Terror in a Cloud of Dust

(Page 2 of 4)

An armored vehicle's cracked windshield
Photo: ob1left/Flickr/cc-by-nd-2.0

Two bomb technicians arrive to clear the blast sight. They put on their bomb suits and send out their little remote-controlled mine sweeper, like characters out of the movie “E.T.”

We roll through the town and continue north. The turnoff to the shortcut is next to an old poultry farm that looks like a chicken’s Auschwitz. Taking a right, we pass the farm and we’re off-road.

The dust starts billowing; it looks like the worst sand storm I have ever seen. I tie my bandana on to cover my nose and mouth. It doesn’t help much, but it gives me the feeling that I’m not eating dust. The sand cakes everything a light shade of tan, and it’s as sticky as the Georgia mud. It’s as if you’d just got a new paint job on everything.

We drive off-road for an hour or so before we come to the road that leads us to FOB Wilson. The Iraqi police checkpoint is empty. Um… did I miss a memo? There is supposed to be someone here. This is considered a danger area; any unscheduled change without notification is considered a hostile act. And to make the situation even worse, there is a concrete T-barrier blocking our route through the checkpoint.

The commander gets the bright idea that he’s going to drive on the shoulder of the road to the right of the checkpoint. This is… unusual. For safety reasons, we never just blaze our own trail when we are pulling security. If a truck we are escorting were to be hit, we would look like complete assholes.

The commander leads the way around the T-barrier, and the convoy begins to follow. Trucks bunch up at the bottleneck. My driver necks up so close to the PLS transport truck in front of us that I can read the bar code on one of the pallets.

Suddenly, there is a blast. I can taste it, smell it, and feel it. I think I am fucking hit. I’m in a daze.

My first sergeant is riding in my truck. After we pull back to set up a defensive position, he gets out and approaches the bombed vehicle. We will have to wait for an Explosive Ordinance Division team to clear the scene of other IEDs before we can remove the hit vehicle. But the first sergeant has to get the driver and passenger to safety now.