Monday, May 23, 2005

Deathly Afraid

It was March 20, 2003 just hours before we crossed the border into Iraq. My teammates were all doing different things. One of them was on guard duty around our two trucks, one was working in the back of our HMMWV (or Hummer as they are called in the civilian world) which we simply called "the system". The system was our operations vehicle with lots of various equipment that we used as Arabic translators. I had just finished shaving. You can't imagine how painful it is to shave with a dust caked razor and only cold water...

Our other vehicle we called our "chase" vehicle. The reason for the chase vehicle is that if we had been over run with enemies we were to destroy all the equipment in our "system" with our thermal grenades and high tail it out in our chase vehicle (a regular un-armored HMMWV).

There we were minding our own business when up drove 2 marines. They were honking and screaming, "SCUD!!!" They were also wearing full chemical gear (a suit, mask, gloves, and boots to protect from a chemical attack). We had never moved so fast in our whole lives. Mask, suit, boots, gloves we de-contaminated our exposed skin with our packets of powdered charcoal (the charcoal is supposed to absorb any chemicals which may have gotten on your skin).

We called in that we had been slimed and got in the back of our chase vehicle. The SCUD hit pretty far away, and we heard the explosion but couldn't see where it had hit. So we sat there, scared out of our minds. I spoke first, "OH, SH**! My face is burning, I just dry shaved but maybe it is chem. How do you guys feel?!?" One of my friends answered, "holy crap, I feel it too! I just shaved about an hour ago, maybe it is just the charcoal on my cuts?"

Then we opened the back flap of our HMMWV and saw how hazy it was out there. "OH F***! Look at how hazy it is, is that dust or chem?" Asked my other friend. The three of us just kept sitting there scaring each other even more with every observation.

The fourth team member was all suited up in the back of our system. We sat there scared stupid and then we got the call over the radio that it was a false alarm. No chem! We were so very relieved, sitting there covered in black charcoal and sweat. Happy and hugging each other and shouting because we were alive. Yeah, back with the rest of our platoon we got the snot teased out of us, but hey, they weren't there with us, they didn't know...

To this very day when the four of us get together we still laugh at how scared we were. Turns that yes, my face was just burning because I had nicked it only about a million times with my razor, and no it wasn't VX gas or chem, it was only a small dust storm. Just one of the "good" memories from the war...

4 comments:

Jodi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jodi said...

wow, good thing it was just cuts not a chemical.

TEACHER SOL said...

Death scares me too, it frightens me. Death is an irreversible truth, but most of us don't want to die. For our loved ones, and for the good times that we are still going to share with them, we want to stay alive...stay alive Zach! We're with you.

Tina said...

My husband and I just sent off a huge care package to our Marine friend Chris. We hope that it helps him a little bit, but when I talk to his wife, it seems like he is so miserable and so fed up with everything, while he tries to make his letters to us sound happy and upbeat. He is currently "guarding" a dam somewhere (as you know, he can't tell her where he is while on the phone) but we pray all the time that he comes home to his wife safe and unharmed and as the man he was before he unwillingly left her. I wish that for all of you there... and someday, if we keep pushing for the truth (maybe the Downing Street Memo from the UK will get the ball rolling) you can all come home and the Neo-Con and Religious Fright insanity that has a death grip on our nation will be overthrown by common sense and respect for our Constitution. Come home safe, thank you for your service, and keep letting us know how it really is over there b/c God knows, our corporate media does a bad job of telling us the truth.