05 March 2008
THE "GUNNER DANCE"
From the Soldier side: For those who've been reading my blog for awhile, you know I think I'm very lucky to have worked with some real honest to God heroes while I was in Iraq.
Mission East Baghdad Part 2:
The "team leader" (I'll call him "W") for the convoy I needed to hitch a ride on was a one of the best leaders I knew in Iraq. He did everything he could to keep his folks alive. One of the people who worked with him on almost every mission is a man I'll call "Big John" the gunner. Now as a team leader, for a very small convoy( 3 Humvees) going into Baghdad 6 days a week, "W" could have taken the #2 position in the convoy and had one of his security teams take the lead...but "W" would have none of that...he lead the way.
(In most IED attacks, the first vehicle was usually the one hit and killed.) For my mission, I wanted to ride with "W" in his truck and have Big John as the gunner. I gave Big John a lot of his weapons training prior to going to Iraq, so I wanted to make sure I taught him well.
The morning that I was to go with these guys, I have to admit, I was a little worried. I'd only been on a few convoys so far, (and I'd been in country 4 months at this time) but "W's" teams had been out about 70 times at this point. I wasn't worried about insurgent assholes, I was worried that I wasn't as good as these guys.
For the convoy briefing, "W" said I'd ride in his truck so we could chat on the way out. I felt good about this, so I loaded my spare ammo and crap in the back seat. Big John would be standing beside me in the gun turret. My secondary job would be to take over the gun if the gunner got hit or anything....so I went over the weapon really quick with Big John. It's funny now he was he teacher... Like where the extra ammo belts were stored etc.
The brief was done and we started rolling towards the big gate on the other side of the camp...to roll out into Baghdad....
To be cont.