MIL as requested by Asherman: a day in Iraq.

Discussion in 'On Topic' started by willijdub, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. willijdub

    willijdub New Member

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    PART 6 is now posted.



    PART 1
    I am going to respond to this question by writing my experience. I will eventually get all of the questions answered, but I am going to tell some stories in between. It will probably tke several days to complete, but bare with me and you can ask questions along the way.

    I was stationed in Baqubah Iraq. Feb. 2007-Feb. 2008. I am a 37F (Psychological Operations Specialist)(PSYOP) I was out of Fob Gabe from Feb-July 2007 and Fob War Horse July-Feb 2008. From Feb'07 through July, The Baqubah A.O. was intense to say the least. My 3 man Psyop team would roll out most every day. It was only about once a month that we had a day off until after July. While we were based out of Gabe we were working with a MiTT (military transition team) The job of the MiTT being to help train the I.A. (Iraqi Army) We would go to an I.A. Fob called White Castle and help train the I.A. to do Psyop. Every day was terrifying. Every day I thought I was going to die. We had an M-1114 Humvee. I was the gunner. First week in country was a wake up call. I had been in the Army for 4 and a half years when I arrived in country. All the training, all the schools, classes, etc..... none of that really prepares you for combat. The reason being it ain't real.

    The first couple missions were uneventful. (no contact) The whole we are fighting a war thing wasnt truly understood by me yet. On about our fourth or fifth mission, I came to understanding. We were at White Castle, taking a break.... then, KABOOOM! The building shakes like it had been hit by a JDAM. dust is everywhere, barely can hear.... we look out the windows and see a huge explosion cloud about 150m away on the road. A VBIED had detonated at the I.A. checkpoint just outside the fob. the MiTT is now tasked to be QRF and medivac for the injured and dead. As we run out of the building all hell is coming down. the guard towers are unloading their .50 cal Dushka's at a cyclic rate, though it is daytime tracers are flying all around over head, which is only about 4 feet aver my head in the turret. we roll out the gate.

    As we make the turn out of the gate, and the sight I see is one of the most gruesome we came across. The smell of burning flesh filled the air. The crater from the vbied was about 15ft in circumference, about a foot and a half deep.(this was hardball road) The T-walls were scorched black, the surviving I.A were firing at nothing. the incoming small arms had died off at this point. The injured I.A. were being loaded into the other MiTT humvees. The driver if the vbied's severed lower torso lay in the road, naked, burnt....

    We made our way to War Horse and dropped off the injured I.A. We then returned to the site and secured it for the rest of the day. The war was now real for me. This one one of my worst days, I say that because it was such a wake up call. It was intense. I was in a perpetual state of fear for the next 6 months. Those next coming months had several more days similar to that.(i will tell those stories if you all ask) They also had the sights of Stryker vehicles coming to the fob, ripped in half from deep buried ied's, a team sgt that was an absolute shitbag, family issues, mortar attacks, food poisoning from falaffle, the list goes on..... Like I said though, perpetual fear and hell for six months. In the time we were not out on mission, it was spent cleaning weapons, fixing the humvee, and trying not to go insane from boredom. We watched a lot of movies. Most of which were on Hodjie disk. T.V. series like star trek we would kill in just a few days to a week or so.... I will continue this later.....
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2008
  2. Asherman

    Asherman New Member

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    Thank you for starting this thread. All too often those of us back in the world lose sight of what Harm's Way is all about. Even if a person has experienced the adrenalin rush of combat we tend to forget the shakes and anxiety that follow after. For many others, their only exposure is through sanitized media stories that reduce the actual experience to cartoons. Even when telling others about your experience is difficult, even painful, it is therapeutic as well. Understandably, one hesitates exposing their loved ones to the horrors of combat, and fear of being misunderstood makes talking about the special relationship troops form under fire.

