[STORY] What was your last 14 hours like? [AFGHANISTAN] - JeepForum.com

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post #1 of 50 Old 09-27-2010, 12:34 PM Thread Starter
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[STORY] What was your last 14 hours like? [AFGHANISTAN]

What was your last 14 hours like?

Here's mine!

At 1900 I was in my tent, on my makeshift bed. At the time, I was desperately trying to calm down my girlfriend who has been having a tough time with me being deployed, and not being able to communicate regularly. This is a common problem with deployed soldiers, but in my case, I made a few extra mistakes here and there. Hence, she is frustrated and upset, and there wasn't much I could do at the time to diffuse the situation. Towards the end of the conversation I tell her I have to go and that I love her, as always is the case. However...before she could reply:

BOOM!!! WHIZZZZ-BOOOOM!!!!

"****! That's incoming!!!" I yelled to everyone in the tent as I clicked out of my browser and slung my computer to the side. Everyone was yelling and scrambling for the door of the tent, to get out and to our bunker that is a few dozen meters away. While in route, I hear the unmistakable sound of another RPG being fired from somewhere close by, "Probably that hill right next to our cop I bet," I think frantically to myself as I dash over rocks and quickly duck into the relative safety of the bunker. I'm among the first three people to arrive and I quickly move to the back. More guys quickly crowd into the bunker, all yelling and talking excitedly about what just happened. Everyone's saying the same things like "that was an RPG!", "No, that was a recoilless rifle!!" Some of the second deployers get quiet at this because it is one of the things that scare them the most. You don't here an "initiation" of a recoilless rifle...or in simpler terms, you get no warning of it coming. You are unaware when all of the sudden it explodes in a deadly array of shrapnel.

"That's the first time they've attacked us at night, isn't it?" I ask one of my comrades who is towards the back with me. He's holding a box of baby wipes and I find out that he had been on the ****ter when the first RPGs hit and didn't even have a chance to wipe...this was received with much dismay on my part due to our close proximity...

zzzZZZZZoooo-BOOOMM!!

At the first indicators of the projectile in flight towards us, everyone in the bunker instinctively ducked, dropped to the floor, covered their ears and heads, or in me and this other comrade's case, we dove into a small corner in the back that just might offer a slight bit more protection. This also brings mister stinky pants and I even closer...something else I note to my dismay.

Suddenly the night gets lit up like an awesome game of night time laser tag. A couple of our towers and our guys on top of the mountain near our COP start lighting up that hill I had thought about earlier. According to the fast paced radio chatter that we all were closely listening to inside the bunker, the towers and guys on the mountain had spotted some guys on top of that little hill near our COP. Very near. And aside from how close they were, they were out at night, something that is rare to see. On top of that, some of our guys had reported seeing some of the incoming come from that hill. Needless to say...we lit that place up. It's a wonderful thing to hear two .50 CAL M2 machine guns, two M240B machine guns, and a Mark 48 machine gun (to name a few) all sing in deadly unison. Within moments, everyone's mood within the bunker lifted as they grinned and looked at each other with satisfaction at knowing that the enemy was feeling the heat as well.

It is now 2000 and we go back into our tents. Everyone is still spun up about what happened, what they saw, and where they were at when it went down. One guy is talking about how he dropped to the floor of the tent and wondered frantically where in the world he was supposed to go for cover. Another guy was at the MWR tent a little ways away when he heard them and had to run to our bunker. I'm telling a guy how there's no way one of those was a recoilless since I heard the initiations for all of them. And so on it goes until it's my turn for guard in the towers.

