Alright, so here is how this little move of ours went. Never in my life have I been a part of something that had so many different things go wrong. Never in my life have I ever been a part of something that moved so slow. Never in my life have I ever been a part of something that made me laugh so damn hard. So bearing all that in mind let’s begin our tale.
We started the move at 1500 hrs. On the 2nd of May. (Only a full three months after we were originally scheduled to move)
First thing I did was set the over/under on IED’s. You know we needed to entertain ourselves so a few friendly wagers is a great way to pass the time. Especially, when the aforementioned wagers are on something that could potentially end the life of one of the bettors. I mean all things considered it could work out for you. If the guy you bet, blows up then you don’t have to pay off! Okay, maybe that was a tad morbid but please forgive me, I have been here a while.
I set the over/under at 9. I figured we had a pretty long way to go so didn’t want to set it low. But didn’t want to go too high either, didn’t want to scare any of the potential players off. All in all, I ended up making about a hundred bucks. I took the under.
But we’ll get to the IED’s later, right now I have to stick to my notes. Given the fact that I didn’t have access to my computer I had to keep notes on my little pad so that I wouldn’t forget all the hilarity that surrounds any military operation.
First thing that happened on this little jaunt was none other than a broken truck. The trucks that we had thoroughly maintained for the past week or so in preparation for this move. The trucks that had been gone through with a fine toothed comb by the mechanics. The trucks that had been deemed worthy of driving 65 miles through the Afghani countryside, which is like 1000 miles anywhere else.
Now was it a little break, or something simple that could be fixed in a minute or two. HELL NO! We get a bent tire rod or some such shit. Something that needs an entirely new part. Oh really, well let me just run down to the AutoZone and we’ll be on our way in a jiffy. Well shit, I must’ve forgotten that we are in the middle of Taliban Land and there is nothing but dirt and buried bombs. Well we don’t need any of that stuff. So where are we going to get this part from? Okay, the guys who are escorting us up there will bring it to us.
Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you about that one. Remember that RCP I told you about? Well remember that it stands for Route Clearing Package. Well the military in its infinite wisdom decided that it would be a good idea for us to go out ahead of the RCP and overwatch the route for them. Am I the only one who thinks that if you get there ahead of the RCP, that you are defeating the entire purpose of having an RCP in the first damn place. Sure guys, lets take a drive out into IED heaven before the guys with all the really big trucks and fancy equipment for finding IED’s. Brilliant!
So how are we going to deal with this whole broken truck thing? Sit there. And wait. Until they get there and then we’ll change it out on the fly. Which basically means a whole bunch of really pissed off mechanics who have to deal with fixing this truck and changing out this part while in the middle of the Afghani desert. Good times all around.
So we sat and we sat and we sat and we sat. For like 36 hours waiting for these d-bags to show up. We saw exactly...shit. We did exactly nothing except sit our asses on top of a mountain. A mountain that overlooked the route that they were supposed to take.
Now normally, this wouldn’t be so bad. Just another night sitting out in the country waiting for something to happen and finding new and interesting ways of killing time. And of course nothing did happen. Apparently, the Taliban don’t like to fight in inclement weather. What inclement weather are you talking about Mud Puppy? Well, let me tell you. The wind was blowing. Tornado style. It blew and blew and blew me right off the hood of the truck. What? How the hell do you get blown off the hood of the truck?
Well, that’s where I sleep. If you don’t remember I am a pretty big boy. I am about 6’2” and I weigh in about 250 pounds. And these trucks that we have are built with a skinny midget in mind. I swear if you are over 5’5” and weigh over 150 pounds you are basically fucked. So I say, “Screw this” and I grab my sleeping bag, wrap myself up in it, put my bulletproof vest back on over the sleeping bag, and stretch out on the hood of the truck for a wonderful night of pleasant dreams of flushing toilets, pavement, hot food, luke-warm showers, and anywhere with no dust. (Yep, that is all I need for a happy life anymore.)
So there I was, no shit, on top of the hood right in the middle of an Afghani tornado, sleeping my ass off. And about 0300 hrs. I find myself rudely awakened by the sudden contact of my ass with the ground as I was violently thrown off the hood of the truck by a rather powerful gust of wind. It isn’t bad enough that the army won’t ever let me sleep, now mother nature has decided to join the conspiracy! Apparently, the gust had managed to slip its way under my sleeping bag liner, filling my bag with air and creating a somewhat kite-like effect, and sending me sailing right off the hood of the truck and onto my ass. Luckily for me, there were a whole bunch of sharp rocks on the ground to break my fall. Thank God for small miracles.
