|Some of his journal entries....
It’s been a week since I posted my last journal, but I don’t have much to write about. Last Sat. I had two of my wisdom teeth pulled. After taking double the prescribe percocot and morphine pills that the doctor gave me for the pain I decided to catch a flight back to my FOB (forward operation base). It was the coolest Blackhawk ride I’ve had, I was absolutely ripped and I talked the pilots into leaving the doors open. We had four more guys die a couple days ago. They hit an IED, it killed everyone in the humvee.. It’s starting to get a little scary. We made it our first six months with just two deaths and that was plenty. But now just in the past two and a half weeks we’ve had nine more guys get killed, and over 50 wounded. I’m just hoping that I can make it the 75 more days or so that we have left of combat operations before we start packing… just found out that the journalist that was with us a couple weeks ago was with TIME and I guess we're in it check it out
I’ve been at Patrol Base Malon Labe for the past five days. It’s been a quite area since November when we found the largest terrorist training camp In Iraq. Since, we’ve been training the Iraqi Army in hopes that one day they can fight their own battle. There is a lot of down time at the Patrol Base, and it’s impossible not to think of home. Sometimes I wonder where I would be if I would have went straight to college like nearly everyone else. Honestly I think that the Army was the best decision for me even though it sucks not being at home to protect or give advice to my little sisters like an older brother should, not being able to kiss or even tell the girl that has done nothing but support and encourage me to “be all that I can be” goodnight and that I love her, or even missing the small things like breakfast with my grandmother are hard. I can’t wait until all that I have to worry about is making a 10:10 class….
After 232 long, desolate, morose, but somewhat days of tranquility into deployment I’ve decided that I should start writing some of the things I experienced here in Iraq. I have to say that the events that I have encountered here have changed my outlook on life. I would love to tell everything that has happened so far, but I don’t have the time or the memory to do so; so here’s a brief summary: countless hours of absolutely pointless conversations, Turki Bowls I and II (New York Times described as days of constant battle…however true that may be), the reading of some of the most hilarious jokes ever in the porta-jon’s, watching numerous bootleg Iraqi version movies, clinching every time that we ride by something suspicious just waiting to get blown up again, and long waits in the MWR for the phone or computers to only get skipped and having the name of someone that never goes mission getting called in my place.
The most recent mission started out as a 24-36 hour air- assault sniper mission in a known al-Qaida stronghold just north of Baghdad. We landed a few hours before daybreak and as soon as I got off the helicopter my night vision broke, I was surrounded by the sound of artillery rounds, people screaming in Arabic, automatic weapons, and the terrain didn’t look anything like what we were briefed. I knew it was going to be a bad day and a half. Luckily the first day we cleared the city and only had a few guys injured. We detained and killed a couple upper ranking terrorist. The next day we cleared an area that made me feel as if I were in Vietnam. Honestly, it was one of the scariest times of my life. At one point I was in water up to my waist and heard an AK fire in my direction. But all in all the day was going pretty good, no one was hurt, I got to shoot a few rounds, toss a grenade, and we were walking to where the helicopter was supposed to pick us up. Everything changed in a matter of 15 minutes. When we got to the Landing Zone we found out that it was to grown up for a helicopter to land. We had to walk all the way back to the city, and about the time I was opening my MRE (meal ready to eat) I heard an explosion. Everyone started running towards the sound of the explosion. Apparently a suicide bomber had blown himself up killing four soldiers from my squadron and injuring another. Our 36 hour mission turned into another air- assault into a totally different city, the clearing of it, and 5 more days. We did find over 100 RPG’s, IED making materials, insurgents implacing IED’s, artillery rounds, a sniper rifle, and sort of like a terrorist training book and cd’s. The mission wasn’t all bad though. I got a few laughs… Patterson, a really girly guy who was a cheerleader in high school, got knocked down and nearly hurt by the wind of the helicopter. Listening to Dickson recite what was in every single MRE was pretty funny. A cow charged and nearly trampled one of my friends when we were raiding a compound. And lastly, I thought that it was pretty comical that I shot at a guy a long ways out but missed and later after taking his house and using it as a patrol base he offered me Chai and rice.
It was a sad day for the soldiers of 5-73. The memorial started with a couple of “big shots” congratulating us for all that we’ve accomplished. General Petreous, who’s in charge of every troop in Iraq, called us both the most impressive and lethal force in the country. Apparently just the 360 people in my squadron have dropped more bombs and shot more rounds in the 8 ½ months that we’ve been here than the rest of the army combined, but with all of our success we’ve paid with lots of sweat, blood, and sometimes even tears. Everyone feels it when we lose a guy. I know two of the guys that died last week pretty well. One I partied with a few times and the other I went to a school with. Memorial services are always hard… It’s tough seeing some of your best friends trying to hold back their emotions honoring the fallen soldier with their final salute. People used to say to me before coming here, “Ryen don’t try to be a hero, just make it home safe.” I thought to myself that there are only heroes in wars that matter, but now I’m thinking that there were heroes when wars mattered…