28 March 2008 (CAMP TAJI, IRAQ)

Apparently, there is something going on in Baghdad. We were told last night (27th) that our platoon was selected by brigade to go south to Sadr City if they decide that they need more troops there.

The commo blackout has been lifted, so I called Theresa this morning. I had my alarm set to get up at 12:45 A.M. so I could call. I guess I slept through it, because I woke up at 4 A.M., and I was in a panic. She was supposed to be off work at 7 P.M. Illinois time. Fortunately, I fucked up the time difference, and she got off at 3 A.M. my time, not 1 A.M. It was nice this morning. There wasn’t anyone around at the phones, so we got to talk for a long time. I was glad, because it seemed like it took her awhile to warm up to me. I felt like she was mad about something, but I never found out what.

Unfortunately, our phone call ended with her in tears. I couldn’t really tell her anything about what might be happening, but I also felt like I had to tell her that I might not be able to call for awhile.

“There may be some stuff going on in the next few days,” I told her. “If you don’t hear from me, keep an eye on the news, and you’ll know why.”

I know that’s the worst thing that a deployed soldier can tell someone back at home, but I always felt like that was better than not saying anything, and then not calling for a long time. We’ve been through this before, but I don’t think that makes it any easier.

We receiving a WARNO this morning (28th). As of now, if needed, 1st, 3rd, and 4th platoons will move into Sadr City as a company minus, leaving 2nd platoon and some guys from headquarters to maintain a presence in our AOR and at the JSS.

I’m excited and nervous. We are just waiting for the word.

Later that day…

Well, we didn’t get the word, but we did get something. We were told that we needed to go to the JSS and take over for 4th platoon as soon as possible. Our entire platoon was pissed. The thinking was that we had already packed for a possible mission to Abaiji, so we could go out to the JSS so 4th could come back and get some things ready in case we got the call for Sadr City.

I bitched about it, and complained that our platoon can roll out with dirty laundry, but the others can’t be expected to do that.

Just as we were about to leave, 2nd platoon showed up at Camp Taji, and we were told that 4th platoon wouldn’t be leaving the JSS after all. Great, I thought. Their platoon sergeant is going to push me around, because he’s got a P. 4th platoon’s acting platoon sergeant was a staff sergeant (promotable). He had been selected for Sergeant First Class, and I wasn’t. We headed to the JSS, but we left 1st squad and SFC AB back at Taji to continue prepping HMMWVs for the Abaiji trip.

When we arrived at the JSS, I was quickly briefed about a situation on Route Asp. We received a call that there were some IEDs planted on a canal road just off of Route Asp about 1/2 way to Abaiji in a village we called Islah II.

I grabbed my squad and two HMMWVs, and 3rd squad jumped in their Stryker to follow. We headed east on Route Asp. Leo and his Stryker parked at the sketchy bridge, and we continued east in the HMMWVs. His Stryker was our commo relay. I could reach Leo on the radio, and he could reach the JSS.

We were all glad that we weren’t stuck at the JSS, but we also figured it was a bullshit call. I think we were all surprised when we got out there, and actually found three crush-wire IEDs that had been set up on the road. Explosives had been buried in the road, and wire had been strung across the road. If someone drove over or stepped on the wires, it would have completed the circuit and set off the explosives. There were three in a row, about 1o meters apart from each other. It would have just went boom, boom, boom, as a car rolled over them.

Islah 2 IED.JPG

Red dot marks the location of the EIDs.

When we arrived, SOIs had blocked the road with concertina wire, so we told them to continue watching it, and we went back to the Ramadan bridge to meet up with EOD. We had to stop and turn around at one point, because Fraleigh’s HMMWV disappeared from behind us. We swung around and went back, and found everyone out of the truck. There was a loose wire in the radio mount, and it had been bouncing around and started a fire. We got the fire out and continued our movement.

Sheikh Thamer and his cronies showed up while we waited at the bridge. We gave his guys some money to go and get us some lunch. EOD is notoriously slow, so we thought we’d have time to eat. EOD showed up, and Thamer’s guys were right behind them, so Leo saved the food for us.

EOD had their huge trucks, and I wasn’t sure how that was going to go with the bridge, but they decided to cross. The bridge held, so that was a plus. We rolled down to the IEDs, and EOD blew them in place. We heard some machine gun fire to our north, but it was far away. I’m not sure what was going on. Everything north of here belongs to a different brigade.

Once the IEDs were taken care of, we headed back to the JSS. LTC Boccardi was there, and he was annoyed that we had allowed EOD to drive over that bridge. We told them about the bridge, and their officer made the call.

LT Schardt told us to load up so we could head back to Taji. We were going to Sadr City.

Once back at Taji, we were told to pack for several days in the city. They were talking about complex ambushes, IEDs everywhere, small arms and RPG attacks, and rockets being fired into the Green Zone from all over the place.

We started loading cases and cases of MREs, thousands of rounds of ammunition, grenades, C4, 2000 feet of detonating cord, AT-4 anti-tank missiles, and all kinds of other stuff.

Once we had our Strykers loaded down with food, water, and all the ammo we could carry, we loaded up and drove to Stryker Village on Camp Taji. We received an intel update at 9 P.M. Rockets were still streaking into the Green Zone, and units currently in Sadr City were encountering IEDs and small arms fire almost constantly. We were told to be prepared for heavy contact once we entered the city.

It was about 11 P.M. when we turned out of Camp Taji onto Highway 1 and headed south toward Baghdad.

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