My first real convoy

EDIT (Sept 2007): Old server went down, images may not work until I get them transfered over and links updated with new server locations.

I guess I’ll get around to writing this. Lately I haven’t been in a mood to talk. I’m not sure why. I’ve just been out of it.

I just got back from a convoy that was supposed to be overnight, and ended up being four days. That part kinda sucked. I do have lots of pictures, and will link them here, so this might take a while to load.

I’ll post some other stuff in a friends only post after this.

First of all, I’ve wanted to go on a convoy. My wife tells me it’s because I want to get myself killed, but I just wanted to see what all the other guys I came here with go through. Finally, I was told I was leaving the next night. I was told it would be a Taji mission (like four hours round trip) but found out like four hours before I was leaving that it was to Al’Asad instead… a eight or so hour mission. (We drive there, spend the night and drive back.) I quickly packed more clothes and got ready. I was to be the driver of the rear guntruck. Our weapon was a .50 Cal. The cargo we were protecting was Diesel Fuel. (Tanker Trucks.)

As you can see, I was all decked out. Wore my knee pads, and I have side and arm protectors that help as well. Also, the Wiley-X sunglasses are ballistic protection as well. I also took my extra flak vest and sat on it to protect me in case a mine went off under our vehicle. Other things that I wasn’t wearing in the picture are mechanix gloves, and my helmet. I also wore a headset that protected my ears and let me talk to the rest of my crew/convoy. (I took my mp3 player with me and taped one of my ear-bud headphones to the mouthpiece so we could all listen to music as we rolled.) The first trip went pretty uneventful. Drove to Al’Asad and crashed immediately. (It was like 2pm there…) I was pretty tired and slept for about 12 hours. Our next showtime was 6am, so I had plenty of time.

Morning was uneventful as well. On the way there, we drive across a giant dam. To be honest, I don’t know how they can have such shoddy buildings but can create something as majestic as this dam. I don’t have a good picture of it, but this will give you an idea.

Well, the dam and another place are the only two places we can stop and be secure on the way. (The dam is controlled by marines.) The other place was FOB (Forward Operating Base) Summerall (sp?). When we got here, things started to get exciting.

On the way to Al’Asad, we went the normal way which goes around Summerall, but on the way back we were told to go through it. It appears the bridge we usually took was blown up. Also, we were receiving resistance in the town next to Summerall (Basjera (sp?)). Our response was to go and take control of the town. We sat inside the gates and listened as explosions and gunfire blared from Basjera. Smoke also rose from several locations.

One surprising thing we found out here was that a convoy right behind us had one of their vehicles hit a land-mine. I guess my convoy was lucky enough to miss it. To be honest, I know where the mine was, and I don’t remember seeing it as I drove past. One cardinal law of driving convoys is to follow the tracks of the vehicle in front of you, and I did that very well. No one was killed in the vehicle that was blown up btw.
When we were able to drive through Basjera, we saw streets littered with bullet shells, five tanks, and lots of soldiers. Buildings, that were just fine the first time we drove through, were demolished.

And tanks were on almost every corner.

We called them “Cans o’ whoopass.” We could still hear gunfire while we drove through the city. It was quite unusual. (Of course, this is nothing compared to what my brother faces in Fallujah, but he joined the Marines, I didn’t.)

Because we were held up so long, we ended up stopping at Speicher to spend the night. (Same place I went to last time.) This added one more day to our mission, but oh well.. one day, right? This wasn’t a bad night. I got a Maximum PC magazine that talked about new 3D game engines and such, so I spent the night reading and listening to music. Pretty boring. I did, however, scrape my knee up really bad and that sucked.

Showtime the next morning was 7am, and we got a surprise… instead of going home we were going to take another load of fuel back to Al’asad. This added another day to our mission. Instead of an overnight mission, it was now a four day mission. The rest of the convoy (going to and back from Al’Asad) basically went without a hitch. A few times we had to stop for minor reasons (flat tire/fuel) but we got those sorted out easily enough. One of the fun jobs of being the back door is “closing the door.” Basically, we don’t want people driving by our convoy when we have guys out working on the vehicles, so the last guntruck turns sideways on the street and we stop traffic. If they want to go, they go in the “Allah lane” or, the incoming lane. (They go against traffic and pray to Allah that they make it.) It’s kinda crappy for the Iraqis, but it keeps our guys safe.
Another thing we saw a lot were tankers whom have been the victim of an IED.

In this one the IED just got the cab. We saw the crew going out to recover the fuel as we were driving past. Some weren’t so lucky…

If there is no way to recover the fuel, we actually ignite it so the enemy can’t get to it. You can actually see the bullet holes in this one. .50 cal baby. You can still see some flames at the base of it, but I can’t imagine what it looked like in full fury. It melted the hubs of the tires so it looks like it goes into the road. It’s nuts!

One thing that is kind of freaky… when I returned, I found a bullet hole in my door.

I don’t know where it came from, but still.. I was on the other side of the door. You can still see the slug in the hole if you look close. That’s what an AK-47 will do. I love my armor. 🙂

And the most memorable experience of my trip… When I came back, first thing I did was take a shower. Then I was going to go to pizza hut and grab a pizza before class. Well, a shuttle was driving by and so I decided to take it. As it was driving, we had missile hit just to the right of the bus. (I’ll never forget the sound a missile makes…) The bus was showered with rocks and debris. One guy who was running next to the bus is in the hospital now…) I’m honestly surprised the windows didn’t break. You could see dents in the bus. The cement barriers on the side of the road probably kept us from taking any major damage. Three other rockets hit right around us as well, but none that close. The other people on the bus were screaming at the bus driver to drive. He drove to a bunker and we took shelter there until the all clear was given. Definitely an interesting night. Other sucky thing that happened when I got back was having no internet. Seems the mice in the main building ate through my cable… stupid things. Also, it appears I still have mice entering my room. I don’t know how the hell they get in, but they do. I went and bought some mouse poison to put around. (A couple inside and one in my room.) So, hopefully that will remedy the situation. (Since COM is closed at nights, I had to search for a CAT5 cable to replace my ruined one. I basically used the old cables that were lying around, and it took me four tries to find one that worked… it sucked.)

Anyway… so that was my trip. Some other interesting photos: (Linked to save space.)
Hooters Checkpoint – So named for its double arches…
Cars waiting for gas just outside of Basjera
A graveyard on the side of the road.
Cool arches that go across the road.
A random mosque
Another random mosque
Old Iraqi Planes outside of Al’Asad

You can also view all the other pictures here.
Good enough description of my trip?

About Matthew Jones

Writer, Programmer, Astronomer, Dreamer, Wisher, Fighter. Always striving to be better than I was.
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