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

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Changes

The times are changing at Camp Falluja. It's not just the situation outside the camp, though we've seen many changes there. The summer is coming, bringing hot air and dust storms.New Marines are arriving in Falluja, and before long, others will go home again. The chow hall and the telephone center are jam-packed 24/7. There are more people asking for directions.

A few days ago, the loud siren sounded, and the "big voice" speakers bellowed "INCOMING! INCOMING!". A group of new Marines scattered like ducklings under the shadow of a hawk. Several ran around the corner of a concrete barrier and into a group of us chatting on as though nothing had happened. We watched as they collected themselves and tried to pretend as though nothing had happened, and then returned to conversation.

It wasn't so long ago that I was doing the same thing, along with the rest of the platoon. It took us some time to realize that the siren will inevitably go off after the incoming round hits. There are times when an explosion does not precede the siren- we raucously jeer "Watch out! Big bird crapping on the radar again!", and listen for the big voice to call out "All clear" moments later. I'm told that there are bases in Iraq where the siren is accurate, and you should duck when it sounds. Falluja is not one of those places- neither is Ramadi.

I remember when I was new to Iraq, when I flinched at the sound of any explosion. I had to learn the difference between incoming and outgoing rounds. It took several weeks before I stopped flinching when the outgoing boomed overhead. Outgoing fire booms- if it's mortar fire, sometimes you can hear the whizzz of the shell. Incoming rounds cruump- if you hear whizzing, you were way too close to it. Sometimes, it's hard to tell the difference, and now, we've seen what indirect fire can do to someone. I've started flinching again.

19 comments:

  1. I flinch at the sound my dryer makes when a load of laundry finishes. I can only imagine how I'd respond to incoming and outgoing artillery or mortars!

    Keep safe.

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  2. Be safe, TD. You are experiencing so much, and are so eloquent in describing it. You have a community of well-wishers here at home (the U.S.) all thinking of you, and wishing for all of 'our boys' overseas the best. Thank you again for your bravery and service and loyalty to our Country.

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  3. Dayum. I flinched myself with that last sentence.
    You stay safe, ya' hea.
    You're in my prayers.

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  4. Anonymous6/4/07 05:39

    I was at Balad as a civvie contractor and went through pretty much the same learning curve on ordnance. We had incoming 1 to 3 times a day throughout my time there. Maybe 80 to 90 percent of it was was junk, mortars and rockets landing in the middle of the airfield and essentially causing no damage. Before I arrived they were way more accurate and serious, and they knew the grid for the chow halls and PX. Stangely the last week was the worst, with a 5:30AM mortar barrage aimed at a KBR parking lot about 250 yards from my hooch. For the first time ever, that one had me crawling around in my hooch below the sandbag line.

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  5. Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 04/06/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

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  6. Hey Brother...I was surprised looking back at your previous post that there is a gigantic hole in your post about the deaths of Captain Travis Patriquin and Maj Megan McClung. I'm not talking smack...but these were people that made a difference (not that all the other soldiers and Marines don't) in Al Anbar every day. Maj McClung was my PAO contact during my embed and as a former Marine I have found few blogs that even mention the passing of a Sister that epitomized professionalism and honesty. Capt Patriquin and Maj McClungs memorial service brought out ALL the local Sheiks...an unprecidented event. Just curious as to why you wouldn't talk about the passing of two fine human beings. Be safe, be smart, be aware. Semper Fi!

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  7. Thanks for the post TD, bring back my youth. I am sorry I did not record the things I saw and did as you are, this will be great stuff for your grandkids. Stay safe my friend, there is life after this crap is over.

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  8. Not even kidding dude you need to make this into a book. You'd be a great engineer but God has given you a gift for writing and creativity use it.

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  9. Amazing what a little bit of experience will do to a person. You should keep flinching, it means your reflexes are working.

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  10. It always interests me when seasoning and knowledge that is far too in depth brings you full circle to ignorance and inexperience.

    WEAR YOUR... eh, you know.

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  11. As always. Stay safe Doob.

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  12. This is an amazing blog - I love it. I don't know any troops, so I am so far removed from the situation...

    Your writing really intrigues me. Keep up the good work and please stay safe.

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  13. Yes, I think I'd be flinching.
    Try to be safe, I'm praying for you...

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  14. Thanks for your service.

    I was about 100 feet from the bomb in the World Trade Center in 1993. It sent me in the air. I can't imagine how you could ever become accustomed to regular shelling.

    Best of luck to you.

    WM

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  15. Yikes! I think it would take me a loooooong time before I stopped reacting to that type of stuff, TD. This is one of those war stories that's kinda funny and sad at the same time.

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  16. I'll have too show this picture to my good friend "Nica", as far as I know, he's the inventor of this kink of device.
    He was the first to successfully deploy a similar device against the Somosa's troop carriers back in Nicaragua, using home made explosives.


    PS: I just noticed this "**All the information about IEDs in this post is already open source. Go sic your OPSEC doggies somewhere else.**

    My condolences

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  17. Anonymous11/4/07 22:42

    Sounds just like Vietnam with the incoming 122's. After a while you figure out that if it hits you on the head, you're dead. Otherwise get a beer and watch where they land. There isn't any real defense except ignorance.
    Keep it down and return to the world in one piece.

    Firefighter 16

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  18. TD-

    Please keep flinching!

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  19. I need to start working at my hitting the deck again so I'm ready for my next trip out there. Just saw you blog on PBS's American Crossroads: Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience. They didn't actually talk about you but showed your blog and 365 and a Wake Up in the background as the narrator was talking. Congrats! You're famous:)

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