We spent the first three months in country at KNB. It was, for all intents and purposes, boring! We conducted base security sometimes working close with the Kuwaiti Navy. This base was a major hup point for the Navy and Marines to ship their equipment and personnel to Iraq, to the fighting. We watched a lot of equipment, tanks; armored personnel carriers; boats; troop carriers; even combat motorcycles, move in and out of this base. A lot of Marines and Sailors. We talked with Marines who experienced the action in the front, in Iraq during the ground assault phase of OIF and they told us some stories. I have to admit as a soldier who spent a majority of his 20 year military career training for a war that at the time did not seem like any reality that I would know, I was a little envious of the Marines. I had heard stories from war vets and read numerous books and articles, plus what I saw from TV, but never in my life would I have thought for a second that I would face war as a reality. I had always thought that this would be a good experience for me, for any man. The lessons that could be learned from the experience of such an event, and the stories that could be passed down to the next generation, but as I, as any other soldier might have learned, there is no glamour in war, and the only thing we have to learn about this war is that too many people suffered for no reason.
There were rumors going around that the MP unit that we were attached to that was in Iraq had been receiving a lot of casualties due to insurgent attacks, and that they had lost several people. They were operating in an area about 20 miles South of Baghdad (inside the Sunni Triangle). This area was a major supply route of Coalition Forces going North, South, East, and West, (MSR). This was an area of frequent attacks by the insurgents. Our mission was to put a put an end to these attacks. In July 2003 we convoyed North, North to Iraq, to our new home. On our first mission, I remember seeing a lot of uncertainty in soldier's eyes. They were scared like me; I believe that all of us had a case of the jitters. I remember the first time we received indirect fire from the insurgents. I was lying there in our hootch resting up for my midnight hour guard watch when all the sudden the ground around us shook with a loud bang. Someone yelled out, "Incoming," after that the mortar attacks were pretty much a normal occurrence.
The MP unit we worked with at Camp Kalsu suffered numerous casualties, mostly FROM IED'S. I remember this was always fresh on my mind during missions because we always patrolled the same routes. I remember very vividly the day after we experienced our first mortar attack having a dream in my sleep that we were patrolling UXO alley and all of a sudden the ground just swallowed us (explosion). I awoke very rapidly. Later that day it had become knowledge to me that one of the MP's had been killed in an IED attack at the very moment I had this dream. This was very hostile country indeed; it reminded me of the wild, Wild West. I remember sitting there after our missions listening and watching the flicker of tracers out on the horizon from our little FOB and sometimes hearing the cracking of gun fire or an explosion. These were common sights and sounds in Iraq. Then there are the people. They can be cruel and heartless to their own. One day on a mission we found an Iraqi who had just been executed. He had one bullet in the head and one in the chest. He had been blind folded and his hands and feet were tied together. We predicted that he was shot during our change of the guard and thrown into an area in which we always patrolled (the insurgents were always aware of our ao's and routes since they blended in so well you could never tell who was friend or foe). We always used to visit an Iraqi boy and his family who lived in our ao, but after time we could not be seen at his house because of fear of insurgent reprisal attacks on his family.
Iraq was like I said the Wild West. My senses were always on high alert, and the pucker factor was always extreme. At one point in time the insurgents were offering to pay the locals to frag us if they had the chance. It is a shame that there are cultures with this mind set, that they would be willing to sacrifice their own family for a cause. I spent a total time during OIF in theater of 1 year in country. It is an experience which is forever engrained into my memories and which I will never forget! especially the soldiers who did not return.