Monday, October 6, 2008

The "siege" of Baghdad

On July 22, 2003, Baghdad got the word that Uday and Qusay Hussein were dead.
All war stories are supposed to start with, This is no ****. I will recount what is was like from my perspective that night. At some un-remembered time in the PM, I was in the "majors" house -each rank had its own house basically in the Green Zone in Baghdad. I heard someone say, "look outside." So I went outside and said, "Holy ****!" The sky was was filled with tracers. (Some bullets are able to shine brightly as they make their path from rifle muzzle to ground.) I didn't know what to make of this so I called one of my men (one of my subordinates who had the rank of corporal) who used to be in Marine Force Recon. My gut said that he might know something. I was right. He was on top of Saddam's old palace with some special ops guys checking out what was celebratory gun fire. You see, Iraqis aren't exactly worried about gun safety. A few months earlier we had encountered a distraught women in a Baghdad neighborhood who claimed that at night, a bunch of Iraqis would get drunk and shoot their weapons in the sky. I had already seen rifles "test fired" at the local market. It did remind me that as I used to drive rural roads in Alabama and other southern states I would usually see several bullet holes where the speed limit sign was used for target practice. So armed with this information, I contacted by cell my friend Joe who lived with me in the Lieutenant Colonel house. We had the most elevated position in our company and anyone going to roof would have good observation since we were right next to the Tigris River. I knew Joe was a little hard of hearing and he lived in the basement. I told him, "Joe, you might want to see what is going on outside." In the meantime, I encountered Henry who was in charge of the Rapid Reaction team we had for enemy threats. I told Henry that the commotion was only celebratory fire. Henry said, I am going to check it out, it could be cover for an attack. I said,"you do what you need to do, I just wanted to give you some information." I asked Henry if he had a vehicle and he said no so I gave him my HUM VEE to use to travel and then I made my way to my house and the roof. I grabbed my helmet and my kevlar vest and my rifle. On the roof was Joe, Jerry, and Lou my ranger buddy (we always say that about anyone who ishares a Ranger qualification. I said, "Joe, do you agree that you might want to see this." He nodded. Now Joe, Jerry, Lou and I all had Infantry training but sharing the roof was one of our JAGs-a soldier lawyer. The rest of the house I guess wasn't interested because they stayed below. Henry came by after a short while. He made sure that he communicated with us so he could check the shore line of the Tigirs without us shooting him. It seemed to me that I heard something it the roof within a few feet of us. It was not far fetched to think it was a bullet because that very evening a soldier who was sleeping on a cot on a roof had a bullet go into his foot. Sadly, I had spoken with some Iraqi friends who had had a relative die when hit by a stray bullet from someone "celbrating." After a while, the amount of shots faded and we kind of congratulated ourselves because we felt we had been on top of the situation.

No comments: