Monday, June 7, 2010

Part I 'Bright Light'-While in New York the U.N. Prepares

Battalion 2/4 poses in the sand from near our last position in Saudi Arabia. Bobby Lasher called me recently telling me that he has had this picture for years and that he wanted me to have it. I told him that all I really needed to do with it was make a quick snap then he could have it back. He insisted that I keep it as a gift, so I did.
Part I continues from where we left off.

The column of Amtracks that was BN 2/4 pulled away leaving hundreds of south marching Prisoners of War behind for other support units to deal with. Our movement north continued under an extremely bright sun in the scorching heat of early afternoon. I remember spending a lot of time on top of our track behind the 60 taking in as much of the barren white landscape as I could. The desert looked exactly that, hot white under the intensity of the sun. Even the crystal clear blue sky above me appeared more brightly vivid than I had ever seen, contrasting on the white horizon and upward like a positive/negative image. Only the tracks dotted the desert radiating their heat in the form of those optically illusive rising liquid lines against the desolate landscape.

More time passed, we stopped in line and waited while scouts went ahead. The data came down that we were about to enter another Iraqi built up area. This time it was dug in Infantry that had left dozens of holes empty over the past few days during their retreat north and back towards Iraq. We were told not to expect any resistance. It was a bizarre sight in all directions as we moved straight through this built up defensive area facing us. I saw at least fifty sand bagged bunkers spread out across the perfectly flat white sand. Some were larger structures with sections of their roofs visible above the ground while others were smaller two person and single person fighting positions that seemed to blend into the floor below us. As we got closer I could see that the sand bag reinforced tops of the smaller holes were covered in sand for camouflage. This area was an incredible sight indeed.

All of a sudden several AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters showed up on our flanks not high off the ground at all. Sun light glared off of the wind shields of these flying machines as they passed slowly by, sometimes reversing course then appearing again. There were a few above us and forward keeping an eye out ahead of our movement. Less than thirty meters off to my left I saw one of these helos fly by and cut a fast 180 degree turn, immediately positioning itself facing the rear entrance of one of the smaller defensive holes. I watched as the pilot sitting directly above and behind the gunner lowered the skids to just a few meters above the ground. Then the Cobra slowly moved forward with its 20mm Gatling Gun under the gunner leading the way towards the rear facing exit of this Iraqi defensive position. The tips of the gun's three barrels disappeared into the exit way while the pilot held a hover almost perfectly still for a few seconds before backing out slowly. As the guns cleared the bunker I could see two Iraqi soldiers walking with their hands high in the sky surrendering to the 20mm front gun of the helicopter. They may have been the last two left from the Unit that had occupied this fortified area.

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