I was scheduled for 2100-2400 (midnight). I get kitted up and stand outside to wait for the John Deere gator to take my partner and I up to our tower for that night. As I'm waiting, I hear that one of our squads that was supposed to relieve the guys on the mountain that night were told to stand down and await further instructions. "Weird," I thought. "I wonder if we are going to go out on mission because of the earlier attacks or something?" I brushed aside the dark thoughts and got in the gator that took me to the tower. My partner and I start talking about the night's events, what they foretell, and what might happen next. However, we quickly get off subject and start talking about our cars and our plans for them. He's got a '69 C-10 and I have a '68 Corvette Convertible, both waiting for us in the states. Before 30 minutes pass, we hear the gator roaring (read: struggling and wheezing it's last gasps of life, much like a Shakespeare play) up to our tower. We cutoff our conversation and await to see what is going on. We find ourselves staring at two ASG (Afghan-Counterpart Military) guys who also bring along their American terp who tells us that they are replacing us because we are going on mission.

"Agghhhh, great... Really? This is gonna suck!" grumbles my partner. I'm no happier myself at the news and start to wonder what this mission will involve. Shouldn't be too long, right? The attacks happened right over there anyways...

We get back to the tents and find out from the others that we have a mission at 0300 the next morning. My tower partner and I are happy that we got relieved so early and that hopefully we could get some sleep that night before the mission.

I got 2.5 hours.

At 0300 we find out during our briefing that we will be raiding an entire village that is a little ways away from us, just over a few hills and mountains. I'm already not liking this. This place as I recall from experience is a very hostile place and every time we have went I have been shot at or almost been blown up. I've also had to run up and down those mountains to get away from this area when under attack. Unfortunately there isn't much to do and nowhere to go when exposed on a mountain range.

0330 we step off, night-vision goggles down, and with everyone loaded to the teeth with weapons and gear. This is a big operation..and as such...there is also a LOT of people. My squad's role is overwatch, so we won't actually go into the village to do what was outlined in the briefing. I have no problem with this. After an hour or so of walking this difficult terrain under NODs, we arrive at our overwatch location. It gave us unlimited view of the surrounding area, the village, and potential hot spots. We settle in and start to scan.

A few hours pass...

I'm deep in thought about various things..the girlfriend, the car, the breakfast that will be served once we return to the COP, and other various things. I'm still actively scanning for any signs of life in my designated area but see nothing, not a soul, in or near those vast spans of mountains and valleys. My thoughts are interrupted by the news that the main element in the village is now done and on the way back to the COP.

"Finally!" I think to myself as I shudder for the hundredth time due to the unaccustomed-to cold weather, made worse by my sweat drying underneath my plate carrier (armor vest). We get up and start our little squad's exfil down the mountain, back to the base where it flattened out and where a little road ran through. As I got near the bottom I noticed that we were going to "burn the road" (walk it) as much as we could and then go over the few mountains in between us and the COP. Lazy? Hell yeah...I'm game.

"Hold on, I've gotta pee," my team leader says to me. I'm in the rear of our group, pulling rear security as we walk, and my team leader was right in front. Once he finished, I noticed that we had a little catching up to do, since the rest of the element hadn't stopped. We start stepping it out (walking fast) in order to catch up. I'm starting to wish that we didn't have to walk so fast, since I was carrying a SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) and all the ammo for it. However before I could think anything else-

*KABOOOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!!"

The world shook. My senses were annihilated by the amount of information being received. Taste. Smell. Sight. Touch. Sound. Nothing was registering. I stood there for five long seconds...as I turned my head to the left where my ears were finally telling me most of the sound came from, my eyes and brain both disagreed. Right next to me. Literally FIVE meters to my left, just off the dirt road that I was currently walking on, was a huge crater left by what my brain was finally telling me must have been an IED. My left ear especially is ringing. My eyes tell me I'm in the center of a massive dust, dirt, rock, and debris cloud. I taste gunpowder and dirt on my tongue. My whole body is frozen in shock.

