Before now poetry has taken notice
Of wars, and what are wars but politics
Transformed from chronic to acute and bloody?
from "Build Soil"
Robert Frost

Sunday, March 25, 2007

FRAGO

**Sad post. Fair warning.**

A FRAGO is a fragmentary order- a change of mission to reflect a change of circumstances.


We cleared up a tough road to bring a resupply convoy up to a series of isolated Observation Posts. We've done the mission multiple times before, and this time, things were going according to plan. We cleared the first part of the route in record time. As we turned on to one of the side roads that would eventually bring us to the first OP, the side of the road was lined with children waving and asking for candy. Even some of the adults with them waved and smiled- a rare sight this close to Ramadi. At the last turn before the OP, there was a young boy and an man in his mid-twenties. The boy waved, then pointed to a roadblock barring our path and said “Mister!... No!” and then his english failed him, and he switched to Arabic too rapid to understand. I asked him to slow down, which he did (slightly), but we found few words in common. All I knew was that there was something up that road that he didn't want us to run into.

We finished clearing to the first OP, and parked the vehicles by the side of the narrow road to allow the supply convoy room to pass by into the OP. This OP, like many others, is a large house that was converted to its present use. It sits between two palm groves near a small farming village. It has perhaps a quarter acre of grounds surrounded by a high wall, and the roof is dotted with sandbagged watchtowers. Today, we sat for a few minutes, and watched the supply trucks pull into the OP. The platoon relaxed- someone stayed alert on the guns, while the rest of the truck crews broke out sandwiches or cigarettes. We'd been in place for less than ten minutes when the mortars started landing. It was only three or four rounds, and they were off behind one of the buildings in the village. The men unloading the supply trucks took little notice of the explosions, and the locals that I could see simply started moving inside the buildings. War quickly callouses you to frightening things- explosions still make us jump, but if they don't directly affect us, we virtually ignore them. This time, they affected us.

I saw a crowd of villagers thronging up to the gate of the OP. Somewhere near the front, there was a man struggling towards the Marines. I'll never remember what he looked like or the clothes he wore, but I'll never forget his burden.

He carried a little girl. She looked six or seven. Her head lolled back, her dark, curly hair dusty on his arm, and her legs dangled limply by his side. The only pattern on her dirty white dress was streaks of blood.

A second man followed the first- the little boy he carried was even younger than the girl. Both the children looked dead, or close to it. Behind the men are more villagers, and some of them have burdens of their own. Too many. At least one of the mindless, undiscerning shells had landed in a school.

There was silence in the truck for an eternity, and then the driver whispered the thoughts of us all. In that moment, in the stillness, the profanity sounded strangely like a prayer:

"Fuck, man... just fuckin' kids"

No one else says anything- we all know what he means. People who weren't involved in this war died today, and more may die yet. Kids paid the price for their parent's fight. Children dying hits you in a way that other death doesn't. You don't feel the sharp sting of losing a friend. You don't view their death with the casual indifference you might feel for adults. You feel the dull ache of lost innocence, of a lost future.

The stillness is shattered a second later by the radio. The platoon leader is on the net calling for the medic. Our driver is a nurse back in the world- he stops to help a man who comes out of the trees behind us with a bleeding hole in his leg, and then he takes off to the OP to help the medic with the others.

The platoon leader is back on the radio, giving us our FRAGO- our change of mission. We're headed out to the regional medical facility at Camp Taqaddum with the wounded. Hopefully, we get there in time.

27 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience TD, fucking bastards, they are just kids, you bastards.........

    the sad part is these visions are burned in your brain, I have a vision of a little Vietnamese Girl, no clothes running, screaming, down a road

    Stay safe my friend.........

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  2. God Bless you. Evil is most awful when it affects the innocents.

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  3. Sarge Charlie and Jungle Mom said it very well...

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  4. Anonymous25/3/07 19:11

    Rabh-from-India
    Sad reading that..

    Best of Luck ,Best wishes& Take Care

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  5. military granny25/3/07 20:21

    In a perfect world children would not be harmed by evil people. Our world is not perfect by any means, and it breaks my heart to think that children are or could be targeted but these insane nutcases.You men and women of the U.S. Military take care over there and remember, us your northern neighbors, are praying for you.

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  6. Oh TD. Having a little one of my own I can only imagine how very tough it must be for these people to stand up and fight knowing that thier little ones could be/are considered fair targets.

    Anyone who considers a child a target has no soul and is filled with fear beyond reason.

    It breaks my heart.

    Thank you for being there and for working to make a difference.

    Blessings,
    Mrs. Badger 6's Sister

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  7. That is so sad... It goes to prove how SICK those people are.

    It's sad how many innocent pay the price for what those evil people have started...

    That just boils my blood. [worse]

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  8. If ever a person deserved to die... those that harm children have earned the longest and most painful death imaginable.

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  9. HI TD, someone told me you are a ROCKSTAR, I left a note at his place you should read, and your buddies, this is serious stuff........

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  10. Sobering...very sobering.

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  11. Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 03/26/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

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  12. What terrorists do not understand about Americans is this: we hate war but we do not fear evil. Clearly we hold the moral high ground in this fight and we will overcome this wrong in the long term. War is awful, evil is worse!

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  13. children always always pay the price for the evils that grownups devise. don't forget, you are somebody's child too..

    keep your helmet on, and your ass down.

    LAW

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  14. Who said 'war is not healthy for children and other living things?"

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  15. Richard Aubrey26/3/07 19:31

    Jesus warned people not to mess with kids.
    He was quite specific.
    Some of us may have the privilege of being His agent here.
    The rest of us will have to wait in faith.

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  16. WOW. That was a hard read. Thaks for sharing. Be safe.

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  17. I was touched to read that the people ran to the marines for help and trusted them with their children. I do believe you have won their hearts and their trust. I also believe they will endure as long as it takes for the marines to secure their homeland so their children can live in peace. As long as it takes and we are all so proud of you. The Nord Family; Texas

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  18. Those subhumans have no souls and could care less about targeting children. Good hunting TD.

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  19. The difference between Us and Them. We weep for the wounded children...they use them as decoys in the backseat of a car to get the car bomb through security. And STILL blow them up.

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  20. I can't even imagine seeing something like that....

    And as terrible as it sounds, I am so grateful that you are out there fighting so that hopefully the rest of us won't *have* to see the things that you do. Thank you.

    And keep staying safe....

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  21. Tragedies like this are not excusable, not for any reason at all.

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  22. Geez, man, I'm so sorry to read about this. My heart breaks for these innocent people, and for you guys for having to be in the middle of all of it. I just started reading your blog so I don't really know your politics, but I want to let you know that I appreciate your willingness to serve our country and sincerely hope that our leaders here at home can figure out the best way to manage this conflict that will minimize deaths in the future and get you guys home as soon as possible.

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  23. Richard Aubrey, you have to remember that Christ doesn't exist for these people. As far as they're concerned, Jesus whom they call Issa, will come back with Mohammed to kill the infidel Christian for not joining Islam. The Ten Commandments don't exist either, even though they were handed down by God, it doesn't make a difference. The smallest of these, are just a means to an end to the mufsidun. (mufsidun = thuggish fighters = criminals)

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  24. that must be one of the hardest things you will ever have to see.

    And Laurel made an excellent point~it speaks volumes that the people came to you for help with the injured.

    Take Care and God Bless

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  25. Anonymous3/4/07 06:46

    That the people came to you with their injured children tells me that you've got this war won, if only the lumps in Congress will stop trying to use American revulsion for conflict to get elected.

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  26. Anonymous9/3/09 03:20

    ^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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