This is my third rotation to OIF. The first on '03 and the second in '05. I've been in the military for a little over four years now. I was due to be released this October, but that didn't work out as planned. Now I'm stoplossed till May of '07. The first rotation was a breeze. I missed the first part of the war, because I didn't get to my unit in time and they had all left. Typically I could have just deployed an caught up with them, but being in a Transportation Unit, made it virtually impossible after the war kicked off and the company was scattered through out the theater. Once things settled down and they finally regrouped. The commander called for everybody that was back in the rear to deploy with the rest of the unit. I was only there for about four months. Nothing really happened in terms of enemy contact. The insurgency had not organized yet, IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) were not even really heard of yet. So most of the convoys went down without a hitch. There was a few minor contacts with small arms, but nothing a .50 cal machine gun couldn't handle. At that time we also had MK-19 fully automatic grenade launcher systems mounted to some trucks and those are motherfuckers. We can't even use them now cause they are deemed inhuman. Anyways, by January of '04 we were all back down in Kuwait safe and sound and then got on 747 and flew home. A year had passed back at Ft. Stewart, GA and then we were back in Iraq again. It was January of '05 and over the coarse of that year all the FOBs (Forward Operations Bases) were literally built up for a better quality of living. I was based out of Taji, Iraq, about 15 miles north of Baghdad. That place back in '03 was nothing more than a vehicle graveyard and before that it was a main Iraqi military base where the infamous Chemical Ali charged. Now it is one of the best places to be at, considering where we are at. There are rows upon rows of three room trailers in which only two soldiers to a room. "No more dusty tents." The PX was like a mini Wal-Mart and there is a fully loaded food court for all the fatties. It is the home of the very first Taco Bell in Iraq. The only real shit thing was all the indirect fire that place took. The first night we got there we spent about two hours huddled up in a concrete bunker, because some bad guys thought it was a good idea to lob a few mortar rounds over the wire. That was a frequent occurrence. Sometimes it got a little to close for comfort. This one time a mortar land so close a trailers you could here the rocks and sand bounce off the walls. For the most part they landed out in the middle of no where. As a truck driver I had my work cut out for me that year. As soon as we got settled in we were on the road. Our main mission was to haul logistics such as food, water, old parts, new parts, ammo and you name it we hauled it. Most of all the mission we ran was in the Baghdad area. To FOBs like Falcon, Liberty, Anaconda, Rusty, Old Mod and even the Green Zone. So I got to see pretty much that whole city inside and out. What a nasty looking place, But you would be surprised on how you could be driving through some slums and you take a corner and wind up in a beautiful city street. Some of the locals would really take care of their area. But no where was safe. As we got better at what we did, so did the enemy. When I was there in '03 we hardly had any resistance, not one sign of and organized insurgency. Maybe just a few loyal ex-republican guard trying to commit suicide by attacking an US convoy. Now that it had been a year, the shit started to pop off. These motherfuckers had gotten their shit together. We had alot to look out for. The IEDs are bigger, stronger and a lot more nastier then ever, plus they are well hidden. You would never even now one was there until it popped off. They are using a bunch off different methods to their mayhem. Some are remote operated, command wire, pressure plates, trip wires, even that beam that makes garage door stop if you go under it. Since these started to become more frequent. The trucks we had were now modified for a up armor kit. Just basically an enclosed steel box that protects the cab of the vehicle. I remember the day that all the up-armor in Iraq was payed for. It was the 15th of April '05. We had an early morning mission headed for Liberty to drop off mainly class 9 supplies, which usually maintenance parts. We had to make a side stop along the way to drop off this officer that was traveling with us at some small FOB. That wasn't a big deal, but its put us in an area that we were not familiar with. We were close to Baghdad Int'l Airport, which is along side Camp Liberty so we decided to enter through there. Once we were safe with in the gates of the airport, the convoy commander drove us all over the damn place. He had know idea how to get to Liberty from there and wouldn't listen to anybody that did. So he made a command decision to exit