I then look to my front and see my team leader get knocked to the ground by the concussion of the blast. I wonder to myself how in the world am I still standing...or alive for that matter. My brain is still having a heated debate with my body, as if my body were lying to it and telling it to carry on as normal. My brain refuses to accept this blatant lie. But I do. I start running towards my team leader while shouting, "Justin!!! Are you ok!?? JUSTIN!!! GET UP!! We have to get out of here!!! Let's go!!! JUSTIN!!!" Before I reach him, I see him get up hesitantly on his legs and start running the way we were going...anywhere but right at the blast site. Anywhere. We get a hundred meters or so from the site and he drops down against some rocks while a few guys quickly check over him for blood and injury, while simultaneously asking if he was ok, was he hit, is he fine? I then get the same treatment but wave them off, telling them I'm fine; let's go. We all run another hundred meters to some safety behind some boulders and rocks. The head medic comes running over to us, and starts to do a pat down, to check for blood and injury again. Both of us are telling bits and pieces of our story, of what just happened. Everyone is looking at us like we were zombies, or immortal, or something fanciful. How in the world did we both just survive that? We were seen emerging from the center of an IED smoke and debris cloud! We both don't know...we are at a loss for words. We can only repeat the facts, but not speculate on anything. Our bodies were still in shock...the adrenaline was causing us to shiver. But our eyes were wild with surprise and excitement...excitement and relief at being alive somehow. Our brain has finally given in and accepted the truth...

...that there was a guardian angel, directed by God's will, watching over us. It wasn't our time.

I had many emotions running through me..I wasn't sure if I should cry, laugh, or be angry...maybe I was feeling this way out of relief that I was ABLE to feel emotion..so my body was running through all of them, much like a diagnostic test on a computer or complicated machinery. Either way, I thanked God right then. I was thinking about what I'd do without my family, my girlfriend, my friends. Why did He save me? Maybe one day I'll find out.

POW! Crack! WHIZZZZzz THUD-THUD-THUD-THUD-THUD!!

My shoulders slumped at these sounds. It's not over. We aren't back. No, instead we are still in this little valley, and now getting shot at from the village somewhere. They could barely see us, probably the guys we had on top of the hill next to us. Our Afghan counter-parts returned fire. They spotted a guy in a village next to the target and engaged the enemy who was shooting at us with automatic weaponry. The bullets stopped. Both sides were quiet. I take another deep breath...and wait.

Our EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) team was checking out the IED site. What they found were not the one IED...but actually TWO of them. Both right next to each other. And both were quite large. Well, one wasn't there anymore, but the other one was intact. It failed to detonate. They also found that due to the way they were buried, the ground itself kept the blast from killing my team leader and I. The very ground that the enemy had used to conceal these monsters...had also protected us. They also found the command wire...that ran a very long way back to the village. Someone had been watching us...and waited until I, SPC Bird, had walked RIGHT next to his death machine to detonate it. I was the one targeted. How fortunate.

After an hour or so of waiting for the EOD team to finish up, we finally start our relatively short walk back to the COP. It's now a bit warm outside...the sun shining brilliantly and all the villages awake. Needless to say, we walked and ran with a bit of urgency. Those CH-47s that were acting as our CAS (Close Air Support) could only help us so much..

Wait...is that? Hell yeah, the AH-64s "Apaches" finally made it! Crew rest must be over. Now we've got some real firepower in the sky! But we still have to run back. Who knows what else the enemy might throw at us. With as big of an element as we all were, combined, it wouldn't be good if an RPG or mortar was fired in our general direction.

But with the COP in sight, and just a few more little hills to navigate, everyone started to become relieved. Finally, we made it. This has sucked. I'm done.

But they aren't.

POW-POW-POW!!!

Everyone hits the dirt in unison. Where is it coming from? That village right there? "Yeah! I saw the rounds hit that hill right in front of you!" yells another platoon member at one of our lead guys. Everyone assumes a defensive posture and scans for this guy. But he doesn't fire any more. The Apaches just dove aggressively towards the earth, in his proposed direction. This guy decided that he might not want to test his luck with those things chomping at the bit above him. He takes his leave gracefully, and we enter our COP relieved.