    Burned bodies are bad, even worse to my mind are the "ripe" unburied after a couple of days. I hope that no one has to deal with that, but that isn't realistic, is it? Our country asks a lot of its soldiers. The material rewards are pretty meager on balance, but the nation's gratitude and appreciation should be counted as well. If there is a way to screw things up, the Army will have a manual describing the process in detail, and some Adam-Henry in authority has memorized it all. Thank you again, and I hope that you will continue sharing your experiences here... within a circle of understanding and appreciative readers.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 25, 2008
  3. PlutoBHG

    PlutoBHG New Member

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    Heh. No offense to anyone, but in the middle of reading through this for like the 4th time and being shocked, i found this funny and had to point it out

    We were at White Castle, taking a break.... then, KABOOOM!
     
  4. willijdub

    willijdub New Member

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    part 2

    PART2

    The next months until august were hard. Still at fob gabe we would roll out most every day for at least one mission, maybe more. Another incident occured just a few weeks later. This time our mission was to put out a non interference/safety message.

    We rolled out with the engineers to go blow a building in place that was being used by insurgents for sniping and such. The engineers had just finished laying their demo charges (200 lbs c-4) and we began broadcasting to stay in your homes, stay away from windows, etc.... then, 5 minutes until detonation, we start recieving small arms fire... a crazy lot amount. the other humvee gunners began returning fire in the general direction. the fire was coming from our left in a bunch of buildings... from the spot we were at i had no clear view of the shooters...

    but like i said all the buildings, all the windows had shooters. my team sgt. (piece of shit douchebag) kept telling me i could not shoot because we didnt have a clear picture. what an ass bag. so im having rounds ding off the humvee all around me as he sits nice and safe down inside... i start to return fire where everyone elses tracers are going, only to get chewed and yelled at for not having positive i.d. which was bullshit because you can return fire if being shot at without p.i.d. as long as you are shooting at a marked target(i.e. where other friendly tracers are going) or at some sort of wall or something that you wont kill innocents.

    Im getting yelled at to stop shooting, all the while i have rounds zipping past my head and hitting the turret and side of the humvee, i just cant get a good look at where it is coming from.... by the way, when a round hits near you or goes past your head it really does make the PING zooooom richochet noise, i remember thinking hmmm, thats funny! ........ i am yelling im getting shot at and im going to shoot back because i aint taking a round in the face. my assistant team leader(real good guy) at this point drives the humvee to a better position for me to see. all the while our dick team sgt. is yelling for him to stop because no one told us to drive. take some initiative ass!

    Now that i can see shooters, i start returning fire, but once again am getting yelled at because he cant see any one shooting at us and i need p.i.d.! I can see, i have p.i.d. you fuck, shut up, i'm trying to not get shot! the window im trying to engage the enemy in is right in my line of sight with a power line pole, as i let out my first volley of rounds they all impact on the pole, sending a hollow richochet noise and sparks everywhere... i didnt even see the pole because i was so focused on the window.

    I yell to pull forward, we do, now i have good line of sight.... we ended up trading small arms fire for about 5 hours that day. the air weapons team came at one point, fired a couple hellfire rockets into the buildings, but that didnt do any good... a while after that two abrams tanks arrived on scene and lit up the buildings with their main guns.(that was fucking awesome!) the enemy fell silent after that. we then blew the building we originally came to destroy, and then went back to the fob.

    The emotional strain that day was high. during the firefight, it was pure joy. ultimate bliss. better than sex, better than christmas morning, better than anything. it was soooo good feeling to get to engage the enemy. I have never felt so good in my life. i had a grin on my face the whole time. it should be a crime to feel that good. But it is a combination of the adrenaline, and excitement that caused that..... the joy turns quickly though.

    When the shooting was done after the tanks fired, immediately the joy vanished, replaced instantly by hate. hate of those trying to kill me, hate of the army for putting me in this situation, hatred of a very intense nature. that lasted about 30 seconds. then instantly depression, same intensity, just horribly sad that, oh man, i could have very well been killed a second ago, i have many months left here in iraq, and sad that my wife might never get to see me again. that too lasted about 30 seconds. then i recovered, I was good. I remember thinking then, " I wonder what is for dinner chow?' ....

