Posted April 25, 2008
Outside the Wire
so i've officially had boots on the ground outside the wire. -nothing
too exciting. the other day i went out for a 24 (29) hour mission. the
mortars (us) were tasked w/ rolling out with 2nd platoon to assist in
a 'show of force' convoy/security with the Iraqi Army.
we convoyed out to a Combat OutPost that alpa company has set up w/ the IA. the IA
mainly runs the place but we provide visible support (the show of
force) to make sure they don't lose it.
the convoy consisted of about four strykers and some semi trucks. i
rode in the back of the mortar carrier in the assistant gunner's seat
(he would actually be the one to fire the rounds, supposing we'd
bothered to bring any -they're heavy enough to affect the ride (33 lbs
each adds up quick)) which is located at the back left of the stryker,
sideways, so my right shoulder is leaning against the ramp/door and i
have a great view of fatty's profile who is sitting in the gunner's
seat across from me, facing forward. to my left/the front i have an
excellent view of the lower rear half of my squad leader who is
standing out the hatch in the middle of the truck. lopez is next to
him in the gunner's hatch manning the 240 machine gun.
we were supposed to leave at 8:30 but i guess better late than never,
right? in case you've never had to lay down in the back of a pickup
at night so your buddy doesn't get pulled over, you have NO idea where
you're going. we did at least have headphones/mics for our helmets so
we can at least hear what the guys in the hatch and the driver are
talking about and talk to them too.
over the headset i'm hearing:
okay guys, we're outside the wire-
LOPEZ!? what happened to the tunes? (you can plug your iPod into the
you got highway to hell, man?
-and i'm bouncing down the road in the back of a stryker listening to
AC/DC holding my rifle and leaning against a 120mm cannon. i'm as far
from the steering wheel as you can get, but i find the cannon makes a
good substitute drum set.
the ride was about forty minutes and
consisted of sgt Jenkins yelling at Eidson, the driver, the whole way.
we passed through at least five Iraqi Police checkpoints, which we
don't stop for.
as we're puling in to town i can hear lopez again-
"man i hate this fuckin' country. look at this place, they can't even
clean up after themselves..." once we got there... we sat... and sat.
we were still outside the COP. apparently those trucks we convoyed
over with were doing some work out front and all the strykers were
parked around them to provide security.
i drifted in and out of sleep for hours, more or less stuck in my
chair -not much room to move around in that thing. it was kinda hot
and seventy pounds of body armor doesn't really help either. so you
compensate by drinking a whole lot of water. and when the bottle's
empty, you -um- fill it right back up. now THAT takes some
maneuvering. (fatty got stage fright -haha)
after several hours of
this i hear sgt jenkins- "this is rediculous. broullire? sardina?
[fatty's real name. easily translated to sardine, sardunya, or celina
:-)] drop ramp and get out. you might as well see what this place
looks like. and grab a box of MRE's off the side of the truck, i'm
..drop the ramp, unplug the headphones.. step out into a
cleared dirt 'field' in the middle of a dumpy town. the COP is behind
us with IA guys in the 'towers' and there are a few people riding to
wherever they're going on old clunker bicycles. the IA guys that are
near the worktrucks are sitting down in the shade of a backhoe cooking
lunch. the fire is dwarfing the little pan that they're using. -oh, i
guess this is why it's taking so long. we walked around for a minute
and went back in to have lunch.
after the sun had started to go down it was decided that the convoy
was returning to warhorse to refuel and hopefully make chow before it
closed. sgt jenkins told us we were going to go over to another truck
(stryker) to pull air guard for them so we could get a chance to see a
little more. the air guard hatches are the two in the back. you stand,
facing aft, to cover during convoy and when troops dismount from the
when we got into this stryker the squad leader says 'i hope
jenkins told you you were about to be riding w/ three total rednecks.'
country music was already pumping through the headset when i put it
on, mixed w/ talk of nascar, trucks and not being able to drive fast
enough w/ this damn convoy. -sweet! my kind of people.
decided that, even though it was dark, bolmer had not hit the bridge
with sufficient speed on the return. [military vehicles roll
completely blacked out at night over here. made possible by night
vision and infrared brake lights] made it to chow, refueled, back in
the gunslinger truck (yes, they really call it that), headin' back out
-this time without the big trucks, just the strykers (= we can go
faster) we're the lead vehicle again..
-in the following [this will be only heard from the headsets w/in the
truck] and *this will be over the company radio between the trucks*:
*hey (company commander) what speed do you want to travel back at?*
[no! why are you even asking?!?!]
*ah, let's keep it under four-zero*
[no! aw man.]
*roger that sir, four-zero*
[ok, bolmer, make four-zero your minimum]
that kid hit the bridge at a full forty miles an hour. this thing
looks like a gigantic version of the ramp that used to live in my
parents driveway. exciting from my position- standing aft of the
rear-most axle in an eight-wheeled truck, standing on half a bench and
trying to hold a loaded weapon with both my hands. -fun times!
the return trip i had dug my night vision goggles out and it was kinda
cool to see the world go by in green. but only in the left eye.
i pulled a two hour guard shift on the roof of the COP that night with
the IA guys. all i had to do was sit behind some sandbags in a plastic
deck chair and scan the area w/ my nods. i saw one dog and one cat.
-pretty exciting. the next morning it looked like we were going to
get to go on a patrol, aaand then we didn't.
so at least i've been out there. might happen again, might not.
other than that we just trade off manning the mortar point at the edge
of the fob. i got to fire the 120 just to register the gun. it is so
satisfying to hear those things explode, even if you're just moving
the dirt around.
hope y'all havin' fun-