out of there and go around the airport and enter Liberty the typical way. So by now its about 0700 and typical traffic is on the road. We are trained to maneuver through that kind of road conditions, but it was different that morning. All was well as we approached liberty. On the stretch of road the main gate is on is a urban area. There is a gas station that cars line up on. The cars wait to get in the gas station usually stretches a good half mile. Nothing but bumper to bumper cars. I will admit to becoming little complacent, cause the front half of the convoy including me had pass a broken down car on the side of the road that was abandoned with it hood opened. A couple of seconds after I had pass it there was the most awesome display of power I have ever witnessed. The broken down vehicle had detonated on the truck behind me. The explosion was powerful it had seem to drive the air out my lungs and then everything went silent. We are required to keep moving, push through the kill zone as they call it. So I did. Then I realized the truck behind me wasn't there. It was about 20 minutes till the rest of the convoy had finally caught up to the rally point. The truck that had been hit was still moving. All of the five tires on one side blow out, the thick glass of the windshield all cracked up, smoke jet up out the back, but still moving. The doors where all gouged up, but nothing had penetrated through. The two females operating the truck were literally unharmed, a little shocked but fine. That shit was crazy, I bet there was about 5 or 6 damn 155mm artillery shell packed in the trunk of that car. I was told that over a dozen civilians that were in the area got the worse end of the deal. Owell, at least none of us got hurt and to me that's all that matters. Through out the year we ran many similar missions. By the grace of God an attack like that never happened again. Time went slow and home sickness kick in, but when it was all said and done it seem like it just flow by. Only one soldier in my company was sent home due to battle injuries. He had caught some shrapnel in his hand, but it wasn't a very serious injury. So by mid December almost all off my people were ready to get the fuck out of dodge. We finally left Iraq and made it to Kuwait by the end of the month. We were back in the states drinking a beer two hours before midnight on new years eve. As soon as the the Unit was all recovered back at Ft. Stewart, it was decommissioned. Which was fine with me. I was sick of that shit anyways. Most of everybody that wasn't getting out was placed somewhere within the division. Me on the other hand thought it would be a good idea to volunteer to be in the platoon that has always been attached to our company. This platoon was also just getting back. Its another transportation unit that deploys every six months for support of the whole theater. When a big element like a division has finished it tour and another is coming to take its place, this platoon deploys to transport vehicles and heavy equipment for these major divisions. I thought I was really smart to come to this platoon, because when they are back in the states they don't do shit. I thought I would just milk the rest of my days in the Army just chilling. I was gambling that the platoon wasn't going to deploy again and they were going to get a little brake. Well, I lossed that bet. So here I am, back in the MiddleEast. Driving trucks through a country of Muslim Extremest that want nothing more than to kill an American GI. I don't exactly drive the same vehicle though. This time I'm in a Gun Truck with a three man team. A gunner, a driver, and me at the comms. Its one bad ass Humvee though. We carry a .50 cal machine gun mounted on the top, there is also a M249 machine gun in the cab, plus my M16. I dare any motherfucker to try something, we got something for their ass. I've been told that is has gotten worse over here since I've been gone. I here that every time I come back though. They say that in Iran, they are starting to produce ready made IEDs in the form of and EFP (Explosive Firing Projectile) or some shit like that. I guess though are the nasty sons of bitches To really lookout for. The whole concept of that bastard is to fire mainly just one solid piece of superheated copper. Its been said that a big enough one as the ability to shear even a tank in half. For the most part the men and women in my unit have a strong tie to each other. You can see the unspoken fear in the eyes of the newer soldiers. As for the more seasoned soldier they at least know what to expect when they cross the berm, but you know that everybody is a little scared. Your not human if your not a little worried, but after so many rotations over here you kinda grow numb over the fear. I firmly believe a strong faith in God is the most important factor to maintain sanity over here. So once the surge starts and the mission is nonstop, God's speed will take us all home.