A Soldiers Story:Letters From Iraq
April 25, 2008
Letters From Iraq Archive

Posted April 25, 2008

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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 headset circuit)
oh shit...
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 hungry."

..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 ramp.

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.

it was 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!

for 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-
much love,
-c

A Soldiers Story:Letters From Iraq

A Soldiers Story
  04-03-08 - In Kuwait
  04-05-08 - STILL In Kuwait
  04-06-08 - Headin' Over
  04-13-08 - at FOB Warhorse
  04-13-08 - (Untitled)
  04-19-08 - Settled?
  04-25-08 - Outside The Wire
  04-27-08 - Good Night
  05-09-08 - In Recent Retarded News ...
  05-17-08 - Meh
  06-17-08 - Home, Finally Got Hookup
  06-18-08 - P.S...
  12-09-09 - Playing Tourist In Iraq
  01-27-10 - Meet Haji

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