they were practically mowing a lawn with the amount of fire they were throwing at us. We got our bearing and started firing back. Our machine gun team did an awesome job, got set up and started putting a lot of accurate rounds at them.

I called for Colbert, my radio operator, and told him to get over to me. Now I need to talk for a second about Colbert. I love this kid. He’s a Choctaw Indian from Oklahoma. Nobody can understand a single word he says, and he falls flat on his face on every patrol I mean flat on his face. He never braces himself, he never hits his knees first. He falls like a tree. But he is never not smiling and he works harder than anyone in the squad. He also, being one of the guys that carries a radio, dreams of calling in air. And before we left on this patrol, he turned around and said, "Hey Corporal Wood, I’m rolling with the radio on air tac cuz we got it on station, hopefully we got to use it." (of course it didn’t actually sound like that, and it took me a while to translate what he said)

So here he is running across the road. I’m watching him as he’s running, tracers hitting asphalt all around him. For the first time he’s not smiling, and for the first time he doesn’t fall. He dove down right next to me, looked up, smiled and said "We gonna call in air???"

I got on the radio and tried reaching air.

Maverick Maverick this is Golf-3-Charlie

I called for them about 10 times, before a forward air controller got on and said that our air was not scheduled to be on station for another 25 minutes.

Shit

The FAC asked me the situation.

We’re pinned down on two sides by automatic machine gun fire. Casualties unknown. Need immediate air support.

The FAC said he’d scramble some support right away. He got back on and said that he was scrambling some fighter pilots, but they were 120 miles out, and our scheduled helo support was launching early to bail us out.

Roger

I then heard the fighter pilots get on the tac.

Golf-3-Charlie this is (blank) we are 120 miles out from your pos, ETA 5 minutes.

About 30 seconds later they said the coolest thing I’ve ever heard.

Golf-3-Charlie, we are super sonic.

The only thing that would have been better is if we had pulled out some serious Top Gun lines like "We’re too close for missiles, switching to guns" or if I had said "5 MINUTES?!? This thing’ll be over in 3!!"

At this point in the firefight I unfortunately had to pass the radio off to another member of the squad because we were beginning to get flanked to the south. I really can’t even give a narrative from this point because so much started happening. The fight was over just as air got on station (they should have launched Maverick and Goose on ready 5), which I’m not going to complain about, because like I said, it was the scariest thing I’ve ever encountered.

Well enough about that one. Well actually not quite. After the firefight we returned to the patrol base, where, like Bill Lumbergh from Office Space, we were told "Ummm….Yeah…we’re gonna need you to go back out and finish that mission." Awesome.

I finally got some sleep that night. About 7 straight hours, which felt like 20. Got a good wake up call too. It was a mortar landing about 5 feet outside the wall of our house. Right after, machine gun fire started pouring in through the windows…and then more mortars starting falling. The machine gun fire was so loud that you couldn’t even yell and get people organized, well that and some of the people had busted ear drums from the first mortar. I threw my flak and helmet on, still just in my underwear, and ran to a doorway to see what the hell was going on. This is gonna go down as my second scariest moment, sneaking right ahead of the Wizard of Oz and the time a spider landed on me in the shower. Everyone in the house honestly thought we were about to get overrun. I honestly thought as I pointed my rifle out the door that I was going to be aiming in on about 50 insurgents charging with bayonets fixed. VERY luckily, that did not happen. This attack did raise some serious questions though. If you die in your underwear, do your buddies tell anyone? Also, one of our Doc’s was using the restroom when the first mortar hit, very close to where he was. He had no gear with him. He dove onto the ground and was faced with a major dilemma. Do you wipe before you run for your gear?? Or do you just go? He opted for wiping, which, lying down, I’m not even sure is anatomically possible. My buddy Muir was brushing his teeth when it happened. He dove onto the ground and grabbed his rifle. About 2 minutes later he realized that he was still holding his tooth brush. He thought, do I drop my toothbrush on the ground?? I mean, we still have a couple of days left, and I’ll need to brush my teeth. He must of dropped it because we never found it.

Once again, we were lucky. We only had to medevac one guy, he was on post on the roof, right above where the first one landed and was knocked unconscious for about a minute and a half. He must have torn his tempanic membrane because we was in complete vertigo when he came too, he couldn’t walk and had no idea what was up and down. A bunch of other people got
concussions and some scrapes and cuts from shattering glass, but overall like I said we were lucky.

What else…
-I dominated a few games of Uno. Unfortunately the number of games I won was vastly overshadowed by the number I lost.
-I’m terrible at Soduku, so don’t bother sending anymore of those books.
-It is possible to sweat so much at night that you honestly cannot tell when you wake up whether you wet the bed.
-A cow will pee on a patch of grass and immediately turn around and eat that same grass like it’s something Miles Davis would do. Seriously, I saw this about three different times on security halts.