From the Soldier side: OK, I'll continue my little story in a second....one topic that seems to come up from time to time in normal civilian conversations...
What a lot of "normal" folks my not be aware of, but the Soldiers, Sailors and Marines I worked with in Iraq were some of the absolute brightest people I've ever met! Each person may have joined for a different reason and had different backgrounds, but they were not just "looking for a job." So many of them joined up after Sep 11, 2001....knowing that they would go to war. Bright and brave....the best America has to offer. Many of them scored very high on the entrance test and could have gone into any MOS the services had...but many chose "combat arms" because they wanted to. It was a pleasure and an honor for me to have been able to work with and lead some of them.
So...back to the Wild Night.
As we rolled out of Camp Gannon, we knew that the local assholeinsurgents knew that we were on the move. There were not that many routes to leave the camp and drive into the city and a Marine Am Trak is pretty damn loud when it's fired up and rolling. The fact that I had not worked with these Marines before and the Army and Marines do things a little different as far as fighting and tactics.... (a fact that looking back on, I would now insist that we at least talk over what we're going to do.)
But, these Marines had done it so many times that they just said: "watch what we do..."
The Marine Grunts were good. They had all their body armor, weapons, ammo, brain buckets, etc and still moved about like they were born that way. I suspect that some of them, like "America's First Sergeant" were born with a bayonet in their hands.
After we rolled out of the camp, we traveled along for a few blocks, made some turns etc and ended up where we needed to go. The back ramp dropped and we got out.
My "terp" seemed very lost and confused. As he started to wonder off in the wrong direction, I grabbed his arm and told him to walk behind me. He did this for awhile, then wanted to walk beside me so we could talk. I had to tell him a few times to talk quieter...but I could tell he was about ready to shit his pants because his voice got higher and he talked faster---kind of like a little girl. I was thinking maybe we shouldn't have brought him along...but we would need somebody to help us talk to the locals.
We began walking down some narrow city streets. There was not a single person or car on the streets. Even in the smallest town back in the US you would have seen somebody....but there was nobody. It was very strange....but then again, at that time people were getting killed all the time for no reason.
As we walked along, my "terp" kept walking out into the middle of the street where the few working street lights were working. I kept telling him to get into the shadows...but I was starting to think he was a retard or something. Did we really need him? Yep, I guess we did. If he got killed, I'd have to fill out a lot of paper work.
Did I mention it was really quiet outside at that time? It was...until a random AK round going off would break the silence. I never could figure out why there was always some asshole firing an AK off for no reason.
We eventually got to a house where we wanted to have a "chat" with the owner. The houses in that area were like so many other areas in Iraq, they were made of brick...desert tan brick...often with a brick wall and a metal gate to protect a little compound.
The Marines sent Private Snuffy (every unit has a Private Snuffy) over the wall to unlock the gate from the inside. I thought that kid was pretty brave. Out of all the hundreds of homes and business buildings I've searched for bad guys as a cop, I was not as "worried" as I was there. In California, most of the time most of the people were not trying to kill me as a cop...in Iraq I suspect they were.
The gate was unlocked and about 5 of us walked up to the front door of the house. The guy we wanted to "chat" with was not a bad guy, but still you had to be alert.
Again I had to pull my "terp" out of the lights and into the shadows.
All the lights in the house were off as we got up on the porch and were about to knock on the door. I scanned around and could see two prone figures on ground next to the house. Private Snuffy had missed the two guys sleeping on the ground. I pointed them out to the security team leader....who got pissed that one of his guys had not seen them, saying: "The Army dude found something you missed!"
The two guys sleeping outside were sons of the home owner....and they were just as surprised as we were. I am so damn happy that they were not bad guys.
So, we talked to the dude and did some "mess kit repair" and got back on the Am Traks. All and all, it was a good mission. Now aren't you disappointed that you read all of this and nothing really bad happened?