22 April 2008 (Sadr City, Iraq)

A cavalry unit relieved us this morning around 7 A.M. Once we arrived back at our patrol base, we were tasked with a dismounted patrol. I saw LT Schardt walking toward me with a map, and I told him, “I don’t want to go, sir.” There had been some drama in the platoon recently, and I was over it.

He said, “1st squad said it’s their day off. Besides, I know you guys want to go, and you know that I want you to go.”

“That’s fine, sir,” I said. “I’m happy to go, but I don’t want to hear anyone bitching about it.”

We did our patrol, and we visited some of the shops along the way. I passed out Smarties to some of the kids, and I bought some sodas. I got 7 Mountain Dews, in glass bottles, for $5. I asked how much, hoping for 2 Mountain Dews and a can of Diet Pepsi. Ude, the interpreter, was done negotiating before I could even fully explain what I wanted.

Business is slow for all of these shops right now, so the owners really appreciate that we are stopping in to buy snacks and drinks. They’re definitely making money off of us.

As we returned from patrol, we saw route clearance towing another disabled Husky. The driver was still inside, and all the tires were flat and wobbling. The whole outside of the vehicle was blackened, and there was a softball-sized hole right through the middle of the truck. Several smaller holes surrounded it. It was obviously an EFP. It looked like the projectile had gone straight through the engine, and fortunately, it had missed the cockpit.

We spent the rest of the day playing Spades and Dominos.

1SG came in this evening, and told us that we can’t stay in the classroom we’ve been sleeping in anymore. Apparently, the powers that be are concerned about insurgents throwing hand grenades over the outer wall toward our windows. The room they moved us to isn’t any better. Like our original room, it has a wall full of windows. This room was actually closer to the outer wall, only about 10 feet.

Our whole platoon was standing in the hallway, annoyed and waiting to be told exactly where we were supposed to go when 1SG Angulo walked by. He walked up to Bridges and playfully hit him in the stomach, then he made a comment about how we all looked like we were feeling down. Looking at SGT Bridges, 1SG asked, “you doing okay?” Bridges shrugged and said, “I’m good, 1SG. It’s whatever.”

1SG immediately went to AB and said, “SGT AB, I don’t need this kind of attitude from your NCOs.” We didn’t even understand what he was talking about.

Later, we ended up moving all of our shit back into the room we were just told to leave.

It’s gotten hotter and hotter as the day goes on. I’m soaked from head to toe in sweat. It’s like the roads and the buildings held the heat all day, and now that it’s dark, the heat is coming out. It feels like we are sitting in a sauna, or maybe even an oven.

I haven’t been eating much lately. Today, I had a tube of Girl Scout shortbread cookies, 2 packs of cheese and pretzels, some candy, and some Spam and rice. Seems healthy, for sure. With all of the walking and sweating, my pants are starting to get really baggy.

I woke up a few hours after I fell asleep, when something ran across my legs. I couldn’t decide if it was a rat or a cat. Bobby Gene said he thought it was a rat. He had been sleeping when it ran across his face. Apparently, his mouth was open, and its tail slid through his open mouth. He said it didn’t feel like a cat’s tail. Talk about disgusting! It reminded me of my first tour in Afghanistan. I was sleeping against a rock, when someone told me not to move. Just then, a large lizard scurried over my shoulder, across my body, and down my leg. At least nothing went in my mouth. Blah!

More later!

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