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Published: March 25th 2013
Letter No. 4: The driver rushed the cordon and . . . 'Blat! Blat!' I fired twice
By David J. Jenkins, USU class of '98
December 20, 2004 � H
ello everyone. Greetings from Baghdad . . .
Well, as I was just telling someone in a personal e-mail, it is always calm before the storm. I have been hesitant to send this message out, as it has been a tumultuous week.
Our platoon was assigned to a cordon and search. Our two Scout platoons were "asked" to go downtown and apprehend some known bad guys. The Recon element did the search and siezure, and our Shooter element set up the cordon, blockading the street in front of the hit site and searching suspicious vehicles and pedestrians.
Our vehicle was parked in the middle of the street, blocking traffic. Our dismounted patrol, including me, was positioned at either end of the vehicle to offer friendly suggestions to the drivers of vehicles that may not have noticed the 10,000-pound truck in the middle of the road; the dozen or so soldiers with semi and fully automatic weapons; and the flashlight beams, swirling and spinning through the air, used to make our whereabouts known.
We drove to our position through the dark of night, finding a solitary street lamp in front of the building to be searched. We sat there, like a scene out of a 1940s detective novel. Each of the doors opening and soldiers emerging simultaneously, fully laden with combat gear and rifles at the ready, locked and loaded.
I positioned myself at the front of the vehicle, away from traffic. The other dismounted soldier took up position at the rear, staring into the face of danger. As vehicles would approach our blockade, we would step out, wave our arms and if need be, raise our weapons. Most of the vehicles approaching would stop in mid-movement, back up and find alternate routes. Until there was one.
The four-door sedan emerged, out of the darkness. The vehicle, approaching our blockade, wasn't slowing down. The young soldier at the rear of the blockade began yelling commands--first in English, then Arabic, then English. Our security soldier in the turret of the vehicle, equipped with a high-power flashlight, issued warnings as well. The vehicle did not cease, did not slow down. It approached our blockade at approximately 40 mph.
I was watching my sector when I heard the first shot. I stepped around the front of the vehicle to see my counterpart at the rear with his weapon raised. I saw the small vehicle bearing down on our position.
Two more shots fired. I instinctively raised my weapon to my shoulder; in one fluid motion, switching the safety switch to "SEMI." BLAT, BLAT. Two shots fired. Only a split second to make that decision.
The vehicle continued past our vehicle into "no man's land" gradually slowing down. As the weapon came out of my shoulder and back to the low ready, my thumb clicking the switch back to safe, I turned and proceeded to run after the car. I caught up to it 25 feet past our vehicle. I once again raised my weapon, but this time, only using it to slap out a warning against the passenger window.
CLICK, CLICK, CLICK.
The metal struck the window and the driver turned, eyes wide, staring directly at me. He placed his foot on the brake pedal and the vehicle began to slow down, until it finally came to a halt. I stood there in front of his vehicle, staring him down, weapon pointed at him. He sat there, not moving, probably wondering what was happening.
Our medic and my squad leader both approached the vehicle at the same time. They opened the door as I slid around the front of the vehicle, my weapon still poised into my shoulder. I came around the front of the car toward the driver's door, rifle focused on the driver, waiting . . . just waiting.
They pulled the driver free of the vehicle, carefully trying not to touch his right arm and shoulder which were now bleeding profusely. Our medic sat the man on the curb and with aid from my squad leader, began first aid. My squad leader turned to me, saying, "It's OK." I lowered my weapon and returned to my post. Within minutes, an ambulance was on the scene. Through a torrent of shouts and accusations in Arabic, the soldiers continued to render aid as the ambulance wheeled around, whisked the injured man up and rushed him off.
Shortly afterward, our Recon element emerged from the building. They were escorting six men from the building; blindfolded and wrists bound with zip ties. These men are on a list (similar to an APB). Once apprehended were rushed off for questioning. Our Recon Platoon also recovered a large stash of cash and weapons.
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