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Published: March 25th 2013
By David J. Jenkins, USU class of '98
December 20, 2004 � H
ello everyone. Greetings from Baghdad . . .
Ramadan was coming to a close, and we were entering the last three days.
These are known as the days of power. Command issued a warning and recommended that all soldiers wear all their protective gear, even while conducting routine business around the patrol base.
These commands to gear up aren't always received with exhuberance, but are always followed to the letter. We received the order sometime in the afternoon. Our squad was scheduled for a "re-fit" day, and weren't required to go out on mission that day. One of our soldiers was here at the internet lab and I was off trying to locate a phone (since the phone building burned down), when the first RPG (rocket propelled grenade) cleared the patrol base wall and exploded; this was immediately followed by another, and then another.
"Hey, I gotta go... we're being bombed." I hung up the phone and ran out of the building. People were emerging from their trailers with full battle rattle on; bullet proof vests, helmets, etc... I was clear across post from our building, and began thinking, I need to check in. "Anyone here have a hand-held radio?" I looked around to see the many people standing around, all shaking their heads in response.
Our thoughts were interrupted by the, DA DA DA DA DA DA DA, of the automatic weapons in the guard towers. Then, TAT TAT TAT TAT, of the AK-47s outside the wire. The sounds of war began erupting all around us.
I looked around to see if there was any immediate threat, and finding that the excitement was primarily outside the wire, I began making my way back to the house. Keeping my head down, I ran across the compound to the back of a semi-trailer. I stopped and looked around. Then again, I ran. I ran across the gravel until I found sanctuary behind a concrete barrier. I kept up this rythm all the way back to the "house," making my way from barrier to building, as to avoid any stray rounds that may wander into the patrol base, until I reached the house; all the while, the RAT A TATS echoed all around me.
Once inside the house, I was confronted with chaos. People runnning around, looking for their gear and loading their personal weapons. "Up to the roof, up to the roof." Someone was shouting over the din.
"Wait!!!" I could here the sound of my Lieutenants voice bellowing through the darkness. I moved in that direction to find him at the base of the stairs. "We have enough people up there. Get your men off the roof." he was saying to one of our squad leaders. "Sir," I began. "I believe my squad is up topside." He turned to look at me. "Your whole squad is up there?" "Yessir."
"Then go," he retorted.
I made my way up the three flights of stairs. I emerged from the stairwell to find every inch of roof ledge occupied by our recon element. I turned to the annex roof and saw my squad leader and our dismount soldier setting up the machine gun. I took position beside them and there we sat for two hours, scanning our sectors, listening to Baghdad erupt all around us.
Two hours later, all was quiet on the southern front. The guard towers began calling in reports of non-activity and we realized that the "battle" was over. Our platoon met in the dustbowl to report our accountability to our platoon leader, and we were once again released to resume our individual activities.
I made my way back to the phone to make a second call. "I'm alright, everythings okay," I reported to the answering machine. "Everything is going to be just fine."
David J. Jenkins
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