16 February 2008 (ON PATROL)

We were supposed to head to 14th Ramadan and do a dismounted patrol to the east again today.

As expected, once we were there, we got held up talking to the local Sheikhs. We gave one of them a claims form for the wall that 2-25 had knocked down. We always try to compensate people for damage to their property. I don’t know what came of that though, because the wall was already fixed.

Some local guy was going on and on about insurgents shooting his car, so we had to walk down to his house and take a look. He had a BMW 735i. It was a nice car, but someone definitely put a few rounds through it.

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While we were there, a little boy, who was maybe a year old, waddled out to me. He pointed at my M4 and giggled. I knelt down and shook his hand. Cute kid.

Once we had taken the old man’s statement about his car, we walked back to Route Asp. The bakery was open today, and the baker gave us some delicious pastries. They seemed like a combination of banana and coconut, but they were gooey, greasy, sweet, and rich. Some of the food here is really good.

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14th Ramadan Bakery

From there we headed east toward the sketchy bridge on Route Asp. When we arrived, George pointed across the bridge and said, “That’s a bad place; very dangerous.”

I like George. He is a good interpreter. He works hard, and wants to do a good job. He fits in well with the squad, although he isn’t a big fan of SGT Fraleigh.

We crossed the bridge and walked for awhile. We handed out candy when we saw kids, and just looked around.

My squad was clearing a palm grove on the south side of the road when PVT Kirby found a blood soaked men’s shirt. Then he saw an old rifle lying there. It was covered in rust and looked homemade.  It had a hammer like a pistol or an old musket, an internal magazine like an M1 or an M1903 Springfield, and a really short barrel. There was a wooden shoulder stock, but that was it, and that didn’t even seem like it fit well. We also found a shotgun barrel lying in the mud too. It was just as old and rusty.

On the east side of the palm grove, we found a hole with some large caliber shell casing buried in it. They were just old casings, but the primers hadn’t been struck. The projectiles had been pulled out and the gun powder emptied. There was also a box there and a clear plastic bag full of powdered fertilizer. The whole was just a few feet from a hollowed out spot that had a clear view of the road a couple hundred yards away. It would have been a great sniper hide.

We looked around that area for a bit but didn’t find anything else, so we continued moving east. A little further up the road we came upon a small village that looked like it came from a war movie. It was extremely poverty-stricken; the buildings were falling apart, the whole area stunk of human and animal shit.

A man came out of one of the homes and told us that he had served as an officer in Saddam’s army. He walked with us for a bit and told us about the area, and about his life after serving in the Iraqi Army under Saddam Hussein’s control. Eventually, he returned to his home, and we returned to our Strykers.

As we made the drive back toward Camp Taji, we got a call from Dragon Mike to move to Tal Tasa to meet with Sheikh about a cache location. We turned off of MSR Tampa and headed into Tal Tasa, but we couldn’t find anyone. LT Schardt had just told us that we would walk through the town and ask around when Bushmaster 6 (CPT Veath) called and told us to look for a white pickup on the south end of the village.

Just a few minutes later we came upon the pickup truck, and dismounted to talk with the man inside. As we walked up, his cell phone rang. He picked up the phone and said, “hello, Captain Veath.” I guess we had found our guy.

We talked with him for a few minutes, and then he took us to a small cache near a stream that was flanked on both sides by tall grass.

Once we started poking around in the grass, we found a couple of rockets, four artillery rounds, and an RPG. All were old and rusty.

SGT Akard started pulling a couple of the rounds out of the mud, which is exactly what we aren’t supposed to do. We called EOD and waited for them to come and handle the stuff. I was a little frustrated with my blocking position, so I had 2-vic move to a position that would allow Taaga to cover the roadway, while two soldiers sitting on the open ramp could cover the field. When EOD arrived, they complained that we had moved un-exploded ordinance, telling us that it could have blown up.Cache Sight, Tal Tasa #8 Once they were done lecturing, they blew it in place and we were once again headed for Taji. We made it back just in time to miss dinner. Staff Sergeant Miller was nice enough to pick up to-go boxes for us though, so we had some food waiting for us when we returned.

It was a long day, almost 13 hours out on patrol.

I called Theresa on my cell after we were back. We kept getting cut off. I hate that shit. We decided several months ago that I would be done after this deployment. The military lifestyle isn’t really working for us anymore, so we have decided to do something different. Tonight, she told me that she’s worried that I’m going to reenlist. There is no way in hell that I will reenlist. Yesterday was her first day at the new job. I’m excited for her.

 

 

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