Our 2nd annual reunion kicked off in Yonkers in August; members of Bravo and Charlie batteries attended. Yes there was some reminiscing of events that took place. What was particular interesting to hear was stuff of events that took place that True_George did not know about, especially from Bravo’s experience. They had the mission of training the Iraqi Police and they were running a Police Academy in Baghdad. I’ve heard some stuff from Bravo that went on at that Academy. But the experience of others isn’t my story to tell. If anyone from Bravo is reading this I hope you share some of your experiences and be a guest Author on True_George’s site. On a whole, my experiences in Iraq have been humble when compared to most. Yet it is something that can be told. There is lots of stuff that I remember clearly. Since we are in October, this experience took place in October which was the month that I managed to get out of Dodge.
Yep, it was the 2nd week of October that I left the Middle East. The whole chain of events actually started sometime in September. My squad was given the mission to escort a convoy to Camp Anaconda. Pretty routine; we got there and dropped off the convoy. Instead of staying there for the day and to pick up another convoy going to CSC Scania in the evening, our command told us to come right back to CSC Scania. Before heading back we decided to get some breakfast at the Defac (dining facility). We went in the Defac with the Iraqi national who was our assigned translator. He was a teenage boy, his father also worked with the unit as a translator. In the defac some soldiers from other units weren’t pleased to see an Iraqi national in the defac. They gave dirty looks for bringing him in. Then one of the NOC’s (non-commissioned officer) responded, “What is he doing in here?” I said “who?” the NCO said “him,” pointing to the translator. I said “don’t worry about it, he is with us.” The NCO responded “no Iraqis are allowed in the defac, he has to leave.” My response was “fuck you man, he isn’t going anywhere.” Before things escalated, Sgt. R aka Big Country interceded and told me that we should just do as the NCO asked we don’t need any problems now because the command wants us back in Scania ASAP. Okay, I told the translator to go back to the vehicle we’ll bring him something on our way out.
So we deadhead back to Scania. We turned on the newly installed Police sirens that made traffic pull over to the side allowing us to move without worrying about traffic congestion. While on the MSR (main support route) Tamper we came across a check point. The check point was manned by members of the newly re-formed Iraqi Army; as the squad approached the check point. A young Iraqi Solider runs out of the bunker with an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) in one hand. Okay, his going to wave us through. But instead of doing that, the young Soldier turned and directly faced the lead vehicle, which happened to be mine vehicle. The young Iraqi Soldier dropped to one knee and aimed the RPG right at my vehicle. I slapped my gunner Big Lu on his leg and told him to take out the threat. Before Big Lu fired a shot, an older Iraqi Soldier ran out the bunker, slapped the young Iraqi Soldier in the head causing him to drop the RPG; then the older Iraqi Soldier pulled the young Iraqi Soldier back into the bunker. That measure saved that overzealous young Soldier’s life. If Big Lu didn’t get him the other two gunners from the other two vehicles would have gotten him. Given the shear incompetence of the new Iraqi Army I bet that young Soldier is probably dead by now anyway.
So we get back to Scania; the whole mission took us sixteen hours to complete then we get the news that the command wanted us back because fourth platoon was assigned to carry out a special mission’ something to do with of escorting the transporting of detained prisoners, I believe from Abu Ghraib to Camp Bucca. It was also found out that my team was excluded from the mission. What! I found out that the pussy masquerading as a First Lieutenant was in charge of the mission. This Pussy First Lieutenant Noonan has been attempting to get me on something ever since I exposed him as being less than a man after I looked him in the eyes and refused to pay him any military curiosity. He was called out as being a bitch by me well; that’s another story for another time. But since that incident happened he has being going behind my back looking for ways to get back at me, even looking to charge me with destroying a vehicle. I was aware of his activities because the unit’s cohesion and NCO corps was strong; so I was told of his activities against me. Now since he was in charge of this special mission he had some sway over who gets to be on it. Naturally I was excluded. My Gunner big Liu wasn’t too happy; he wanted to be on the mission. So I went to the Platoon Sergeant and told him to speak with that pussy, it doesn’t make sense for my people to be black balled because the pussy has a vendetta against me. He couldn’t exclude my driver because he was the Company’s best driver and his skills were in demand. Thanks to the intersession of the Platoon Sergeant, my Gunner was included in the mission.
It was just as well that I sit out from this mission; it’s been more than six months that the unit has been in country, and frankly I was getting a bit tired of this war stuff. The next morning my thyroid gland became so large that it was a visible lump in my throat. The year before I was diagnosed with having a goiter on my thyroid while being deployed at West Point Military Academy during Operation Noble Eagle ( https://truegeorge.com/2015/09/25/working-vacation/). Perhaps the condition was as a result of being out there in that toxic environment during the after math of the 911 attack on the World Trade Center. I was out there for two weeks (https://truegeorge.com/2015/09/17/911-circus-at-ground-zero/). Lots of responders who were there have developed one aliment or another. I guess I will have to follow up on this with the 911 compensation fund. I decided to go on sick call.
