This was the worst attack we had in terms of potential threat to the troops.  I think there was one round during our deployment that landed close enough to slightly injure one soldier, and there was one attack that managed to hit some of our aircraft on the airfield, but the damage was not severe.  But there were many close calls.  One time we were flying from Balad to Qayyarah Airfield West, about 30 miles south of Mosul, which was a former Iraqi Air Force base in the Nineveh Governorate of Iraq which our troops generally called Q–WestWe were flying in for a high-level meeting between our organization’s general staff (me and my peers) and our brigade and group commanders.  The aircraft that my chalk (passenger group on single a military aircraft) was in had just lifted off the airfield in our departure from Balad when we heard the base’s attack warning siren go off.  We later learned that a round had landed somewhere on the airfield in the few seconds prior to our lift-off.  God was certainly watching over us that day.  Since we were already in the air, we continued on to our destination to Q-West.  The rest of the chalks that were in the other aircraft (we were all flying in Sherpas) were 45 minutes to an hour behind us since they all had to scramble for cover and wait for the all-clear siren before they could re-board their aircraft and take off. 

There was another time when I was with a group that had a close call on or near the airfield.  I was on a Air Force C-130 flying back in from Kuwait to our base in Balad, Iraq, after my mid-tour R&R had ended.  About five minutes before we touched down at our base’s airfield, I heard what must have been the flares being fired from the sides of the C-130.  These flares would be fired whenever the aircraft was under fire or simply when the radar systems detected that an enemy radar or weapon system was trying to lock in the aircraft for a target.  In either case, the flares would automatically fire, giving off a heat signature that would attract any missiles that might be subsequently fired at the aircraft, thereby avoiding a disastrous hit.  After the flares fired, the pilot then started doing some crazy maneuvers, which I assumed were standard procedure evasive movements that would make them a harder target to hit, but we landed shortly afterwards.  As soon as we landed, the crew scrambled us all off the back of he aircraft’s lowered cargo ramp and into a bunker by the airfield.  We didn’t hear any more rounds and never heard the story from the crew about what exactly happened up in the air, but the all-clear siren came after about 45 minutes.  We then continued on to the bus that would transport us back to the reception station where we would be debriefed, would be arrived into the automated personnel tracking systems, would recover our duffle bags that had been on pallets on the C-130, and would then return to our units to get back to work and finish out our deployment tour. 

So with the exhausting work pace and the constant stress and danger, we were continually exhausted with very little respite.  The commanding general did gradually pull back our resources on Sundays and allowed our headquarters troops to keep a lightly manned presence in the operations cell, and he dispensed with the all-hands twice a day briefings on Sunday which were required for every other day.  He only required that we would update our briefing slides on Sunday morning which contained our various reports on our areas of responsibility as they applied to combat operations, and he would then be given a paper copy of the slides early on Sunday morning so that he still had an up-to-date picture of the combat situation, which included:  the combat intelligence and weather report; any incidents by any of our units spread throughout Iraq in the past 24 hours; any combat operations of the two brigade combat teams that were assigned to us; the logistics situation for supplies of our units; our logistic support of units we were responsible for throughout Iraq; and the status of our units’ people (to include unit manning numbers, new casualties, the medical progress or medical evacuation of the previous day’s casualties, awards numbers, and the progress of our R&R program which gave troops a chance to return home for a 15-day rest in the middle of their tour).  In any case, that brief rest on Sundays was very welcome and became increasingly important as our combat tour progressed. 

I pray that your Sunday would be peaceful and restful, refreshing your spirit. 

 


Comments

Sunday is beautiful day for workers and holiday is my favourit day because i spend this day according to the desires. Rest is important and outing is passion of many peoples. We should also go out holy place for worship of God.

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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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