    When we got back to the fob, i wrote my death letter. i was most certain i would be dead soon.

    more to come later.... i have two more missions to tell about, then ill go on to talk about other things....
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2008
  5. Ranger-AO

    Ranger-AO I'm here for the Taliban party. Moderator

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    friendly warning: bans for anyone shitting in this thread.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2008
  6. thekinggovernor

    thekinggovernor OT Supporter

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    part 2 is a little hard to read
     
  7. effwhy_sea

    effwhy_sea New Member

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    thanks for sharing :)
     
  8. willijdub

    willijdub New Member

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    PART 3

    The instances of which we recieved contact were quite often. I am only going over some of the most chaotic days......

    The next event that is of significant note took place a couple more weeks after the last. It was supposed to be a simple (ha!) mission to convoy from Gabe to War Horse.

    There were several I.A. humvees in front of our convoy. Just a few minutes after we left the fob, an ied went off on the lead I.A. humvee. We stopped did a quick assessment, the jundis (thats arabic for soldier) were ok, so we started to drive again.

    The convoy had not gone but maybe 50 meters when this hodge bus (think 1960's VW bus but bigger) comes flying down the road. (Now keep in mind this is when Baqubah is still really fucked up, this is before OPS. Arrowhead Ripper and Paraclese. Traffic was almost non existant, and when there was traffic, it stopped to let convoys by.) So, with an ied just going off, now i got this bus careening towards us at a fast speed. I think, "oh shit! part two of this attack, vbied." as it is coming closer, i said into the headset,"hey here comes a bus!... (no answer from my team sgt. ) "HEY! Here comes a bus!" (Still no answer) "Warning shots....warning shots.... (no answer)....WARNING SHOTS!" (no answer) I let out a 5 round string of warning shots. (still nothing from my team sgt.) The bus was still coming... " engaging...(nothing) Engaging!..... (nothing) ENGAGING THE BUS!" (nothing) i then targeted the bus. I let out a volley of probably about 20 rounds.

    The bus was really close at that point and i ended up engaging it from about 11 O'clock to 9 O'clock. I should have engaged sooner, if it had been a vbied, it would have gotten us. The constant crap i got for shooting/engaging from my team sgt. had me scared to engage only but the most obvious targets. So in that this bus was heading towards us, it didnt have any gunners shooting at us, but was presenting a very real threat of a vbied, i hesitated, which very well could have cost us a dear price. The bus then locked up its brakes and stopped. almost instantly after that there was an explosion from behind us. The humvee behind me had taken an rpg to the front of the vehicle. The tall grass on the side of the road came alive with small arms fire. Amazingly enough, the gunner in the vehicle behind us engaged the enemy and put them down.

    After that we inspected the bus i had engaged. Turns out it was not a vbied. The driver was just an idiot... a very lucky one at that. My rounds went all around him, sort of like an outline. Popped the tire, and made a line down the side of the bus, missing the one passenger on board, an old lady. I was glad that i didnt end up killing these innocent assholes. I truly believe there was a bit of divine intervention that day. When we got to War Horse my team sgt pulled me aside, and started chewing my ass. WHy is that you ask? because i should not have shot the bus because it wasnt a vbied! that and i did not use R.O.E. (rules of engagement) like i hadnt had a rough day already. He then took me to our T.O.C. and began to tell our OIC what i had done. He made it sound like i was whimsically firing into traffic. Did i mention he was an assbag? Anyways..... they are both chewing me now, and i did not even get to tell my story.

    I am being threatened with ucmj, prison, etc... it takes all i got to calmly say, "Can i tell what happened now?" after telling my story, (like i just did above) our OIC asks my team sgt if it was true i called out those things. (bus is coming, warning shots, engaging...) and he says no, i only said i was engaging and i started shooting immediately. AAAAARRRRRGGHHHHH! Are you fucking kidding me? From the time i called out bus coming 'til i engaged was about 7 seconds i estimate. (I.E. forever) like i said, he had me so scared to engage if the bus had been a vbied we would have been done. I would have given anything for him to say something... anything... shoot it would have been good, or even a dont shoot, but i got nothing! Not one damn word from him!