So we are sitting there and a little bit later a pair of trucks come by. Afghani trucks, just your normal run of the mill jingle trucks. (We call them jingle trucks because the Afghani’s decorate their vehicles with little steel chains with ornaments on the ends of them. They put them all over, on the bumpers, along the running boards, everywhere. And they jingle when they drive, hence the term jingle truck. Anyway, we let them pass.
They got about 800 meters past us and...BOOM!!! Ha, fuck you, you Taliban pricks, you blew up one of your own countrymen. Couldn’t even get us. Well once again, one less IED that I might drive over. We went back to try and help them but they didn’t want anything to do with us or our assistance. If you didn’t know, accepting help from Americans is a death worthy offense as far as the Taliban are concerned.
So we couldn’t really do anything for them. Who knows whether we could’ve done anything for them either way. But regardless of that, its still one less IED we could drive over.
But then there was something weird that happened. It happened about midnight that night, about 3 hours before I was sent hurtling off the hood of the truck by the rather rude wind gusts that mother nature decided to hit us with. Now what I consider to be the strangest thing about this whole experience is not the combat, its not the IED’s, its not the people, its not the culture, its not anything about this whole war thing. Its the things that I have seen and the beauty that I have seen here. Between the sunsets, the sunrises, the moon, the sky smiling at me, the mountains, and the countryside (when there is no one shooting at us, and the road isn’t exploding) I have seen some of the most beautiful scenes of nature that I have ever beheld in my life.
So here is what I saw on this particular night. I was lying on the hood, staring up at the sky. Now the gun that is on top of the truck hangs over the hood, so I was looking up at the moon and the stars with the gun in foreground. I wish I could more accurately explain what I was seeing at the time. I don’t really give a shit what anyone thinks or says about this but I seem to find beauty and meaning in the goofiest of places. But looking up at this gun, with the moon and the stars and the clear, unpolluted Afghani sky in the background was beautiful to me, not to mention ironic. Here is this weapon of death and destruction (or a tool of freedom, depends on how you look at it) and behind it is all the beauty a night sky can muster. The worst of man, followed by the best of nature. Kind of ironic, don’t you think? Either way, that is a memory that will stick in my head for, well probably forever.
Moving on, so only one other thing of note happened that night. We have this little satellite computer thing in our truck. Its a communication tool. We get messages on this thing all the time, its like our own little combat internet. So sometime in the middle of the night, when everyone was sleeping no less, we got a message. Contained in this message were the details of a planned Taliban attack that was supposed to come sometime during the night. Where the powers that be got this intel, I’ll never know. Even the lowest private here knows that the Taliban never attack at night. But whatever, I just found it a little funny that we would sleep right through that.
Anyway, the next day, we sat there and kept right on waiting for the RCP to show up. Why would they be on time, or at least only a little bit late? Nope they decide that they are going to be like 12 or 16 hours late. Well, there was another company of guys out there with us. Apparently, whatever this RCP was moving was important. Now I already know that there is no way they would’ve done this for us, so there had to be something valuable in that convoy. I still have no idea what it was. Regardless there was a company of infantry out there with us. Apache Company. They have a fetish with Indian names in the 25th Infantry Division. They were positioned about 2 clicks west of us on the other side of the route that the RCP was supposed to take.
So about mid morning we hear the first boom. It was faint so nobody even stirred, just a few heads turned looking for the source of the kaboom. Then we heard them on the radio, “Holy shit, we are taking mortar fire, and small arms from the hilltops.” We watched as the Taliban dropped their little packages of exploding death from the sky closer and closer to the Apaches. There was no way we could negotiate the distance between them and us in time, the most heavily IED laden route in country was between us. We could only watch.
Now either these guys all have brass balls, or they are really stupid. There is only one way to defend against mortars. RUN AWAY. That’s it, its all you can do. When bombs start falling on your head from some unseen location, the only thing you can do is run away. At least if you are running you can either get out of their range, or you can at least be a much harder target to hit.
What did these guys do? They sat right where they were at and looked up into the hills trying to figure out where the fire was coming from. So I am going to have to go with stupid. These guys are fucking stupid. Just like every other engagement we had been in, this one ended just as soon as it started. I think the Taliban attack on union hours.
