We were told that we’d be escorting a large supply convoy of flatbeds from 2-25 to JSS Mshahdh, then to Colonel Wahlid’s, and finally on to 14th Ramadan today.
When we arrived at the 2-25 staging area today, the whole damn unit was in a large game-time huddle saying a prayer. Once they were done, they loaded up into their vehicles, and signaled that they were ready to go.
We started to pull away, and I thought I was in a different universe. There were soldiers along the roadway waving goodbye, and a female officer was standing out there with a megaphone shouting things like, “Good luck!” and “Be safe!”
If you’ve ever seen the film American Wedding, you might remember the scene when Stifler realizes that he has walked into a gay bar. I think that all of us grunts had a similar reaction to these soldiers being sent off on patrol. I believe he looks around and says, “Oh God, what the fuck is going on?” It was like a culture shock for us.
Our platoon radio frequency is usually full of shit-talking and joking around when we are out on patrol. Today, I was unsure of who all was listening, so I kept my comments within my vehicle. Most of what I have to say isn’t very P.C., and I didn’t want to hurt any of these thin-skinned, soft-skilled MOS troopers’ feelings.
One of their NCOs kept calling out everything he saw over the radio. It must have been their first time outside of the wire, because they were nervous. This guy’s Puerto Rican accent was so thick, we could hardly make out what he was calling out to us.
We dropped supplies off at JSS Mshahdh, before moving on to Wahlid’s place. There, we left the company XO; 2nd platoon’s PL, LT Dudek; and a security element. They were there for a meeting with Wahlid and some of his CLC leaders. Once we dropped them off, we headed for 14th Ramadan.
I kept my mouth shut until we got to 14th Ramadan, and one of their drivers backed his truck through the wall that surrounded the village clinic. They had guys on the ground directing him, and they still managed to fuck it up. I walked up, and they were just standing around like they didn’t know what had happened.
The NCO that was standing there didn’t seem to think it was too big of a deal. I told him that I thought they were a bunch of fucking dumb asses, and that they should just stay inside the wire where they belong.
Some of the villagers were wondering what was up with them. Bridges looked at one of the guys and shrugged, “They’re new, and scared,” he said.
The local man replied in broken English, “are they American?”
“No,” Bridges said, “They’re POGs.”
We dropped off HESCO barriers, lumber, sandbags, and grain to the CLCs, and then we headed back down MSR Tampa toward Col. Wahlid’s to pick up the rest of our guys.
We arrived and found that they were still meeting, so we set up an outer perimeter and waited. Colonel Wahlid likes to talk and talk forever, and the captain with 2-25 was getting impatient. He was like a little kid asking how much longer. Every five or ten minutes he called and asked how much longer. Finally, he wanted us to escort his people back to Camp Taji with two of our Strykers and leave the rest of our platoon out at Col. Wahlid’s.
Personally, I think he was worried about missing lunch at the DFAC. At one point, one of the POG soldiers called over the radio to report a man with a shovel and a cellular phone.
I called back, “That guy was working on an irrigation ditch when we pulled in. Also, they usually don’t bury IEDs 25 meters off the road.”
I swear, they think everyone here is a suspect, and especially anyone with gardening tools or a cell phone. This is a rural area that relies heavily on agriculture. Also, it’s the 21st century.
AB kept saying, “wow,” and “Jesus,” about every time one of the 2-25 soldiers came over the radio.
LT Green, the XO, called over the radio and said, “I’m sorry for the delay. I know your unit didn’t sign on for this.”
We were like, what the fuck? What did they sign up for? Are they paid hourly or something? Do they have somewhere else to be?
We still managed to make it in by lunch time. The whole way back to Camp Taji, my soldiers were in the back singing songs.
“Real American Hero, Mr. 2-25 commander guy…” to the tune of the old Budweiser commercials.
They also made up a song about yesterday’s gunshot incident at 14th Ramadan. It was something about hearing the crack of a bullet pass by. Good times!