25 January 2010

Random Shots…Random Death Part 2

From the Soldier side: you know I realized that when I’m talking about some things that happened in Iraq, it may be difficult or impossible for some good citizens to understand what I am talking about.

For example…take “getting mortared”. How many average citizens who’ve never been in the military understand what that means. Silly me…I just assumed everybody would get it. So, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll take this episode to help explain.

When I say “mortared” that could also mean “rocketed” because most of the time we couldn’t tell the difference and in most cases it made little difference.

A “mortar” is a weapon with a long round tube. Sort of like an artillery cannon. Mortars usually are measured in Millimeters and go from about 60MM to 120MM. A cannon is loaded from the back or breach and a mortar has the round dropped down the top of the barrel. The mortar bomb or round has a firing primer on the tail so that when slid down the barrel it hits the firing pin. This causes the round to launch out the barrel and go off in the direction the weapon is aimed at. I was a mortar man in the regular Army many years ago. It is actually a complicated weapon to hit a target with any degree of accuracy. Most of the mortars fired at us in Iraq were just pointed in our general direction.

Now when a mortar is fired, it makes a heck of a loud noised at the weapon itself. I lost a little hearing in my right ear from this. (The gunner has his right ear next to the weapon when it goes off.) When the bomb or round hits the ground it also makes a very loud noise. In many cases, it’s difficult to tell if a mortar was launched or landed near you if you can’t see the area in question. Sometimes the only way to tell the difference is when debris comes raining down on you. Then you know for sure.

The first time I was at a camp in Iraq that got hit with a Mortar was on a mission before this story I’m talking about (a camp near Tel Afar, Iraq). So by the time we got to the camp this story is about, south of Baghdad, we were old hands and this sort of thing. The folks at this camp had just arrived in Iraq a few weeks before…so when the bombs started landing…many of them got a bit excited and ran to the bunkers. My team and I knew that after the 2 rounds hit, if we were still not hurt, it was over and we were going to be OK. Some of the folks didn’t understand that and it was hard to get them out of the bunkers for hours after the rounds landed.

The closer the rounds were, the louder they sounded…(duh!) and sometimes they landed within less than a 100 meters and the only thing that saved our butts was the tall concrete barricades the engineers had put up. But the rock and shrapnel would go up in the air and come down like rain. As long as you had your helmet and body armor on, you were OK.

OK, now is that a little clearer? Gosh Darn Bad bombs being randomly fired at us. Loud, scary but usually caused little harm.

Now I’ll get on with this story….later.


Anonymous said...

when r u going to show ur face dude?

CI-Roller Dude said...


Coffeypot said...

Do I need to explaing to her or are you going to do it? Some people just can't take no for an answer. I know...I don't.

Paxford said...

Ahhh..so the seriously cool rocket launchers you see in movies are Mortar thingies* then? Good to know.

*thing/ies - marvellous catch-all word that Pax uses when the brain is running slow(er)

PS. who cares about the photo - your real fans want to know if a Kevlar vest can be considered a fashion accessory?

Anonymous said...

what difference does it make to see your face? I love the stories and the way you string words together - what you look like doesn't matter - does it? It is difficult to keep waiting though - the next installment seems so fu--ing long to wait. I didn't do well at the fu--ing clean up your language school either. I'm in Northern CA too. You might stop me going the wrong way down a one way st at 60mph - not drunk - just stupid. Please keep up your stories. lorraine

Hogday said...

But when a Chinese 107 lands, somehow you just know you haven't been mortared.

CI-Roller Dude said...

CP, Some of us know you'll do whatever you want...and that's ok.
Pax, the Kevlar must match the uniform. Example: Woodland pattern and Desert Uniform don't go well, same with ACU and any other pattern...it simply must match.
Lor, Chico area is deff north CA.

Hog, anything over 120 MM makes a difference. Most of the shit they threw at us was smaller... but still caused some to wet their pants.

Amanda West said...

Wow. You make it sound so... Normal?

I don't know if that's quite the word.

Lol. But I guess that stuff is normal to you.

CI-Roller Dude said...

AW, It was sort of "normal".
Go to lunch... then anytime after noon o'clock we could expect 2 rounds of HE (High Explosive) rounds to land somewhere on the FOB.
But wait for the ending...it'll make some folks smile (If you hate terrorist) some folks may stop reading the blog (due to graphic war violence)
But at the time, it was all "normal."

America's 1st Sgt. said...

Let it happen enough times anything can get "normal". We got to where we'd look at the clock and say: "It's 1600. We should be getting mortared within the next two hours or so."

CI Roller, you forget to mention that the reason dirtbags only ever fired 2-3 mortar rounds is because by then counter-battery radar has them dialed in and artillery rounds are happily whistling en route.

Pax, rocket launchers are not mortars. But when explosions are happening around you generally you can't tell the difference nor do you care.

powdergirl said...

Wow, I've only ever had to cover from my own fly material.

Anybody else chucking shit at me would piss me right off.

Anonymous said...

1. Big difference between 82mm mortar round and a 122 rocket.
2. If it lands on top of you, not so much.
V/R JWest

Kanani said...

Well, let me tell you.... the first time I heard from The Hubs that the FST had been mortared, I ran to my yoga class and started sobbing during shivasana.

It was just too scary.

That's just a little anecdote for you. If you see a lady freaked out speeding down the street with a yoga mat in the front seat, you might want to see if she's a milspouse.

CI-Roller Dude said...

Top, I suspect the insurgents at our crappy little FOB couldn't tell time. A few times they dropped in at lunch time, but usually after lunch.
PG, When I was a combat engineer, we had a few dumbasses who did some bad caculations and we had some debris take out the windows on all our trucks. Opps.

Mr West, Yep..

Since I've been a cop, I've never thought of that yoga mat thing...The county I work in has a very small number of Mil Family folks...too much money ( I couldn't ever afford a house in that area.)
What my malemilitarycop mind doesn't get: why go to yoga class to cry?