Now after all this was over, they went searching for where this was coming from. Shortly thereafter they decided to call in a few fire missions. I, for the life of me, cannot figure out what the hell they were shooting at when we all knew that the enemy was long gone by now. But they proceeded with their little fire missions anyway. Now in order to get a fire mission approved you have to call the commander, so they did. Bear in mind this is the same motherfucker that only a few days prior made us ask him like three times before he would call in a medevac for that guy that got his nuts shot off. But he approved a fire mission in about 10 seconds and one call. I found that a little humorous that a medevac would take us begging and pleading, but a fire mission would get approved with just one call. Fucking asshole! Yes, Apache 06, 25th Infantry division is a fucking asshole.
Now for whatever reason, they decided that it was time to zero in their mortars. Kind of a cart before the horse type thing. Fire the weapon, then zero it. Brilliant. Last time I checked these weapons didn’t work real well when they aren’t zeroed, but what do I know, I’m just a lowly peon. So fuck it. Funny part of this was, that my boss at the time needed to take a shit. So he walked off about 100 meters so that no one had to worry about stepping into his little gift to the world, and did his thing. Shortly after his leaving for this operation, the mortars started flying again. Impacting about 1000 meters from us. Impacting with a rather large, resounding BOOM.
Now I can only imagine what it would look like to see a guy trying to drop a deuce right on top of a mountain. So he’s probably doing the squatting thing, trying to squeeze this thing out, when off to his right there is a rather large explosion. One which he was unaware was coming, and may have even thought to be a Taliban attack.
All we heard was him screaming, “For fuck’s sake, I’m trying to shit!” Another way to know you are at war. Your potty breaks are interrupted by explosions.
So the RCP finally shows up. They even got out and fixed that busted vehicle for us. Which was nice because we had figured that they were just going to pull up and wing the part out the window and fly right on by while we tried to fix this flipping thing. We all consolidated into one convoy and we move out.
Finally, at long last, we are moving. Going somewhere else. Which is good for me. Anyone that knows me well, knows that after a while I have a tendency to get wanderlust. So moving makes me happy.
First thing that happens on our way up there is a rather funny sentence was said over the radio waves to the entire convoy. A guy comes on the radio and says the following, “1-2 this is 1-1 charlie, do you have my weapon?” Are you fucking serious? We are in Afghanistan, we are at war, there are Taliban in them there hills, and you don’t know where your fucking weapon is! Am I the only one who thinks this guy should be sterilized?
Moving on, what happened next? Oh yeah, BOOM!!! What else is new? We hit an IED. Imagine that. The funny part of the whole thing is this. We were watching them search this wadi for IED’s. They went through it with all their little machines, they dug down into the ground with their trucks, they did everything that they could to search this wadi for bombs. Once they decided that it must be clear of IED’s they sent the first truck in to cross over and what happens? They hit a damn IED. Why wouldn’t they?
What happened next made me laugh even harder. They come over the radio, “Alright, we hit and IED, 2-1 you need to look for secondary IED’s” About 3 seconds after the guy got that sentence out, BOOM!!! About 2 seconds after that the guy comes back on the radio and says, “Good job finding the secondary 2-1.” After that I had to pick myself up off the ground from rolling around laughing.
So now we have moved about 32 clicks, which is about 10 miles, and we have been gone for a few days already. Now we have two RCP trucks that are shredded, and another one about to go down. Well, it wasn’t a military truck, but the RCP brings a crane with it when it goes out. It uses this crane to help pull out trucks that get badly stuck, and it also uses it to right overturned trucks. Which happens quite a bit.
So one of these trucks hits a ditch, and flips over. They bring the crane up, the crane lifts the overturned truck back up. Then the crane blows a tire. Where’s the spare? We didn’t bring one. Really, why would you bring a spare for the crane? So what do we do? Well we have to wait for another RCP to bring us a spare tire. Really, how long is that going to take? I don’t know, a few days. So we have to sit here for a few days just to change a tire? Yep!
Shit. So we wait a couple of days and they bring the tire. I wish there was more that I could write about that but it literally was us just sitting there, staring at each other, doing absolutely nothing while we waited for this tire to show up.
They bring the tire, we change the tire, and we get moving again. We move all the way to a FOB that is about 50 clicks north of where we started. Now its 4 days and we have gone all of 50 clicks. 31.25 miles in 4 fucking days. I think that has to set some kind of new world record for slow. We could’ve walked there faster, literally.
Now we are going to stay the night at this FOB. Not bad digs. Gave us a tent, gave us something to eat, let us wash our asses for the first time in 4 days. So all in all, I liked the place. Then it hit. The biggest dust storm I ever saw. And I have seen a few.
