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Front Line Letters
“We’re pinned down here!” yelled Private Buck as bullets ripped the pictures off the wall.
“Buck, get on that radio!” I screamed.
We gripped the floor as another wave of bullets shot over our heads. Buck continued talking into the radio as bullets kept coming from across the street.
It was only my third month in Iraq and already I had been promoted to captain as the Taliban made an assault on Baghdad. We were split up into task forces to patrol the city and our Hum-v squad was ambushed after hitting an IED. Our driver was killed instantly and we were thrown. We bareley made it inside a hotel before the Taliban started shooting.
“Task Force 31 to base do you read me?” Buck shouted.
“Loud and clear what’s the problem?”
“We’re pinned in a hotel on 7th St. right by the suburbs.”
“Roger we’ve got two predators standing by”
“How are they supposed to get us out?” Buck asked as he checked over the counter looking for a way out.
“We can’t exactly hold on man now get us out of here!”
“There’s a helicopter patrol three miles north, they’re coming”
“Roger that, over and out”
“Were pinned down here where’s that air support Buck?” Brown shouted
“It’s on the way, get to the roof now!”
We got up and ran down the hallway on the first floor to the stairwell. Civilians packed the halls and the stairs desperate for a way out, making any movement nearly impossible.
“Move!” I yelled as I shot three rounds into the air. People started screaming and ran as though we were the bad guys. Well, I got to do what I got to do. We ran up the stairs and kicked open the door to the roof only to be greeted with a barrage of bullets. We ran for cover behind anything we could. I slid across the roof behind an air conditioning unit and took cover. We were only under fire for maybe thirty seconds before a missile shot out of the sky and struck a building across the street with pin point precision. The shooting stopped and we regrouped. I pulled a green smoke canister out of my pack and pulled the pin releasing a burst of smoke. I tossed it out into the middle of the rooftop to avoid the fumes. Two more missiles shot down, completely stopping the Taliban from shooting. It grew quiet as we looked in the skies for our chopper. The silence was broken by the familiar sound of a .50 caliber machine gun.
The chopper appeared flying low, shooting cars and buildings. It rose up to the edge of the roof and Sergeant Spicer slid open the door.
“Get in now!” Spicer yelled.
We ran over and jumped in just before the chopper lurched upward to avoid a rocket propelled grenade. We flew clear over the rooftops and across a stretch of sand dunes with a narrow winding road running down the middle. We followed the road for about five minutes until base came into view. Base was an airport converted to fit military needs. Spicer and Brown went to talk to General Johnson, Buck and I went back to the barracks. I went into our tent, tent C, and set my gear down. I then walked over to the makeshift computer room to send my mom an e-mail. When I opened my e-mail I saw I had missed three e-mails in the past week from my mom, so I chose to read the newest one.
You haven’t responded my e-mails for a while is everything ok? Please tell me everything. Dad is doing ok, he got out of the hospital three days ago and they say his fake hip should be working well. Molly is still running around and barking at everything, I can’t wait until you get back and can take her back to your place. Well, other than that things here are pretty normal.
How our things at home? I just got back from a mission, and honestly I didn’t think I would be here writing you an e-mail. But now that I am I want to tell you about everything that happened. We were sent to patrol the suburbs. Brown, Buck, James and I took a Hummer out and were driving around the edge of the suburbs when we hit an IED. The Hummer flipped and James was killed. We got out and ran inside a hotel. We were pinned down for a while before Spicer came in a helicopter and took us back to base. You say Molly is acting really energetic? Try getting her some new toys, that usually distracts her for a while. Well, tell dad I hope he feels better and to take it easy.
I logged off my e-mail and opened Facebook to see if any of my friends were online. I found my brother online and I opened a chat with him.
Tommy: Hey Sid whats up?
Sid: Hey, how have u been?
Tommy: Not too bad, just got back from a patrol (thought I was gonna die)
Sid: Well don’t go dying on me I still have to take u to a Cubs game when u get back.
Tommy: Well I can’t completely promise that, I think base will be under attack.
Sid: So whats going on there anyway?
Tommy: Long story but basically, the remaining Taliban in Baghdad are trying to take the city back now that the main forces have moved back to Iraq.
