Somewhere outside of the main suburbs of Mosul, Iraq 2004
Two men in uniform have a quiet conversation after a dirty dusty confused morning of death and destruction.
“Man Top I wish you had been there! It was fucking unbelievable!” A visibly worn out blonde haired Second Lieutenant said.
“Yeah give with the details shithead.” The crusty First Sgt. Said with a beckoning motion with his left hand as he leaned up against The M1A1 affectionately known as Sand Pig Six. Which incidentally had scorch marks all down the left side where an IED mixed with gasoline had scored its flanks, and Suitcase Sagger Missile guide wires draped over the turret and hull like Christmas Tree Tinsel.
The Lt, young and jittery as only a butter bar can be after his first 'That son of a bitch just tried to kill me!' moment, tried valiantly to marshal his thoughts as he scratched his salt soaked head letting adrenaline and a whole host of flight or fight responses go twitch in some dark corner while he tried to think a coherent answer.
“Shiiiiiit.” The Lt dragged the vowel out, revealing his Texas Panhandle roots. “Top. I told Sgt Palmer to take the left flank and I would scan what was on the right. We kept our intervals with the convoy. I can remember Palmer told that idiot, err excuse me, Major Marks we should plan an alternate route as we would be going through a 'U' shape bend in the road and them Baathist Bastards would probably hit us then.”
“Well you know he just looked at us with that blank stare he gets. We even pointed to the road section down where Wazzim and Jandahar meet. He sort of blanked out. Then he blinked like my cousin Diggs did when I kicked him him in the nuts in Junior High; he shook his head and told us to get back to our tracks.”
“And what happened after that?” The crusty First Sgt asked with his sun burnt crow lines showing as white marks against his eyes which had gone dead as a baby dolls.
“It was just like me an Sgt Palmer predicted. Everything went well until we got bunched up and when they made that turn in the road the Baathist waited until most of the soft skin vehicles and over half of the crunchies were on the other side of the 'U' and opened up on us. Would you fucking believe it, them sorry SOB's dropped a damn building on the road! It split Palmer and myself from supporting each other and they were chopping up the Infantry boys one at a time. And the up-road side of the convoy got hit with IED's and some of those Toyota pickups with 23mm Dshk, mounted in the back rolled out and began laying down heavy fire. Things rapidly went to shit after that. Especially when the Major's head popped off his body when he took a RPG round through his Hummer. ”
The First Sgt, handed the young Lt, a cold coke from a lunch box he had dragged to the defensive position were Sand Pig Six was squatting. The Lt made an inquisitive gesture with his head and the First Sgt, just nodded in reply and the LT swung the insulated plastic lunch box up to his loader Zeek the Greek and went back to telling his story.
“I was ducking down into my TC position when a damn RPG bounced, bounced off the damn turret! Skipped over the top of the blast panels and took Zeek's duffle bag, our Crosswind Sensor Mast, and grabbed our Pogey Bait Box out of the Bustle Rack and blew to fuck all over the dirt behind us.”
The Lt, popped the cold Coke he had been holding in his shaking hand, held it up and drank it down in one go. He scrubbed his dirty face, where the dust goggles had made a reverse Raccoon pattern across his eyes. “Jesus Top. You got to promise me you won't tell no one in Battalion. I just pissed myself. Then I got mad as hell. I told Smith to load Heat and fire point blank into that apartment block. About that time, I saw the flash of a Sagger Missile flying past my vision block. So we kicked it in the ass. I think that is probably what saved us from the second one.”
The Lt paused for a moment scrubbed his face with an Olive drab green bandage used as a bandanna, he continued on, “Then it just got ugly with Smith and Zeek servicing the guns. I could hear Sgt Palmer tell me his track had been shot off by the those two 23mm Dshks, then that's when the second RPG hit the turret and took off our radio antenna.”
“So what did you do then? Considering our ROE concerning Civilians in an active combat situation?” The First Sgt asked in a dead pan voice.