    So with that i had to make a choice, i believe i made the right one. My asst. team leader thought so too, as did the MiTT Sgt Maj, who was in the humvee behind us and saw me shoot, and several days later told me i did the right thing. the only one mad was my team sgt. I was soo pissed off that he did not have my back. What happened to being there for your buddy? it is not like i was trying to cover up some crime and asking him to lie about it. No, he had such a grudge against me and the asst. team sgt that he fucked us over any chance he got.

    I still cant believe that. Just fucking lied on me. I lost it. I fucking started yelling how he was a shit bag and not a team player and if he opened his eyes for a second even he might actually know what is going on. I was sooooo angry. You ever get mad to the point you tear up? I did. I dont ever recall being that angry before. I was more angry at him than the insurgents that tried to kill me.... thats fucked up eh?

    Nothing ever came of it, because i did nothing wrong. I got a counseling statement from him the next day stating i had to do remedial training on R.O.E. are you shitting me? nope, i had to write down the 5 "S"'s of ROE some 10 times. ridiculous. that night i went to the church and prayed. It was the first time i had done that since i was like 6 years old. I had been an atheist since then. I prayed, then i picked up a copy of the new testament and started reading. That was the night i found God again. :)

    I got back to the chu around 0200. At which time i was promptly chewed again for being gone so long. We had no mission the next day, i had nothing to do. But he chewed me none the less. This was probably one of the worst days i had. It was good in the religion aspect though..... more to come later.
     
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  9. MrRyan

    MrRyan Gary Johnson 2016 OT Supporter

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    If anyone here hasn't read it already...

    http://www.amazon.com/Killing-Psych...d_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1203978321&sr=8-1
     
  10. MrRyan

    MrRyan Gary Johnson 2016 OT Supporter

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    Can I get one? :x:
     
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  11. thekinggovernor

    thekinggovernor OT Supporter

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    I have had a similar experience, you just need to stick you guns. Your team leader is not a buddy, he is supposed to be your leader. He should be going to bat for you, and if he isn't fuck him someone else will. Just stick you guns and tell the truth
     
  12. onomatopoeia

    onomatopoeia onyamomma

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  13. charel

    charel : explorer

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    followed a link from MF, some pretty harrowing reading. are you going to write more?
     
  14. yardiewrx

    yardiewrx OT Supporter

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  15. jimmybuffett

    jimmybuffett New Member

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    That literally brought tears to my eyes. Amongst getting shot at, shooting people, you found God. That is the coolest thing I think I've ever read on OT. Thanks for what you do man, It's terribly over looked and unnoticed in this country.

    :wavey:
     
  16. Asherman

    Asherman New Member

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    Willijdub,

    You're doing great. Folks need to hear this, unvarnished and with no ulterior motives. I believe you need this as well, and I hope that you are keeping a "hard copy" that someday, twenty years from now, your children can see Daddy in a new way. Combat changes us, not always for the better, but those experiences will ever after be a profound part of who you are. The Greeks said that the unexamined life was wasted, and so we need from time to time take out of the souvenir box of our minds those hectic times that reforged us.

    When I asked you to do this, I was afraid that you might not do it, or would write a few vague lines and give it up. You have exceeded all expectations, and I look forward to more of your experiences. I wish that others would make their own contribution, because no single soldier (from pvt. to commanding general) ever see more than tiny fraction of the battlefield. This expedition to bring stability to a troubled region, and directly engage the fanatics who hate us is a very different sort of war. The enemy seeks to achieve victory through undermining the Will of our People, to prey on our humanitarian values and distaste for blood. They can not win against our military, unless we decide to lose. Attrition is grinding them down, and every one to the SOB's you help into heaven is one less to blow up children, or murder folks in their beds.

    Every war is a battle between competing for moral superiority. Our soldiers, with few exceptions, have performed brilliantly and your effectiveness when in the face of the enemy is unquestioned. This leads to my question: Can you address those periods when you and your unit weren't "in the field", but in bivouac, standing -by, awaiting operational orders, etc.

