Sunday, October 12, 2003

Soldier Finally Snaps and Asks to Quit, My Manner Changes on Patrol, Sergeants Joke About Hooking Female Soldier Up With One of the Guys

2200 12 OCT 03

Another day of confusion and dismay. It seems to get worse and worse at work. Today Lee quit. He said he couldn’t take it today, so they took his rifle away from him and kicked him out of our office within an hour. So much stress, and it’s all so childish and plain crazy. More on that later.
On the business end of matters, for the past few days, things have been heating up in Baghdad – more attacks on U.S. soldiers – including our own here. Yesterday the Camp Marlboro came under mortar attack, injuring 3 soldiers. 3-62 AR also came under mortar attack. During this time, I was put on notice to go with Sergeant Major Sanders to check out the camp. Oddly enough, I got to drive the scout Hummer gun truck. That was interesting.
The feeling of being out in Baghdad is changing from “new experience” and “peace keeper” to combat zone. I’m not waving so much anymore, and I feel bad for it, so I try to shake off the cautious attitude. You can’t though; you can’t be 100% soldier and 100% diplomat at the same time. You’ll get killed – because some jackass will take advantage of your friendliness and kill you and ruin it for everyone. It’s true, and now I know. So, now it’s serious stuff, and I’m protecting my life. It’s difficult in Iraq. You want to believe everyone loves you, and it seems that way sometimes – and then people in the same neighborhood you thought was friendly are ambushing your buddies and killing them – and all they’re trying to do is keep the street safe.
The Shia leader Sadr issued a Fatwa (issued guidance) to kill all Iraqi police force in Sadr City. He should be arrested! But what should you do? Maybe they should disappear.
[1] I don’t know. Why these people though, the people we helped?
Today, it was a cloudy, unusual day. I thought it would rain, and was almost excited for it! I promised myself if it rained, I would run outside in the rain. It hasn’t rained since a minor shower on the first day since arriving in Baghdad. It would be great to have a cloudy day! I miss that some days!
During the morning, the usual gripes were being tossed about, when a large “BOOM” rattled the windows. Then I got that familiar feeling in my stomach – when I know a bomb went off.
“Knight X-Ray, we just had a large explosion go off near Ministry of Oil,” said CPT Powers on the radio to me.
‘Shit, I hope the MOO didn’t go up,’ I thought. The MOO has been targeted a lot lately. Even last night, a large Yugoslav mortar tube and all equipment and nine 81mm was spotted being set up by three men alongside a busy road called “Restaurant Road” by the Iraqi police. The men ran off after being sighted and shot at by the police. It was determined they were pointing the tube towards the Martyrs’ Monument. Luckily they were caught. Well, the tube and equipment at any rate. Now the odd things are sitting in our command center. Had the attack gone off, it would have spelled disaster for us, for it would destroy the monument and a big landmark.
I called the MOO on the radio, ‘Knight Rear, did you have a large explosion?’
“Negative, but guards on the barracks roof are reporting smoke and a building on fire near the Palestine Hotel,” the MOO reported. We called that info to regiment command center. Then, on our television, CNN broke into programming and had live images of the Baghdad Hotel. It had been bombed by a suicide bomber. It was just another bombing. This one in 3-9 Infantry’s area. They’re our infantry guys from our small base in Friedberg. CNN was showing images of helicopters flying around the scene, and I was listening to the same helicopters (Palehorse 16) Kiowa OH-58s speak to our regiment on the radio.
I was taking down the details and preparing our units to provide aid in case it was requested. We all knew what to do since the U.N. bombing. Everyone knew what to do, except the NCOs who were in the command center. Sergeant Newsome started freaking out and asking ridiculous questions that were obviously intended to save his own ass from SGM Walker’s interrogations instead of helping the present situation. At any rate, it was true. Another large bomb. Everyone gathered around the television and watched CNN, where we incidentally got more information than from own guys. Then we saw Colonel Jackson, our brigade commander, talking to news cameras on TV. Behind him was a LT I knew from Friedberg who used to work in my office and spoke some German. I remember passing him a few times as he sat outside his apartment during lunch break on the main street in our village of Friedberg – now I saw him with a flushed look on his face and eyes flashing around, his face aged by years, as he and his security team stayed around the colonel as he gave his interview. And he was gone after a few moments. We never sent anyone from our unit to help, as it wasn’t needed. As I watched the building burn, I realized that the new “front on terrorism” is Baghdad and will be for some time – if not decades. From a cold-hearted logic – it makes sense. Go to the Middle East and have terrorists come to you in Iraq, instead of in the U.S. Have Americans die in Iraq instead of the U.S. Have terrorists spend their money fighting you in their backyard instead of the U.S. The problem is the chess board isn’t ours. It’s Iraq’s, and what happens when they get sick of being used as a front and the people snap? Not an absolute impossibility I think. A lot of people are waiting for the city to spontaneously combust, and sometimes you feel that underneath this huge city, something is waiting to explode.
Despite all of this, mindlessness still rolled along in the TOC.
“Hey, who’s that hot blond chick you got in your unit?” Sergeant Newsome asked one of our Psyops
[3] sergeants as he walked in. “I want to hook her up with one of my soldiers as a reward,” he said, hinting he meant me. I got pissed off, because I don’t even like jokes like that because I’m not like that and I love you. So I blew him off.
‘You must be talking to someone else,’ I said. So he continued, but shifted his reward recipient prospects to Carter, our new guy.
“OH yes! But she’s married,” said the Psyops sergeant, “but you can try – you never know! Her husband is in Iraq. I think they’ve been together 4 years.”
‘God! Just shut up! Can’t you have a normal conversation?’ I thought. It seems like this is all the guys talk about – sex, cheating, and sex. Sergeant Choy talks more about his ex-wife than he does his present one. CPT Pervert is always talking extremely perverted in every situation to the point of betraying a mental problem.
“Yeah, she’s a real flirt! She spilled some sauce on her gym shirt and took it off to show her sports bra – it was sweet,” said Newsome.
“I’ll warn you though before you try,” the Psyops guy said, then in a hushed voice, “she’s bi-polar!”
I tapped my pen on the desk and listened to it tick, like a clock.
“Tick, tick,” soon I’ll be gone and far away from these people. I really don’t belong here. I’ve got idiots at one side, and a bleeding country on the other. I wonder if we are intelligent enough to win this war. So many times I look at a brain damaged soldier gazing half retarded at the ground with glass-looking eyes – raised on video games and marijuana. Almost everyone. Here is our “finest,” better our rejects, enforcing our “fine” strategies across the globe. I do respect some of these soldiers though. I’ll go more into that later.
Nora, I love you! We are going to make a better life – I know it. You are with me tonight. I love you endlessly!

[1] I sometimes pondered the legitimacy of assassinations and kidnappings as a weapon in Iraq.
[2] In fact, the weapons would not have destroyed the monument.
[3] Psychological operations


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