September 25, 2008
Posting date: 9/25/08
Returned from: Iraq
Milblog: The Angry American
It was a very hot September day, and our attitude towards our next task was piss poor to say the least. We are fighters, we are America's Warrior class, we are killers, we are Infantrymen. That day we were playing chauffeur to escort someone to a meeting, which in the scheme of things was small to us. But to the rebuilding of the sector in which we patrolled it would play a large part.
We also had to take an Engineer to do a site eval at a gas station where two of our 2/16 brethren had been shot by a sniper. We would take him there and he would determine what we could do to make the gas station safer for our guys inside.
On the way to the meeting my gunner noticed some suspect wires in the road and I called to the lead vehicle to watch them on the way back. The lead truck commander called back to me and said he had it.
We dropped off the people for their meeting and began phase two of the mission. We passed back by the place with the wires with no issues. We made a right turn onto Route Predators, one of Iraq's most deadliest routes, and drove about a thousand meters. People were out in the streets shopping and going on with their daily routines. I was the last vehicle and just making it to a bend in the road from which I could only see two trucks in front of me. A loud explosion would change the lives of many forever. It was so hot that day.
One year has passed since the events of September 4, 2007 and I find myself wondering if the last thing that I said to my good friend Sgt Joel Lee Murray was, "Watch out for those wires." The wires I'm referring to were just downed power lines and about a mile away from the explosion, and had nothing to do with anything, though even months after September 4th those wires were still there and I thought hard to remember if we had said anything to each other after that. Even now I wonder.
For me the sights and sounds of that day are burned into my mind like a computer monitor left on too long. The memories of those that passed never fade. I talked to several of my fellow 2nd Platoon members today. I miss them and their camaraderie and I feel that they are the only ones that truly understand.
I told some young Privates today about Legacy, and how in the military good leaders and Soldiers live forever. They live forever through their guidance and actions. Former leaders that I had live through me as I pass their style and wisdom down to younger Soldiers. I know that Shelton, Crookston, Lane, and Murray will live forever, forever young and forever Warriors.
Shelton taught people to accept everyone. He was the guy that took a lot of people under his wing and showed them a good time. His Loyalty will be passed down to younger generations through lives he touched.
Lane's sense of humor and love of life will be passed down. He had the ability to lighten a situation with a joke so not-funny that it was hilarious, or with a silly face that would make you have no choice but to smile.
Crookston's intelligence will never be forgotten, as he was the computer guru and Rubik's Cube master; no one that was touched by him will ever be able to look at a Rubik's Cube without thinking of him. Most of all Strength, as he lived when the doctors said he wouldn't make it through that September night. He lived for six months before his body gave out, though spiritually and mentally he never stopped fighting.
Sgt Murray passed on his leadership and knowledge of his chosen profession. The young Soldiers that he mentored are now preparing to become NCOs and leaders. Their kit bags are full of good tactics and leadership principles that Sgt Murray upheld and held them to.
I could really go on forever on how the Legacy of these individuals will be passed down forever. These are just the tip of the iceberg. Joseph Mixson survived the blast but his life is forever altered. He would lose both of his legs. Mixson is with us but his Legacy is set in stone, as we learn Courage and Strength.
Not a day goes by in which any of us that were there that day doesn't think about what happened, and plays the "what if" game. We remember the good times that we had with those guys, which were many. On this day I just wanted to take the time and let everybody know that as time goes on their memories will not fade, and their Legacy will live forever. Anytime you see a Soldier in uniform somewhere down the line, there is a good chance that he or she has a piece of SGT Murray, CPL Crookston, SPC Lane, and SPC Shelton, and CPL Mixson in them.
Deuce Deuce OUT!!!