5 May 2008 (Sadr City, Iraq)

I woke up to flies buzzing around and landing on my face and arms this morning. My clothes were already wet from sweat.

We headed out on a foot patrol at 0900. 1st squad led out, followed by LT Schardt and Nikjoo, his RTO. Next came SFC AB with the machine guns teams and doc. Frolo, Kirby, Fuller, and I brought up the rear. I left Bridges and Alleman on guard at the patrol base.

We walked through a part of the neighborhood that we’ve walked through before and checked in on the same schools. Our lead element walked past the entrance to the first school and couldn’t figure out how to get in. I finally called and told them that they’d passed the gate.

LT Schardt sent me and my guys in to have a look around. I spoke with the same caretaker, who told me the same thing he’d told me last time we were here.

We moved on.

At the second school, 1st squad went in and did the talking. Then Fraleigh took point and led us back to the patrol base.

It was boring, and I was in a shitty mood. I woke up in a bad mood, and everything here has just pissed me off today.

After we returned, LT Schardt was still trying to get to the bottom of the rooster incident. He pulled everyone from that position in and questioned them. When it was my turn, I told him that I’d been downstairs at the time. I explained that the person in question had shown me where he’d shot the rooster, and that I’d also seen the Iraqi man carry away the dead bird.

Later, someone threw a grenade over the wall into the area where our vehicles were parked. I threw on my vest over my t-shirt and ran out of the gate with my rifle. I was hoping I could catch someone running down the street. Another squad followed saying, “Don’t think you’re gonna have all this fun by yourself.” A few more soldiers came out behind us.

The street was empty, so we went back inside. There, LT Schardt and SFC AB were assessing the damage. Shrapnel had punctured the two right-rear tires on our medical Stryker, but there wasn’t any other damage.

They looked up at a three-story building across the street that overlooked the soccer field we were parking in. One of the…apartments, I guess you could call it, was directly across from where the grenade landed. LT Schardt looked at me and said, “Get your squad into that house.” He didn’t have to tell me twice, I grabbed my guys and ran out of the gate.

As we left the security perimeter, I counted everyone, as always. Some 40-something-year-old E-5, Sergeant Olson, from an army reserve psy-ops unit decided he wanted to come with us. He also brought his interpreter, “Steve.”

This fucking guy thought he was on some sort of SWAT team or something. It took all I had to not tell him to stay the fuck out of my way. He was the same ass-hat who had told me in an earlier conversation that psychological operations troops are Spec-Ops, they deploy every other year, and their work is way harder on them and their families than being on active duty. He went on to say that most reservists are older, and that the older generation didn’t mind the harder military life because they just want to serve their country.

In retrospect, I should have said, “Well damn, double-0 shit bird, maybe I should sit this one out. Me and my guys will just go grab an ice cream cone and take a break while you and super-Steve win the war.”

Big shocker, the house was empty. There was a shell casing from a tank round in one of the rooms. Hopefully the explosive projectile isn’t buried in some garbage along one of the alleys around here.

I called LT Schardt to let him know we were heading back, but Papa Olson and decided he needed to stop and talk on the way back around the corner to our gate. He stopped some random Iraqi man, told him that it was his fault that someone threw a grenade at us, and then accused his son of being part of Muqtada al-Sadr’s militia.

Jimmy was pissed. He thought we were going on some city-wide manhunt to track down the guy who threw the grenade. I expected the house to be empty, and I knew we weren’t going to go running through the streets looking for trouble.

Soldier of Fortune finished accusing the Iraqi man’s son of being an insurgent fighter, and then we headed back in to the patrol base. I counted again, to be sure everyone was there.

 

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