“Well I figured by this time, the Goat Roping had culled, any civilian left on the streets or anyone any where near this damn street weren't no civilian. And with my radios shot away, I figured fuck it, it was time to earn my paycheck not worry about the horseshit until the shouting was over."
“OK Lt, I got that. What did you do next? C'mon give with the details.” The Crusty NCO made a give me gesture with his right hand.
“Top I hit the MP3 Player in the Hoffman Tray cranked up AC/DC and then told Private Anderson to kick the fat pig in the ass and could he please drive us into the apartment building. I then took the Tank Commanders override and laid Smith on a sandbagged position where some of those bastards were running back and forth shooting at us. We almost got to the building when they blew up some piece o' shit Mazda parked on the corner. Motorhead came on at this point playing a Metallica tune. After Lemmy started singing, things got a little weird after that. I kinda remember telling Anderson to Neutral steer through the first apartment wall we drove through and we sort of shot out at a right angle as to how we came in. We bounced into the other side of the ambush. I told the boys to keep firing until we ran out of rounds. We reversed ourselves and on our second return through the building I think that's when Ice Tea and Body Count just ratcheted everything up to eleven. Screaming out “There goes the neighborhood.” Got to tell you Top it made for some kick ass fighting fuel. I cracked open the hatch and grabbed my 50. Cal and just started hosing the shit out of the backside of the Apartment building. I can remember seeing those sorry SOB's jumping out of bedroom windows trying to get away. Then we sort of ran back through the bottom floor one more time maybe that was the third time we drove through there. I think it was at this point Metallica started playing.”
Sgt Palmer a tall slender man with a face that was far too old for a twenty seven year old, came up to where the two men were talking. His green coveralls where covered in black stains of sweat and blown hydraulic line fluid. He stumbled slightly over the rubble of what had once been a city block which was now smoking and smoldering in large piles of concrete and trash. His right hand was resting on his nine millimeter in his shoulder holster rig, while his left hand was shaking with spent adrenaline.
He pushed his CVC Crew helmet back on his head, and reached into his left breast pocket pulled out a packet of reds and lit one. His hands shook so much he could barely finish the task. Sgt Palmer looked at the First Sgt and said, “It was fucking epic Top. For some reason we couldn't talk to each other over the net, but I could hear his track blasting 'Supernaut' by Black Sabbath out of every available speaker. It was an amazing sound tract of destruction playing out over the net.We felt like were inside a drum with some asshole pounding on the outside with those damn 23 Mike Mikes slapping against our turret and tracks. The optics were shot and you can see our track was spilled all over the road like a gut shot deer. We took three RPG rounds. Two to the engine compartment and one to the blast panels at the back of the turret. When the last one hit, it pretty much put us out of action. It was about this time ' RocknRolla' dropped what was left of the Apartment block on top of those assholes head's. We could hear the building coming down even through the hull. After that the fight went out of them. And out of a cloud of dust and smoke, 'RocknRolla' comes spewing fire from every weapon on his track making sure they were done.”
The Lt, looked at his Platoon Sgt and sheepishly nodded his head. Sgt Palmer handed him his smokes and lighter. After he had pulled a long nicotine burn into his lungs and exhaled, he asked the First Sgt the question that had been worrying him the most since the fight had finished. “Top I ain't in trouble for coming to the rescue of my men am I?”
Grinning from ear to the ear, the Company First Sgt replied, “Well 'RocknRolla', that remains to be seen. I will talk to the Battalion Commander and there will be a hearing on any possible ROE violations. But since everyone for 25 Klicks could hear you and your tank blasting out the tunes and giving fire commands to your crew, let us just say it has been recorded for posterity. By the way it is already on the favorite play list of the BC and possibly the Brigade Commander. But I think you and yours are going to be alright. Just try not to demolish anymore apartment complexes by yourself in the future."