Warning: This journal is NOT for kids. This journal is not for those easily affected by personally tragic experiences. Read at your own discretion.
I forewarn everyone about the realities of this war, and henceforth the realities of this journal. They are exhilaratingly fun to write about on the good days, but there’s the dark side to this moon as well. I wish no one had to see it. I wish no family had to bear the weight of an unwelcomed visitor in uniform on their doorstep. However, that’s just not our reality. Iraq is the stadium, and we are the visiting team. No matter how the numbers stack up, some are sent packing, and some are sent packed. It’s a really hard day when a soldier tells his leader, “I just can’t get back in the truck. I can’t do it anymore.”
This is the story, and I will say it is fictional based solely that those who can confirm the second hand information are currently recuperating in the hospital. You infer what you need, but please follow me carefully down this road.
It was an abnormally intense afternoon in Baghdad compared to the last six months. As you can read clearly in the news, violence has spiked in the last few days. One of our platoons had rolled out on patrol for a mission that needed no other specifics mentioned. Though for them it was as routine day as any, the outcome would not follow in suit. As this platoon drove its humvees closer and closer to their destination, there was a sense of relief that washed over them. Because, with any patrol a platoon endures, the closer they are to the finish, the better each individual feels. An encumbering weight breaks free from the shoulders of the men as they are able to roll through the gate – back into the safe haven of the base. This very day was not the case.
This platoon was passing through a National Police checkpoint, and not 50 meters away they collided heavily with an unfortunate fate. Behind a barrier which was blocking each crew’s view was a vicious monster lurking. An Explosively Formed Penetrator [EFP] Array. With the triggerman nearby, the platoon had no idea what was ahead of them.
The blast was heard for miles upon miles, and the shockwave could be felt deep in your chest. The heart in stomach freefall feeling ensued as the question rose. “I wonder who was hit…” The dark black smoke could be seen billowing on the horizon.
The truck that was crippled continued crawling forward until the curb stopped its movement. The dust seemed like it would never settle. Just as the radio transmission everyone prayed for… never came. “We’re okay…” never broke the squelch. We knew they were hurting.
The other crews had a positive identification on the triggerman. With one truck disabled, and the triggerman escaping through a crowd of civilians – they had no choice but to concentrate on their soldiers. Although collateral damage may have been justified further down the road, the leaders on the ground chose not to engage. Adding civilian casualties to this situation could not possibly have helped any further.
Minus the obvious black out, concussion causing discharge, the crew had sustained other life-threatening injuries. The gunner had taken several pieces of shrapnel to his legs, lost several fingers, and was bleeding steadily. The rifleman had his arms and legs broken, as well as several shrapnel wounds. Neither of these injuries could compare for what was next. The truck commander was unconscious, and he was missing both of his legs below his knees. His arm dangled loosely. He surrendered all but one limb to this hurricane explosion. He was bleeding out profusely, and time was not on his side by any means.
The gunner was a new soldier. Recently out of basic training, he was a fresh face to his platoon. He knew what he was trained to do though, and realized that despite his own injuries his actions we’re paramount in saving the truck commander’s life.
The rifleman in the truck was in serious pain, and with a myriad of broken bones he still managed to help out. “Doc, help the TC [truck commander], I’ll be fine..”
The gunner was distraught… in all the medical training he received there were so many scenarios that were covered. This, however, was not one of them. “Doc, I can’t get this fucking tourniquet on my leg. It won’t fucking work.”
Medic: “Why not?”
Gunner: “I’m missing my fingers!”
We practice one-armed, one-legged tourniquet rehearsals, but never imagined that we’d be applying tourniquets without the use of our fingers. It was a dire situation, but this gunner was a solid thinker under pressure. He pulled his rip cord that held his body armor together with his thumb and began to tighten it around his leg to slow his own bleeding. Once he was semi-satisfied with the makeshift tourniquet, he adjusted himself to help the medic apply each tourniquet to the truck commander.
The rifleman was in the back doing everything he could do to help. He was writhing in pain as he shifted weight from broken bone to broken bone. It wasn’t a sound that could soon be forgotten.
The medic, gunner, and riflemen did everything they could to stabilize the truck commander and because of this they we’re evacuated expeditiously. Training saved lives that day. The actions of several individuals saved lives that day. Fathers will see their sons again, and mothers hold their child.
And as the dark blood was washed out of the trucks that were used during the casualty evacuation… we realize that it’s not over yet. But at least you know…
We’ve made it to tomorrow.
The views expressed within this journal are my own, and in no way represent the views or policies of the United States Army, Department of Defense, or any other official agency.