14-15 February 2008 (ON PATROL)

We headed out on the evening of the 14th to provide overwatch for the engineers building the checkpoint again. It was cold and rainy, so we decided to put our squads into a building and have fire teams do roving patrols around the area.

Leo was pissed when his whole squad went to sleep in their Stryker. None of them had packed any snivel gear. My joes were teasing them, telling them it was common sense to pack some cold weather gear in case we get stuck out longer than planned. We’ve all seen Blackhawk Down, where they didn’t have all of the gear they needed, because they didn’t plan to be out for very long. Even before, when we got stuck out without cold weather gear, we had it in the vehicles, and if it became anything more than an issue of discomfort, we could have gotten to it.

SPC Daggett, one of Leo’s team leaders said, “I’m not gonna have my guys out in the rain.”

I think I made Leo mad when I asked him when we stopped being infantrymen.

I spent a good part of the night talking with Taaga and writing a letter to Theresa. She was upset with me the last time I talked to her on the phone. The shitty connection makes things even worse.

It was probably 2 or 3 A.M. when we heard a burst of gunfire in the distance. SPC Haney came across the radio, “Shots fired!”

It was far away though. I doubt that my guys even woke up.

Taaga and I were talking, and he was scanning around the area with the machine gun. He interrupted our conversation and said, “Sar’nt T, they’re boxing us in with HESCOs.”

I didn’t believe him at first.

He told me that I needed to look, so I popped up out of my hatch to figure out what was happening.

Sure enough, they were almost done building a of HESCO barriers that paralleled MSR Tampa, and we were on the side away from the road.

I jumped out of the vehicle and found one of the engineers. I’m pretty sure he was a lieutenant. “Hey, how the hell am I supposed to get my Stryker out?” I asked.

“Oh, hey sergeant. Where is it?”

I pointed to the area just outside of his newly built wall. He had no idea that we were even there.

“Didn’t you guys know that we were building a checkpoint here?”

I wanted to slap him and tell him that we were just out here having a weenie roast and had no idea what was going on.

We managed to work the vehicle around and squeezed out of the narrow opening that was not yet finished in the wall. It turned out that they had done the same thing to 3-vic, and the engineers had no idea that they had blocked in their vehicle either.

We headed in a little early and made it back to Taji around 5:30 A.M. on the 15th.

The platoon headed out again at midday on the 15th, but my squad was lucky to have another day off in the rotation.

The photos below were taken on the February 15th patrol that my squad didn’t participate in. The platoon entered a junk yard full of old weapons, munitions, mines, and other items that aid in the manufacture of IEDs.

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