Continuing the journal entries. In entry #2, I describe the BIAP area. In #3, I cover the first journal entry I made in-country. Todays entry, #4, was written at the end of the first week...
To re-cap part #3, we were instructed to lay flat on the ground during an attack, and during an afternoon attack I was caught out in the open. A mistake that I vowed not to repeat.
Today, in looking over this next entry, I noticed the profanity and political incorrectness had started creeping in. Some of my sentiments from that time, seem a little rough, in hindsight. Oh well. I've decided to present it the way I wrote it and not clean it up. War is hell...
16 June 04
4PM (1600hrs) Been here exactly one week. During this week we had four, no five, alarm reds. Two yesterday. The afternoon attack that hit the Spec-Ops hangar. Then, that night at 2125hrs, there was one which was the closest yet. It made a real distinct "crack" sound. I was over by the Group HQ, getting ready to do PT, when it hit. This time, I didn't wait for an alarm. I said, "fuck this, I'm going to the bunker", and I took off. I didn't get very far before the alarm sounded. So I took cover behind the revetments (edit: these were known as Hesco Barriers) along the side of the base post office tent. Turns out the rocket hit right outside the PAX Terminal.
We were told in our intel briefing before we deployed that we could expect to be mortared, but that the Hajji's can't aim, they just shoot wild and randomly. We think that's B.S. The rounds always seen to land very close to something important. I know I ought to wear my helmet and flak vest more often but it's so damn hot. But two (mortar rounds) with-in the last 24 hours hit with-in 3-4 hundred meters of where I was.
Side note: As I write this I am in my tent, off duty, about to go to sleep. It sounds like the 4th of July outside. I'm not exaggerating. I hear some kind of boom off in the distance, at the rate of a couple, every minute. Sometimes there's a lull, but then it starts up again. We're told most of that noise is ranges, or EOD- I wonder... As you drift off to sleep you hope you have an uneventful slumber. Motherfuckers.
I've been on duty 12 hour shifts every day this week. Not sure when I'll get a break. My duties are very demanding mentally- phones, radios, computers, schedules, all kinds of questions coming at me from literally all over the world. I'm hanging in, but I don't have enough experience in the field to operate effectively, yet.
Also, this week I participated in an upload of an American H.R. on a C-130. Poor guy. It doesn't get much more real. We lined up. Deuce backed up to our lines, one on each side of side of the airplanes ramp. We were ordered to "Present Arms", and saluted the flag-draped H.R. container as it was carried past us by the Army Detail. We gathered around in the airplane and Psalms were read. Chaplain said some words. It was real sad. I can feel the lump in my throat and tears welling up in my eyes as I write this. Proper military honors. I volunteered to be in the 447th Honor Guard. I'm honored to do it. What more can I do?
This week I also saw some of the blindfolded, biblically robed, bearded, tied-up, guys wearing funny Bin-Laden type hats. P.W.'s. I don't have any sympathy for those cocksuckers. They are getting what they deserve. Hopefully.
I've seen all this in one 24 hour period- rocket attacks, prisoners of war, our fallen soldier. All that on top of the demands of my job and tent city living with the troops. I'm real tired. Time to sleep! What pleasure sleep brings.
That concludes this journal entry. Lets go back to 2020...
So now, looking back on this, I don't recall feeling this strong feeling of animosity. The animosity I expressed towards the enemy, in my writings during this time. This was a somewhat stressful experience, even in the relatively safe environs which I found myself. After all, I wasn't no door-kicker. But I guess the fact that I felt so hostile, to the prisoners I saw, is telling to the degree of the stress we were under.
That said, even some of the stressful moments had some comical elements. I didn't put every single detail into the journal but I do recall one silly episode. If memory serves (which it prolly doesn't, but I digress), I have a kind of a funny memory from the rocket attack on the night of June 15th-
There I was... I took off running for the bunker, but then dove for the Hesco's by the side of the post office. ...Now, in combat, people look for leadership. I'm not claiming a leaders pedigree. But in this specific scenario, I was apparently the first to act. I was just hauling ass to save my butt, not wanting to repeat the mistake I made earlier in the day, of getting caught in the open. Automatically a few guys followed my lead, in going for good cover. So by default I became a leader. But I didn't realize I was being tailed. When I hit the dirt, four or five guys who were following, piled on top of me. A real Keystone Cops kind of moment. ;)
Another interesting aside on the attack of 15 June- Years later, when the news broke about the WikiLeaks website, I went online to check it out. This was of course a few years after my tour. I was curious, to see if wiki-leaks was real. They reportedly released the classified Iraq War Diary. I found it online. And I did indeed find reports for a number of incidents where I was present in Iraq in 2004. I was able to verify some of these reports with notes and dates from my journal. I observed a report online for the rocket attack on 15 June, and it lines up with my observations. So I'd say, yes, Virginia, wiki-leaks is real.
Here's a couple more throwbacks to OIF...
Two Members of the 146th Airlift Wing, "The Hollywood Guard"
Just after tagging the PAX Terminal at Al Udied Airbase, on the way to Baghdad. This was also on the first day we wore our desert uniforms. Since I was an artist with a sharpie, I had the honor of tagging the wall for the gang, in 140 degree Qatar.
"You guys think one weekend a month ain't shit. Wait till in turns into a one year weekend".
(Quote by SSG Sword my Platoon Sgt., back in my 1980's Army Guard days, at the 1-160th Mech Inf. in Burbank, California. Long before my Air Guard days.)
We had to carry this note in our pocket.
We were also required to carry a weapon if we left the camp. Except they didn't procure ammunition for us. So I imagined, that they gave us this nifty little Arabic note, instead of ammunition. I guess so the enemy would know where to send your head, in the event you got grabbed. These guys thought of everything. ;)
(note redacted for this blog)
Man On A Mission
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Salty Rose, 2020.