Oct 31 2012

I’m up. He see me. I’m down!

Published by at 1:33 AM under Comm 300

It was another boring evening in Diwaniyah. It was to dark to play chess and the porn computer was only at its third destination of the night.  Chances were by the time it reached my tent the battery would be dead. Chubby was on fire-watch. Not that I cared. I was tired of her anyway, though I’m sure any of the guys would have gladly traded the computer for her.

Most of them were watching a bootleg DVD someone had bought at the Bazaar. It was the newest Hulk. Supposedly it hadn’t even hit theaters in the U.S. yet. So even though the quality sucked, it was still better than watching Drumline over again.

What only seemed like seconds passed, after I sat down, before a familiar and scary sound whizzed overhead. At first I couldn’t believe.  The war had been over for weeks. But then I remembered that Uday and Qusay had only been dead a few hours. So the town folk were angry and I’m sure the raids of that day hadn’t help matters. Like everyone else, I turned to see where it came from. Horror set in when I looked behind and saw dozens of tracers streaking through the night air.

“Everybody up!” “Flacks and Kevlar’s on!” is all I remember yelling.

As the bullets poured in, I watched as everyone frantically suited up and scrambled for their gear. It was at that very moment too I realized – I had fucked up.

A week prior, one of my Marines had lost his helmet and I had given him one of theirs. My unit was still stationed in Babylon. Yet I had been attached to Task Force Scorpion and moved with a smaller squad to Diwaniyah.  The perks of which included a Pajero and free access to the highways as needed. I didn’t know the Marines at Diwaniyah. They weren’t my friends. Let their NCO’s deal with some boot that lost his helmet. They were careless and sloppy and one of my guys needed it.

But at that very moment, their young, sloppy PFC was standing there in front of me – without his helmet. He was scared shitless and with good reason. I couldn’t let him die it would be on my conscious.

“FUCK!!!” was my only thought.  As I handed him mine.

He looked silly with his little head flopping around inside it, but I didn’t have time to giggle. I gathered everyone in the immediate area into an open-ended container. They were Supply Marines, which meant that even though they were active duty they had no idea about fire-teams or how to use them. Luckily I had a few of my guys with me. I quickly grouped them into squads with one of my own as their leader and sent them into position.

I led my team out last trying to save every precious second of my life that I could.  I felt like a 14-point buck running through the cornfields during hunting season. I was a running bulls-eye that could be killed with one good shot and it was my fault.

My real unit was safe back in Babylon. It was an allied base now for crying out loud. I could have taken that helmet just before leaving, but I didn’t because I didn’t want “Fish” to get in trouble. How the Iraqis had gotten tracer rounds to gauge their targets, I have no idea. The best part was they were mostly pink ones. Great – killed in action by a pink tracer round. Karma’s a bitch.

The roar of the LAV’s coming to life was a comforting sound. Unfortunately, the whizzing hum and burning flash of the tracers, each getting closer and closer wasn’t. I positioned my team and hit the ground. It seemed like a lifetime until the fireworks ceased and the night air returned to darkness. Thank god the Iraqis never learned to shoot straight. I’m not a badass. I’m just lucky.

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