Hello from wonderful Afghanistan where the weather is nice and cool and the action is very HOT!!! Shall I begin my story?
Ok, today is Friday 19 October and I am back in Gardez already. We have been here since Wednesday night. Yes, we were out only 1 day this past week. I shall tell you why.
We brought along another vehicle with us because we needed men and we could use the help. We brought 4 extra men and another vehicle with 2 machine guns. We did our usual thing, stopped off in Chawney, got commo loaded and told them when to expect us to come back through. Nothing out of the ordinary. Yes, my team leader is still on leave so that leaves me as the ground commander of US forces in the area. We go to Spina Shegha and since we get there early, we go over our defensive positions and plans and then brief the ABP on what we are going to do in case we get attacked. I told the ‘guests’ that I cannot guarantee their safety and that I expect to get attacked tonight. (Prior to leaving Gardez, I had each soldier tell me they wanted to go and knew what to expect. I didn’t think I had to do this but it was more of a CMA thing).
Well, we brief the men and I get ready for bed. I go to sleep at 0830 and wake up at 9. I stayed up until 10 to make sure the guy with the first guard watch gets up. He does at 10 and I go to sleep. I wake up at 11 to pull my shift and then I wake the next guy up at midnight for his shift. I am just getting to sleep when all of a sudden I hear a loud explosion and feel the building shake. We yell ‘Contact’! Get your gear on! While we are getting our gear on, I hear one of the .50 cal machine guns open up on the NW side of the building again. We all run to our fighting positions and I tell the 2 medics with us to stay in the vehicles and when I need them, I will come get them. I run to my vehicle on the NE side with my terp and then start sending a message to higher HQ and request CAS (Close Air Support) and I tell them that we are in contact with 6-8 men with RPG’s and small arms.
While we are fighting, CAS comes on scene in the form of 2 F-15’s. They can see us and ID us on the ground and can see some bad guys in the area to our NW about 35 meters to 200 meters away. He can see them through the night vision and thermal sights. We tell him that they are bad guys and to drop ordinance on them. He can’t because the risk of fratricide was too high. I tell the men to quit firing the .50 cal and engage targets with smaller arms. During this time, we are firing flares into the sky and this lets us see the bad guys. After 20-30 minutes, I call a cease fire and we listen. Nothing. We wait another 30 minutes and listen. During this time, I am relaying info to higher HQ. We are still pulling security when I get a message telling me to leave and go to Chawney. I’m like; this does not make any sense. I call higher and ask them to say the last transmission again . They tell me to leave. I tell them that I cannot leave the ABP and we must protect the building and ourselves and that the fighting has temporarily subsided. I get a message giving me a direct order to leave. I state my objections for the record and then tell the men that we are going to leave in 10 minutes.
We get ready to leave and then when we are leaving, I get another message asking why we have not left the area yet. I tell them that we are in the process of leaving right now. We are driving without any lights (since there is still enemy in the area) so we use our NVG’s (Night Vision Goggles). The first 2 vehicles make it down ok. The 3rd one, however, tries to turn to go downhill and his steering goes out and he heads down and flips the truck. First on the driver side, then the TC (Truck Commander) side, roof and then again on the driver side and TC side and lands on the roof. We immediately turn around and go to help. The truck is on the roof and gear, ammo, and weapons are scattered all over the place. I see the gunner come running up to our truck and I tell my driver and gunner to get out and help while I send info to higher and get help. I call higher and request a MEDEVAC to come in for the injured.
I am pissed off at this point because 2 of my men are now injured because higher are jerks and they did not want to listen to me. Oh, sorry about that. We get the passengers out of the vehicle and start treatment. The driver is ok, the gunner is scraped and bruised but the TC, a doctor herself, is hurt badly. She tells us that she has a dislocated shoulder and then the other medic starts treating her. (We find out that the driver tore his rotator cuff, the doctor dislocated her shoulder and the gunner had some head and back injuries).
We get her stable and then call and update higher and the MEDEVAC. We tell higher that we are going to get her on board and then leave the vehicle and go to Jaji. They tell me NOT to leave now and they are sending recovery assets to the area. We are like, ok; whatever. Finally, an hour later, I can see the birds coming in. We mark the location of the LZ (Landing Zone) on the road. They start to land in the field and I immediately tell them to land on the road because the field is mined. They listen and land on the road. I tell the crew chief what the extent of their injuries are and then both my gunner and TC board the chopper and leave. My heart sinks and I go numb. I feel it is my fault.
I walk up to the top and then just go off by myself for a few minutes. The other medic comes up to me and we talk and she assures me that I did, in fact, make the right call to drive blackout. She knows that we were in a firefight and that I made the right decision. I just feel it is my fault and that is should have been me that was hurt and not her. Deep down, I know that I made the right call because if
the bad guys saw us leave, they would have ambushed us hard and more of my men would have been hurt or even killed.
The recovery vehicles arrive and we tell them where the fight was from and then they start to recover the humvee. They go out and do a BDA (Battle Damage Assessment) of the area. They find firing positions, blood but no bodies. They used the same fighting positions as last week.
We go back to Chawney and get there at lunch. I am not hungry even though I have not eaten anything since early the night before and I have had less than 1 hour of good sleep. This is when I hear of the injuries to my men. I start to cry when I hear this. Good thing I had sunglasses on. I feel it is my fault and that I am responsible. DAMN WAR!
We eventually leave Chawney and drive to Gardez. We arrive around 2045 and eat and then I send reports. Three full-bird Colonels talk to me and want to see if we are ok and how our wounded men are doing. They are all nice to me and it is getting around that I am making a name for myself and my team of all the good work and firefights that I have been in. People here know me now and my name is almost synonymous with going out and getting shot at. Haha, What we call FOBBITS and Badge Hunters want to go out with us so they can try to earn badges and awards and all. Fobbits are people that never leave the FOB for one reason or another. Badge Hunters are not too bad because they can’t go out and earn badges without being attached to someone else.
I go out and then try to go to bed. I finally fall asleep around 0130. I go to the TMC (Troop Medical Clinic) the next day because my ears are ringing and hurting and my leg is hurting from where I fell during last weeks firefight. It is mandatory that after a TIC (Troops In Contact) that we get checked out by the doctors. They look at my ears and my tympanic membranes are healing and my leg now has bruising on it and has scabbed over. I have to go get an X-Ray done on it to see if the bone is fractured or chipped. It is not.
We are grounded now because 1) the area is just too hot right now. 2) we do not have enough men and 3) we do not have enough vehicles to roll out now so we are all taking this time to do paperwork and get our gear all situated and other things around here done while we are here.
Well, I was hoping that I could write and tell you all that it was a very slow week here but this was not the case again. Talk to you all soon!!!
-Major Jason Carter
Jason lives in Hazel Green, AL with his wife, Linda. He has served for over 20 years and had a total of 41 months active duty deployed after 9/11/01. He is a senior buyer in the electronic manufacturing industry and serves his country proudly in the Alabama National Guard. In his spare time he likes to metal detect, not only to stumble upon a few treasures, but to learn about the history of a place as well. “My greatest hope is that we all remember the sacrifices soldiers make to each othe