June 04, 2008

Name: LT G.
Posting date: 6/4/08
Stationed in: Iraq
Hometown: Reno, Nevada
Milblog: Kaboom: A Soldier's War journal

O Dark Thirty. Memorial Day weekend, not that any of us were really aware of that at the time. Patrolling up and down Route Daytona, the highway stretch that serves as the logistical spinal column for the massive American body draped across this part of Iraq.

“Gravedigger 1, this is X-Ray.” My entire vehicle groaned along with me. Radio calls at this time of night rarely bring good news.

I responded and waited for the details for the latest goat symphony we needed to conduct. “Roger ... Move south, to Checkpoint AL5. There’s a convoy that has come to a halt on the far side of that checkpoint ... Claims they see a box with some wires coming out of it. They need someone to check it out.”

The obvious question followed, on my end. “They can’t check it out themselves? If it's bad enough for them to totally stop, why haven't they called EOD*?”

The TOC*-roach on the other end of the radio just snickered. “It’s a super convoy of fobbits, making their once-a-year run between FOBs*. So no, no they can’t check it out themselves.”

I just shook my head and relayed the FRAGO* to my platoon. SSG Boondock began chuckling from the back of the Stryker. “Good Christ, it has gotta be bad when the dude in the TOC is busting their chops.”

Prophetic words. The Gravediggers rolled up to the checkpoint, and SSG Bulldog slurred in disgust.

“’Dose mutha fuckas, they on the other side of the checkpoint. They keep beaming us and shit, but none of ‘em are on the ground. How the fuck can they even see anything from where they at? They too far away!”

“That’s why we’re here,” I said. “See you on the ground. We’ll check it out for them.”

Now, we don’t make it a habit of clearing possible IEDs on foot, but as we moved up dismounted to the location in question, we couldn’t help ourselves. We’ve seen IEDs of various sorts, up-close-and-personal. They don’t usually resemble broken banana crates.

While SFC Big Country took a fire team to go inform the super convoy that all was clear, SSG Boondock picked up the pieces of the crate and started pelting SPC Tunnel Rat, while using every colorful epithet for “pogue” imaginable. We still hadn’t found the reported wires though, and I knew that question would inevitably be asked, whether anyone blew up or not. I retraced our steps to the north, bent over, and picked up a long, dangling chord connected to a small squarish piece of plastic.

Cassette tape spool. Spool connected to a cassette tape. A cassette tape that contained the immortal, profound words of ... Bon Jovi?

Things that make you go. What. The. Fuck.

Why won't the Eighties die?


After asking the soldiers if any of them wanted a vintage copy of Slippery When Wet, I tossed New Jersey’s finest to the side of the road. I told everyone to mount back up, and found my platoon sergeant returning from the south side of the checkpoint.

“They have anything to say?” I asked.

SFC Big Country laughed. “Yeah. They said ‘Thanks.’”

“What, those mutha fuckas’ don’t own no flashlights?” SSG Bulldog was talking to himself again. “What the fuck?”

“It could be worse,” SSG Boondock offered, as we traipsed back to our vehicles. “We could’ve called EOD for a banana crate and a cassette tape.”

PV2 Hot Wheels started busting out the chorus to Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive,” something that the rest of the soldiers either joined in on or started booing. We got back on our respective Strykers, and I called for Redcon statuses.

“This, uhh, Gravedigger 2,” SSG Bulldog drawled. “We Redcon 1.”

“Gravedigger 1, this is Gravedigger 3, we're Redcon 1!” SSG Boondock burst.

“This is 4,” SFC Big Country thundered. “Let's roll.”

“On your move 2,” I said, watching the wheels of my senior scout's vehicle begin to churn forward.

The patrol continued.

*EOD: Explosive Ordnance Disposal
TOC: Tactical Operations Center
FOB: Forward Operating Base
Frago: Fragmentary Order


A human comedy is a nice change from human tragedy. Thanks for the laughs.

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