Saturday, March 31, 2007

Mechanical Graveyard

The white SUV was hot, in spite of the fact that it was a fairly pleasant spring day outside. We were just about to crest a small hill, and the driver sped up a little – no one likes being silhouetted in Iraq. As we reached the top my eyes automatically scanned the terrain ahead.

To my amazement, the landscape ahead was filled with tanks, seemingly acres upon acres of them. There were Russian T-55s, lots of T-62s… even some newer T-72s, all lined up as if for parade, dress right dress, row upon row. Upon closer examination I noticed there were also trucks, artillery pieces, anti-aircraft guns, trailers, tires, engines, even pontoons… the detritus of modern war. Much of the equipment had obviously been blasted or burnt, but a good portion looked as if it had been abandoned rather than destroyed. In fact, some of the armored vehicles looked as if they were only waiting for the driver to return from his smoke break before he popped the clutch the behemoth lurched forward, as tanks always seem to do when they start off.

We stopped and I got out. This was Saddam’s Army, I thought. The Republican Guard, here, covering these fields - mere jetsam in a war that has passed them by. We’ve all seen the news clips of burning Iraqi armor, Saddam’s best destroyed by superior American guns with their gryo-stabalizers, stand-off digital range finders, and infrared sights. Enemy tanks with their hatches open, fire spewing, oily black smoke roiling. Often, Iraqi armor was taken under fire while the Americans were still out of range, a technique known a “plinking.” Many times the enemy literally did knot know what hit him. And now, here they were, like so much scrape iron piled up… all those plinked tanks.

Pontoon truck

I walked over and looked inside one with a small hole in the glacis, wondering if anyone had died in there. A bit further down were several old tracked chassis, with some type of home-made, open-topped gun tubs where the turret should have been. The barrel of an old style 37mm anti-aircraft gun protruded, too slow to be of any use against even the slowest jet (but probably very effective against Kurdish rebels armed with old rifles). Over there was an American 105mm artillery piece, like you see in the old photos from Vietnam. And further on was a… a… British 25 pounder? Yes, I think that’s what it is – they retired those in the 1950s! Kraig would love this place. It was like Aberdeen, except spookier.


Blogger kbinkowski35 said...

Driving up north to Kelly's parents cottage, about halfway there, in between towns and not really close to anything else is this huge old junk yard full of disgarded fire trucks and broken down tow trucks and cars from the 1940s. And that's just what I can see as I pass from the road. I imagine it goes on and on beyond the fence. It looks like heaven. Kelly never lets me stop...

April 02, 2007 5:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kelly, now you let him stop the next time you're driving by. He's a guy and guys have needs!

April 02, 2007 11:32 AM  

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