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 04, 2007

Arabian Nights

Last night we went down into the canal region south of Falluja. We cleared back and forth through the tall reeds, along canals, and through villages. In one nasty little village, we found a bomb in an intersection. It was a large plastic tube of rocket propellant, jury-rigged as an IED. The LT decided, along with the EOD team, to shoot it and try to set it on fire, rather than get down on the ground to blow it up. Of course, we all foresaw the result- we ended up with chunks of unignited rocket fuel all over the road, and had to get out anyway to gather them up and dispose of them with an incendiary grenade. The fuel caught fire immediately, burning with a white flame tinged with green. There was a sudden *pop*, and bits of flaming fuel flew in all directions, trailing greenish fire. We watched the flames quietly burn themselves out, and prepared to continue with the mission. At some point while we were digging up the bomb, all the lights down the road went out, leaving the scene light only by the ghostly half-light of the moon. As we pulled off down the road, even that pale illumination faded- the lunar eclipse had come and stolen the light.

Tonight, we struck out once more for the lovely (I use that term very loosely) village of Karma. The last time we were there, a week ago, there was a giant new blast hole near the bridge where we found our first IED in the area. It stretched nearly twelve feet in diameter- halfway across the road. At the bottom was a metal culvert shorn in two. Someone had pushed a huge bomb into the culvert and detonated it. Tonight, I noticed that the hole is gone again, or nearly so. The crater is filled with dirt, and a large half-circle of fresh asphalt is the only reminder of the devastation of a week ago. The small palm grove that was near the road is gone- the tops of trees sheared off by blasts, and the stumps toppled by tanks. The village looks like what it has become- a prominent battlefield in the war for Anbar province.

North of Karma the road is normally quiet for a few kilometers, and it proved to be so again tonight. The last few klicks are often busy, and tonight, that is where we start finding bombs. The first one is relatively easy: the truck slows to scope out a pile of rubble by the side of a culvert, and I spot a wire heading off along the ditch. As the BUFFALO is digging out the bomb, one of the other trucks notices movement through their thermal imagery. They report what seems to be one or two individuals at a house some distance off the road, in the same general direction as the wire seems to run. As we continue to work on the bomb, our Marine security element splits off across the fields to corner whoever it is taking advantage of the 1AM air and ask do they happen to know anything about yonder bomb? The bomb finally pops out of the ground- a mid sized IED, and the Marines call back in. They have in custody two insurgent cows. Our pleas to retain the triggercows for further "questioning" are denied, and we continue mission.

Just a little further up the road, we find the second and last IED of the night. There are certain things that attract our attention more quickly and strongly than others, and this bomb had all of them. It was buried, but so painfully obvious that we started wondering where the well-hidden second IED was (we found no second). We blew it up, and moved along the rest of the roads we had to patrol, finding nothing more. We pulled in back home just as dawn was breaking. I looked up at the moon as she drifted silently behind a thin veil of morning haze and mentally checked myself.

All limbs attached- check
No new holes- check
All friends here- check

It's going to be a beautiful day.


  1. "splits off across the fields to corner whoever it is taking advantage of the 1AM air and ask do they happen to know anything about yonder bomb?"

    I get this lovely mental image of Marines in outfits circa 18th century London, and it amuses me far more than it rationally should...

    And I have to ask... When you say that you weren't allowed to retain the insurgents (I'm racking my brain to figure out where "cow" comes into play), what does that mean? Does it mean you simply let them go?

  2. AWG: I think it means they were cows, as in moo.

    TD: Fantastic writing. Keep it up, and be safe.

  3. A nice fresh steak sure would have capped off the night nicely......
    Still, it IS a beautiful day.
    Thanks for reminding us.

  4. Good Momday Morning Teflon Don.

    That was a beautiful check, those last three, with those answers.

    Your writing about the bombs/IED and the villages and the moon almost makes me feel like I can see what you see.

    Be careful. Be safe. Come home soon to those who love you --


  5. Anonymous5/3/07 05:57

    Cafeful of those Moojadin. They prefer to work in udder darkness.

  6. thanks for sharing. cuidate mucho.

  7. Anonymous5/3/07 14:59

    I am glad no cows were harmed during your mission you would have had to answer to peta. Proud of you and all the troops fighting thegood fight.

  8. yeah... now I feel like an idiot... I'll go eat a hamburger now to vent my anger against Moosama bin Laden...

    Darn you guys... :)

    In my defense, I was really tired when I wrote that first one...

  9. Anonymous5/3/07 16:56

    You and your team are doing a fantastic job (and it's obviously a vital part of the whole war). Each day you save lots of lives. Thanks for the great writing about it too.

  10. Anonymous5/3/07 17:16

    Your posts make me laugh outloud. Thank God you have all your limbs and friends...keep it up. Moooooo

  11. I really like your checklist at the end. After reading my eight year old this entry in your blog I think I am going to make him use your checklist the next time he goes into melt down over the fact that he can't find his favorite shirt. May help him put things in perspective a little.

  12. Anonymous5/3/07 20:58

    "To err is human, to forgive bovine". Would've been bad Karma to take them in for interrogation and grilling.

  13. Great post (as usual). I'm so glad you had a relatively quiet night.

    Thinking of and praying for you...

  14. Ok, I'm gonna surrender swift here... The puns are killing me...

    They're teri-bull...

  15. Anonymous5/3/07 23:53

    Teflon Dad, groooooooooanerrrrrrr. *giggle* Oh my, all the puns, all the fun. Teflon Don, excellent job. Query: why are triggercows not kept and turned in for at least prosecution by someone, or at least kept away from being anywhere near wires ever again?

  16. Anonymous6/3/07 17:40

    TD, your DAD is the bomb, too! chip off the old block, I see. :)

  17. Anonymous6/3/07 22:37

    Brother, you and your team....gots balls.

    Hooah bro.

  18. Anonymous6/3/07 22:48

    Funny about that eclipse thingy. We were probably looking at the moon at the same time.

    Stay safe TD. You're doing great. Thanks.

    (I also will use the checklist on No. 1 grandson).

  19. I'm lovin' all these cow comments.. hehe..
    You're in my daily prayers TD

    God bless you!

  20. Cowabunga!
    Sorry, couldn't...resist!

  21. Don't have a cow, man...

    Ok, I'm going to go harm myself for that one... It's only right...

  22. Anonymous7/3/07 09:30

    beautiful... I'm glad you saw the eclipse. I missed it although the timing probably couldn't have been worse huh...

  23. Anonymous7/3/07 10:47

    So I try not to follow the news. It depresses me. But now I find myself following along and praying that it isn't occurring near or to you.

  24. Anonymous7/3/07 19:42

    Hahahaha ftw. Insurgent cows are the sort of thing nobody counts on... the worst part is they all look alike so you can't tell 'em apart. They all taste pretty good though. Mooo!

  25. It is Friday March 9th, TD.
    Hope that you are okay, and it is only the insurgent cows that is keeping you from blogging !
    Be safe.

  26. I'm w/Cow er I mean Cal, in that I always pray your unit's not the ones suffering casualties.

    As always, nice checklist at the end. I'm gonna eat a hamburger for you, your comrades and Angry White Guy:-)

    'til you come home...

  27. Another great post TD, you made me feel the tension......
    Keep writing and stay safe.

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