I just received this email this morning from my kidlet's dad, stationed in Afghanistan. I said a prayer of thanks for living in a place of peace and freedom.
Hello again guys! How are you? I'm doing very well. Spirits are high and all is well. I hope you guys are doing great also.
Yesterday, was supposed to be my team's day off. We had a mission the following morning VERY early (Again won't mention times, location and personnel). The mission was a basic security job in support of our primary mission.
But it was going to be the next day and my team was off. Which after the events of the prior day I was looking forward to.
After squaring away my gear and weapon I went to take a shower, after the shower one of the Sgt told me our SP (Starting Point) Time was bumped up. No, biggie we get FRAGO's (Change in orders) all the time, plus the SP Time was still several hours away. Still had enough time to relax and rest which is what I was planning on doing.
One of the things I did was write the email I sent yesterday, after that email I was going to settle down and watch a flick. When I heard a small commotion next door. I thought it was the guys messing around so I got ready to chill. When one of my buddies came in and said "Hey! We gotta go!!". I was like Damn! I thought this crazy FRAGO upon FRAGO crap ended once I got here (Quick note: FRAGOs happen. Its the nature of the military. But when you get FRAGO upon FRAGO that's due to [#%!] poor planning. And the leadership I had then was known for that, However I NOW have better leadership).
So whatever, I slowly start getting my gear on, when my buddy said to me "One of the teams got hit!" I knew then this was not a FRAGO to the mission that was already planned.
When I started throwing my shit on REAL quick, especially when I heard which team it was! See right now I'm on loan to another team, so my normal team (The team I went out with when we got hit yesterday) went on their mission. While I was attached to the other team, which was very kewl since most of them came from my platoon and I was close with all of them.
I throw on my shit, don't even bother lacing up my boots, grab my weapon and run to the truck (Humvees). The Commander was already out there, so were a few of the sgt. We got a quick brief on what went down:
Team X convoy got hit with an IED and disabled the vehicle. They were not under immediate fire at the time so TEAM XX (Team I was with) was supposed to go down to the area a few klicks (Kilometers) away and act as a relay to the TOC (Base) and QRF (Quick Reaction Force) (QRF is basically SWAT for soldiers. They react anytime any unit gets attacked)) However if there is a delay in QRF or the team got attacked we was supposed to respond, in short we was back up QRF.
The reason we were acting as a relay was sometimes due to terrain the radio's have issues so if Team X couldn't get the message to the TOC they could get it to us and were we were positioned we could relay it to base.
After the brief, we hopped into our trucks and drove thunder road style. We boogied down that road!! A trip that normally should have taken us 45 minutes we got there in 15!
I was in the dismount seat with the driver, gunner and one other dismount. We arrived at the location and set up our parameter. We achieved communications with Team X and was relaying info to the base. So far it seemed very quiet. QRF was running slow, but Team X wasn't in any danger. So we in the trucks started shooting the shit about dumb stuff. When we heard over the radio "We are under FIRE! Small arms (Ak47) and RPGS!!
Our commander immediately said "Lets ROLL" and we tore down the dirt road that lead to the ambush site. You could hear on the radio when TEAM X called us the gunfire in the background. They were in a heavy duty fire.
You may never see Humvees move the way they did yesterday on these dirt roads. Not gonna lie it was kinda spooky cause we were twistin and turning in a vehicle that is known for tipping over. Not to mention, the one thing they mention to us is that offroad Afghanistan is known for Mines (Thank you Soviet Union. Soviets parting gift for the people of Afghanistan is making it one of the top 3 most heavily mined countries in the world)
We jetted down the road to the town, I'm saying to myself "Cmon! Cmon lets go!" I knew those guys personally. That was my team and 2 of them I knew since Bragg! We were going as fast as we could but it damn sure wasn't quick enough for me.
We traveled down this dirt road for a few kliks when we saw what looked like a small treeline it even had a small creek, "What the eff is this doing here". Afghan is desert and then this Oasis pops up? LOL. But we went through the Oasis and right into a town. Which at the moment I saw it was the scariest place I ever been.
If you ever saw the movie Black Hawk Down,there is a sequence in the movie were this Humvee convoy was getting attacked left and right in this small street/alley. Well think of that street and that is what I saw. The Black Hawk Down street and i'm driving down it.
I'm scanning my sector checking every effing roof top doorway, nook, cranny everything. If some mutha effer was sipping a glass of tea I was checking the cup just in case some asshole with a AK pops out of the cup. You could hear my gunner swearving his guns left and right. Taliban could have jumped us Black Hawk style on this street. But thank God they didnt.
We went down those small alleys and streets like we were in the Dukes of Hazzard. After a few turns we finally arrived at the Ambush site. The battle field was a clearing that had the town to the right, hills to the center and what looked like a fort to the left. Afghanistan is lousy with them, You could see in the distance a small brick hut and some other buildings in the distance.
The first thing you saw was the vehicle that nailed...of what was left of it. That particular vehicle is special. Its designed to take IED, but it was...it was...it was...EFFED UP! Like one side was just a wreck. It looked bad and all I could think about was my buddies. Please God make sure they are ok.
