02 June 2008

Death in an M1114 part 2

From the Soldier side: I'll continue my story. I have to warn you, this will be somewhat graphic and very sad.
Roberto was the assistant team leader. The team leader of his team was called in for some BS and the mission for the day had been called off. All they were going to do was take the replacement team out into Baghdad and show them around.
Since the team leader was off talking to someone at higher up, the commander felt that the team should go out anyway so the new guys could learn their "AO" (Area of Operation) before the old team left.
What I guess the commander didn't understand was, that when the teams went out into Baghdad, they just didn't go for a joy ride. They always had some kind of reason and a plan on which route to take that day... due to the IED threats etc. The commander told Roberto to take the new guys out even though there was no mission plan.
Roberto was a good soldier, so he gave a crisp salute and said: "yes sir" and told the folks to get ready. Roberto planned for himself to drive the lead truck and to take the new replacement team leader with him along with one other new guy. (Don't even ask me who these new guys were, I never had a chance to even meet them.)
Roberto figured who would ride in which Hummer and threw together a quick briefing: "we're going out to bla bla bla and taking route bla bla bal."
Little did they know that the route picked had been subject to IED attacks the last 2 days. The S-2 didn't provide any useful info (they sucked.) But Roberto drove on with Big J on the gun in the lead truck. With the best gunner in Iraq there should have been no worries.
This is what Big J told me happened as best as I can recall since I didn't take notes:

"We were driving along and got stopped in heavy Baghdad city traffic. The trucks behind us were getting hit with pot shots from some insurgent. I bent over in my turret and told Roberto that the rear trucks were taking fire. Roberto started driving up on curbs etc to get moving. However, were were still getting pinged with small arms fire.
We finally started to move and came up to a lane merge. Roberto slowed a little to see if any traffic was coming then.... a big flash of light. I felt like I had been hit in the head. I hurt all over and was starting to collapse in the turret. I remember looking down and seeing that Roberto was not in the drivers seat, but the truck was still rolling. I couldn't figure out who was driving because there was nobody in the drivers seat. This was really strange. (the IED had vaporize Roberto).
The truck continued to roll, then stopped when it hit something. It was on fire, so I knew I had to get out. I was still falling down, so I fell into the back seat and knew I had to get out of the truck because I didn't want to be burned. I knew I had to get my SAW (M-249 machine gun) but I couldn't stand up and reach it. I was trying not to pass out. I got the back door opened and sort of crawled out of the truck. The new team leader and the other new guy were crawling towards a ditch.
We all got into the ditch and I told them I didn't have a weapon. They had weapons and said if anyone came over the top of the ditch, they were going to shoot them. We all thought we were going to die in that Goddamn ditch. A few minutes later some soldiers who must have been driving near when we got hit ran over and yelled at us. They came into the ditch and I passed out."
That was about all Big J could remember from that trip. He got pissed off when our first sergeant called his wife back home and said he might have lost his leg in the blast. It wasn't his bones they saw when the medics finally saw him...they were Roberto's bones. Big J was burned really bad, but as I told him he was pretty ugly before, so nobody would notice.
So, the next time you hear of a soldier of Marine getting killed with an IED on TV, think about what went through their minds. This was Roberto's 150th plus mission into Baghdad. I don't even think he had counted how many times he had gone out. He was supposed to leave 2 weeks after he was killed. The new guys with him had not even been in Iraq more than a week or so. The new guy in the second truck in the convoy got hit 2 more times after this and never got a scratch. He's an Army Reserve who volunteered to go back again. It's not how do soldiers and Marines get through a tour, but how do they go back again and again that I can't figure out.


Hope said...

i know that was hard for you to talk about, but I lso know your memeory of Roberto is a fine legacy for his time here on Earth. He won't be forgotten becasue of soldiers like you and that's how it should be.

How is Big J now?

J said...

That's so sad. Roberto is very good man that will be missed very much. It's so hard to understand...
Good leadership is vital.

Thank you for telling his story.

It's June 8th today. It's good to know that Roberto will not be forgotten...you're a good soldier D, and I know you're really proud of Big J...