We were combat engineers cross trained in construction. In 2004 to 2005 we were the hardest working soldiers in Taji Iraq (Northwest Baghdad “suni triangle). Every day was a combat day and there was always a new and a traumatic experience occurring. It was so bad that when a mortar would land a hundred yards away it was nothing to us; it was like the wind blowing. When someone died there was little morning and we drove on. We all felt like numbers. We built an airfield in Taji, we pulled convoys, and I was the NCO in charge of the guard towers that looked over Castle Gate (gate of MSR Tampa). This is where I received my biggest injury; this is where I witnessed the horror of war.
It was a dark night and the sky was clear at this point. I had been shot at multiple times by sniper fire while in the guard tower and mortared and rocketed which almost took my life and other lives while in theater. My job was to stand in the guard tower on the night shift and make sure that my soldiers are doing their jobs 24/7 and staying alive. I was equipped with night vision goggles an m-16, m-249 machine gun, radio, compass, and one squad member at night.
There was a factory to the right of me that was just about in my range that I would constantly watch for enemy activity. In front of me was an open field that I received a lot of fire from. To the left of me was an Iraqi National Guard unit that did nothing but make me angry for their lack of military bearing and discipline. I saw a convoy rolling in from the north which was by the factory. I lifted my night vision goggles and took a look at the convoy. Before I could react to anything I saw and heard a loud explosion followed by ak-47 fire. It was a horrible ambush set up inside of the factory. I couldn’t return fire because I would have shot one of ours. I then heard a 50 caliber machine gun and a huge explosion of m-16 fire exchanged with more ak-47 fire. I couldn’t do anything for them and I didn’t see anyone go into the factory.
I got on the radio and started calling for support and giving the coordinates of the ambush. I wanted to jump out of the damn tower and return fire but all I could do was watch my soldiers be killed. There was one wounded and one young man at the age of 18 dead with shrapnel from the IED in his stomach. He rolled into the gate bleeding out and died. I felt an overwhelming guilt and responsibility for the death of this soldier and for the ambush that occurred. I feel like it was my fault that he died. If only I would have done my job better I could have prevented this whole thing from happening.
Three days before I was shot at and almost hit and I didn’t return fire because I couldn’t see the enemy. If I would have opened fire maybe I could have killed a group of them and none of this would have happened. I felt devastated and still to this day have a lot of nightmares and flash backs of that night. I have seen a lot of dead bodies and witnessed the enemy being shot, burned and killed but never till that night one of our own. That night I couldn’t sleep and I just laid on my cot and cried.
UncategorizedSeptember 18, 2010