Friday, May 19, 2006

Near Misses

If I was even a little paranoid, I might think someone didn’t want me to go on leave. During my last tour in Iraq back in ‘03 I had a close call four days before I was scheduled to go on leave. The incident was labeled Friendly Fire 070403. The very abridged and bare bones story is as follows. I was working the night shift at a Forward Aviation Refueling Point (FARP) Every time we had a bird (helicopter) it was our job (as lead position) to guide them into the very difficult to find (read tactical) fuel point. This is done one of two ways, either with chem lights (looking very similar to those guys at the airports waving their flags and such.) The other option was to let them set their Spot light on us (we wore reflective vests and wrists bands to help guide them.) Either way in order to do our job correctly we had to stand directly in front of them as they came in and landed. At first this is very unsettling as all of the birds are equipped with .50 calabur or above ammunition. I don’t care if you’re Dirty Harry, a weapon of that size especially many weapons that size tend to create little fears at the back of your head that say ever so quietly and completely convincingly “If that weapon went off you would be pushing up daisies before you hit the floor.” On the night in question it was about 2 am and we heard multiple birds approaching from the south. (In our down time we tried to sleep as much as we could as we still had responsibilities during the day. Usually we slept in or on the trucks.) Thankfully that night we were a bit sluggish getting up and throwing our boots on. I honestly believe if we had been in our designated positions you would not have ever heard of the sandbox files. I was never given an explanation as to why the Marine Pilot sent those nine rounds down range, in fact short of finding out that he had been relieved of duty I never really heard anything after that night. Suffice to say my stress level those next four days was higher than absolutely necessary.
The reason I brought up that night from almost three years ago is that something some what similar happened yesterday. As we were driving our perimeter checks, our camp was attacked simultaneously from at least four different positions. Three of the four attacks landed inside the perimeter. Luckily only one Mortar actually went off and there were no injuries. The one that landed in our area narrowly missed supervisor truck as we were driving behind him we watched it hit the ground next to his truck. Once again I repeat there were no injuries. This is where the story takes an amusing turn. After we marked off the area of impact, we contacted EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) and they sent the Italians to our area (the American EOD was taking care of another UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) else where. Now the Italians are macho to begin with but their EOD experts are so full of machismo that I swear I’m more manly after having spent just over six hours with them. Apparently the Mortar or UXO as it is now considered dug deep into the ground on impact. The Italians brought out a backhoe and began digging down until they found it. Now during all this my partner and I have set up a cordon to block off any gawkers that want to catch a quick glimpse of something going boom. So basically we are sitting on top of our truck watching them digging further and further into the ground with no result. At 6 meters (18 feet) they hit a water table or run off point. As it was almost dark at this time they informed us, ( this part is a lot funnier than it seems as I speak very little Italian and he spoke even less English. So we communicated in an almost uncomprehensible sign language.) They were quitting for the night and they’d be back in the morning. Just like that. So then we were basically just guarding a large deep hole that somewhere underneath the water something was still waiting to go boom. My job sucks.
On a completely different note, It came to my attention last night that I am almost completely unable to flirt with the opposite sex. I have no problem getting them to be comfortable and wanting to talk, but as far as flirting I haven’t a clue. I wonder if I will get any pointers while I am in Hawaii... Gawd I Hope so...

Riddle Me This:
Sorry it has been so long since my last post, I have been fighting a cold that has been going around and I am trying my very best to not get it right before I start my vacation. The previous answer is as follows...

The Vowels A, E, I, O, U
And today’s riddle is...

Where may you find roads with out cars, Forests with out trees and cities with out houses?

Good Luck!!!
And the Countdown Continues
6 Days and a wake up....


Gram & Gramps said...

On a map!!!

Take good care of your cold and don't let it get you down.

The lack of a blog was worrisome. Tonight's news said that there is a big troop movement from Kuwait to Baghdad and we thought that might have been the reason we hadn't heard anything - wish it had been. Glad you posted on your blog before we heard about the attack on the news.

Counting down -- can hardly wait to see you.

Love you -- take care.

Gram & Gramps

mom said...

a map.

I know the answer but Gram & Gramps are too quick on the draw