16 April 2008 (Sadr City, Iraq)

Even though we moved to pick up the crane at 2000, and it took us 10 minutes to get to the JSS; we didn’t leave with the crane until nearly 0030 (12:30 A.M.). As usual, everything was mass confusion. No one knew what the fuck was going on. We had a convoy coming in as we were trying to leave, and everything got fucked up. We had trucks getting mixed up, and they were blocking each other from getting out. We moved 50 to 100 meters at a time. Then we’d stop, call on the radio, flash IR signals, wave, etc. We were supposed to be at the barrier emplacement site from about 10 P.M. until 2 A.M. It ended up being more like 1 A.M. to 5 A.M.

The area we started placing barriers was along Route Pluto. It ran between Route Florida, and our forward limit of advance, Route Gold. Eventually, the barriers will run down Pluto, turn on Gold, and go all the way down to Delta, where the barriers will turn and run down Delta, make 3 sides of what would be a huge rectangle, if the last side was finished.

The smell along Route Pluto was terrible. It was like a mix between fuel, exhaust, and rotting garbage. I started to feel sick, so I was glad that the night was pretty uneventful once we started setting in barriers.

When we returned to the company patrol base, I still felt like ass. I went to sleep and slept until about 11 A.M. I woke up soaked in sweat and covered in flies. There are so many of them here. They crawl all over you and try to land in your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. I can’t stand having flies and mosquitos buzzing around all over me when I’m trying to sleep. The garbage piling up in the streets is certainly not helping the problem any. I think it’s worse here than it was in Africa.

We were told that the Iraqi Army soldiers have abandoned their post at Routes Charlie and Gold last night. We got caught up waiting on Route Clearance and 3rd platoon to escort them back up. In the few hours that they were gone, the militia had managed to emplace 3 EFPs. Route Clearance took two hits, and the 3rd one detonated but missed. Fortunately, there was only one American soldier wounded, and it wasn’t serious. I blame the Iraqi Army for that. I am ready to tell them that they can stay back here and fight us, or they can go back to their fucking posts and take their chances with the militia.

Today, we’re supposed to recon a new JSS location. I’m being told that I may need to blow a hole in a wall, in order to get a Stryker into the compound. I’m excited and nervous about that. I’ve got a lot of explosives in my truck, but what if I fuck it up? What if I set up a charge, and it doesn’t work? It’s been a long time since I’ve practiced with or trained on setting up explosives. I think I’ll go with the, “too much is always enough plan,” when making the charge.

More later.

We didn’t end up needing to blow any holes after all. We actually went and checked out a new JSS location, at Thawra II, and then we were told to get ready to head back to Taji. I didn’t think we needed to have another refit day yet, but I wasn’t upset about it.

Just before we left, they brought some food out to us at the patrol base. We got steaks, A-1, salt-vinegar potato chips, and some bread. It was good, but we all paid for it soon after eating. By the time we reached Taji, it felt like someone was twisting a knife in my gut again. I guess we can’t transition from MREs to “real food.” I left a voicemail for Theresa and then went to bed.

I did manage to video most of our trip through Baghdad this time. The audio sucks, it’ll be road and engine noise, but the video should really show what some of the city looks like.

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