Fear and Loathing in Iraq: July 18, 2004

Convoy Truck

When Aristotle said, “We make war that we may live in peace” do you think he foresaw the war in Iraq? I don’t think so. I think if he were here today he would say… D’OH!

We are not at peace; things are more screwed up now than they were at the beginning of the war. Attacks have gone way up. I read the security reports this morning and man-o-man are things getting crazy. And now for the real bad news: the craziness has hit us all here at the 557th Medical Company. Let me explain from the beginning.

There are some transportation companies that drive all over Iraq dropping off and picking up goods. Now these convoys are the most attacked entities in this whole operation because they are on the road every single day. And the most dangerous place to be is out on the roads. Now there a couple of transportation battalions here on FOB Speicher that drive goods all over the place, and they have had many people wounded and a few killed. Now these battalions have been asking for medics to accompany their convoys because they have none and they are getting banged up pretty good. They have been asking companies all over the base for help and no one would help them. They wouldn’t go near these suicide missions with a ten foot pole. So in one last ditch effort they asked the 557th Medical Company for help. And what did our commander say? You guessed it: “We would be more than happy to help! How many medics you need? You want ambulances to ride along as well? You got it, pal!”

So now we will have 8 medics on the road, at various times of the day, 6 days a week. Sometimes in our own ambulances, sometimes riding shotgun (literally, too) in the trucks. And get this: even at night!

To fill all the slots we had to pull medics from other bases to come back here to help; we cut back on the hospital medics we supply, and we were still stretched so thin they added duties to medics who already have full schedules — like me. Instead of just doing my normal duties as training NCO, weapons maintenance, TOC operations, I will now be used as a convoy medic as well. So as Warran Zevon said (and Aristotle should have said), “Send money, guns and lawyers, the shit has hit the fan.”

I was hoping for the last 6 months to be more laid back then the first 6 months and now it looks like the last 6 are gonna be some exciting shit! I have a convoy Tuesday and I made all my usual preparations. I cleaned my rifle, filled my magazines with new ammo, sharpened my knife, put fresh batteries in my GPS, made sure my night vision goggles work, added medical gear to my flak vest, and told my buddies in the case of my demise which dirty magazines and porn movies they may each have. Ah, the love of camaraderie.

We are not happy about this; nobody likes getting thrown to the dogs. But on the other hand, these guys wouldn’t keep asking if they really didn’t have a need. They are getting hurt, we are not. So we need some solidarity and I don’t mind helping out so much. It will be, as I said, exciting, and if I do live through this… Oh, what stories I will have to tell. Most trips will be one day there and back missions and a few will be all the way to Kuwait. I got out of the Kuwait trips because of school, but I will be going to Balad, Bayji, Samarra, Al-Asad, the Hadithah Dam, and a few other places quite a bit. I’m not sure if we will be going into Baghdad much, but if we are…well, that will just suck.

So hopefully everything will be fine and I will, again, have plenty of character-building experiences to remember.

Aside form this news, today we were supposed to be visited by a couple of generals. For two days we have been scrubbing and preening this shit hole trying to make it look presentable. So by 9 am today we are all standing around waiting for these guys and we get a phone call saying they are not coming to visit. I guess the meeting they had at battalion wore them out and they couldn’t walk the 100 yards over here to say hello. Lazy fuckers. We went through all this crap expecting these pipes to show up and tell us what a good job we are doing, and they never show up. And the best part is we were sent an email yesterday saying they were coming to see us especially! The Army: You gotta love it.

Well that is it for this week. Things are really crazy here and time is short and so I will have to let you go. Next week will be better, I guarantee it. Thanks for reading and I hope you all are well.

--Chris Sachs