The sky was black, the wind was howling, the tents were shaking like a whore in church. You saw it coming. A big, dark ball of dust swirling in the distance getting ever closer. It looked like something out of one of them Mummy movies. I couldn’t believe it. People were running for cover.
What was I doing? Shit, I was putting on my face mask and my goggles so I could get out there and stand right in the middle of this thing and watch the show. If there is one thing that I love its when mother nature flexes her muscles and shows us just what a bitch she can be!
The sky was black for about 30 minutes, it blew down a few tents, it tore the sheet metal off the roofs, it sent grains of sand flying into just about everything. As I was standing out there watching this spectacle I am pretty sure it sanded off the top 3 layers of my skin. Needless to say, it was fun.
We got up the next morning at the ass crack of dawn, and got moving again. We got about another 54 clicks to go till we get where we are going. Fun for us, what’s going to explode today? Surprisingly, it went okay...for awhile.
Then our next pile of suck set itself right down on our heads and started to wiggle. This one was pretty straightforward. We were driving through a village about 20 clicks from our final destination. I was the third truck from the front. The first truck made it past the village, the second truck moved up to the edge of the village and then it started.
Ratatatatatatatatatatatatatatatat...green and red tracer rounds were flying over their heads like some kind of fucked up death Christmas thing. And all the while we are driving straight toward this shit. I ready my weapon because luckily I am facing the contact side.
I press my cheek to the buttstock of my ever present M240B machine gun and wait while we move up to the edge of this village. Knowing next to nothing about what is on the other side of this wall at the end of this village.
We come past the wall that marked the edge and I see what all the fuss is about. About 100 meters from the road, behind some little building out there are a few Taliban assholes firing at us with a couple of machine guns and an RPG launcher or two. Fun for us.
I open up and start sending round after round in their general direction. It sucked because it was just after dusk. Sun was pretty much down so I couldn’t actually see them. All I could see was the muzzle flashes and the poof of smoke and light that would come every time they launched one of those damn RPG’s at us. So all I could really do was shoot at the muzzle flashes. Which is exactly what I did.
Each time one of them would pop their head up to fire a volley at us, I would zero in on the flash and light it up with as much lead as this damn weapon could spit. Then his head would go down, and another one would pop up, and the process would repeat itself.
Then I heard the “woosh” of an RPG as it sailed about 10 meters to my rear and impacted and exploded about 20 meters past our trucks. Whoever invented those damn things needs to get punched square in the taint! Well, thank the good, good Lord that the Taliban can’t shoot for shit. One of those RPG’s would probably send me home to Mom in several more pieces than I came here in. Then another “woosh” ran right in front of the truck in front of us, and this one exploded about 10 meters in front of us.
All this was happening, and we were driving along the whole time. This is the thing that truly pisses me off about these convoys. The military has orders of precedence for just about everything. In our situation, the cargo that we were escorting was more important than closing with, and killing these motherfuckers. So instead of stopping, laying down suppressive fire, and sending some guys out there to end these pricks. We just kept right on driving. Oh, does this war piss me off sometimes. Whatever, there isn’t anything I can do about that. But about 5 minutes after the fire started, it stopped and that eerie quiet took over the landscape again. Like I said before, combat and premature ejaculation have a lot in common. Especially when you are fighting these Taliban pussies!
Uneventful is the only way to describe the rest of this ride. We drove along, we got to where we were going, and we went to sleep for the night. Okay, maybe boring would be another way to describe the rest of this shit. But nobody got hurt, and now we are here waiting to see what is next. Where are we going? What is next in this big blur of suck?
Well, that’s where I’m at now. Hopefully, something worth writing about will happen soon, but I don’t see much coming. Just a whole lot of meaningless busywork, then we’ll find out where we’re going and move there. So stay tuned...this ought to be good, I hope...
I love you Mom...
Just a little joke to finish this whole thing off. I know some of you heard it already but it bears repeating.
So a general, a major and a lieutenant are standing around discussing what percentage work, and what percentage play the act of sex is.
The general figures that sex is 80% work, and 20% fun.
The major figures that sex is 50% work, and 50% fun.
The lieutenant figures that sex is 20% work, and 80% fun.
A young private strolls by and salutes the three officers at which point the general says to him, “Come here private, we have a disagreement that we would like you to settle. We are trying to figure out what percentage work and what percentage play the act of sex is. The major believes it is 50-50, the lieutenant believes 20-80, and I believe it is 80-20. What do you think?”
The private smiled and said, “Well sir, its actually quite simple, it must be all play because if there were any work at all involved you would have the enlisted men doing it for you!” With that the private walked away with a big ole’ grin on his face.