November 15, 2007
Name: The Usual Suspect
Posting Date: 11/15/07
Stationed in: Iraq
Milblog url: theunlikelysoldier.blogspot.com
Once again I found myself behind the wheel of one of the big green monsters; larger mission, plenty of US flags running around. I wasn't even remotely tired the night before, so I didn't bother to go to sleep. Figured I'd get plenty of sleep in during the mission. How's that for American work ethic?
We puttered along for two solid hours before we finally stopped. I reclined and slept as planned, except for when I had to move the truck or drop the ramp or cure cancer. Before long (quite a few more hours) it was time for us to leave. Feeling rested, I put the truck in gear and prepared to follow our convoy out of the area.
The thing is, to exit this particular area, we had to drive over a narrow strip of land with a deep ditch on both sides of it. No problem, right? Handled it just fine coming in. Truck after truck crossed it without incident. Then comes my turn, the last vehicle to cross. We get about halfway when the ground on the right side starts giving out. The truck leans to the right. Thing is, you get used to Strykers leaning this way and that, so for that first second or so, it seemed normal. You know, until it kept on leaning.
This is my thought process versus what came out of my mouth:
Thought: We are clearly about to roll over, and this is going to be bad. My vehicle commander is probably going to be ejected from his hatch and crushed to death, and it will be all my fault for being an idiot and a shitty driver. This is really bad.
Spoken: "FUCK!!! FUCK!!! FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK!!!! FU---Oompf!........fuck...fuck. Ow, God......fuck."
The Stryker was on its right side, wedged in the canal so that it didn't roll completely over. Instead it was suspended at this bizarre angle. But enough about that, let's talk about me.
All my weight was on my right side (see also: Arm) pinned against the wall, which was at that point more or less the new floor. My head was stuffed up against the roof of the hatch, also trying out a new floor position. I couldn't reach the lever to recline my seat to climb out through the back (see also: really old post about the underwater rollover training we did. Then read: Obsolete). I couldn't get my hatch open for the life of me. I triple checked to make sure it wasn't locked.
"SUSPECT!! ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?!"
"Are you hurt?"
"Nah, I think I'm fine. FUCK!!!"
"Can you get out?"
"TRYING THAT IDEA OUT RIGHT NOW, SERGEANT! LOOKED BETTER ON PAPER."
Well, my vehicle commander seems to be doing just fine.
All right, douchebag, calm down. Breathe. Good thing you aren't claustrophobic huh? HAHAHAHA. Dumbass. Now get yourself out and meet your shame like a good little idiot.
I clawed around, tried to shift weight, tried to place my feet somewhere besides in the air. No such luck. I didn't think to press the button to lower the seat platform (technically raise it at this point), and it probably wouldn't have worked anyway since pretty much every system we had went down. Through my periscopes, I could see people coming down into the ditch to gawk and/or help. No luck getting the hatch open.
And now people are yelling random things to me. Fuck them, I need to focus on getting out. What a shitty day.
I finally managed to recline the seat a slight amount. The funny thing about trying to get out was that I still had my body armor on, and you wouldn't believe me if I told you, but it's actually a bitch to move around in an enclosed space with all that shit on. Take my word for it.
I immediately gave up trying to climb out in the state I was in. So I ripped my helmet off (it was rotated sideways over my face anyway) and threw it to the mangled wreckage that was the back of the truck. From that one glance backwards that I took, it became apparent to me that Shiva the Destroyer had stopped by to completely fuck this vehicle's world up. Nothing was in place. It had a very doomed feeling about it.
As a result, I elected to tear my body armor off and throw it, too.
I crawled through the obscenely narrow space and fell on my ass against one wall, tangling up in cords and hoses and gear and fuck-knows-what. Grabbed my M4, tossed it out the vehicle commander's hatch to whoever the hell was out there. My shotgun received the same treatment. Neither were loaded.
Next came the body armor. I strapped the helmet back on, tossed out my knee pads and any other gear of mine (or anyone else's) that I could find, and then I half climbed/half fell out of the hatch, dusted myself off, and put my gear back on. Slapped a magazine into the battered, runover M4 (that's right, I still got it) and climbed up the ditch where I learned to say, "Yeah, I'm fine" as a new "Hello, good to see you too."
I pulled security while we tried to decide on the best approach to get the truck out of the ditch. (God, we should be halfway to the FOB by now...)
One Stryker hooks up its winch and pulls for dear life. Nothing. The sun starts to set. I pull out my night vision and set it up, very pissed off at myself and more or less feeling like the most incapable, bumbling idiot ever passed along by Uncle Sam's nonchalant number-crunching ass.
Eventually, it took a wrecker and two Strykers to pull the monster out. And one of the Strykers that was pulling was damaged in the process. Messed up a differential or something.
(We would have been already fueled up, and done with....everything...by now. Great.)
We gathered up all the spilled debris and all other manner of assorted bullshit and eventually made it the hell out of there.
I spent the next two days in the motor pool repairing that fucking truck.
Other than that, I'm doing pretty good.