Sid: That sounds pretty rough just try your best to keep safe, don’t do something stupid to try to be a hero.
Tommy: No problem. So how are things in Chicago?
Sid: Pretty good. Works been a drag in this recession but I think ill manage.
Tommy: Has the economy gotten a lot worse since I left?
Sid: Not that much but there have been a lot of lay offs recently, I just managed to avoid one.
Tommy: Well, got to go, tell Jenny I said hi.
Sid: Alright, ill talk to you later.
I shut off the computer and headed back to the barracks to unpack my kit.
I was just outside the tents when the emergency alarm sounded. Everyone burst out of the tents as I ran in to grab my gun. Brown ran out of our tent and tossed me an M4 Carbine and some extra magazines. I started running to keep up with him as we made our way to the armory. Spicer and Johnson appeared from the offices and started yelling at everyone to take defensive positions. People started setting up sandbags, old oil drums, tables and anything that would act as a barrier. They arranged them in a line protecting the armory, offices, and hangars. I ran over to Johnson to ask what was going on.
“Are we under attack?” I asked.
“The guys in the watch tower spotted tanks and Jeeps coming through the dunes.”
“Well, whats the plan then?”
“It doesn’t look like too heavy resistance so we’ll take defensive positions and protect the most important parts of base.” Johnson said with a look of fear on his face. “Now start organizing and get ready for the worst.”
I ran over to Buck and Brown Holding the area nearest to the front gates. I cocked my M4 Carbine and turned on my red dot sight. I looked out into the desert to try to spot the enemy. A tank rolled over the nearest dune and shot a missile right at the front gate. The two ton gate was blown open as Jeeps jumped over the top of the dunes shooting mounted machine guns. At once all hell broke loose as we returned fire. I peered down my sights and picked off all of the men on foot I could. When it looked like the snipers took over my job I reloaded and started picking off machine gunners. I only had time to shoot three of them before the Jeeps smashed through the fence, knocking it down. We all fell back to the hangar doors while still shooting.
“Hold the hangers!” I yelled.
I took off running dipping in and out through cover to the vehicle hangar with Buck close behind me. I ran through the door and hopped in the nearest Jeep, which happened to have keys in the glove box. I started it up as Buck hopped in the back and cocked the mounted machine gun. We floored it out of the hanger and avoided hitting my own guys while Buck started shooting the other Jeeps. I spotted the enemy tank but it was already blown up. Buck must have killed at least 50 Taliban by the time we reached the guard tower. I jumped out and ran to the offices to get on a landline. Buck stayed on the machine gun for a couple more seconds. Before I went inside I saw Buck blow up another Jeep then grab his sniper and head up the stairs to the top of the guard tower. I busted into Johnsons office and picked up the phone. I dialed the line for the Air Force.
“This is Air Force command, what do you need General?”
“Listen, I’m not the General but base is under attack we need heavy air support now!”
“Roger that I’ll scrap up some AC-130’s and redirect them.” He finished.
I ran back outside and hopped back in the idling Jeep. I drove behind our lines while still trying to avoid being shot. I yelled out the window at everyone to retreat and throw red smokes at the Taliban, which had now set up cover in our barracks and behind our old barriers. I got to the farthest point up the line and let a few men hop into my Jeep including Brown and Spicer. We turned around and gunned it back to the offices. We along with everyone else took cover behind anything we could before our air support. The Taliban must be thinking they’ve won, well there in for a pleasant surprise. It seemed like we had been suppressing enemy fire for five minutes before I heard the hum of the six massive prop engines on the AC-130. I could barely see it through all the smoke and missiles launching out. The first 50 pounder struck the ground so hard it rattled my bones. It was followed by hit after hit. I could no longer see more than fifty yards through the dust and debris. The strike only lasted for a few minutes but it seemed like eternity in an earthquake. The AC-130 flew away and our troops reappeared as the dust settled. There was no one left shooting at us and I could barely make out the shapes of the blown up Jeeps and tanks. I dropped to my knees and threw my gun aside thanking my lucky stars I had survived after all. I might just get to go to that Cubs game after all, I thought to myself.