Battle of Fallujah, ROE:
From the Soldier side: Dang, I just looked back and didn’t realize how long I’ve been doing this blog thing. Most of my early postings started out pretty short as I did them between other things and tried postings to coincide with either my year in Iraq or my Bosnia deployment.
I consider myself pretty dang lucky in so many ways. I think part of my having survived Iraq was I was attached to a regular army battalion (which actually had less experience that my national guard battalion, but got us better equipment and living quarters-when I was in Baghdad)
The real “luck” came when my team and I were dispatched to Fallujah, Iraq in Dec 2004. We were to replace a regular Army team that was there working with the US Marines. That Army team was totally burnt out and after we had about 2 days of “training” they let us take over. The Marine Gunny Sergeant who we worked for was a cop in Florida when he wasn’t in the Marine Reserves. He was a great person to work for and I thank him today for showing us how to keep alive.
One day the Gunny asked me if I could have my team ready the next morning to go into Fallujah. The Gunny has some Marines in town he needed to check on and bring out their Christmas mail and stuff. He said if we took our M1114 Armored Humvee along with his we’d have the “2 vehicles for a convoy” that the rules required. Looking back I think 6 armored humvees all loaded with machine guns would have been a lot better!
We were ready right after the morning chow. My guys were a little nervous I could tell, but I couldn’t show that I was…I was the team leader and I figured: “What an adventure!”
I had another NCO, an enlisted man and a civilian “terp” for my team. The enlisted dude told me that he had never fired the M-249 SAW machine gun, so I gave him a quick class and we fired a few practice rounds into the dirt berm. Fully qualified, right? Wrong.
Just before we rolled out of the camp, a few very special guys jumped in the Gunny’s vehicle. These guys were very, very special…so special I can’t even say who the heck they were. These special guys did things like eating snakes and stuff and were extremely good with weapons. I felt really cool just being near them.
As were prepping to go, the Gunny gave the convoy briefing. This included how and where we were going and the Rules Of Engagement. If we were to stop at a Marine or Iraqi Police check point, our vehicle was the rear of the convoy--- no civilian vehicles were to get within 50 meters of our convoy, or we were to fire on them. Wow! Deadly shit.
On the way to town, we stopped at several check points. My gunner, the enlisted dude allowed 2 civilian vehicles to not only approach us, but to drive around us. This really pissed off the “special” guys and they yelled at my gunner and really abused him. In the old days, we might have given him and asswhoppin’.
We got to town with few problems (a sniper story for later) and so on the way back I told the team that I was going to man the machine gun in our vehicle. This seemed to make everyone happy because everybody figured I could pull the trigger if needed. I don't know why people think of me like that, I'm really a nice guy.
We made it almost all the way back to the camp, when we stopped at the last check point. The Marines were screening civilian vehicles, so we were held up awhile.
All of a sudden…here comes an Iraqi Toyota van flying up the road towards our convoy.
I swung the gun around, raised my left hand to signal for them to stop…
Taking my right hand and pushing the safety off……the van was still coming and not braking.
Oh shit!.... a VBIED? And bunch of terrorist with AKs? I didn’t know…
I leveled the machine gun out, bringing the muzzle towards the van… starting to put pressure on the trigger…
Something wasn’t right. I didn’t sense a threat, but I had to protect the rest of the team. If I let a car bomb hit us, we’d all be dead and some asshole would get to meet Allajha…(I knew I was going to hell.)
Just as I was getting ready to give a 6-9 round burst of 5.56 MM rounds, a Marine ran up yelling: “Don’t shoot, that’s the mayor and his family…don’t shoot!!!”
Wow. OK, go back to opening presents and drinking egg nog…. And think how lucky were are today. Merry Chistmas!