Friday, July 21, 2006

Last Night I was Scared for the First Time

Well, for the first time since I’ve been in Iraq, anyway. I went to sleep about 2200 last night. I was reading the Stars and Stripes and just got bored reading about the war so I fell asleep early. After about an hour or an hour and a half, I awoke to gun fire outside. Pop pop pop. This isn’t that unusual – in fact, the normal reaction is to just rollover and go to sleep. Usually it’s just the Muj shooting at themselves in Baghdad somewhere, but this sounded close. And although it’s a fact that the three hootches in my row are the closest to the East wall, they are protected on the sides by about six inches of concrete.

So I laid there listening for a sec. I am not trying to make this sound dramatic or anything, but it really seemed that the gunfire was getting close. Then the 50’s opened up, and they were really close. In fact, I thought they were on this side of the wall. Images of those mutilated soldiers flashed into my head for a sec, so I grabbed my trousers and my pistol belt and ran outside. It wasn’t bravery, and I certainly didn’t want to be a part of this if I didn’t need to be, but if the fifty’s were on our side of the wall then that meant so were the bad guys - and I didn’t want to be caught in my room with bad guys running around.

So in tee-shirt & trousers, untied boots, and with my pistol belt over my shoulder I ran outside, only to turn the corner and literally run into someone else running in the opposite direction. This scared the absolute shit out of me! Worse, his damn rifle slammed against my leg right where the stitches were. Now imagine this, there’s firing all around, and I’m imagining Muj inside the wall again, and I run smack into this guy who almost bolls me over – luckily, I think I scared him just as much as he scared me.

Just as it was registering that this guy was too big to be an Iraqi, the fifties opened up again, over the wall. They were firing from on top of a humvee and you couldn’t see the vehicle, but you could sure see the flash when they fired. Like lots of very loud, very bright little explosions. Occasionally a tracer ricocheted up. Actually, I was mesmerized for just a second, but then the humvee started driving, with the fifty still firing short bursts. There must have been another gun truck near by, because when the humvee wasn’t firing I could still hear the whump whump whump of fifties off in the distance. You can’t mistake it for any other weapon, and I have been told the Muj fear them.

So the battle moved off and after listening for a while I went back to my hootch, adrenalin still pumping. I finally got back to sleep sometime after 0330. The next morning everyone was talking about it, and I noticed nicks in the concrete wall in back of my hootch. They definitely looked like ballistic strikes, but I couldn’t tell if they were new or not.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mark, I hope things have settled down a little since your last posting. Do you ever worry about the detail in which you describe your whereabouts? I know that is intel probably monitoring blogs like this, but it seems like it would be easy for camps such as yours to be targeted if they were to come across these sites.
Were the gunmen apprehended, or is that not a priority?
We think of you and your family often, and wish for your safety. Please take care of yourself.

Best, Tasha (Tanya's sister)

July 21, 2006 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Tasha (I would have known who you were):

I try to be very conscious of what they refer to as operational security, and often change details such as time or location in my letters to Kraig in order not to give anything away. But I think the bad guys already pretty much know where we are, and where things are on the bases. Remember, most of this area was actually a series of Baathist government compounds before the war.

Please thank your father for the book - I owe him a formal thank you note. And yes, things are much calmer today.

July 21, 2006 12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey you Major,

Don't make me cry! Please be safe. I wish there was a god I could pray to , at least then I would feel as though I was doing something. As it is I just think about you, wonder what you are doing and hoping you are staying put.

Always love

Yo yo Ma.

July 21, 2006 7:16 PM  
Blogger KAB said...

Hey you Major,

Don't make me cry! Please be safe. I wish there was a god I could pray to , at least then I would feel as though I was doing something. As it is I just think about you, wonder what you are doing and hoping you are staying put.

Always love

Yo yo Ma.

July 21, 2006 7:16 PM  
Anonymous Keith said...

Next time stay the hell inside-you've got your guns in there, right?- and wait it out. And I hope the gunmen were not apprehended, I hope they were killed.

July 21, 2006 7:47 PM  

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