7 April 2008 (Sadr City, Iraq)

After the stalled Iraqi Army assault, things calmed down overnight. It picked up some this morning. We spent most of today taking turns napping in the living room of this house. It’s much cooler there. We made a makeshift lean-to on the roof, for the guys on guard. We used a carpet, the walls around the roof the house, and a TV antenna. It’s still hot as hell up there, but at least is offers some shade.

SGT Bridges and PFC Colleran Chilling on the Rooftop

SGT Jimmy Bridges (L) and SPC Sean Colleran (R)

The flies up there are terrible, and we aren’t sure why. We’re burning all of our garbage, right on the roof of this house. Colleran couldn’t find the bathroom the first night we were here, and he shit in a bucket in the separate shower room. I didn’t know he’d left it there, until I was looking around the house for stuff that would be useful for us.

Speaking of the shower room; this house is really strange. It’s in the poorest place ever, and it’s crammed into a huge block of buildings that are all connected. There are courtyards and passage ways between them. Some face the outside of these huge blocks, while others face the inside. The rooftops are all connected, and there are connecting doorways and stuff here and there. This house, seems to belong to a rather wealthy family. They have a shower room. They also have a living room, open courtyard, family room, kitchen, bathroom, and upstairs bedroom that opens out onto the second floor rooftop with a Foosball table, and stairs going up to a 3rd floor rooftop. This family has nice furniture. There are couches, Persian area rugs, an entertainment center with a flat screen TV, and while most Iraqis make pads on the floor to sleep, this family has beds.

There wasn’t much fighting today, but we did take pop-shots all day long. We never really figured out where the shooting was coming from, but it was nearby. The snaps as the bullets passed, were loud enough to hurt our ears.

When we were being relieved by 3rd platoon, a couple shots rang out. The 3rd platoon platoon leader, RTO, and another soldier all hit the deck behind one of the walls around the rooftop. LT. Schardt, SGT Fraleigh, SPC Kirby, and I, all stood there. “Oh yeah,” I said. “We’ve had that shit all day.” LT. Schardt walked over to the front wall and yelled, “Fuck you!” as he held both hands over his head, middle fingers extended.

As we left, 3rd platoon was already shooting at shit. I swear they’re trigger happy. They’ve given us a hard time for being restrained, while they seem to shoot at everything they see. I’m not sure which way is better, but I believe that my soldiers and I will go home with a clear conscience. I’m not with 3rd platoon, so I can’t really speak for them. I don’t know what they’re seeing or what they’re shooting at.

We rolled to JSS Sadr City for some fuel and supplies, before returning to our patrol base. Once there, I started repairing a split seam in my assault pack. I’ve learned in the army that dental floss in nearly indestructible. Anytime I need to sew something that needs to withstand strain, I sew it with dental floss. It’ll last longer than the fabric itself.

The guys hadn’t even had a chance to get some chow before LT Schardt came around and told us to get ready to go again. We had to escort Captain Veath up to meet with Iraqi Army commanders between Routes Illinois and Ohio. It’s definitely a war zone up there. When we were up there before, we were all a little taken aback by the scene. The buildings are bullet-riddled, partially burned, the windows and doors are gone. There are burnt cars and debris in the roads. The pavement is pockmarked from where mortars have landed and IEDs have detonated, and they’re scraped and gouged from tank tracks and other trauma.

2nd SQD at IA Position (6)

SPC Sean Colleran (Grenade Launcher) PFC Ryan Fuller (M249 SAW)

The meeting was pretty uneventful. Captain Veath basically told the Iraqi Army officers that they and their soldiers need to stop being pussies, and continue their push forward. While we were there, the Iraqi Army soldiers who had been issued American M-16 rifles were asking us for more magazines and ammunition.

I’ll write more later. We’re headed out again.

Back for more about the meeting…

We did a little shooting up there yesterday, recon by fire, if you will. The IA guys kept telling us that there were snipers and insurgents with RPGs all around, so we shot at the buildings they pointed at, just to see if we could get someone to shoot back.

I had Fuller swap a couple of his full magazines for Iraqi’s empties. He uses belts anyway, and the mag’s are just back-ups for the SAW. We walked into a building and went upstairs with the Iraqi soldiers and saw that the walls in the rooms up there were just full of bullet holes.

The power lines in Sadr City are a mess anyway, but they were even worse up there. They looked like tangled spiderwebs, with loose ends hanging all over where they had been shot or ripped down from explosions. By dark, it was hard to walk around up there without getting tangled in them. I guess it’s good that none of the buildings up there have power right now, so none of us got zapped. My night vision started messing up while we were up there. It was flickering and flashing. I swapped batteries, but that didn’t seem to fix the problem. I really didn’t think it was the time or place to have night vision goggle problems.

I don’t think JAM was too interested in getting into a fight today. We would have made a juicy target for them, but they didn’t take any shots. I have no doubts that they were there watching our every move though.

Once again, Captain Veath told the Iraqis to stop being so scared. The Iraqi soldiers wouldn’t go into this one particular alley. They said there were snipers there. CPT Veath walked into the middle of the alley and laid his weapon down on the ground and took off his helmet. He raised his arms to his sides and yelled, “Where’s the fucking enemy? Tell me where they are!” When nothing happened, he grabbed his shit and ripped into the Iraqi officers. He told them that this is an Iraqi problem, and that they need to move forward and take their objective. He went on to insult them, “If you’re not going to fight, then give your weapons to the women and children. Maybe they’ll do it.”

I’m confident that my platoon could reach and secure their objective in a matter of hours. I’m pretty sure that my squad and I could do it.

We finally moved back to our patrol base and tried to get some sleep. About 2 hours later, around 11:30 P.M., we were told to be in our trucks and ready to roll by midnight.



3 thoughts on “7 April 2008 (Sadr City, Iraq)

  1. Another great entry. The matter-of-fact narrative serves to deliver the raw visceral feeling of being in the war zone better than if it had been embellished with more flowery prose. This is not the story of someone trying to relive their glory days through rose tinted glasses or pontificate on the moral/philosophical underpinnings of the conflict; rather it is the journal of a reluctant hero and his platoon who stayed in hell long enough to almost become indifferent to the torment. These stories give us a glimpse of what the War on Terror meant to those who experienced both the “War” and the “Terror” firsthand.


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