Yesterday in Mosul
From rooftop to rooftop to alleyway to street corner to lurking under the shadows in the dark, my feet touched a lot of concrete and asphalt in southern Mosul yesterday. And today, I am extremely sore after sprinting and climbing and jumping and waiting. My whole body feels like a truck just ran over me. I was with an infantry unit that conducted combat operations for 13 straight hours. Al Jazeera reported that the Americans have pulled out of Mosul. Well, I can tell you that I was here yesterday and today (and the nine previous months), and we haven’t pulled out. In fact, we are taking the fight to the enemy more so now than ever.
I realized how numb I’ve become to war yesterday when I was on a rooftop taking photos of our snipers and mortars began landing about 200 meters from our position. I didn’t even flinch as the shrapnel clanked off the wall I was hunkered behind. We patrolled through the streets and as we walked, the mosques in the city blared loud sayings in Arabic. Some of the men starred us down. You could see the hate in their eyes, but we just smiled, kept walking and moved toward the objectives. Other people were happy to see us and offered us candy. I didn’t eat any. Once I got sick after eating local food, and I vowed to never eat it again. The FNGs grabbed handfuls of candy and ate it like they’d never seen food before. The smell of raw sewage filled the air as we patrolled. Iraq doesn’t have the sewer system we have in the States per se.
On these types of mission, you can be moving forever, it seems, and nothing happens. Other times, it’s constant combat. But most of the time, it’s quiet and all of a sudden you’ve got some Schmo, who doesn’t like MTV or George Bush, standing in the middle of an intersection shooting at you. Yesterday was one of those days. We were on the streets for two, maybe three hours, and then we heard rapid gunfire to our six. It wasn’t us, but when fighting breaks out on a large-scale operation, everybody’s pucker factor goes up a little. The Iraqi Good Guys were taking on the Iraqi Bad Guys (and foreign fighters). Quite a few from both sides were killed and or hurt. We medavaced the hurt good guys to an aid station, where we treated their wounds. I didn’t learn what happened until this morning, because when I returned all I wanted to do was eat, shower and sleep. That’s usually what I do after most missions.