Thursday, August 03, 2006

Leschi Town Part Two

The hail of gunfire that had been coming from all different directions finally ceased. The three of us stood in the one room office building, dim against the bright sunlight outside. Where the light shone in, the dust in the air was highlighted in rectangular spotlights beaming at angles through the room. We'd already knocked a few things over to give us more room to shoot through the windows, and now one of the squad leaders was entering the room. It was time for me to search for weapons, explosives, or intelligence. The body of our downed enemy was already searched, so while everyone else was doing their thing, it came to me to search the rest of the room. I started tearing open lockers, kicking trash out of the way. Garbage from MREs. Tearing open drawers, the metal loudly bending and popping as only cheap thin metal appliances can, the sounds echoing off the concrete floor and walls. One desk was on its side, and its drawers were stuck shut, so I went around to the other side of them and kicked their back end to jar them loose. I rifle my hand through the first drawer, nothing. I repeat with the other, grabbing and tossing at objects in it. Suddenly it dawns on me. These are mousetraps. I yanked my hand out of there, envisioning that piece of metal snapping shut on my knuckles. No thanks.

Nothing of importance turns up in this building. The platoon sergeant makes a decision as he looks at me. "You. You're hit, you've got a sunken chest wound."

Great. I get to play casualty AGAIN. With that, I drop to the floor and go completely limp and stare off into the nothingness that hides just before the ceiling. Guys come over to give me buddy aid and I don't bother to look at them or assist in any way. I remember seeing the MRE trash and the unused beverage bag sitting on the floor, now on the far side of the room away from me. I absently wonder if anyone will think to use that as a flutter valve, which you SHOULD do for such a chest wound. They tear my body armor off (which apparently wasn't effective according to this simulation in which I was magically wounded after we had eradicated all enemy forces) one of them holding my upper body up, while I sag, another putting a field dressing on my chest.

A field dressing? Might as well use a damn bandaid. Now they need to get me onto a litter (stretcher) but there isn't one within immediate proximity, no medic. They rip up part of a cubicle and lay it down. Two guys lift me while another slides it underneath. One of the guys is a member of the team I'm attached to. I'm not even sure who the other dudes are even though I know all of them. I'm badly injured, so I'm not looking around. Hell, I decide that I feel like being in shock. They lift me up and attempt to get me out the door, but this ghetto litter is too wide. So what do they do? They use their furniture moving instincts and turn it at an angle, one dude trying to hold me on as I'm sliding, and they walk me out the door.

The view of the ceiling is cut away by aggressively bright blue omnipresent sky and a few tree tops, a corner of a building here, rubble and a ruined car there, a face under a kevlar helmet, its all just peripheral details. They slide me into the back of a stryker, then slide me onto the bench and do away with the litter. This is all distant, all minor details. Really, the viciously bright calm blue sky turned into the white ceiling and shade of the stryker, panels of ancient looking equipment and the engine noise. It takes off and I shift with the vehicle, making no attempt to stay on the bench. I'm a casualty, I'm in shock.

The vehicle stops, they transfer me onto an actual litter, and put me in the back of a 5-Ton truck, where other casualties are eventually collected.

At the After Action Report, I was noted as being "the best casualty ever". Really not that hard. Its like being a heavily sedated cat. Lay there motionless and expect everyone else to do everything for you, and make no effort to correct their mistakes, instead lay there, indulging in how great you are, above the pitiful means of physical exertion.

A later mission we did at night was also pretty cool, but quite uneventful. I was on the ground outside the stryker pulling security, facing the woodline. The strobelight of machine gun fire lit up the area in front of me slightly. It was cool. THIS is the army, not the other 99% of it. Fuckin awesome.

Behind me, one of my buddies are injured in some way and placed on a litter. Two guys are carrying him to the stryker when the one in the back starts to drop him but doesn't let go and ends up skinning the bejesus out of his hand. I laugh quietly to myself. TWO guys are cas-evac'ed, one for real. Hahahaha. That's the only highlight of that mission.


julie anna said...

Good posts. I remember a trip out to Leschi town. I met the Iraqi's that came to America to participate in training our Joes by making the town more realistic. Very interesting experience. At the time the Iraq war was fairly new and I didn't know what the hell to think of them. Some of them couldn't speak English. They were just as fascinated to see American civilians.

membrain said...

Excellent post as usual R. Glad you didn't lose rank BTW. I'm sure you know of Buck Sargent, currently serving with a Stryker brigade being deployed to B-Dad. But if you don't here's his addy.
He's well worth reading. Take care. No drinking;>)