10 March 2008
THE "GUNNER DANCE" part 2
From the Soldier side: Well, I took a few days off from "blogging" (where did that word come from, sounds like someone got sick on the computer...He blogged all over the keyboard.) Well, I got complaints that I was taking too long getting on with this story. Now don't forget, it's not the job, but how you had to get there that made for the "rush" and adventure.
Gunner Dance: Part 2. As our convoy of 3 Hummers exited the main gate, we paused to charge our weapons. I chambered a round in my M-4 and my M-9. I had field stripped both the night before to clean them and make sure they were in perfect order...I knew they'd work if I got the chance to test them. I was sitting next to "Big J" who was standing up in the turret with the M-249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon- which is a gas operated belt fed 5.56mm machine gun) pointing forward and around in a 180 degree arc.
As we got further from the base, local traffic got worse. Remember, Baghdad was the worst place in Iraq and it had more people in one city than Bosnia had in the whole country!
I had heard that suicide bombers would ram a car full of explosives into convoys, so every time a car came at us from an intersection, Big J would spin around the gun and hold up his hand and blow a whistle. He was so big, 6-6 and over 250 LBS, I think he scared the shit out of a lot of would be suicide bombers just by his size.
The entire time we were driving, Big J kept spinning and jumping around in the turret always looking for a threat and keeping cars and people away from the vehicle. He never stood still...not for one second.
It was hot and I was sweating just sitting on my ass in the rear passenger seat....even with the AC on full blast. I know Big J was getting a work out. Every once in a while he'd yell down for me to hand him a bottle of water from the ice chest. He emptied a few liters in a short time... and still kept dancing around.
Every time a car came towards us, I would get ready to drop my window and point my M-4 at the car and fire if it didn't stop. But there was never any need for me to take any action since Big J had us covered.
45 minutes later, we were at the FOB where I had to do my investigation. I still can't discuss that, but the chow at that FOB was some of the best I'd had in Iraq. I completed what I could do for the day, as we had to head back by 1500 hours.
We loaded back in the Hummers and drove back. Big J doing the same dance the whole way. One Iraqi pulled in front of us and seemed to not know we were behind him...trying to pass. This is what we called in Civilian Law Enforcement as a "HUA Driver" (Head Up Ass) So the team leader told his driver to give the car a little "tap" to get his attention. That did it and the idiot moved out of our way. I so wish I could do that back home in the patrol car...and don't think I haven't been tempted.
We made it back to base without incident. I got out of the Humvee feeling very tired. I looked at the 3 gunners, the drivers, truck commanders and the team leaders and thought:"these guys do this almost every day and I just did it once and feel worn out." (this would not be my last ride) Those guys were real heroes.
OK, I've gotten a request for a cop story...so I'll have to work on one...