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. ; )

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Well I've finally calmed down from a case of the shakes that a mortar hit (a little too close to home) gave me last night.
I was sitting in our office on the phone talking to my dad when a huge boom sounded and the building shook. "Oh SHIT!!!"
We all dived for cover and I said a very hurried 'bye' to my dad. It only took a few seconds to throw on our gear.
When no more blasts followed after a few minutes, I retreated to a safer spot away from the big windows of the office (that I had been sitting right beside).
The blast had sounded to me like it hit the check point right out the front of the building, and one of our other soldiers, Christine Andreu, ran in with tears streaming down her face. "Oh my God! They hit check point 2!!" she screamed.
I grabbed the small medical bag I keep in the office and bolted for the door - the guys on check point two are MY boys - the 2/124th Infantry, Florida National Guard, and check point two has a number of guys on duty at any given time.
At the bottom of the stairs other guys from the unit were heading for the door too, including two of the medics. They looked alarmed and my heart jumped further into my throat. "Were'd it hit?" I asked as we ran toward the building's back doors (I figured an extra pair of hands never hurts, especially if many people were hurt).
"Check point three, out back" he replied.
Just outside the doors we met with the unit's third medic, Larkin, who was headed back towards the building. "What happened - anyone hit?" the others asked.
"I don't know," Larkin replied, visibly upset. "They wouldn't let me out there!"
The rest of us just looked at each other puzzled, but before we could do anything, everyone was ordered back inside the building. The medics were riled - not being able to react, but after a few minutes they were told that though one of the guys had taken a head dive out of the guard tower (he had seen the mortar coming towards him), no one was injured, and they headed back upstairs.
I myself went for a bit of a walk around the building - the idea my "family" here could have been hurt had really upset me. My hands were shaking pretty good from the sudden fright and the adrenaline. I knew I might have to deal with friends being hurt or killed out here, but I always prayed that I wouldn't have to. And to lose one of my guys only days before they were to return home... no.
Christine was in one of the lobbies calming down too.
"Do you know what happened?" she asked.
I told her that a mortar had landed near the check point, but just outside the compound wall and that it had protected the guys from being hit. "I can't believe I lost it like that," she said. "The idea of losing one of these guys... you know."
"Yeah. I know," I said. "They're family. Like brothers."
She sighed and walked back into the office. I waited for a few more minutes, watching the guys below the balcony trying to unwind from 'instant reaction' mode too.
After about an hour I headed home to bed but I had trouble sleeping. I couldn't stop thinking about what could have happened and flashing back to the Rasheed. One explosion like that is enough - I don't want to go through another. And yet, I feel like I might be able to make a difference if I happened to be involved again. Who knows... hopefully there won't be any more bombings to find out.
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