Separating Kuwait from Iraq they had several huge chain linked fences that went as far as the eye could see in either direction. Once we past the checkpoint at the border, I noticed a hand made sign on the side of the road that said "Welcome To Iraq. Good Luck"
Entering Iraq was like entering another planet. In Kuwait, from what I saw, the people lived pretty nice, they looked content and they drove in luxury cars, and the streets were nice, but right when we entered Iraq all that changed, it was like what Kuwait would look like after the apocalypse. There was a small little village right on the other side of the border (if you could call them that) were literally made out of mud and garbage, and as soon as we drove thru the village there was a handful of filthy homeless looking Iraqi kids begging for handouts. "Mista! Mista! Water? Mre? Mista!" I felt bad for those kids, they don't have a chance in hell growing up in an environment like that. There was also a bunch of sick looking animals (like sheep and cows) walking around amongst the village.
This convoy/road trip that I am on right now is from Kuwait, over the border into iraq, up thru iraq, all the way to Baghdad, thru Baghdad, and to some small city some where north of Baghdad in the infamous sunni triangle called Sammara. We will be conduction missions in Sammara and the surrounding area for the next several months. Should be interesting.
On this convoy I am the M240Bravo machine gunner for the Headquarters First Sgt's Hummvee. If we get ambushed or IED'd on this convoy I screwed, because I heard that these guys like to target Humvees, and plus I didn't have one of those metal shields in front of my gun for cover. In fact I had no cover. But besides all that I was pretty excited about this gig, because riding on the back of the Hummvee allows you to do a lot of sightseeing, and I was pretty excited to be driving thru Iraq. The reason why I joined the Army was to experience Iraq, and now I was. So I my spirits we're pretty high for all this.
At fist we were driving on a cement freeway, kinda like the freeways back home, but there was absolutely nothing to look at on either sides of the road except miles and miles of absolutely nothing as far as the eye could see. Every several miles would be a small little shack made up of weathered scrap plywood and sticks, set up like a lemonade stand and these shacks were like mini convenience stores, they sold cigarettes and junk food. And every one of these would have a couple Iraqi kids hanging out by it. I wondered where these people lived, because I didn't see any houses for miles and miles. Strange. Every time we past one of these kids, they would jump up and down and wave at us enthusiastically. Which was weird because I thought Iraqi's hated Americans, but these people seemed to be ok with us entering their country, and in fact applauded us, which felt kinda good.
I was also surprised that the street signs were in English, with Arabic also written underneath. Of course several of these signs had bullet holes in them. This free way we were on was a major convoy route, on the other side of the street going the opposite way we would pass fuels tankers and all kinds of military trucks and vehicles carrying all kinds of stuff. Every now and then one of them would wave or honk at us. There was fuel points set up all along the route we were on and every couple hours we had to stop at a fuel point to refuel. At which time we'd have a couple minutes to take a piss real quick up against one of the tires, and scarf down an MRE as fast as you could.
Since I am a machine gunner on this hummvee, my job is to keep an eye's open for any possible threats, like for example freeway overpasses, I had to make sure nobody is up there with an IED, hand grenade, rocks, or god knows what to throw down at any of us. Every time we approached one of these overpasses I would have the M240 fixated on it, and then right when we drove underneath it, I was swing the gun around and have the gun pointing at the overpass as we drove away. They say these guys like to throw stuff down at us on the other side of these overpaths. Every time we'd approach an over path, my heart rate would go up, and every time we'd drive away from one I'd feel relieved.
What was cool was we had several Army Kiowa Helicopters with us hovering not too high above us during a majority of the drive. It was cool watching them work, flying up and down the freeway.
We passed a lot of evidence from war all along the way. There would be destroyed tanks and military trucks and vehicles of all kinds just abandoned along the sides of the freeways. And some of the Freeway over paths were peppered with bullet holes, and sometimes you'd see a streak of bullet holes across the freeway itself. I'm thinking those bullet holes probably came from a plane or helicopter something.
The only non-military vehicles that shared the roads with us were civilian convoys and beat up third world looking buses packed with Iraqi people. The women would be wearing the traditional all black dresses with the head veils. They'd all look at us with wonder but as soon as they realized you were looking at them or made eye contact, they would look away. The Iraqi men were a little different, they'd stare with wonder as well, but they wouldn't look away if you looked at them, and if you waved at them, they'd wave back. That kinda thing.
We drove all day today, stopping only to refuel. Then at about the same time the sun was kissing the horizon, clouds started appearing out of nowhere and it looked like it was going to rain, which it did. The cement road that we were on, now turned into a semi paved dirt road. Once the sun went away the temp dropped dramatically. I was wearing like a neoprene ninja mask thing to keep my face warm and undearneath my DBU top I was wearing snivvle gear, but I was still freezing cold, the wind chill didn't help either. Once it started raining I was in a world of discomfort. Especially when my cloths started to get soaking wet with freezing cold water. I've honestly never been this cold before in my entire life. My whole body was shaking, and parts of my body were going numb. At one point it got soo bad, that I swear to god I was actually hoping that we would get ambushed or IED'd so I'd be put out of the misery that I was forced to endure at the moment. It sucked.
Then finally, really late at night, we pulled into a little fuel point in the middle of nowhere to get a couple hours of sleep. We pulled into this muddy fuel point and parked the vehicles. It was raining really hard right now. I grabbed my sleeping bag and a cot, and tried to sleep underneath huge truck that was parked next to us. Right when I had the cot all set up nice and was ready to fall asleep without worrying about rain falling down on me First Sgt came up to me and told me that, that probably wasn't a good idea to sleep underneath a vehicle and to find somewhere else. So instead, I set the cot right next to the humvee and grabbed a pachco to cover myself with it while I tried to sleep with the rain and the cold. Even though I was extremely tired, it was too cold to fall asleep. So I smoked a couple ciggerettes, which I don't know how they did it but they kinda warmed me up a bit. I barly got any sleep that night, it was like half sleep. Tommorow we wake up at the crack of dawn again and drive non stop all the way to Baghdad. Cant wait.
This was a journal entry I wrote in my Field Book on 05DEC03
Thank you for sharing your experiences with us cb, they bring back a lot of memories for me.
thank you guys at patriot files for allowing me to share some of my experiences here in Iraq with you guys. This is a great website and I recommend it to everybody.
Thank you for your service to our country, first and foremost. Secondly, allow me to say that writing this during Iraqi Freedom was a wonderful idea, and history will remember you and your fellow soldiers for what YOU do, write, and say.