BUSY DAY |
August 01, 2007
We leave camp early in the morning to set out for our next mission. Everybody seems ready to go. We get some chow and eat on the run -- hard to do in a gun truck!
As we hit a stretch a road about two hours into our mission, one of the TCNs* has a flat. It would normally take KBR* up to four hours to come and fix it, so the TCN does it himself. We pull security, keeping an eye on the road, when a white Toyota truck (go figure) comes out of nowhere about 150 meters off of our 9'oclock. It moves up the road another 800 meters behind us and stops.
"Keep your eye on them!" I tell my gunner. I call our commander and advise him of the vehicle. Just as I start to describe the situation seven men dismount the vehicle, running to opposite sides of their truck.Two of them go over to a berm at our 7 o'clock. One places something on the ground at our 6, and the others go to 4 o'clock.
"Dismount's in the open, 800 meters, 6 o'clock," I say over the radio as I hear my gunner charge his weapon.
Sgt. N quickly comes back over the net: "Move up and observe!"
I turn my gun truck around and drive towards them about 500 meters and stop.
"Status?" asks the Sgt.
"Moving towards my position 300 meters and closing!" I respond.
"I'm coming up to your position, hang tight!"
"200 meters and closing!" I pull back the charging handle on my M-4 and have my driver move into a right herringbone across the road. This way I can dismount my vehicle and use it as cover to fire or return fire if I have to.
Sgt. N is about 150 meters away from me when all of the men stop their advance, get back into their truck, then head out across the desert to my 8 o'clock and disappear off into the distance. Just then a group of Polish gun trucks comes into view. They drive up to us and a couple of them get out.
"What's going on, my friend?" asks one in broken English.
"Looks like you guys ran off the local bullies on the block," I respond. "Keep your eyes open for possible UXO* back there about 400 or 500 meters. I watched one of them place something on the ground."
Sgt. N drives up and I brief him on the situation. He calls for QRF* so that we can continue our mission. After the TCN repairs the tire we move out.
Another hour goes by and our ASV* spots a 155mm artillery round on the side of the road.
"Break, break, break! UXO in view come left and push through!"
My truck becomes silent and we all hold our breath until we push past and clear it. We call it up to higher and move on.
After the mission we pull into camp and the last thing I hear before I exit my gun truck is Sgt. B: "Busy day."
Yes, it was...
TCN: Third Country National
KBR: former Halliburton subsidiary; runs military supply lines and operates U.S. bases in Iraq
QRF: Quick Reaction Force
ASV: Armored Security Vehicle
UXO: Unexploded Ordnance