Today’s post is going to be a little different. I’m going to share an experience with you guys. The experience that I am going to share with you is from my point of view. I will be giving this story as it happened to me. This post will be about an event that would change my life forever, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded under the vehicle I was in. For the sake of privacy, I will not be using the real names of the individuals involved. If and when they read this, they will know who they are. I will start off with an introduction of each individual, just to give you a glimpse of their personality.
We will start off with Matt, I mentioned him in my 2nd post, he is and will always be an inspiration to me. He was the Vehicle Commander and also the Platoon Sergeant of the Platoon conducting the operation that day. He is a funny guy, but when it comes down to taking care of his troops, there’s no playing around. He was truly a leader that cared about every aspect of his soldiers. They’re not many like him.
The Driver of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) was Justin. He was new to the Army. At this time he was 18 and only an E-2 (PV2). He was Brand Spanking new to the Army. He was a damn good driver. If he wasn’t, then he wouldn’t have been driving for Matt.
The personnel in the back of the MRAP was myself, the coolest guy ever. I was tasked to be the Troop’s intelligence gatherer. I was also the Troops Raven Pilot (if you don’t know what a Raven is, just go to google and type in Army Raven). Sitting beside me was Henry. He was an awesome section leader. He always took care of his guys. He is one of my good friends, but if you ask him if we’re friends he will say No. That’s the type of Un-friendship we have. I know he had my back so I felt very comfortable with any tactical decision he made. Sitting across from me Ashley, she was the Tactical Humint Team (THT/Human Intelligence) Leader for our Combat Outpost (COP). She was very down to earth and everyone was trying to get to know her personally (I’m sure you already know what I mean) because she was 1 of the only 2 females we had on the COP. But of course she shut them down, but some how she caught the eye of a great dude. I’ll leave it there, I don’t want to put that type of personal business out.
Last, but not least was Frank. He was one of the best medics we had in the troop. It took him a while to open up, but when he did, he was hilarious. He tried to stay to himself, but being apart of Anvil Troop, that’s not going to happen.The last person and one of the most important people was Jason. He was the gunner of the vehicle. He could teach a monkey how to operate every weapon system we had. He was that thorough and took his job as a gunner very serious. At the time he was only a specialist, but the guy knew his shit.
There are many other people I will be talking about in this post, but I will stay focused on the 7 of us.The First Sergeant we had at the time was an awesome one. We will name him 1SG Bob. Great leader, nobody better not come to his COP and say something about his guys, he would rip your throat out. The thing with 1SG Bob was that he could chew your ass like he hated you, then 2 minutes later he’s back to normal like nothing had never happened. In the military we call that”the switch”, he knew when to turn it on and when to turn it off.
Now this is where the fun begins. I will not be mentioning specific places due to confidentiality and I don’t want some black SUV’s pulling up at my door. I was approached by my Commander and he said that he wanted me to go out with Red Platoon for a 5 day Operation. We were to do some overwatch of a village. Our movement during this operation was going to be at night, so he wanted me to fly the Raven in support of their movement. I said okay. I went to look for Matt to let him know that I would be going with him on this operation and I started asking questions about where he wanted me and what I needed to do to help the Platoon get ready for the operation.
1SG Bob is looking for Matt to let him know that the 5 day operation was scratched and we would only be going out for a day patrol to do some key leader engagements. Matt pulled the platoon together to let us know the updated plan. Of course before you go on a patrol you are to take with you a 72 hour bag. All the stuff you needed to survive, socks, t-shirts, Meals Ready to Eat (MRE), sleeping bag and Pogey Bait (junk food). Once I got my bag packed I asked Matt where I would be located in the convoy and he said you can ride in my truck. I knew everyone in the truck so I felt very comfortable about being around these individuals. The whole platoon and the Troop Commander gathered in the motor-pool so that we could receive the safety brief and go over different scenarios if something happened. When the brief was done everybody loaded up. Matt radioed to the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) that we were leaving and how many personnel that was going and how many heavy weapons we had.
We exit the COP and started our movement to the village for the key leader engagement. Before we could get to this village, a Route Clearance Patrol in front of us they found an IED. After sitting there for about 20 minutes, Henry asked if he and his squad could dismount and conduct some patrolling. Before he got out he asked if I wanted to go and I said yes. We got out, Henry put out the orders of what he wanted to happen and we started our movement. As we’re walking through a farmers field we heard a single gunshot. When Henry heard the shot, we sprang into action to find out where the fire was coming from. As we were trying to get to that location, we had to cross over this ditch full of nasty ass water. The Afghans use this same water to drink, poop and whatever else they feel like. It smelled bad. Henry crossed and it was my turn. The water was waist deep. After crossing the ditch, we finally found out that an Afghani soldier had a negligent discharge.
