Friday, September 14, 2007

Dropping Bombs and...dropping bombs

Finishing up with the de-brief one morning, I was really looking forward to confirming that the vehicles and weapons were ready to go at the drop of the hat, and that my Marines were not getting into too much trouble. The tempo of operations had increased recently due to the elections and the fact that the bad guys were getting their asses handed to them in Ramadi and Fallujah. Consequently, they were running in a generally northward direction, right to were we were. At the end of the debrief, I got word that there was a briefing going to start for the next patrol that I should hang out for, and that my squad was going to be the QRF (Quick Reaction Force) for the day. Great.

Always a good idea to get any additional intell on the area, and also to have some sort of idea about what was going on should we get the call. QRF was considered an off day, (unless my squad was on it). Duties included pretty much just hanging out at the FOB (Forward Operating Base) until someone got into some shit, then we would have to be out the gate, chop-chop. Sure enough, I had been asleep for about 20 minutes when we got the call of a possible IED being set on the road leading to the FOB. As it was well within range of the machine guns on perimeter, I was kind of curious why they just couldn't interrogate and investigate by fire, but that was just me...

Good thing that they didn't because it did turn out to be a flat tire and two very nervous locals. See, the road that the FOB was on was just north of a town that wasn't crazy about us, as evidenced by the mortars and RPGs that they launched as little forget-me-nots. I think that the record was 7 days with no incoming. Woopty-freakin-hoo. Anyways, the road was jointly civilian and military traffic, and as there was an increasing number of SVBIEDs, had some very nervous gate guards manning the gate of the FOB.

When we had arrived at the suspicious vehicle I had placed my vehicle as a flanking vehicle, in the fields to the east of the road. Nothing behind me but some palm trees, bushes, and the Euphrates. Pretty secure, right? Pphht. I had placed out security to our rear, and aimed the MG to the road, just in case. While my other vehicle crew was finishing up with the vehicle check, one of my Lance Corporals ('Vato') came to the vehicle and said, "Hey Sgt., I really gotta go blow some mud. Must have been the burritos last night. Do we have time?". As he was doing a rather unique version of the pee-pee dance and I had no wish to smell him any more that what was normal, I told him to make it quick.

As he trotted of to some bushes about 10 ft away (sigh) my driver, Mouth, decided it would be a good idea to get a pic of Vato taking a dump as a revenge tactic (yes, revenge). Ah, the memories. I have seen the video, and while I won't share some of the more gruesome details, Vato was just finishing up his business, threatening Mouth that if he didn't erase the tape bad things would happen, when on the tape you can hear him say "hey, didja hear that?".

MOUTH: (while giggling) What?
VATO: (still squating) Sounded like a thump off in the distance.


MOUTH: Sounds like...mortars?
VATO: That's not from the FOB.
ME: (in the background) Oh, Shit! Incoming!!!

WWWWwwwwhhhhhhhhrrrrrr BOOOM!!!!

ALL: Oh Shit!!

As the mortars were being fired from behind us, we mounted up and pushed towards the river. This put us inside the initial mortar arc, and the palm trees gave us a little concealment, if not much in the way for cover. I could hear the mortars flying overhead as we entered into the tree line and drove right up to the river, vehicles about 50 ft apart. The only thing that we could make out was all of the locals on the island and on the other side of the river all hanging out and watching the show. Bastahds. As far as we could see, everyone was very careful to have no weapons visible on them, and the mortar fire was coming from the other side of the buildings, behind them.

After a couple of minutes I got hold of the Captain at the FOB and exchanged information. The FOB was now taking all of the fire, thankfully very inaccurate. We had taken a few of the initial rounds, but other than some dirty drawers from a certain Lance Corporal, not even a scratch in the way of injuries. Seems like Murphy had a distant cousin that worked for the insurgency (Murfia ibn al Shtr sounds like a good name). I told him where we were, and confirmed their initial estimate that the fire was coming from the far side of the river. While we were doing this, the FOB's mortar team began to return fire.

Imagine if you will, my squad and I hidden among the foliage on the west bank of the Euphrates, searching for any small arms (AKs, RPGs, hell I would have considered a fork sufficient evidence of hostile intent) in the crowd on the island and east bank. Mortars are flying overhead from the east, and return fire begins to fly from the west. I start to smile when the crowd starts to realize that hanging out really close to a mortar attack might not be a Good Idea, when I have a pretty Good Idea of my own.

Hmm, 1) mortar rounds over head, flying both ways. 2) no one within range of my weaponry just begging for me to reach out and touch them. 3) I am a trained mortarman, with a pretty good knowledge in the realm of killing ranges for mortars, errors in aiming or charging rounds, and short rounds for older ordinance. All of these would ensure that I would have a Very Bad Day. As Marines never retreat and we had no means of pressing the attack, I decided that we should conduct a vigorous attack on the dirt behind some hills, out of range of either set of mortar teams.

That attack went very well, thank you very much.

Returning to the FOB after the mornings festivities, we found that one Marine had been knocked on his ass from one hit, but other than a serious headache, no casualties for the good guys. Not entirely a satisfying morning as far as being able to engage the enemy, but the video was resoundingly received throughout the FOB.


SpeakerTweaker said...

I swear, "Oh SHIT!!!" must be like a Marine theme song.


Murphy said...

Oh shit...whoops...well lookit that...D', over...ruh'roh, raggy...crap...screw me sideways...

We can be very musical.

Who is..... Carteach0? said...

I hope you save all these and put them together in book form.

Let me know where to order a signed copy!