Wow. It's been so long. I apologize first off. Bit of reasoning for it, partially do to laziness. Otherwise to do to conditions out at a COP. Also, it's really quiet lately and there's not too much to write about. No complaints about quiet.
Well, we endured yet another mission change (number 6) as we were attached to our Charlie Company. That meant we got to go live out at their Combat Outpost (COP). Basically a few local's houses that we took over and have built up. Our mission there was to patrol another neighborhood...right as we had begun to make really good progress in our old one of course (we had gotten in good with several sources, detained a few bad guys...then whoosh. New AO). In addition to that, we were tasked with security for the COP. As far as that went, we made quite a few improvements to the towers at the place. Added some bulletproof windows and more camo netting. Nothing mentioned to us about that, of course.
The new neighborhood was a bit more harsh than what we were used to. More IEDs mostly. We found one fairly small one during the changeover patrol (where C Co guys came out with us to show us the neighborhood). No real damage to the truck it hit. The guys in the truck wanted to do it again...some people are just crazy, though.
A few days later we found another one (27 Sept). Went off behind my truck and right in front of the one behind me. Thankfully set off early. It was a fire extinguisher full of HME
surrounded by around 6 mortar shells. Thankfully little damage to the truck and the guys in it, outside of some wide eyes and painful eardrums. Afterwards, though, we set up to look around for the wires to the IED and try to figure out where it was set off from. We went to talk to a family down the street (a girl had run from our convoy as soon as we turned the corner...good chance she knew what was about to happen). We got a lame excuse from the family about sending the girl to the market (not that she was anywhere near nor heading towards it among other things). Not too long after we began our interrogation, we heard another boom. A hand grenade had been thrown at one our trucks (mine as it turned out). Me and the guys with me go running back towards the explosion, all while my trucks are shooting at rooftops and suspected positions. We get to the corner (we were set up in an "L" on a T intersection) and see my driver in a heap next to my truck. Not moving. Not good. First thoughts were that I had just lost a guy. We closed in and see that he's concious. If you're breathing, you're generally going to be ok on today's battlefield. And he was breathing.
O'Hara (my driver) had been pulling security to the south for my gunner who was facing east. Still not sure why he was on the south side of the trucking doing this, but he won't make that mistake again I'm sure...or let anyone else. The grenade hit off the cage on top of the turret and landed at his feet. He had the priviledge of watching it come off the roof and hit the humvee. I assume not moving much do to being in awe of what was happening. He ended up with shrapnel wounds to his abdomen (the blast went under his armor), legs, arms. Thankfully missed the most important part by 1/4 inch. He also ended up having about a foot of intestine taken out. He's back in CO doing well, though. Slowly recovering and I'm sure eating more Tabasco right now than he should be (he darn drank the stuff and always carried a bottle with him).
The rest of the time with C Co went fairly smooth. We did a few raids that ended up as nothing. We stayed away from any more IEDs. And generally enjoyed the looser attitudes there.
We're back with Delta again. Nice being back in our old neighborhood. We're doing a lot of work right now with the CO, taking him around to set up local militias. Same concept used out in Ramadi, hopefully it'll work here, too. Ramadi used to be the worst place in Iraq, now one of the safest.
So our "extension" (past the normal 12mo) started mid October. Since then, we've lost two Soldiers. One from A Co and one from D Co. From A Co, we lost SSG Fontenot
. My platoon took him pretty hard. We were attached to A Co for the first few months and everybody generally loved the guy. He did a lot of good things helpin our platoon get incorporated into A Co and was just a really good guy. From D Co we lost PFC Iwasinski
. He was attached to our platoon for a couple weeks. Also went to basic with a couple guys in the platoon. Needless to say that one was hard for them. We've had an eery trend, though. There's been a scarily high number of guys that were attached to our platoon...that won't be coming home or were injured badly. They all loved serving with us, but it's seemed to be vex on them.
Well...the title's "Grinding Down". We're closing in on less than a month to go before we head home. To say the least, the guys, as well as myself, are ready for it. We've headed past the "wow, this is fun" stage and are fully into the "let's go home" stage of things. Every mission now brings us very close to that, and every time we hand out paperwork related to going home boosts morale. They know it's just one less obstacle they have to do to get out of here.
If you made it this far, I posted a few new pictures. It's a pain to do so there aren't many. But there are two new photos of myself as well as four of my guys doing a cache search. Found nothing as usual. But it was a nice walk in date palm orchard.