Friday, May 24, 2013

Month 9 Day 24

Notebook entry
marine search, Afghan national army fuel and chow, knocked Jersey barrier, improvised explosive device.

Journal entry
We got up at 0400 because, even though this was about the 5th time we had done this we knew that the ANA were not going to be ready.  They were not.  They didn’t have fuel, nor did they have chow for the journey.  So we were leaving the parking lot an hour late. We get to the friendship gate and the Marines wanted to search every ANA vic, the Major went to unfuck that one and we pushed out the south of the base.  One of the Tractor Trailors hit a cement Jersey barriers and had that stuck underneath it so he couldn’t get out of the gate, another hour lost.  It was now 0900, the time Maj Hesco predicted we were going to be in North Marjeh, fucking idiot.  Anyway we push through the open desert for the first time and I start getting hate mail on my BFT from the range control at leatherneck “you are in our ranges.” Motherfucker, I sent UMCC my route, how the fuck am I supposed to know where your ranges are, also there are about 1 million tire tracks here, if I am in your ranges everyone else must be too.  We had a couple of trucks get stuck in the desert that took us up to about 1400. CLB had a truck spring an air leak, so they turned around and went back to LNK, that is OK because they were useless anyway.  We continued to press on down the road, I start to see farm fields smack in the middle of the desert, who the fuck plants out here I think to myself.  Apparently someone, anyway, I go around so as not to make an enemy out of some farmer, turn right on the original direction of travel and then I see a flash, a bunch of dust and feel the blast.  I called around and everyone in my truck was ok.  The Afghans, doing what they always do, just moving around as they see fit, come up and kick what remains of the IED that hit my truck. It was a 5 gallon yellow oil jug that the Afghans put cooking oil in.  When they kick it about half of the home made explosives come out of the thing, if they had been smarter the blast would have been bigger.  I think that the pressure plate that my mine roller hit was actually rigged to hit a truck coming from the other direction, so the blast didn’t hit my rig, or my roller, just a big blast, bunch of dust and stopped my truck.  That ANA didn’t find anything useful in the house, I reported it up to the regiment and we rolled on.  Again, more trucks were getting stuck.  We were running out of time I was approaching the most dangerous area of the AO, the place where a bunch of the locals had been given their land by the Taliban and thus were effectively squatters, they were not happy to see Americans or Afghans, I had to face the prospect of moving through this area at night if the ANA didn’t get moving, this was especially discomforting because there were a shit-ton of those fields that just allow you enough room to drive through like the one I got blown up on earlier.  I prayed and for the second time in the trip I was really scared.  I found some local trails and out 15 mile long convoy snaked through.  We crossed into northern Marjeh just before dark, sweet.  We dropped off the recon company at FOB Marjeh with no incedent and then pushed on to Fiddlers Green.  We got up there, dropped off our other two companies and then the Major wanted to push back home.  Just before we moved the Major pulled me aside and said some encouraging words to me he said ‘I don’t often complement snot-nosed Lts but you have done a hell of a job on this trip, I know you did basically everything to plan this before we left and the routes that you have been able to find have been great.  I don’t think that there is anyone else on the team who could have done what you did. Well done.’ It was now 2100 and we had been up since 0400 driving since 0600.  I didn’t like the call, but he wanted to puch on because we were ‘close.’ We ended up getting caught in our own dust cloud on the way back and that slowed us a lot.  I tried to tack somewhat against the wind and that made the next 35 km or so a little more tolerable.  The last 3 km we terrible LCpl Zach Rausnitz was ‘smelling the barn and didn’t know where the semi-improved surface was to get to the gate, he was driving really badly, but he was really tired and anxious to get there, we all were.  We were bouncing everywhere cutting across tracks, it was awful.  I apologized to the guys once we made it to the ECP.  The major says over the radio, ‘you are only as good as your last leg’ and Capt Nowak says ‘not so easy without roads’ 1460miles and the last 3 km is what everyone are going to remember.

These look like river-rocks, but there has never been water here, they were shaped by the wind over thousands of years. 
Moving South through Marjeh

the last bits of our Afghans deposited. 

From Left to Right Steve Nowak, GySgt Casanova, CWO2 Soltz

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