Sunday, July 30, 2006

And the band played on…

It’s about 2225 (10:25 pm) and I’ve decided that I have done all that I can do for today. So I tidy up my desk, shut down my computers (4 of them, connected to dual monitors – it’s a neat set up), and head toward the door. As usual, I stop in to let the watch know that I am leaving, and wave to the guard.

It’s dark outside and the camp is half blacked out so I am careful to watch where I am BAAM!!! A huge white flash lights up the East Wall, followed by a hollow cracking sound, like when a kid breaks a wooden bat in little league. BAM!! Another crack, but no flash this time. Small arms fire is rattling, but it’s so fast I can’t tell if there are Americans involved. A Sergeant and I are ducking behind some type of electrical power panel when we hear splashes in the reservoir – we can’t see the firing because it’s going on behind the wall, but it’s not letting up. Most firefights are really short – just a couple of bursts, really, before whichever side that was surprised decides to run away. But these guys are still fightin’. Although I consider drawing my 9 mil, we’re on the wrong side of the wall and we can’t really help the situation, so I leave it in the holster.

In the end we decide that the best thing to do is to place a lot more room between our position and the occasional “plink” of an errant round impacting near by. Now a siren is wailing - the humvees are racing so we stay off the roads so we’re not run over by our own guys. It’s almost pitch black out, remember. Another humvee comes by, more slowly now. The tinny voice emanating from the loudspeaker on its roof tells everyone to take cover inside. We make it to the club, where the MPs are herding everyone they can find inside - every time they open the thick wooden door I can hear loud music, which just seems to add to the confusion outside.

I am the last one in except for the guards. For some reason the heavy wooden doors closing behind me reminds me of when John Wayne and his Tennesseans join the men at the Alamo by sneaking through the mission gate after the siege had started. My adrenaline is really pumping as I take it all in. In front of me are about a hundred kids, crowded on the dance floor, the bodies gyrating to the Salsa beat. They are mostly in uniform, although many have taken their camouflage blouses off. BAAM! The impact shakes the building. Music is still blaring. Another explosion. WhoooshBAAM!! This is so unlike I expected war to be.

The DJ makes an announcement that all Bravo Company are to report to their unit - BAAM – but everyone else has to stay inside until the fighting’s over. The popular girls (and they are all popular over here) are back on the dance floor in no time, dancing to the beat.


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