"NOW I'm done..and safe," I sigh to myself. I clear my weapon and head to the tent to drop my kit off. But I'm stopped by the Platoon Leader and a few others who tell me and my Team Leader to head to the Aid Station to get checked for TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and anything else. We nod our affirmative and head to the tent.

"Guess we won't be getting breakfast anytime soon," he says to me.

It's 0900. The next day. It feels like the same day.

How was your day?



Written by SPC BIRD, 1-503D, 173rd.

-Name of team leader changed, as well as some information that had to be altered for security, but did not affect the overall story.

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post #2 of 50 Old 09-27-2010, 01:29 PM
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Wow. Well, somebody left only a half of a cup of coffee in the coffee pot when I got to work this morning. I'd say your story is a little more exciting. Be safe out there!

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post #3 of 50 Old 09-27-2010, 01:32 PM
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Thank you for your service.

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post #4 of 50 Old 09-27-2010, 01:50 PM
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Thanks for everything you do. Come home safe.

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post #5 of 50 Old 09-27-2010, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys, I appreciate it.

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post #6 of 50 Old 09-27-2010, 08:20 PM
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This was what exactly what I needed to read right now. Thank you, and thank you for your service.


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post #7 of 50 Old 09-27-2010, 08:42 PM
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Thank you for your service and keep your head down out there.


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post #8 of 50 Old 09-27-2010, 09:12 PM
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That was incredibly well written and full of suspense. Thank you for your service, and continue with the stories. As beach said, keep your head down.

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post #9 of 50 Old 09-27-2010, 09:32 PM
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Amen. Thank you and stay safe!!!

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post #10 of 50 Old 09-27-2010, 09:36 PM
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post #11 of 50 Old 09-27-2010, 09:45 PM
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great story and my hat is off to you, thanks for your service.

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post #12 of 50 Old 09-27-2010, 09:58 PM
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thanks for all of your service!
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post #13 of 50 Old 09-27-2010, 10:04 PM
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You guys didn't have any MK19's? When I was in, I never even saw a MK48, we had M2's, M240B's, M249's, and MK19 Mod 2's (in addition to all the usual M9's, M4's, M16's, M203's, etc.)

Sounds like an eventful night. What was the verdict after getting checked out by the medical staff? Any injuries? I'm glad you guys all made it back, I hope you aren't too shaken up. Stay safe over there. Thank you for your service! Oh yeah, and I'll give you a HOOAH! for a job well done out there. I got to watch those Apaches and Chinooks take off from the airfield on my base in Korea all the time, I'd hate to be on the receiving end of Apache firepower. . .

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post #14 of 50 Old 09-27-2010, 10:11 PM
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That was very well written my friend. I would for sure read a book if it was written like that. Thanks for the service, my grandfather stepped on a land mine in WWII and survived, seems like you experienced that same "watchful eye" over your shoulder. Be easy and make it home safe.


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post #15 of 50 Old 09-27-2010, 10:11 PM Thread Starter
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You guys didn't have any MK19's? When I was in, I never even saw a MK48, we had M2's, M240B's, M249's, and MK19 Mod 2's (in addition to all the usual M9's, M4's, M16's, M203's, etc.)

Sounds like an eventful night. What was the verdict after getting checked out by the medical staff? Any injuries? I'm glad you guys all made it back, I hope you aren't too shaken up. Stay safe over there. Thank you for your service! Oh yeah, and I'll give you a HOOAH! for a job well done out there. I got to watch those Apaches and Chinooks take off from the airfield on my base in Korea all the time, I'd hate to be on the receiving end of Apache firepower. . .
We do. We've got it all. But we try not to have the area weapons like the MK-19 laid on villages...more for the open range if you get what I mean.

The MK48 is a 7.62 version of the SAW. Looks identical.

We both checked out good. We weren't sent to any better bases/FOBs to get checked out since we didn't show any lasting symptoms.

Thanks! Airborne!

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