Oct. 22nd, 2008

samaritan1975: (Default)
I was back in Iraq.  A city, undisclosed location... I imagine it'd have to be Baghdad, since it was more 'cosmopolitan' than the areas I had seen in person.  Not that I know for *certain* that Baghdad has, like, hilly streets, but it goes.

Anyways... firefight erupts.  I'm behind a statue, leaning around to the right, and peering over iron sights.  I see muzzle flash, small tufts of grit peppering the ground near my fire teammates, who have found cover behind a car.  I give myself a second, to bring the 16 to bear... and pull the trigger, for the first time ever in combat.  I check on my teammates- a boy has wandered into the crossfire, crying the universal cry of a lost child.  I tell the fireteam to pin them down, and charge from cover, wrapping the boy up in my arms, dragging him with me as he fights against the strange man with the gun.  He doesn't understand, and I don't have time or capacity to explain it to him as the ground starts popping again.  I slide around to my original cover, hugging him close as he scrabbles and wails.  My helmet chunks against the concrete block as I scoot up against it, pulling my legs in.

I look around, see his mother- it has to be his mother, for she has the wailing arms, the expression of terror when a parent knows their child is in mortal danger.  She is far away, but I see her- and see the ground between us offers only marginal cover at best.  A fellow Marine bumps against me as he risks changing position to get a better field of fire. 

My rifle slings snugly over the bulletproof vest with the ballistic plates, barrel down like they taught us.  I take a knee and peer between the carvings of the statue, to see our opponents' lane of fire.  They are split, between us and my other teammates behind the car.  We have no grendades for the 203, limited ammo for the SAW, and a good while before a refit.  The boy has stuffed his hands in his mouth, fear having nullified his gross motor skills.  I unholster the Beretta, check the safety, and turn, finding the mother again, now being pulled from the street by what I assume is a relative trying to get her to safety- they know how firefights go here.

I run.

My right arm is raised, shoulder pushed slightly back as I supress the recoil of two rounds plinking against concrete.  The ground around me imitates popcorn, and I slide roughly behind sandbags from an old checkpoint- most of them had been taken since its placement.  In the back of my mind, I know there will be abrasions, and make note to clean the wounds later.  The boy is under me, and I ease back on one arm when I hear his cries being muffled.  My fireteam gets the attention of the riflemen, and I bolt again, this time, boy carried in both arms like a flag.  The mother breaks free from her relative, and meets me halfway.  Sputtering clouds grow closer to my feet, and I grab mother and child, pushing them to the ground to crouch in in front of me.  Something slices my left shoulder; the plate on my back thuds harshly and I hear it crack just so as I'm kicked by a 7.62mm horse, the wind knocked out of me.  I push them into an alcove nearby, getting them out of the line of fire.  I signal to them to wait, using the only Arabic I know.  I wait... the peppering is searching, looking for me, but gives up hope as its master's attention is grabbed again by my Marines.  I push them to go, the mother hesitates, as if unsure of what to say to this... American.  I nod, and point for them to go.  They run.  The M16A2 unslings into my hands so smoothly from practice that I muse that it's more akin to telekinesis than anything else.  My arm slips in to the sling, tightening around and putting the butt into my right shoulder.  My left shoulder aches, and I know there is blood.  I do not care.  I peer down the sights.  I wonder, if I live through this, what I will tell my friends back home.  Every Marine is a rifleman.

And I am a Marine.


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November 2008

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