8-9 February 2008 (ON PATROL)

It has been a long couple of days.

I got a new guy in my squad yesterday, not long before we went out. Private Kirby was in headquarters platoon, then 4th platoon, and now we have him. He’s an 11C, a mortar guy, and he has had some issues since he arrived in our unit. I think he’ll be okay. I hope. It’s definitely going to take some work to get him squared away.

He’s originally from Marion, Illinois. I’ve been there several times, when heading to Carbondale to see Theresa when she was in college. He’s young, and he’s been married to a local girl back in Hawaii for about a year. She’s got a couple of kids, and it sounds almost like she’s using him as a meal ticket. We’ll see how it goes.

Yesterday, we rolled out around 7:45 P.M. to set up OPs (observation posts) along Route No Names. Really, we were setting in ambushes.

Alpha and Charlie companies are working to harden some CLC checkpoints along Route Coyotes, because they take fire on a nightly basis, at least that’s what they say. We were basically setting in around that area, while the other companies are out there working. We are kind of like an outer security perimeter for them.

Before we went out, LT Schardt had been out with 2nd platoon all day. Apparently, someone murdered Sheikh Haleed, the top CLC leader in the 14th Ramadan area. I guess CPT Veath told the other CLC leaders that it’s their country and local area, and that they should go out and take care of the problem. It sounds like he gave them the AK 47 that I found during the raid too.

LT Schardt got back in from being out with 2nd platoon, drew us a quick map, and we left. We drove up to 14th Ramadan, checked on the CLCs, then headed back south, turning east on Route Coyotes toward Route No Names. Once there, 3rd squad fanned out and walked along the roadway. We finally reached my squad’s dismount point, and we walked to our ambush site. Our instructions were to set up a linear ambush at a slight curve in the road. They wanted us to be set in by 2200 (10 P.M.), and we were supposed to stay put until 0100.

I was pissed at my guys tonight. They were noisy while we were moving to our position, and it seemed like they weren’t pulling security, or even paying attention to what was going on around them.

While we were moving, our departure time moved from 0100 to midnight. We were all okay with that. We were also told that we had a pair of F-16s on station overhead.

We set in our ambush and waited. We heard sporadic small arms fire all around, but it all seemed pretty far away. There were a couple of dogs running around our area, and we heard them crunching brush and moving around in the tall grass along a canal before we saw them. We were all a little on edge, hearing brush crunching around us. Then one of the dogs came running through the grass and damn near ran right into Fraleigh. That was the excitement for the night.

At midnight, we moved back to our Strykers and got loaded up to head back to Camp Taji. Dragon Mike called, and told us to hold our ambush positions until 0300. We remained in the vehicles, and covered our sectors with the mounted machine guns.

At 0300, we started driving back to Route Coyotes to head back to Camp Taji. Dragon Mike called again, and told us to return to our ambush sites and stay until we were told otherwise.

We found a place to turn around, and started heading back up Route No Names, and Dragon Mike called again, “Disregard my last. Return to base, over.”

We got in around 0430.

 

We heard last night (the 8th) that a Stryker from 1-21 took a bad IED, and we got confirmation this morning. Four soldiers were killed, one of which I knew. I’m not sure where I knew him from, but our careers have crossed paths at some point. Six others were wounded.

We were told that the IED was 500 + pounds of explosives buried deep in the road, and they think it was initiated by a pressure plate. The crater was 20 feet in diameter and 6 feet deep. We were told that the Stryker was thrown into the air and that it landed on its top.

That’s enough to make anyone wonder if any of us will survive this tour.

We went out to 14th Ramadan again this morning. We took supplies out to drop off at the school, but school isn’t in session right now.

We spent some time talking with the CLC leaders who are out trying to avenge Sheikh Haleed’s death. Sheikh Thamer was wearing a heavy coat with a bullet proof vest underneath, and he had several mag pouches with AK-47 magazines. He told us that they had detained more than 25 people, and that they were going around searching cars and homes.

This guy is shady as fuck.

When they pulled up to talk to us today, they were in a BMW that they had taken from one of the men they detained.

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While we stood there talking with them, Sheikh Thamer opened the trunk and showed us some homemade explosives, anti-aircraft rounds, and artillery rounds that they had “recovered” from the bad guys. He wanted us take it.

Like I’m gonna put that old unstable shit in the back of my Stryker with my soldiers. Get the fuck out of here.

Thamer was concerned about CLCs that he didn’t trust seeing what he had and that he was giving it to us.

Someone above me decided that he should drive down the road and leave it somewhere for us to “find.” He didn’t like that idea, because he was concerned that another patrol or one of our aircraft might spot him and think he was setting up an IED.

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In the end, we moved to an isolated area, and blocked about a mile of the roadway. Sheikh Thamer and his cronies parked along the road, where we could see them, and dropped the stuff. Then we went back and “found” it, and reported it to EOD.

EOD came out, picked up the artillery rounds and tossed an incendiary grenade on the rest of the stuff. The AA rounds started cooking off from the fire, and it was like a little fireworks show.

Anyway, we’re back in for now at least.

SSG Haney and SSG Matherson came to my room and asked about the first raid we did on the burned house. Apparently they were getting ready to roll out and hit the place again. I drew the floor plan for them, and explained the layout of the property. Maybe they’ll find the guy this time.

Battalion is saying that we aren’t patrolling enough, so we’re leaving squads in the rear so that the guys can get some sort of down time. Today was Leo’s day (3rd squad).

When we came back in from our patrol, we noticed that 3rd platoon is building some huge-ass deck on one of their CHUs. They’ve been working on it for a couple of days now, and it’s nowhere near done. I guess they have plenty of free time.

Well, it’s almost 2100, and we still haven’t received a plan for tomorrow.

More later.

 

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