THE LITTLE ONES
Its 1000 am and nice out for a winter day. I watch the cigar smoke rise as I sit under the camie netting and see the sun poking through. It’s quiet, peaceful and scary how quickly it can turn ugly. That thought is gone now and we are flying out the gate on yet another convoy. Chest tight and ready for anything. “Where are you, you little SOBs, I know your out here.” I think to myself. There is an approaching convoy on our road and we will need to move over to make room for the 7-ton trucks approaching. I don’t have to wait long for an answer to my thoughts as the traffic coordination is interrupted by a 155 artillery shell detonating under a 7-ton truck of the oncoming convoy about 200yrds ahead. The explosion was a very bad sounding noise as you feel the pressure hit your chest. The kind you really don’t like to hear regardless of the distance it is from you. The truck disappears in a cloud of smoke. The radio erupts with chatter. A few small arms bursts are heard but no big gun fight as of now. As we approach the area there are Marines everywhere on the deck injured, some reacting to the threat even though they are injured, some down and hurt bad. We continue to push up to help secure the area but now have to hang a left to push up because the exploded truck is blocking the road. As we turn the enemy ambush expands as a smaller 81mm mortar detonates on the front of my truck. Another ambush on us as Haji will commonly ambush reaction forces. Everything goes into slow motion, chaos is everywhere. My first reaction is ohh F#$@! and I begin communicating on the radio to the other units with casualty reports and to maneuver elements. Past training and experience goes into motion and takes over like Im on auto pilot. Everything is consumed in a black cloud and it sounds like a front loader tractor is dumping a bucket of dirt onto us as the windshield spider webs with cracks, and the vehicle lifts partially off the ground and dirt settles on the hummer. Shrapnel is in the glass windows and chucks of hummer are on the ground. The gunner is slammed to the deck of the truck screaming he’s been hit and doing a kinda flopping chicken dance on his back. One of the passengers in back pats him down and tells him he’s ok as his Kevlar shoulder pads saved yet another Marine from shrapnel wound. “Now get your butt up there and return fire damn it” he is told. The inside is filled with dirt and smell of explosives. Another truck begins engaging the identified trigger man as he tries to run and hide. We expect a third IED as we continue to maneuver. Some were wounded slightly by shrapnel to the face and body others, well others weren’t so lucky.
There are many Marines and Soldiers that won’t come home with us from Iraq. They knew that could happen when they came to Iraq or deployed anywhere else and they accepted the fact. It’s the family’s that need the comforting. The little ones who don’t understand what happened to daddy and why someone did this to him, why him?. Frustration, sadness, anger, fear is just some of the feelings our family members go through back home. A little warrior who tells you so eagerly that “my daddy was killed in Iraq” with a smirk and innocent stare, not really knowing what they are saying or what it really means because their daddy isn’t there for the holidays or doesn’t come around any more and you can feel the child’s words pierce your soul….. They are the tough one’s, the heroes.
We take the fight to the scumbags and stomp major mud holes in their ass! That’s why they rarely fight us head on, they know they cant win. But it’s the family’s back home who take a blunt shot even if their Marine doesn’t get injured with the usual media reports it doesn’t help one bit pushing everything negative and pointless. We have countless hours of professional training and have the best equipment in the world. Back home their foundations are built on faith, spirit and guts. Never wavering and true to support the cause, they defend their spouse like cornered tigers and that’s on a good day. But the worse for them is the “not knowing”. Routinely many details are withheld from us to them for their best interest and ours. Its just better that way sometimes.
We as a grateful nation are indebted for past and present warriors. We also need to remember the mother that lost multiple children in past wars and the widowed wife and children of today’s conflicts, now facing challenges alone and scared.
There aren’t easy to spot as they carry on with their lives using what they have learned being a military spouse. Calloused and strong, they are tough and seasoned. However, they still can use your support, especially around the holidays. Pray for them, tell them thanks. It isn’t easy being green and its even tougher being a spouse. Its quiet, peaceful and scary how quickly it can turn ugly.
Keep Attacking, attack again, never stop.