Thursday, January 13, 2005

Day on Mars (War Journal Entry)

3-25-03 Iraq

Today was windy and cold when we first woke up this morning. Making it even harder to get up was the fact that Bryan and I had a two hour roving guard shift in the middle of the night. Once we were up, we cleaned all of our gear and got word of an order that was going to extend over a period of three days. Twice each day we were going to set up on the outskirts of the city along with two other units, killing everything in sight. I suppose the decision makers decided to make some kind of statement.

We loaded up in the Bradley and headed off for what we thought was supposed to be a short trip. It ultimately turned into a long one because of the extremely poor visibility. Nobody could see anything. Those of us in the back noticed the portholes become a dark orange color. It was just a little after noon and it looked almost dark out. We finally got set up in our position and were told to prep our night vision goggles. Our NVG's weren't going to help us in this obvious sandstorm, but we got them ready anyway. The guys in the turret couldn't see anything through their thermal sights, how were we going to see anything with NVG's.

The ramp slowly made its descent to the ground, revealing an eerie foreign planet. When we first dismounted there were strangely no winds, just an orange glow that only added more strangeness to an already bazaar world. Looking out from the inside of the Bradley with the ramp down, the guys in front of me were pitch black silhouettes backed by this orange presence. I stepped out into this orange world and went with the others to pull rear security for the Bradleys. There was a railroad track about thirty meters to our rear. We stopped there for a few minutes and got in the prone before they decided we should go further down on the other side of the track. While I was laying there with my elboys almost touching the track and not able to see twenty meters in front of me, I tried to take in a little of my strange new surroundings. I noticed the railroad ties were made of stone. For some reason I remember thinking that this railroad track looked well made, like something I would see back home. The stone was smooth and cool to the touch. I also remember putting my fingers in the cool dirt. It felt good feeling the dirt in my hands in this land with endless sand.

We layed in the prone for almost another hour at our second stop down from the railroad track. We could'nt see or hear anything. At one point, after what seemed like an enternity, something finally appeared among the orange haze. A shepherd, complete with flowing robes and staff, appeared out of nowhere like a guost. As soon as I was able to discern that it was a shepherd, he again faded into the haze, never to be seen again. A strange sight for all of us that saw him. I wonder if he had any idea that we were even there, or that for a short time every weapon in that area was aimed squarely at his chest. The guost shepherd, tending to his phantom flock.

We got a call on the radio to remount. We were heading back because visibility was zero. The trip back was even slower than the trip out, with sporadic reports of enemy sightings that never seemed to materialize. We heard some medics fired at something that must have spooked them. Once we got back we stayed in the track because of the cold wind. A little while later it started pouring down rain. Everyone raced to cover their equipment, mud caked on everything, dirty, wet, and miserably cold.

We all packed in the Brad and relieved some stress by laughing at our predicament. We finally set up a tent during our misery. I got some much need sleep before having to pull the last hour of guard. Getting up and putting on wet muddy gear in the cold wind adds a new definition to the word misery. Later in the morning we tried hard to clean our gear as much as we could with little success. Got word that we were getting relieved by another unit coming up behind us so we could continue our push north. I have no idea what is going to happen to that city. We heard artillery being fired throughout the night and more this morning. I have grown used to these explotions, even finding a way to sleep through them.

We heard a rumor that eight Marines got captured and maybe killed. Overall, I think we're still bombing Baghdad. They must be focusing most of the power up there. I'm glad we're continuing north even though that will probably mean more intense fighting. Part of me wants to stay back and secure that city, but I always though I would end up in Baghdad. I wonder what will be waiting on us and how long this war will last.


Blogger Gemini II said...

wow, this is such good recapturing. Makes me feel like Im there. hope you get a book out of this.

3:12 PM  

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