Saturday, May 28, 2005

Shadrach, Mishach, Abednigo

Well, I have spent the last three days doing three different convoys. I've been all over our AO (Area of Operation) in the last 72 hours. The missions have been pretty uneventful but haven't gone without some drama.

The first convoy we did was to Warhorse. Very uneventful and long. The truck we drive doesn't have air conditioning. Also, after 20 minutes, the entire truck heats up enough that all metal parts become too hot to touch. It isn't pleasant but you get used to it. The inside of the truck must reach temperatures approaching 150 degrees...and the windows must remain closed because we use bullet-proof glass. A couple hours in there and I am soaked with sweat. Funny, but I really have gotten used to it. (Now do you get the reference to the title?) While we were at Warhorse we get some anti-IED devices installed and some training on them, but mostly we waiting hours in the sun.

Yesterday's convoy was a little more interesting. There was a rumor that the locals had gone to the front gate of Echo to warn the soldiers there of an impending attack. Apparently there is a plot to overrun the small base since it is closing down. We drove to Echo to retrieve soldiers. No hostile contact during the convoy but while we were loading up, a Staff Sergeant and a PV2 got in each others face. It was almost a throw down as the E-6 took out a knife and cut the rank off his collar in a gesture of "don't let my rank stop you from tryin'". Nothing came of it except some chest thumping and the fact we called the E-6 a Private the rest of the day.

Today we went north along the border of Iran to that very scenic spot I posted pictures of previously. Again our mission was to retrieve soldiers. The mission was unnoteworthy until a small sparrow flew in front of the truck and smacked into the windshield. It lay there dead on the hood. I figured that was a bad omen. About ten minutes later, as I was driving, there was a sound like the sound those little fireworks called 'jumpers' make, like a zzzzzziiiiiiiiimmmmmmffffffff. The TC, Kessler, and I looked at each other as I said, "What the hell was that?" Kessler looked out the door and told me we had a flat tire. There we are, third truck in a convoy of three in the middle of this wide open barren area, with a flat tire. Kessler radioed ahead several times before the forward trucks responded and turned around. For a few tense moments we were stranded in the middle of a highway, alone, with cars approaching from behind. We got out of the truck to pull security, to prevent attack, until the other two trucks came back to box us in. Once they got to us, we secured the area and were able to replace the wheel. During that time, as I said, we were all pulling perimeter security in this wide vista. I estimate we were able to see for at least 5 kilometers around us before the rim of hills blocked our view. I looked to my 11 o'clock to see an explosion and a cloud of white smoke rise up, probably 2 km away. A few seconds later the muffled boom hit. An IED.

Unfortunately all this drama was not captured on tape. I had been recording our missions again for another video, but when things get real it isn't easy or smart to be worrying about getting the camera to work. Now I am back, not doing another convoy for more than a week. I will be spending my time now preparing for the promotion board on June 9.

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