Monday, August 07, 2006

The Villages

Entering the villages on our way north in 2003 always sent a mixture of fear and excitement through me. As we approached usually one of two things would be happening. The people would ether be lined up waving at us with smiles on their faces or we would be shot at and shelled with mortar and rocket fire.

This village was different though. They were peaking out of their windows and timidly taking steps closer to our convoy, however, that ended rather quickly when we suddenly stopped. I was traveling with an artillery unit and they had just received a call for fire. We were in a small one lane road and unbelievably the Paladins (the US Army’s main artillery pieces) set up to fire right there in the middle of the village.

In my mind I was imagining somewhere about a mile or so, perhaps farther, some of our infantry or armor troops must be getting hit pretty hard to have us set up to fire in this village. It seemed like a dangerous move on our part.

In a matter of minutes the Paladins were hammering out death to hit targets miles away. Vigilant is what I was right then, because I kept thinking that this would be a perfect time to be ambushed, while we were busy killing people we couldn’t even see. Luckily the villagers were not violent towards us or perhaps the godlike thunder of our artillery was scaring them away.

In minutes it was over, and we went on our way as if nothing had happened. All we left behind were the giant shells of our artillery rounds and the spent casing which was used to carry them. Perhaps the villagers thought it was left as a reminder of what we were capable of.

An hour later we finally saw our first glimpses of Baghdad. On the outskirts we could only really see the Saddam International Airport, but it was a wonderful sight. There was a field near what was left of one of Saddam’s Special Republican Guard outposts which we were to call home for our first week in Baghdad.

6 comments:

Jana Lane said...

Thanks for continuing your story. It really helps me to understand what it is like to be a soldier in Iraq.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, for more than just the story.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious: what made you want to become a soldier?

Anonymous said...

sanctity sargeant,

where are you when oui need ewe.......

http://chasemeladies.blogspot.com/

Jana Lane said...

Anonymous: I don't know why Zach decided to become a soldier. The young people who enlist in the military express many different reasons for doing it. Some enlist out of patriotic feelings, some to follow in an older relative or friend's footsteps, others to get money for college and some because they see it as their best opportunity. What seems to be an almost universal response is they learn something profound from their experience. I would judge from what he's written that that has happened for Zach. He has probably always had a tendency to be a thoughtful, philosophical person. I have taught many young people like that in high achool. Some of them decide to find ways to serve their country. As they grow older they learn and change. (Don't we all!) The important thing is to support them as they find different and, for them, better ways to serve our country. I believe that is the support they need from the rest of us now.

Anonymous said...

is hurria stil posting?