    Thank you again for doing something that may be hard, but that will help others to better understand the experience of many soldiers whose viewpoints are either never heard, or that are lost.
     
  17. RougeOgre

    RougeOgre FS Librarian and MOD

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    Word. Thanks!
     
  18. willijdub

    willijdub New Member

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    PART 4

    This is the last mission i have to tell about in detail. The mission was to escort a convoy of local contractor trucks from Gabe to War Horse. there were 8 of them total. So, once again, just us and the Mitt are the security force. I am rear gunner once again. The 8 tractor trailers are behind us. (dont ask, it was a new tactic to try) The convoy starts out fine, but soon turns into a cluster fuck.... not even maybe a mile down the road and small arms fire starts ringing out, but it is not directed at our humvees, no, it is being all fired at the semi trucks.

    The truck behind me steps on the gas, and is on our bumper, im waving for him to back off so as that i can get a sight picture on the shooters in the buildings, but he is too panicked and scared to brake, he is so close i can see the fear in his eyes. He ducks down as some rounds go through his truck cabin. I can see the tracers. they miss. He makes a gun with his hand and is crying, pointing out his window to where it is coming from, i can do nothing, he is too close, i cannot see... i try waving him back, still he does not listen. Instead he tries to pass us, i let my driver know, our team sgt is yelling "Dont let him pass dont let him pass!" One of the only good decisions he ever made.

    I am calling out where to swerve so the truck cant get past, the driver is crying and now visibly angry that we wont let him by.... as he swerves off to one side i can see a semi 2 trucks behind him, it veers of fthe road and slams into this concrete pillar thing. i call out that one of the trucks has been disabled. The commmand comes to let the trucks pass, the 2 lead humvees will continue on to War Horse, and the last MiTT humvee and ourselves will remain and secure the semi.

    we were both about 100 meters from the down semi. It is taking small arms fire still. Then, one of the MiTT guys gets out of the humvee! Jesus Christ! that is something you just dont do on the road we were on... any ways, he begins runnnig towards the truck, he comes oer the radio and says he is going to get the driver.... as he passes our humvee, it took a second to realize he was open and vulnerable, the shock of what he was doing was that great! as his humvee pulled down the street to secure it, my driver started driving in reverse so i could provide him with covering fire if needed.

    the shooting had stopped at this point. The driver of the semi got out, he had taken a round through the jaw, he was pretty fucked. the MiTT guy points to the humvee at the end of the road and has him start running for it. hen, i guess the insurgents noticed that there was a soldier in the open, and started taking pot shots. I was unaware, as the shooters were pretty far off (300+ meters) i couldnt even hear rounds being fired. then i hear the MiTT guy (i wont tell his name but he was a Capt., ill call him the capt. from here to the rest of the story.) come over the radio and calmly say "watch where i put my rounds, fire 100 rounds into the windows" i look through the gap in between my turret shield and see him fire a few rounds, but i didnt see where they went...

    i radio him back and ask him to fire another volley, as i did not see where his tracers went.... he comes back with," IM getting shot at! stop being a pussy, stand up in your turret, and watch where my rounds go, shoot up the windows!" im like damn! i fet so bad, when he had first requested me to put rounds out, it was non urgent, i did not see the rounds kicking up near him as he hid behind a narrow telephone pole that did not cover but half of him. I stood up, and before he could shoot again, the insurgents saw me standing up because several rounds came screaming by me... it took a lot to not dive into the turret but i knew the capt needed me to suppress or else he would most likely be dead in a second.... somehow he leans out, and fires the rest of his magazine, i see the tracers!

    I fire a short burst to get target acquisition, then i let rip, no bursts, just full cyclic rate of fire, i put probably 150 rounds out when my team sgt yells to stop shooting, cease fire. i do. the capt comes on the radio and yells "keep shooting!" so ido, and i let out another 100 rounds or so.... fucking insurgents are shooting up the semi truck this whole time and it is now on fire. several rpg's have detonated on the other side of the semi and in the street only 25 meters from us or so.

