American Soldier says,
There are no men in black here. This area that I am in is a slum hole. Some areas are built up like shacks upon shacks. Hidden nooks and holes in many of the walls for snipers to take pop shots at you. The roads are all tore up from IED’s of old or recent explosions. Every turn you take is a turn you take with ease. You turn the corner and a trash mound could be a hidden IED within it. The people look at you with such hate. Where is the winning of the hearts and minds? The children wave and we wave back. With any luck they will see that we have tried to help their people. We pass by and they yell out and chase the vehicles and cry out “mistah mistah football….candy.” Sometimes we throw something from the turret. The gunner always vigilant and on guard but will give the occasional smile and wave to the future of Iraq.
Cars on the roads pull to the side and put on their 4 way blinkers as a sign that they understand you are passing by. We often get cars that will refuse and we utilize our escalation of force. Typically they stop but others try to test us. The crack of a .50 caliber machine gun round whizzing past them usually does the trick.
The men look at you like you are dirt. We look upon them with the same respect, never giving into their stares. We stand ready to fight, as we always come to this gun fight with knives, small arms, machine guns, pyro and other select death delivering devices. When we do fight we fight to survive. In this area there is no such thing as surrender for these people. They want to kill you and that is no joke.
The warriors that I fight with are war hardened and some have seen the worst of humanity just as I have seen. Staring down the barrel or through a scope and acquiring a target is old hat now. We have been placed in a war that takes our brothers from us. Every mission is different than the last and we ensure and do what we have to do to come back into the wire safely. Sometimes we all don’t make it back but we will still stand with the strength to go back outside the wire the very next day.
Many nights I have watched the sunset fall in this land of turmoil. I have seen the beauty here and I have seen the hope of the people. We have a very long road before the sun will set in peace here. I sometimes think as the sun goes down what will become of this place. Long after we do leave here, will these children make a difference or fall into the same footsteps of their fathers, brothers or uncles before them? I would only hope that the children I have seen will persevere. With any luck they will build their squander huts into houses. They will cover the holes of their kin’s death devices. I would hope that they will respect their woman as we do in America.
I read in the news about the things happening in the US and I think that the subtle bickering that the left and right is miniscule compared to the issues that Iraq has right now. Will there be a day when the Iraqi people will have nothing better to do than argue about the things that we as Americans have so much time to debate about?
The enemy is all around. They are the ones that look at you with such hateful eyes. They are the fathers of the children who love you. They lurk in shadows or are the ones that will sell you Chai. They will fight you with masks or without. After the fight they will go back to their order of business just as we do. They will regroup just as we do. They will prepare for another day of fighting just as we do. What are we truly fighting and why I ask myself? I am sure they feel the pain of loss just as we do when we lose a fellow warrior. Make no mistake about it, I am not putting them on the same level as US Soldiers but they must think in a similar fashion when the fight is done and the sun finally sets or rises for that day.
I sit here in the middle of a dangerous land and the familiar sound of a chopper coming in to deliver yet another casualty not to far from my room. I hope that soldier will be ok. You never know but it is a reminder of the war just outside the wire.
A land in turmoil and fighters on both ends prepare for yet another day of missions. I live for the fight now. It is all I have. I don’t count the days until I go home. I prepare within the hours leading up to the next mission. My day is segmented and I live for those blocks of hours. I can’t be optimistic when I go outside the wire. I have seen the battles and have endured the losses. I do my best and have no doubt my soldiers do as well. They have proven it but sometimes all the fighting and training still ends with a loss.
There are no heroes here; we just do what it takes to come back alive. Some get medals and some will never see them. Medals are nothing more than a reminder of the day in which you did something that you have been doing all along, surviving.
The man in black is a myth