Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Part I 'Kinetic Interlude'

Minutes later it became completely quiet again. Out of nowhere during this lull in the commotion going on around us, I saw a monstrous bright orange blue white flash erupt a hundred meters to the front left. It was immediately followed by the intense sound of an explosion. That really got my attention as well as that of my team mates who had started to dig a little skirmisher trench in the dark. I remember wondering to myself, what could have caused what I just saw and felt? Was it an RPG round? We were told they had them but that explosion seemed way bigger than what I pictured an RPG's impact being. Could it have been an inbound artillery round? Maybe that was it but would our air support not have already destroyed their guns? At some point Curtie Wertie blurted out with a high pitched Arkansasonian accent, "Was that an RPG, was it Fehr, was it an RPG? It had to be an RPG."

I watched off in the distance towards where the explosion and light interrupted the gun fire. What I just saw I thought for a second that I had seen before during training back in the States and abroad on two different Med Cruises. The light flash bang and report that I had plainly witnessed a minute before reminded me of watching a TOW Missile hit a target. If that was a TOW then it came from a friendly firing in our direction or was that an outbound round going towards an enemy target that fell short? If it was inbound that theoretically means the small arms fire is coming from a 'friendly' source as well. What the hell was going on seemed to confuse me even more as additional rounds started popping off down range from all around me. I could see the muzzle flash of a 60 lighting up Weigert's gritting teeth and pink face to my left.

More calling out down the line. Sit-Reps were rapidly communicated to team leaders who were calling for more ammo for their men. Orders were being shouted back as well. The sound of real ammunition being shot stopped and was replaced by the clanking of gear all around and the commands of NCOs directing our movement. We were not where we were supposed to be to provide cover for the advancing line platoons. A green star cluster went up signaling us to get ourselves forward another click and to the left or west. My team picked up the crew served weapon and we walked off with another gun team towards the highway running parallel a click in front of us. This time when we hit the ground there were Marines from First Platoon already in their hasty little holes on our right. Our team plus that of Weigert's and now Varchmin's were tacked onto the line that was First. Second Platoon was on our left strung out in their dug out holes facing the highway. I could hear them but not see them at this point in the middle of the night on Day 4.

Another blast of gun fire came down from the direction of the highway and the Ministry Compound wall. Golf Co. sent it back and then there was screaming off to the right. Corporal Clayborne had been hit in the back side my an M-16 shot fired by one of our Corpsman overly excited in the moment as he ran from out of the track. From a few meters away I approached then stopped as I saw moon beams and other Marines helping their injured comrade laying face down in the sand. I heard the First Sergeant's voice yelling at Clayborne whose face rolled over into the light of one of the flash light's beam. Apparently from less than 10 meters the 5.56mm bullet had hit Clayborne's canteen cover snap, gone through his can of water, then down through the metal of his canteen cup cradling the canteen, then back out of the canteen when the projectile hit the clip on his deuce gear, through that belt and then his cammie bottoms into the top of his right ass cheek. They were cutting away his clothes and I remember hearing him asking about going home and the Purple Heart. The First Sergeant sounded like a character in the movies telling the soldier that his wound was not bad enough for a Purple Heart and to top it off it had bee fired by a 'Goddamn' Doc in the U.S. 'Goddamn' Navy. Clayborne was going to be fine, the copper ball did not have enough velocity by the time it had ripped through his deuce gear to tear through his flesh. Corporal C. was then medevaced to BN support somewhere in the rear darkness. I watched from near my barely dug in fighting position as they loaded him into the back of the track closest to him.

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