29 February 2008 (ON PATROL)

Today we went out separately as squads to take a look at key infrastructure in the area. It was nice, as a leader, to be given some freedom. LT Schardt said it was up to us how we handled our patrol. He showed us an area of the city on his map and gave us a timeline. I took his map and assigned each squad a sector and a direction of travel. Each squad would move east through the city streets, crossing phase lines at the same time, so that no one got too far ahead of anyone else and entered their fields of fire. The plan was to conduct a link-up at the riverbank, and move south from there.Abaiji Patrol

Somehow, when we reached the riverbank, 3rd squad was on my left in 1st squad’s sector. Leo said that I had cross his sector, and not the other way around.

After we finished that patrol, we returned to our patrol base and prepared for another one. This time we would be taking out a reconstruction team, led by COL Bridges, plus some Psy-ops guys and military police.

We walked around and provided security around different buildings and areas while they talked with locals. I bought some candy at a local shop, a Metro Bar, a Snow Bar, and a VIP Bar.

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Later in the evening, COL Bridges and his reconstruction team wanted to go back into the town to pick up some things from local shops. I volunteered to go along with them, and Carpenter and Taaga came along with me. I walked into a little junk shop and bought a toy AK-47.

SGT Bridges continues to learn more and more Arabic from our interpreters. He’s becoming quite good.

Tonight, we all chipped in some cash to buy local food again. We got some bread, several chickens, and fresh cucumbers and tomatoes. The chicken was excellent. George tried unsuccessfully to make the local style flat bread in one of the clay ovens in the building we were staying in.

George Makes Bread

“George” mixing bread. George is a Facebook friend, and he prefers not to be identified in photos.

It looked like a cake with a bread like crust around it. The outside seemed like bread, and the inside was spongy like cake. The guys decided to get a little creative instead of letting it go to waste. They poured some sugar on it, and it tasted like warm Frosted Flakes. It was kinda good.

I talked with the Psy-ops guys about recruiting a little. They are out here trying to encourage Iraqis to join the army and police forces here. I told them that we should make some Iraqi “I want you” posters. They laughed, and said that it might not be a bad idea. They said that they have already been passing out bumper stickers that say, “I heart Iraq.”

Guard this night was 4 soldiers up for two hours at a time, and a total of 6 shifts over the night. Squad leaders each covered four hours of radio watch.

Our 60mm mortars are all down for some reason or another, so we had guys firing illumination rounds from their M203 grenade launchers off and on throughout the night.



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