17 March 2008 (CAMP TAJI, IRAQ)

We spent the day preparing for another trip to Abaiji. Because of the sketchy bridge on Route Asp, we always take up-armored HMMWVs, unless we are going up Route Cobras. So, it was another day spent moving equipment from Strykers to HMMWVs, and getting all settled. Mission Prep. 2

It was a long day. Our plan was to take seven trucks, but we only had four available today. We didn’t get the others until around dinner time. On top of that, about half of the platoon was out on a supply detail from about 0900 until mid-afternoon.

I scrounged through the borrowed trucks acquiring equipment that had been left in them. I found a 40mm smoke round, some M4 magazines, a set of Wiley X shooting glasses, and a few other things.

According to our roster, Colleran would be my driver. I would ride shotgun, and we would have Bridges, Fuller, and Caballero with us. Fuller was brand new, fresh out of basic. He showed up while we were at the JSS. Caballero was also an FNG (Fucking New Guy), but he was assigned to first squad. He was going out with me for this particular mission.

The five of us took our gear to our truck. We got it organized, emptied all of the trash that was in it, and got our gear packed away. The doors were hard to open, so I sprayed some WD-40 on the latches and hinges, and made a few other adjustments to thing. Word was passed through the platoon that we all needed to be back at the trucks by 1800 (6 P.M.), so most of us headed to dinner, and then went back. The final three HMMWVs arrived about 1830, and SGT Capelli recommended that we assign each man to his truck, while everyone was present. We planned to leave guards overnight, so our crew-served weapons could stay mounted, and it would be a lot less work so early in the morning.

When I walked over to my truck, I found SGT Capelli’s MK-19 already mounted in the turret. There was a piece of paper taped in the window that read, “B-1-2,” which was still my call-sign. SFC AB had already assigned that truck to me, and I had already cleaned it out and packed it.

I protested, but in the end, SGT Capelli got the truck. I had to move all of my gear into a different HMMWV. The one I got stuck with was a piece of shit. The doors were stiff, and would barely open. It was full of garbage. The radios didn’t work very well. The air conditioner didn’t work, but instead, hot humid air blew out from under the dash constantly. The cargo area was filled with another platoon’s boxes, so we had to unload those so we could put our own gear in.

Bridges was as annoyed as I was, and he lacked a filter between his brain and his mouth. He frequently said what was on his mind, without thinking about who was around, or whether it was an appropriate observation. I forget what exactly he said, but it was something about a certain squad leader doing “gay shit.”

Mission Prep. 1

SGT Jimmy Bridges. PFC Ryan Fuller is facing away.

SGT Capelli heard it, of course, and flipped out. He was immediately up in SGT Bridges’ face yelling and lecturing him about setting an appropriate example and watching his mouth in front of the soldiers.

Really, Capelli probably had a point, but I didn’t give a damn. I was standing a few feet away and watching to see what would come of this. It was obvious that Bridges was about to hit him. I probably would have turned my back if he had.

Capelli stepped back from Bridges and looked at me. “This is your guy, sar’nt!” he yelled.

“I know that,” I said and walked away.



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