September 26, 2007
How many times can you almost get hit???
Yesterday was my first day back out on patrol after almost a week off. The way our schedule works is we rotate guys in the squads off on patrol days, and I happened to have my day come at the right time to get five days off! It was great not doing anything, but it came to bite me in the ass, as yesterday was extremely exhausting. Add to it that the air was extremely dusty, and it created an overcast, yet still hot and exhausting, dreary day.
We did our typical market guarding and before lunch they dropped us dismounts off and we conducted a foot patrol through some of the neighborhoods. Nothing really special. We pretty much just walked around, talked with some people, and generally made our presence known.
On the way back to our linkup point with the trucks (which was quite aways away), we started to cross a major road. There happened to be a lot of IA (Iraqi Army) guys there and they helped to stop the traffic as we crossed. I was the last guy, and just as I was almost across the road I see this car coming towards us. It wasn't going too fast, but I thought to myself, "This guy had better stop." Once he was close enough I could see in the car, and the driver totally was not paying attention.
It now was lining up to where his car and my body were on a collision course. Then, still without looking, the guy hits the gas and starts flying directly at me. Without hesitation, I bring my rifle up to my shoulder, pointing directly at the driver, and I yell at the top of my lungs "HOLD THE FUCK UP!!"
I guess the other occupants in the car noticed this just about the same time the driver finally decided to look forward. Every single occupant in that car, driver included, went wide-eyed as he slammed on his brakes, stopping about three feet in front of me. I was furious, and even though they didn't understand the words I was speaking, I think they knew exactly what I was yelling. I went up to their window and yelled at them for not paying attention, ya de da de da. It was funny because when I got done, and went back and fell in to the patrol, about half the guys were looking back at me wondering what the hell had happened.
We continued on and were just a couple hundred meters from our linkup point when again we had to cross a road, this one semi-major. We actually ended up walking in the road the get to where we had to go. I looked back like I usually do as the rear guy, and I see this van coming at us. OK, you've got to see us, slow down now. Nope. Dude comes right up on me all quick, and again I'm forced to stop this man in the same terrifying manner in which I stopped the last guy. Jesus! It's the middle of the day. How hard is it to see us and stop!?
For lunch we ended up stopping by a base. Once done we were waiting to leave, and I don't know how, but we ended up on the topic of one night when my SAW gunner heard the other team leader in my team, lets call him "Sally", crying. My squadleader was adament about Sally crying, but Sally claimed that he wasn't. We laughed throughout the argument, and ended up putting together a formal trial. It was hilarious, and I wish we had recorded it. We had my SAW gunner as the witness, Sally was the defendant and representing himself, I was the prosecutor, my squad leader was the Judge, and another guy from our squad was the Bailiff/Court Recorder. We would ask the witness questions, then Sally would cross-examine.
It was getting heated, and both Sally and I would contest questions with the typical court room jargon such as, "Objection, leading the witness!" or "I object, the witness is not on trial here!" The judge would decide and would also attempt to cool things off by threatening to hold one of us (usually Sally) in contempt of court with fines; of pushups. Hahaha! Several times we had to have the bailiff swear us in as witnesses and be recalled, to clarify whether or not someone had said something that another was claiming.
It was great. We still have one more witness to examine before a decision can be made, but I think the result will be that Sally in fact, did cry.
There was nothing else really exciting the rest of the day until we ended up doing our night patrol. I was second to last guy for this one, and we ended up patrolling around long enough to suck, but not really too long. About halfway through the patrol, the guy in front of me was about to cross this road when I heard a loud, high-pitched sound. For a moment I thought it was an RPG or a rocket being fired, but then I saw what it was.
A car came into view from where I was in the alley, skidding to a stop just before the guy that was about to cross. The car had been flying, and I guess didn't see us since it was night. Initially I was still on alert because I had no clue if that's what happened, or if they were about to hop out and start shooting. So for the third time, there was a close call with a car, and for the third time I had to point my rifle at the occupant. It immediately became clear what had happened, and we continued on our way.
The rest of the patrol was uneventful.
Before heading back we learned of an IED attack that had taken place on another company from my unit. Fortunately nobody was hurt, but it was the new deadly roadside bombs they have here, EFPs (Explosively Formed Projectiles). The scary thing is that it took place in an area that we have driven past on several occasions, which now makes it the first EFP to go off in an area where we could have been the recipients.
The EFPs are extremely deadly because they punch through our new uparmored Humvees as if the armor were butter. I knew they would come up eventually, but it's been so long and we were fortunate to not have had to deal with them really up to this point. Now we have to worry about this new form of faceless attack from our enemy. I pray to God that we don't see many more in the future.