The day had already been busy, but it wasn't over. It was just gotten started.
But it was perhaps an hour or two before LT came in and gave us the mission brief. It took only a few minutes and it was mostly a formality. If there was one thing that 2nd platoon was good at, it was pulling shit out of our collective asses. However it was important that everyone know the route. In the past, people had been known to take the wrong road when everyone didn’t know the route (Jessica Lynch anybody?) The number of safe routes back to FOB Rustamiyah had significantly decreased since Craig had died. We wouldn’t go through the Mishtals, Fedalayah or most of the built up area between Rte Predators, and the Outer Berm Road.
Today we‘d be going through the “upscale“ part of Kamilayah, a less urban area where houses weren‘t jammed together in the crazy mish mash jig saw puzzle their architecture usually ended up becoming. It was a ½ Km section of almost rural houses set in a palm grove. Then we’d hop on outer Berm road, a raised up berm of a road, that straddled a river, before passing palm groves. The southern most end of outer berm road was usually not taken because of the IP checkpoints (a dead magnet for IEDs) and also, there were also a lot of places that insurgents had been spotted. We never went south of the old COP at the power station, but the week before we had made it all the way on outer berm to Pluto, so we’d try it again today. We thought, at the time, it was better than running Predators or through the Mishtals.
Once the briefing was over we got the order to mount up. I grabbed my bags. One 3 day assault pack, my big aid bag, and a laundry bag. I suppose that I pack a little heavy, but the Aid Bag I have is something I couldn’t get away without, and I couldn’t put all my entertainment stuff in the assault pack that was packed with all the clothes I needed for the rotation. I was going to be in 2-4, fourth vehicle in the convoy. Island would be the Driver, SGT “Old Balls” Johnson would be the TC, I was in the TC side dismount, and on the drivers side dismount was Bishop, Lewis was the Gunner.
(Pictures, courtesy of SGT Cannon & Doc Bailey. All Rights Reserved Cannon & Bailey)
The engines cranked up, and the sound of idling diesel engines filled the air. I stood outside waiting for the last possible second, not wanting to get in until it wasn’t an option. I always hated “sweating like a slave” as Island would say. The problem is that I had one tiny ac vent, and that really didn’t do shit for you when it was 130 outside. Gunners made their jokes, and people milled about until it was clear that it was time to go. One by one we all got in, and got ready to roll.
It wasn’t long before 2-1 started to roll out the south gate. Before we even started moving I was already in a half asleep state, I usually was in times like that. The convoys out and back for some reason were always so hard to stay awake for. I had my iPod nano playing in one ear, so I could still listen to the radio, and away we went. We took a slightly serpentine path, just, so we didn’t make it too easy.
I dozed in and out of consciousness. There were points where I was very alert, and points where I simply can’t remember. I remember coming in sight of the old COP. The power station. It gave me a small smile. I had a lot of good memories there. It was almost the half way point to Rusty. I suppose there are some places that stick out in your memory. It was perhaps three hundred meters past the road to turn into Riyassa that it happened.
“FUCK!” I knew it meant one thing and I already dreaded what I would find.
“2-2 is hit” called the LT.
“Get me up there” I yelled at SGT Johnson.
2-4 started to close the distance to the vehicle ahead of us, and instantly we tensed up, ready for whatever we saw.
“Dismount!” I heard SSG Davidson order.
I opened the door, and threw my aid bag on my back and grabbed my weapon. I sprinted once I got around the vehicle in front of me I saw to my horror that 2-2 was fully engulfed in flames. Already I could hear the insane popping of rounds cooking off. LT was standing by the Burn blanket, and saw me as I came running up on the scene
Doc Bailey served as a Combat Medic with the 2nd of the 16th Infantry Regiment, in Northern Baghdad during 2007, "The Surge." He helps to lead an effort to bring the Truth to propagandized events surrounding the attack in which two Arab reporters, working for Reuters, were killed while mixed in with terrorists of the Mehdi Militia. He has authorized War On Terror News to publish the events he witnessed.
He also maintains his own blog at The Madness of a Combat Medic