    Al queda, jaysh al madi, whoever the fuck was shooting us up was tipped off that there was going to be a convoy, they had to have been, they were just too well set up to not have been. So with the capt. like 10 meters in front of me hiding behind that pole still, he radios he is taking fire from the building in front of him. That i need to shoot up the windows that are directly in front of him. I take a look and think fuck... it was a shitty spot, from my position in the gun, the window was split wth the telephone pole in my view, and worse, it was immediately above his head, and he was prone... i could see the muzzle flashes,the ground kicking up next to him. if i messed up id shoot the capt in the back of the head, i had no time to waste, i aimed, i fired, i held the trigger down tight, I started in the left of the window, and started working it to the right, full cyclic rate, not burst, not enough time for that..... had to stop the shooter.....

    my rounds found their mark, i will never forget that. i dream about it sometimes still...... i kept shooting, traversing to the right, i had forgotten about the pole, my rounds dinged off it, a tracer hit it, sparks, i jerked it to the right so that they would not richochet into the capt, i then worked the window from the right to the left, making sure to not hit the pole. The capt came over the radio and shouts to stop shooting, i am shooting him. Apparently when my rounds dinged off the pole, one of them did richochet and then bounce of fhis helmet. i felt aweful. With what i had just done and gone through in the last five seconds, i was, well i dont know the name of the feeling, but it was weird, different ya know?

    I stopped shooting. by this time the semi truck was a raging inferno, one of the fuel lines had ruptured, and it was blowing a huge compressed hissing fire ball out of it, and being as close as we were, i could feel the heat, hot hot heat, blowing against my face. In the next half hour or so, the following happened: an air weapons team (apache helos) came, the went black (used all ammo) on hellfires, their other rockets, and all their 30 mm ammo, i used another 3-400 rounds, a pair of bradley fighting vehicles showed up and used all their 25mm ammo, and to top it off, an a-10 dropped a gbu 12 on us. missed the target by 300 meters. dropped it right on the building that was only about 25-30 meters away. how do you mess that up?

    any ways, there was this hellacious boom, then ringing in my ears, and i had on my headset which is hearing protection too. the smoke plume rose up, the wave of dust and ash came towards us... it all looked like slow motion. then a million peices of dirt and dust and grit hit me in the face, turned it black with soot, i am choking on the smoke....it clears, eventually the shooting stopped. a fire truck came and extinguished the semi. And then we went to warhorse.

    Once there the capt came over to me and shook my hand. now this was totally unexpected, for he was kinda of a dick guy, so for him to go out of his way to do that, in front of everyone, him being a capt, me e-4, in "public" and saying thank you, and shaking my hand was kinda cool. He told me that the round that richoched just hit his helmet, he was fine. He said i did great. I told him about how i was scared i was gonna shoot him in the back of the head and he told me if i hadnt shot, they would have got him in just a second any ways so i did good. ... sorry it took so long to get back and write more, im just moving into my house and have a lot of things to do. that was the last in depth combat story i have. i will keep this going. more to come.
     
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  19. drklrdbill

    drklrdbill Pimp

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    that's awesome. seems like a quality officer to me. you hear too many stories about shitbag officers, i'm glad you got to save the life of a good leader.
     
  20. PlutoBHG

    PlutoBHG New Member

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    awesome stories man, you kick ass
     
  21. yardiewrx

    yardiewrx OT Supporter

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    That last story must have been really emotionally draining. Keep up the good work and stay safe. We love ya/ what you are doing out there.
     
  22. effwhy_sea

    effwhy_sea New Member

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    Thanks again for sharing, enjoy your time back home :bigthumb:
     
  23. MrRyan

    MrRyan Gary Johnson 2016 OT Supporter

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    I fear for his editor :o :rofl: ;)
     
  24. Maffy29

    Maffy29 Active Member

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    I'm thinking about starting a book when I go to Iraq
     
  25. andymodem

    andymodem Ambitious, but rubbish.

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    It's very humbling. I have a tape from my grandfather retelling his experiences of being in a German POW camp during WW2.
     

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