Set up or not, last night was interesting, to say the least. I wish I would have had a video camera rolling. As the IA pushed up toward their former positions, the lead vehicle hit an IED near Route Illinois. The convoy stopped momentarily, and another vehicle pushed forward to assist the first. It also struck an IED. After holding in place for awhile, the convoy began moving further forward toward Route Ohio. As they continued, we continued to hear explosions one after another.
I stayed up late while all of this was going on, and then I had watch from 2 A.M. to 5 A.M. Crazy is the only way I can think of to describe it. There was so much shooting, I’m imagining that there was simply an impenetrable wall of lead in front of the Iraqi Army. Several times, during the night, Iraqi HMMWVs had sped back toward us, and continued on toward Route Florida. I’m sure they were evacuating their casualties. At one point, I asked Lt. Schardt if they sent a truck back for each casualty, or if they waited until the trucks were completely full first. I really doubt that the fighting was as bad as it sounded. I’d bet that the Iraqi soldiers were employing the spray and pray technique, and just shooting at everything they saw. They tend to do that when they get scared.
We took some sporadic small arms fire, but nothing serious. Hell, we’ve been having stray rounds hitting nearby, off and on, since we took over here around 1600 (4 P.M.) yesterday. We can hear them snapping and zipping as they pass by or just over our heads.
As morning rolled around, I started to climb across rooftops and go down to 2-Vic to grab a case of MREs, and I got caught up talking to our platoon leader and RTO. While I was standing in their second floor hideout, I looked through a gap in their makeshift cover and saw a section of the Iraqi Army convoy headed back toward us, led by a white bongo truck. We were talking about it, wondering where it had come from. I was standing there watching it speed toward us when an IED detonated. I saw the flash next to the truck, then the debris and dust and smoke surrounded it. The truck nearly overturned, before the driver regained control and the dead truck coasted about another 30 feet before slowly rolling to a stop. The right-side tires were flat, and the whole side of the truck was torn up. There was a huge hole in the passenger side just behind the cabin; the projectile had gone in one side, through several rucksacks and bags, and out the other side. Before the truck had even stopped, the frantic passenger jumped out and ran to the nearest armored truck and climbed in the back seat onto another soldier’s lap. After another pause, the truck that was now leading the convoy eased up to the back of the bongo truck and pushed it on toward Route Florida. The driver sat inside and continued steering.
Later, the remaining Iraqi Army vehicles broke contact and came flying our way. The gunners in the turrets were shooting at every rooftop along the way. A few of us came close to getting hit. A few minutes later, 3rd squad called up that they were taking fire. Later, they said that they were being targeted by a sniper. They said that the rounds were hitting only inches away, and they couldn’t spot a shooter. Nothing ever came of it, so who knows where the shots were coming from.
The mosques in the area played music almost all day today. Usually, they only play calls to prayer. “George,” our interpreter said that the music and recordings were encouraging the militia to fight against the infidels. Later, they played a recording of an old speech from Muqtada Al-Sadr. It said that Americans were devils, and that they should resist the Americans. As it started to get dark, we prepared ourselves for one hell of a fight. It never came.
Eventually, the Iraqi Army reorganized for another push. This time, the Iraqi Army would take the lead and would be followed by two M1 Abrams tanks, and our second platoon. The assault stalled as soon as the lead vehicle hit another IED near Route Illinois. Overall, I think we’ve had about 10 IEDs go off on Route Charlie in the last couple of days. They’ve all shook the building we are in. Eventually the tanks and 2nd platoon left, and the Iraqi Army held in place between Routes Illinois and Ohio. There wasn’t much fighting for the rest of the evening.