The paper work was filled out and then I went to the medics where a Soldier who was deployed as a medic was due start medical school was fascinated with seeing such a large thyroid gland bulging on my throat. He asked if he can feel it. Well I guess that made his day. I spoke with the Doctor who voiced his concern that the size of the thyroid gland will start to compress the breathing tube; he told me that I have to go to the CSH (Combat Surgical Hospital) in Baghdad’s Green Zone to be evaluated. More paperwork was filled out and I took it to the First Sergeant who told me that he will arrange transportation for me to go to the CSH in the Green Zone.
In the meantime since I was on sick call and with the rest of the Platoon away from Scania on the special mission I thought I would have downtime. I planned to spend my days lifting weights, going to the internet café and passing time in the MWR (Moral, Welfare, and Recreation) tent. But as it turns out, the squad leader of the Company’s Headquarters Military Police Sgt. Richards needed an experienced Driver. So the First Sergeant assigned that task to me. Just my luck, now I have to be up early in the morning going on HQ MP Missions.
As it turns out, being Sgt. Richard’s Driver wasn’t a bad deal. HQ MP didn’t have to do convoy escort operations. Their missions for the day did not take that long to accomplish and was usually accomplished before midday. After the day’s mission was done the squad had great latitude of independence to do and go where they wanted to go. In addition to that the HQ MP made regular trips to the Babil Province in Iraq.
The Babil Province is located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. It is the exact location of Mesopotamian civilization. As well as the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon, the area looked so peaceful and the plants and trees were the most greenish I’ve ever seen. Coalition military units from Central America and Trinidad under the command of the Spanish military were stationed in that area. However, when terrorists blew up the commuter train in Madrid, which prompted the Spanish gov’t to pull their military out of Iraq, the Polish Military took over the command. While in the area there were opportunities to tour the ancient City of Babylon which was still under excavation; also there was opportunity to tour one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces.
In addition to that HQ MP used to do favors and go to the Green Zone for the most trivial matters. Things were looking up, but it was two weeks since the First Sergeant said he would arrange transportation to the CSH. My thyroid gland wasn’t going down in size. I went to the First Sergeant and he was talking some sort of bull shit excuse for not following through with what he said he was going to do. Once again the First Sergeant has shown how undependable he is; or is it that he just doesn’t give a shit. So I took a chance and told Sgt. Richards that I need to go to the Green Zone to get a medical evaluation at the CSH. Sgt. Richards said no problem, after we load up the mail in the duce, we’ll go to the Green Zone so that you can take care of business.
Once in the green Zone we went to the area where the CSH was located. I took my paper work and gave it to the medics; the Doctor who was a full bird Colonel came out and told me that the CSH did not have the capabilities to evaluate my thyroid condition. He told me that he is recommending that I be medivac out of Iraq to the military Hospital in Germany. He told me to get my stuff from the vehicle because there is a plane leaving to go to Germany at 2200 hours. Well, this was unexpected. I didn’t think things would progress this fast. Since Sgt. Richards went out of his way to so that I could come to the Green Zone, I didn’t want to screw him by abandoning him. So I told the Colonel that I cannot leave without informing my Commander. The Colonel said he understands, and said that the next plane would be leaving on Saturday and another one would be leaving on Sunday. He said to return to the CSH on either of those days. Then he signed an order which guaranteed me passage on the plane. When I got back to Scania, I took the paper work to the unit’s admin and told them that I will be taking the plane out to Germany to be medically evaluated on Sunday.
It’s Saturday Morning and I go to the admin office to remind them that I have to be in the Green Zone on Sunday to catch the flight to Germany. Then the First Sergeant told me that he has not seen any paperwork authorizing me passage on the plane. What! Are you kidding? I dropped off the paper work to the office on Wednesday. How is it that you have not seen it? I shouted over to the admin Sgt and said, yo man, where is the paper work I brought to you on Wednesday? He went to the First Sergeant’s in box and handed it to me and I handed it to the First Sergeant. He looked at it and said that he will let me know when I can leave.My stuff was ready, just in case the first Sergeant wanted to be a dick and hold me up I made arrangements with the Platoon Sergeant of 2nd Platoon who had a squad escorting a convoy to BIOP (Baghdad International Airport) that I could ride with them; I’m going no matter what. Later on the First Sergeant came back to me and told me that I could leave and I jumped in and rode with the squad that was going to BIOP.
When I got to BIOP and reported to the Battalion Headquarters, they were expecting me. I was told that they will send someone to take me to the Green Zone Sunday afternoon. One of the Officers told me that my First Sergeant attempted to get my medivac order rescinded; he spoke to various people however everyone he called refused to go against a Colonel’s order. Now I know why he is on the Battalion Commander’s shit list. He acts like a dick.
So now I wait for a couple of hours after that and I was taken by members 1/186 FA who incidentally had their pre-deployment training at Fort Dix at the same time we we were there; to the CSH. Where I took a helicopter ride to Ballad Air Force base with some other sick and injured soldiers and from there boarded the Galaxy C5 transportation to Germany.