The route clearance patrol had finally found the IED and wanted to Blow in Place (BIP). While they are doing this, Henry and the rest of the dismounted squad are pulling security, because there were reports of the person who implanted the IED was on a red motorcycle. We see a motorcycle, but couldn’t get to him fast enough. He was eventually stopped, but it wasn’t the guy that implaced the IED. Henry radioed to Matt for additional instructions, Matt wanted us to come back to the vehicle because our “wise” Squadron Operations Officer, wanted us to go hit a target. The only intel we got was that he had recently used his cell phone so they triangulated where they thought he was. At this point Matt is pissed, because that was not our mission. He and 1SG Bob talked it over and he explained to Matt the reason why Squadron wanted to go to this location. Matt finally said okay, but he was still pissed.
We got the whole convoy turned around and started our movement to the target location. While we were making our movement, the second vehicle got stuck. FYI, this road we were on was not meant for MRAP’s. After spending an hour or so trying to get the vehicle unstuck, Matt made the decision to return to the COP. As soon as he got off the radio, he received another transmission from 1SG Bob that Squadron wanted us to go back to the location of where the IED found earlier that day, because they received a tip from a local about the individual that placed the IED and we needed to capitalize on this opportunity. Of course Matt was livid. It was hard enough trying to get on this road, now we have to turn around! It was a slow and tedious process. After getting all the vehicles turned around and back in the correct order we started our movement to the village.
While we are making our way to the village, we were all talking about some interesting topics, which I will not disclose. We finally reached the road and started our movement to the village. Jason informed Matt that there was a little kid on a bike riding along our vehicle. Jason threw out some candy to him, but he kept following us. Maybe it was a warning, we didn’t know. After traveling a few kilometers all of a sudden there was a large explosion that made our MRAP go airborne. Once the vehicle landed, Matt asked if everyone was okay. No one answered, he then said again is everybody fucking okay. We replied we think so. What’s ironic, that throughout the whole patrol, Jason’s gunner harness hook kept coming undone. So myself and Henry kept putting it back in place. When the IED went off it caused him to be sucked into the vehicle landing on my and Henrys laps. Jason stood up and started cussing and was mad as hell. He threw his helmet, because he was so mad.
At this point Matt said we need to get the hell out of this vehicle because it was on fire. Jason helped everyone out of the vehicle. I had to cut myself out of my seatbelt and cut my vest that held my ammo because it kept me from getting out of the turret. Once I got out and climbed down, I tried to take a step, but fell. I knew something was wrong with my foot. I thought I had torn my Achilles tendon. I crawled away from the vehicle. Henry and Frank helped everyone get out of the vehicle and Frank sprang into action; prioritizing the wounded. The most critically wounded were the driver, Justin and Matt the Vehicle Commander. We were the last vehicle in the convoy so it took a couple of minutes before the rest of the convoy realized that we had been struck by and IED.
Once they realized what happened they turned around and setup a 360 degree perimeter for us. Ashley sustained a head injury, Justin sustain a gash in his forehead, Henry banged up his knee, I broke my heel, Justin broke some vertebrae in his back among other injuries. Matt broke his arms and either broke his ankle or heel, I’m not sure. The person calling in the MEDEVAC was Jim. He called back to the TOC so the TOC could get the MEDEVAC aircraft to our location ASAP! What seemed like hours was only about eight minutes when the helicopters arrived. On one helicopter they put Matt, Ashley and Henry; on the other helicopter the put me and Justin on it. They flew us to FOB Shank to be triaged. They immediately started working on Matt and Justin. An Air Force medic walked over to me and asked what hurt and what my pain level was. I told him that my foot hurts and on a scale from 1 to 10 on a pain scale, it was at 50. He then said that he was going to put some medicine in my IV that would relax me and somewhat control the pain. He then said don’t forget to breathe (I think he was trying to make a joke) As soon as it entered my blood stream, I was high as hell.
After everyone was triaged, they informed me, Matt and Justin that we were going to be taken to Bagram and then eventually sent back to the Army Hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. Once we got to Bagram they let us call our families to let them know what happened and the approximate time we would be home. After spending the night at Bagram it was time to be transported to the Army Hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. Before we loaded the aircraft everyone was given their purple heart by the 82nd Division Commander and Command Sergeant Major. They loaded us up and we took off and about 9 hours later we arrived in Landstuhl. Now the recovery starts.
I know that this is a lot of information to comprehend, I just wanted to share this experience from my point of view. Enjoy!