The Story of an American Soldier in Iraq

Life as a soldier in Baghdad, Iraq is definitely interesting and full of life changing experiences, like... being shot at and blown up! Yee haw, what fun eh?

Actually, it has its ups and downs, and as a journalist in the US Army (assigned to CJTF-7 Public Affairs) I've had the chance to see many things that others have only heard of through the news themselves - I hope you'll enjoy them too, through my eyes. ; )

Monday, January 19, 2004

This morning as I was finishing up a guard shift (had just been released) at the Palace of the Four Heads (now the Coalition Provisional Authority HQ) I felt the building rumble. A major blast had occured somewhere - it felt like maybe right in the CPA parking lot - but no more blasts followed so I didn't think too much of it. I headed to the "JOC," (an area that houses representatives from all the major sections and reports to the general) to report my early duty release and pick up some mail, but didn't end up getting to do either - the JOC was a bustle of activity.
It turned out the blast was a little bigger than I thought - a car bomb near a check point known as "Assassin's Gate." I was shocked - the gate is quite a ways away from the palace and we really felt that blast!
I left the JOC asap so I wouldn't be blocking things up and headed back home - wishing that there was more I could do for the poor people out there. Assassin's Gate is a major thoroughfare for Iraqis.
One the walk home I ran into a medic on guard at one of our compounds who filled me in a bit on what was coming over the radio, and a civilian contractor who'd been waiting for workers near the gate (inside far enough to be safe - just barely) and had seen the damage. I felt like I should be over there making a difference, but I knew that the best soldiers for the job were already there - the JOC had instantaneously deployed first aid and security troops. There is very little that makes a soldier feel helpless, but incidents like this do it. All I could do was pray for all the people working so hard on the scene and for all the innocent people and their families.
I felt bad that I hadn't thought much about the initial blast - they happen ALL the time around here, and sadly, people are often hurt, but usually not too many and it's a fact of life in war. But when I heard how big the bomb was and how many people were hit I was shocked. The fact that someone would set one off at the Gate is awful in and of itself - the Gate is always crowded with local people, most heading in and out of the Green Zone for work or projects with humans rights groups. It's absolutely disgusting for these people to attack the innocent like this - they don't care whether they hit soldiers or not... actually they prefer NOT to - the innoccent can't shoot back like we can. This attack made my stomach roll - it's about as disgusting and cowardly as their attack on the Red Cross a few months ago. : ( The only other prayer I can throw in is that all these sick bastards die along with or building their damn bombs and that we'll run out of them some day...

CNN story on the blast:
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