Thursday, January 06, 2005

RPG (War Journal Entry)

4-8-03 Baghdad

Day the Lieutenant's Bradley Got Hit

Today was our second traffic blocking mission in two days. We blocked an overpass with all four of our platoon's Bradley's. Two Brads on one end, two on the other. This overpass and the highway underneath it are exactly like anything back home in the states. The similarities of this highway to the interstates back home made the battles raging around in even more surreal.

Our squad, and the squad from the other Bradley, pulled security out to the sides, scanning the building tops and watching for any traffic on the highway below. The guys on the other end did the same. Other elements from our company were down in the neighborhood next to the highway. Tanks and Bradleys were busy patrolling the streets below, and A-10's were busy patrolling the skies above. All of these elements were conducting the business of war. Our relatively inactive position, coupled with a somewhat elevated view, gave us an interesting perspective on the violence below us. It was turning out to be a boring day, most of us envious of the action around us. Our desire for action would soon be satiated.

All day we layed on the pavement pulling guard and watching the Brads shoot at cars that wouldn't turn back. Bazarre thing to watch. On a few occasions, after warning shots were ignored, the Brads would fire at the tires or hood, disabling the vehicles. I couldn't help but wonder what these people were thinking. Why would they keep driving towards two Bradleys shooting at them. Why don't they just turn around. I was happy to see that the people in the disabled vehicles walked away unharmed. One man, the hood of his car in flames from three rounds of HE, casually got out of his car and walked away. He acted as one might act after discovering they had a flat tire.

Besides pulling guard and watching cars get shot at, there were other strange sights to be seen considering our locale. Guys eating MRE's while in the prone, looking up from there meal to see which car was getting shot at. Iraqi civilians walking along the street in the distance oblivious to the fighting around them. The funniest thing to see is something I've seen over and over since the war started. War doesn't exempt the human body from having to perform certain functions. These functions are normally reserved for the privacy of a bathroom or at least a port-a-john. Being in an elevated position on an overpass with nothing but hard pavement makes these bodily functions even funnier. You can't expect a group of guys to go a whole day without shiting or pissing. It became normal to see a guy role over to his side and relieve himself of all that water he'd been drinking during the day. It sucked if you happened to be down hill from his stream of piss heading your way. It's either get up and move, or hope it runs out of steam before it gets to you. Some of the guys had the decency to stand up and go off the overpass. Taking a shit was a whole different story. Where are you going to go. There's no hole to dig or curtain to go behind. You can't walk off a safe distance, hoping not to be seen by others. Nothing but hard pavement. The trick is to get an MRE box, open both ends, and at least have something to sit on. The other option was to grab a five gallon water jug, prop one cheek on top of it, and get down to business. The can, if placed properly, can act as a shield from your buddies laughing at you. The box somewhat hides the business at hand and provides a comfortable seat. The best is seeing someone do this while the Bradley is shooting at vehicles. The rest of the day we had to dodge the various land mines left on the road by our buddies. I just hope none of the Iraqis down the street were able to see this.

By the time dusk rolled around all of us were tired and bored, wondering if the day would ever end. Our Lt. and his crew had to go meet with the CO, who was parked about 200m away on the highway below us. Leaving the dismounts behind, they closed the ramp, and rolled away. I was laying on the edge of the overpass watching for any bad guys when their Bradley came into view on my left. I was casually watching their Bradley go down the offramp of the highway, which would normally be into oncoming traffic. As they were going down the ramp I saw something from the right. With my eyes still on the Bradley, not having enough time to instinctively look to my right, a huge fireball envelopes the Bradley's turret. Boom! Holy shit! My mind racing. Did that really just happen. They had to be dead. Sgt. W, laying to my right, looks at me with a look of dread. Are they dead? The impact of the RPG knocked the ramp down and the Bradley came to a rolling stop. At this point everyone's focus is on this one house on the right. Once we determine which house it came from, we're thrust into action. Invigorated by the sight of the Bradley's ramp coming back up, meaning at least the driver is okay, we want to exact some retribution. I got up and ran back to our Bradley to grab the AT-4(shoulder-fired rocket). As I was running back some guys had already started to unload their weapons on this house. The dismounts on the other end of the overpass were doing the same. Sgt. B yells at me over the noise to fire the AT-4 into the house. I'm thinking no shit Sherlock, you think I went to get this for shits and giggles. Happy to oblige him, exhilarated, and just wanting to shoot the AT-4 because it's fun, I ran up to the guard rail, took it off safe, and lined up my sights. Sgt. W ran up next to me to provide some cover if needed and shot a 203 round for good measure. After making sure my backblast area was clear, the AT-4 explodes out of the tube, hitting the house. Damn, I can't hear out of my right ear, and my equilibrium is temporarily out of whack. All of this went by in an instant. Soon after I shot my AT-4, Sgt. P grabs another one and does the same. I remember thinking that his made a nicer fireball when it hit the house. During this time, Sgt. B, the gunner of the Lt.'s Bradley, whips the gun around over the back deck and unloads about 30 rounds into the house. Almost all of the individual weapons were firing at the house. With the house destroyed and the shooting dying down, we're all back on the pavement looking for more bad guys with RPG's. The Lt.'s Bradley resumed its path down the ramp and over to some other Brads from our company. With the intense chaos gone our adrenaline levels lowered, and we began doing what seemed the only thing to do, laugh.

It was something to see how everyone responded when one of our Bradleys got hit. There's nothing cooler than watching everyone come to their buddies defense and get some revenge. We were a little more alert the rest of the night even though none of us got more that two hours of sleep. The night turned out to be pretty quiet. It makes me wonder if someone is just waiting for another opportunity to hit us again. All of us wondered why they waited until that one moment when they could've hit us at any point throughout the day. Sgt. B and the Lt. were a little shaken up but pretty much okay.

4 Comments:

Blogger liz said...

Wow funny stuff! i had the passing idea of sending over some bum size cardboard boxes and tp but it seems your having so much fun why spoil it? Glad y'all are ok! i enjoy reading your blog, Take care and stay safe!

liz
http://soldierslifeafteriraq.blogspot.com

9:19 PM  
Blogger Accipiter in Yarak said...

Hey Mike, glad to see ya back.Great read! Once again you wordly paint a very vivid picture. I believe this could be called aptly - hours of semi-boredom broken up by periods of sheer terror followed by "the end" of the sheer terror guy(s). Love the good ol' American ingenuity when it comes to bathroom privacy (or lack thereof) on the battle field.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Angel said...

Michael,

Heya, great to see you. I know time @ home is getting shorter and hopefully sweeter.

Let your wife know that if she needs anything at all, she can get a hold of us over at Adopt-a-platoon once your deployed!! Goes double for you also!!!

Look forward to "hearing" from you when you get a chance.

Take care,

Angel

10:33 PM  
Blogger Toni said...

Great story. I hadn't thought about bodily functions (ahem) in these situations before. I did see a story on Fox awhile back by one of their female reporters who talked about the difficulties and logistics of bodily functions for her and it was pretty funny.

So, did you write all of these stories in a journal at the time or is all of this from memory? Just curious.

7:50 AM  

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