- April 22, 2009
Ambassadors in Desert Tan: Another Fine Day’s Work
Every weekend back in the rear I hold my breath anticipating a phone call about any number things which can go wrong while Marines are on liberty. These can range from simple drunkenness, to DUI, hospitalization, or arrest. Most incidents involve alcohol in one form or another, but with Jarheads there is no level of stupidity beyond their scope of performance.
The amazing thing is this: the same Marines who are involved in street brawls in Waikiki, or revived from an alcohol induced coma, or require car keys to be physically wrenched from their kung fu grip to prevent them from driving; all somehow manage to make the right decisions in the combat zone.
Yes, they may not be trustworthy with your daughter on prom night, or keep me awake all weekend, but if you load them up with machine guns, grenade launchers, and all manner of other instruments of violence, and give them a mission to execute, you will sleep peaceably at night. I know I sleep better on deployment than I do in the States.
Last deployment Kilo Company conducted a number of operations in support of what we then called the Iraqi Civilian Watch. This was an effort to get locals to start policing their own neighborhoods and get rid of any bad guys lurking about, engaging in murder/intimidation campaigns and other insurgent pastimes.
At the time the eastern edge of our AO(area of operation) was the corps boundary between U.S. Marine and U.S. Army units. You didn’t cross over into someone else’s AO without letting them know or asking permission. Insurgents pretty much went where they wanted to until stopped by well manufactured American ordinance.
One particular day a squad from my company was providing over watch and security to a Vehicle Check Point near the corps boundary. Iraqi nationals manned the check point itself and the Marines were there to back them up. The oldest Marine was the squad leader, a Corporal about 22 years old.
A couple of vehicles approached waving white flags and stopped about 50 meters away. The excited passengers dismounted and proceeded to walk toward the checkpoint.
A young boy about age 6 or so was being carried by an Iraqi man they presumed to be his father. Noticing the boy was bleeding, the Marines quickly called their Corpsman up and provided security while he worked.
Doc assessed that the boy was suffering from blast wounds to the head and legs and a gunshot wound to chest. With the help of a Combat Life Saver trained Marine, he treated the boy with an occlusive dressing on both the entry and exit wounds to the chest. Although there were no signs or symptoms yet, they wanted to prevent a sucking chest wound. They applied two battle dressings to the 3” diameter blast wounds to his leg. The boy’s head wounds were bleeding minimally and Doc wrapped them in Kerlix.
The first team leader had grabbed his interpreter and approached the Iraqi men accompanying the child. The Iraqis claimed that a group of boys were swimming in a canal about 2 kilometers inside the Army AO when insurgent forces began to fire on an Army helicopter. In the ensuing battle the kids were caught in the crossfire.
During all this the squad leader had called for a helicopter medevac to pick the kid up and take him to Fallujah Medical. But once Doc was done dressing the wounds the Iraqis refused a medevac and bundled the kid up in the car and took him to a hospital themselves.
Twenty minutes later another vehicle pulled up to their position with another wounded boy claiming he had been hurt in the same incident. Fortunately, the wounds were minor lacerations which were cleaned with water and betadine, then treated with three sutures. Doc explained to the father when and how to remove the sutures and they went on their way.
See? Ambassadors in green, or desert tan, if you will, those are my guys. Another fine day’s work for the world’s finest United States Marines.
Or so you’d think.
The next day we were getting reports from higher saying Army forces in the area were accusing my guys of refusing to render aid.
Upon hearing this I grabbed my eyebrows with both hands and ripped the skin completely off my frame like a jump suit. Expletives concussed across the COC like thunderbolts as I kicked the empty bag of epidermis across the floor. Young Marines manning the radios began to bleed from their ears as I hurled curses at the map hoping Army clowns could feel the furnace of my breath on them.
I recall advising my company commander that we could mount the entire company on gun trucks, roll right into the Army AO, offer to render them violence, and then burn their FOB right to the ground.
Accuse my Marines? Refuse to render aid? After monitoring what was going on out there that day over the radio these accusations made me HOSTILE.
A week later I had to go to Fallujah Dental because I had ground my teeth all the way down to the gum line. In the meantime, I had my boys all write statements of what actually happened and passed it on to higher.
We never heard another word. THAT infuriated me even more.
So I did the only thing a 1stSgt could do.
Take THAT! Clowns.
Slept like a baby that night.
America’s 1st Sgt