Fear and Loathing in Iraq, May 16, 2004


Here is what was happening at my company on the week of May 16th.

The week began normally, temperatures high, sun pounding, and basic rocket attacks during the day. Nothing major, just a couple of small ones, enough to perk our ears up. But on Tuesday, around midnight we had a larger attack and we ran for the bunkers, many of us half asleep. We were pissed that we had to get out of bed and, get our gear on, and sit in the bunker for an hour. I learned from the past and I brought my headlamp and a book. Now it is routine and the time goes by quickly.

Now on Wed. we got a major attack at 2 am! I was awoken with a loud WHOOMPF! And the c-huts shook like crazy. Now we were really pissed, not about possibly getting killed, but the fact we were all woken up from a deep sleep. We have always hated these religious freaks for their inhuman savagery, their zombie-like following for anyone with loud voice, their ability to make martyrs out of any jackstick that gets killed, but we can handle all that. We can excuse them for that behavior, but when they attack us at 2 am—that’s just plain rude!! And that is something we will not tolerate.

Lately we have been having trouble with two female NCOs in our company: Sgt W and SGT H. These two horrible creatures are mean, vindictive, evil and need to be destroyed. They treat soldiers badly, don’t work unless it benefits them somehow, lose paperwork to screw someone over, and on and on. Just plain wicked individuals.

Well, when SGT W chewed out my soldier two weeks ago I had a meeting with the 1Sgt and some others and chewed her out and it was decided that she was in the wrong and I was right to defend my soldier. She was furious and later I threatened to punch her lights out because she said that I was a bad American and would probably not defend us if were attacked. Well this week she was sent to Kuwait to be some liaison, but really because so many people were tired of her shit that they decided to send her away for a few months. We were all cheering, it was classic.

Now Sgt H is our personnel sergeant and she is just as bad. She gets away with anything and talks back to senior NCOs and the commander. She is just horrid. So this week it finally came to a head when she disrespected Sgt Garcia and he told the commander. The commander threatened to take her rank away, the 1Sgt later brought her out back and chewed her out, then Sgt Kling did and then I gave her the cold shoulder. Now some soldiers are thinking of filing IG complaints against her. What a great week!!

Some people, when given the position of power, abuse that power and these two worthless people were proof of that. I am a big believer though that power doesn’t change who you are, it just exacerbates that which is already there. Either way, I loved watching those two horrible sergeants suffer.

Yesterday I was on a convoy to the Hadithah Dam, near Al-Asad. It is about 2½ hours southwest of here and the drive there was very boring. It looked like Death Valley, without the valley. Just desert, rocks and heat. We passed through only one town the whole way but there were many oil pipelines and valve stations. There were also lots of old, rusty pipes and broken valve assemblies, leftovers from new assemblies and pipelines that have been installed. There were many areas that were completely swamped in oil. Lagoons of oil along side the road. It smelled like… well, lots of oil. I think the EPA would have field day out here. With the garbage, oil, smoke billowing out everywhere, depleted uranium in the water and soil, etc. There is enough waste and pollution here to make even the most anti-green oil Republican cringe in horror.

As we drove, the land became hillier, which was new; everywhere else I have been there have been no hills, just flat land. It was nice to feel a change in elevation. In the distance we could see mountains and they got bigger as we got closer to Syria. Right before the dam area we made a right onto a road that had a bunch of Marines on it and some Iraqi road workers. Just as we turned we saw a sign that said “Danger Minefield.” We all looked twice and then saw a truck that was a charred heap and a big crater next to it. There was another truck in the same shape a little farther over. We followed red engineering tape on the ground which made for a narrow road next to the paved road. We were driving through a minefield on marked path 12 feet wide. It was very, very scary. We finally got back onto the hardball and drove to the dam.

We passed a few other vehicles that for some reason decided to get off the road and were blown to pieces. The dam finally came into view and it was really a cool sight to see in the barren desert. We drove to the top and along it until we made it to the middle and met 2nd platoon. The view was spectacular! Gorgeous! A huge lake on one side and a long river in a canyon on the other. I heard water lapping against shores for the first time in 8 months. I just sat there listening to the water and staring off into the distance. It was the most relaxed I have been in a looooong time.

I saw friends from 2nd platoon I have not seen since January and we caught up with laughs and lots of photos being taken. Eventually we switched out vehicles so they get armored ones and we take theirs to be armored and switch again sometime later. We finally left and I didn’t want to go. This was like a day off and I wanted to make the most of it.

The drive back was uneventful and we averaged over 60 mph, which was good as speed is our best defense on the road. It’s nice driving in vehicles with no armor, they are light, quick and the breeze gets inside better.

There have been some real dumb things happen under the new leadership of the 1st I.D. They really fucking suck! These morons have been having accidental discharges, accidental shootings, vehicle accidents, etc. It is like the Keystone Cops in camouflage. They have screwed up so much they assumed others were stupid as well and put out all kinds of new rules. We had to put clearing barrels everywhere: in front of out TOC, the battalion, the DFAC, the PX, the laundry point, everywhere!

It’s ridiculous. And get this, the general’s aide, some captain, went out running and somehow got caught up barbed wire and was stuck for two hours. Now this jerk convinced the general that all barbed wire needs white engineering tape on it to mark it. But I can’t be too surprised; this comes from an organization that calls a telephone a DNVT—digital, non-secured, voice, transmitter. I cannot get out of the military fast enough.

I recently saw the entire video of the American civilian getting beheaded. It was as gruesome as one could imagine but what I was surprised at was how little hesitation there was and how some of the guys were fidgety, like they couldn’t wait to get started. And with this beheading all over the internet and in conversations here we are surprised at how little media coverage there is about it. They are still going nuts over the prison abuse scandal but one of the guys over here gets his head lopped off on cable television and it barely causes a stir. I don’t get.

Well, take care and I will send more updates soon.

--Chris Sachs