BOOM!! An explosion! then the sound of rounds going off. We drove right into the middle of a firefight. This wasn't gonna be like yesterday. The vehicle was down so we wasn't splitting. And the enemy was throwing down at our guys big time!
As we were setting up our battle positions for the vehicles I could see our guys were already on the ground returning fire, I look to see if we had any casulties but what I could see no one was hurt. Our truck rolls up to the commander on the scene (my boss). He tells my truck were to go and were the enemy is at. We roll up. Set up and that 240 Machine gun started singing her tune. The other truck which had "Ma Duce" (the 50 Cal) was already blazing! Then you heard the Mark 19 (Its a machine gun that shoots grenades) sing her tune What ever the enemy was throwing at us. We was throwin it back with interest, Brooklyn style!
You could hear the brass and links from the machine gun raining down the hatch. Kinda reminded me of the scene in the matrix when the helicopter was opening up on a building. The Links and brass were raining down in slow motion.
I was getting my baby (The SAW) ready to dismount. I said my prayers and was waiting for the order when we hear over the radio the Mark 19 is jammed. The driver says to me do I know anything about the Mark 19. The Mark 19 is sweet but its not a weapon most infantry men use. Its used mainly on Humvees. I fired it once in training and if this was a training exercise I probably would have took a whack at it. All Joes love to play with new toys. But this WASN'T training this was a firefight and I wasn't about to put lives in danger trying to be all macho fumbling around with a weapon system I was not familiar with. .I told him no. My gunner a Sgt on the other hand said "I know it" he jumped out of the gun and I jumped in. I don't know the Mark 19 but I damn sure knew the 240B machine gun!! I was in the turrret and you could hear the rounds poppin off left and right.
In the turret you see the whole battlfield. You have 360 degeree view. While as a dismount you only see whats in front of you. It looked surreal. I could see the Humvess on the left blasting. I could see what was left of the other vehicle behind me. I saw Joes in the prone, Joes on the radios they looked like the little green soldiers I played with when I was a kid. Was I really here? Was I really in Afghanistan? Was I really in the middle of a war? Boom! Another explosion! I got my answer.
My driver ask me what was that. A soldier on the ground said mortars! So these clowns were now mortaring us. No biggie we just threw more lead down on them. We were focusing our fire on a treeline and lighting it up. When finally the enemy ceased fire. The commander told my truck to push out our perimeter further out since we were all tight around the truck that got hit. Our job was to defend our guys until QRF decided to show up.
Being in the turret scanning your sector is exciting and scary at the same time. Exciting cause you're in the turret but scary cause you're in the turret lol. But seriously it's scary cause you see everything and you are a target. I was scared but wasn't petrified. As long as I was able to react I was good and all I wanted to do was react. I had my had on the trigger looking for a muzzle flash so I could light it up. That asshole was protected by leaves, I was in an armored Humvee behind bullet proof glass that the 50 cal couldn't shatter!
Things seem to settle down after we arrived. The enemy was willing to eff with Joes who were setting up a defensive perimeter around a disable humveee but they didn't want to throw down against us when we rolled in with additional humvees armed with Mark 19, 240's and a 50 cal. So as per usual, they ran like bitches. But we didn't know that nor care. We were ready.
While in the turret I saw a Lieutenant that I knew who was on the convoy that got hit. I asked him were any of our guys hurt. And THANK GOD he said no. That vehicle did exactly what it was designed to do. It took care of our guys. I also found out part of the reason it looked so bad, wasn't just the IED (Which was double stacked mines) but it also took a RPG hit. It would have dinged up our guys if they were in it at the time. But since they had dismounted they were taking cover behind the vehicle and it protected them from the RPG.
Once we secured the area, we waited of QRF which seemed forever. I popped smoke a few times, another truck lit up a hill so they could see the tracer rounds. I was in the hatch scanning with binoculars looking for them. And this was the big bad ass 101 Airborne who was supposed to do what my team just did..Bail our guys out. (In fairness to QRF, I found out later they were trying to flank the enemy, that's why it was taking awhile for them to arrive. In actuality it was a smart play)
In the hatch, with my adrenaline pumping, scanning for the enemy I started thinking about one of my boys at Bragg who had a saying "LTD..Living The Dream". As I was gazing out on the battlefield I finally got what he meant cause while we were waiting, the commander on the ground came to the truck and said to the Driver "Thanks guys for saving us".
I wont bore you with the details of the rest of the day. (QRF did arrive and we had to wait for a super huge tow truck to drag the busted humvee out). Cause the rest of the night while stressful was quiet at the ambush site. But until the day I die I don't think I will ever forget those words. Not the excitement. Not the fireworks. I'm not looking to kill anyone and I pray to God I don't. But I'll do whatever it takes to save my buddies life. But I'm not here to be a damn hero. So all that jazz meant nothing to me except a Joe telling us thank you for saving his life.
I could do that every day here.
Just saving my buddies, giving away clothes and food to the kids. I could do that every single day.
Living the Dream.
So that was my day off.
Hope you guys are well. God bless you all
It's never too late to have a happy childhood!