From the Soldier side: One of my fondest memories from Iraq took place one dark and hot night in July 05. The Marine dudes we were staying with invited my "terp" and I to go out with them on a night "job."
They told us that morning, so we rested the day...well as much as we could rest in 116 F heat with few places to cool off. At that time I'd given 50 bucks for an ice cold bottle of water. To this day, my friends and family still don't understand why I really want my cold drinks as cold as I can get them--- frosty is good. If water freezes at 0 Centigrade, then give me a glass that's at 1 Centigrade and I'll be happy.
Anyway, back to the mission. We were to go out after it got good and dark. For this job, we'd ride out in the Marine Am Traks. They were a giant beast, but they gave me a lot of comfort from small arms fire and things that blow up. I really don't like getting shot at or blown up.
We'd have a platoon of Marines for cover, whilst we made contact with some local citizens (in regards to "mess kit repairs"). I asked if my team could go along for the experience, but the Marine Staff Sergeant I was working with thought my team was too young....I explained they'd never get old and crusty until they did some crazy shit. He still didn't want them to come...for some reason he felt I would be OK.
Our only "drag factor" was my "terp". He was 55 years old and not the brightest guy in the world. He spoke Arabic and English very well, and this contractor job paid a hell of a lot more than the donut shop he'd worked at for the last 20 years. But, he was slow to move and not very observant when he really needed to be. He thought he'd only be working in an "office" for his job...little did he know he might actually have to go out side a camp or FOB and earn his pay.
In my "rest and prep" time, I made sure my weapons were ready to go...which they always were...but I checked them over again anyway...just because.
At about 2200 hours, (10 PM for some of you) we loaded the Am Traks. Our "cover" mission was that we were delivering water to some of the locals. The water pipe feeding most of the town had been broken for weeks...so dropping off cases of water was a good gesture. (hell, we didn't even have running water on our shitty little camp).
To be cont.....
Note: Update: It appears that some readers are not able to figure out what "Mess Kit Repair" is. It is a special MOS in the US Army. And that's all I'm going to say about that.