Five days after the 12 July incident, this happened. One more reason I hate talking about that whole month. But, now, I have to. Our Honor is under attack and we have to get the Truth out.
We were just waiting for the changeover to be complete. 1st platoon was going to take over COP security. All of us were assembled in the Gym/Mess/Aid Station/briefing room. Basically the largest partition of the downstairs part of the ice cream factory. It served as the multi purpose room close to the sleeping quarters. The nice thing about it was it was spacious, the bad part was that it served just a few too many purposes, and more than once, a group of people would be engaged in one activity, say eating, while another would be working out, or someone else would be giving a briefing while someone was grunting and straining on the bench press.
I suppose that there are some things that never change. Over the last few days we’d drifted apart, basically stuck on whatever shift we were on. One of the downsides of COP security was that you never really interacted with the rest of the platoon, and even the guy you were on it with (if you were lucky enough to be on a two man post), you didn’t really do anything except talk, and sometimes even that sucked.
1st had been hit at 2400 (midnight) on the dot. It blew the shit out of SSG Vera’s vehicle, though amazingly enough despite minor burns and a possible concussion on two soldiers there was no real injury. The TC side of the engine block was gone, pretty much ripped away. We provided security for the extraction, while the truck was towed back to base. I’d seen the truck when I brought 2-2 back to line it up for our SP, I also took some pictures, after all, despite the fact that it was a close call, there was a sort of morbid curiosity. It was just plain cool.
We had gotten back at 0200 (2AM), just in time for me to go back on guard at the North Gate. So, naturally, I was tired as hell. I had gotten some sleep before, but not much. Still, by the end of the day, I’d be back on Rusty, and I’d be in a nearly freezing room, with all the Hajji DVDs I could watch. It sounded like heaven just then.
“What was that?” asked Island.
“I dunno, sounds like somebody hit the door.”
“Hey we’re getting hit.” Jubi noted.
The rounds didn’t sound too big, and I was inside. There really wasn’t any place to go.
“How many you suppose they’re gonna shoot at us?” I asked.
“This must be their version of ‘fire for effect,’” Lewis said.
“Well, they’re not hitting anything, and this is a pretty easy target.”
“No one ever accused them of being good.”
I stretched out on the bench and closed my eyes. “Wake me up when it’s over.” There were grunts of amusement. People sat and waited for the barrage to end, and it didn’t last long. Two rounds were not even close, and, later it was over. Though unlike on the FOB we didn’t get the “all clear” announcement over the PA. It just kind of stopped and that was it.
It wasn’t long after the shelling stopped, that I heard a commotion over by the little corner that I had lovingly set up once long ago as the Aid station. I peaked my head up. A bunch of people were coming in, clustered together. I sighed. Time to go to work.
I got up and headed over to see Stern and OG 1st and 3rd’s medics and SGT Bouten. The one time team leader of 2nd platoon. He was sitting there with small patches of blood on his back, wincing in pain. It didn't look too bad though. Honestly, I’d seen worse after a rough night of sex. Stern was cutting his shirt off, and OG was getting the dressings ready.
“Need any help?” I asked casually.
“Nope, we got it” OG replied.
“Okay, let me know.” I didn’t go back to the spot that I’d been sprawled out at though. I figured that it would be good to see just how bad this was. As soon as the shirt came off I felt cheated. There were about ten spots in all and what looked like a minor burn covering most of his back. Most of the injuries were from thumbnail sized bits of shrapnel that had barely punctured the skin. He was bent over one of the cots wincing, telling everyone that would listen just how it had happened. What he had, were a few scratches, little more, but when it comes to shrapnel you have to treat it like it might be more. You'd be amazed what a little sliver of metal can do to someone's intestines.
I couldn't really do anything, so, sure Stern and OG had it all in hand, I went outside. Harrelson and some kid from 1st followed me out, looking for the impact sites. We didn’t have to look long for the first one. On the wall dividing the Ice Cream Factory from the Spaghetti factory (or the living area from the DFAC/parking area) it was a small hole, only half a cinder block was knocked out, and we could even see, on the other side, the hole in the cammo net where the Mortar round had come through.
The OB/exam table that CPT Brock had for some strange reason decided to send out to us, despite the fact that we’d told him that we’d just destroy it eventually, had in fact been partially destroyed or at least no longer useable for the OB/GYN function (not that we needed it for that) and the majority of the bed had been peppered with shrapnel. I whipped out my camera and took some pictures and made sure that everyone knew that, this time, it was most definitely NOT my fault, even though secretly I had wanted to rip the damn thing apart as soon as I saw it on the LMTV.
For the next twenty minutes or so Harrelson and I tried to find all the impact craters, but we simply couldn’t. I counted a total of three, which was odd because I heard a lot more than that, hit. We both tried to guess what that meant but simply couldn’t figure it out, until I went into the CP.
I over heard some of the radio chatter as the SOG tried to get a BDA from all OP s. they all reported that they were ok and no injuries, and that surprisingly enough most of the rounds hadn’t even hit our modest little COP. I am not a mortar man, and Mortar platoon wasn’t due out for a while, but I was pretty sure that it isn’t that hard to get six rounds in a 100x100 meter area. But then, most of that wasn’t inhabited. They had, ironically enough, under shot and hit some of the houses on the other side of some of the T barriers.
Having found out all that I wanted to know I shrugged and went back inside, figuring that the moderate cool of the living area, what with the twenty odd AC units at full blast at all times, was far preferable to the blazing heat outside or the cramped CP/office. I went back to the bench I had occupied, only to find Bishop there sprawled out, where I had just been. I grunted and found another less comfortable spot. LT came out and told a half interested platoon that, we’d have to wait till we were cleared. I suppose that having just been shelled. They didn’t want us to go out right away. I’m not certain how long we waited.
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