Wednesday, May 19, 2010

At the tip of the Spear

For those who have served in combat, life is different. The idea of what your life means along with how precious life really is are magnified in the lens of combat. When the reality of the situation hits you, and the concept that you could very well " be there one minute and gone the next" sets in, you find life is altered and will never be the same.

A colleague earned his combat chit the other day in Bagram when the airfield was attacked and the perimeter was with all other descriptions, this will give you a little insight, but until you have actually been there, under fire, no words will fully provide you with the visceral experience.


We had a noisy night last night. This place is always noisier than KAF. I am much closer to the runway. There is also an aerial gunnery range which is sometimes open at night. I guess I was awakened at about 3:30 AM by gunfire, both automatic and single rounds. It was closer and different from the range, so I went outside at about 4:00 AM. I went up to a vantage point on the third deck of the housing. We are on the West side of the base, only about 100 yards from the perimeter. At one point there was firing on both my left and right. I think the firing on the left was watchtower guards getting spooked and shooting at shadows.

The main attack came on my right (North) at about 4:30 AM, about a half to one mile away. By that time there were some Apache gunships up scouring the trees outside the perimeter. I saw two RPGs fired at the helicopters. They backed off and opened up with heavy machine guns - either 50 cal ot 20 mm. LTC (Name Removed), decked out in PPE, approached me and commented that I was not wise to be standing in an exposed location (in my shorts and baseball cap). COL (name removed) was nearby, also in PPE, musing as whether or not she had any ammunition for her pistol. LTC (name removed) also told me that we had gone to Code Blue alert, meaning the perimeter had been breached. We saw smoke rise from one large explosion inside the perimeter to my right.

There was sporadic gunfire after that, as it became light. We had all types of aircraft overhead, Apaches, Blackhawks with troops on board, fast movers, Predator, and others. The base was locked down most of the day. I heard from good sources that five individuals got inside the perimeter. Four of those had suicide vests and were killed, but the fifth got away and was inside the base. It was late morning before he was found and killed. I think the other enemy KIA were outside the perimeter.

The base remained locked down until late afternoon. When we could move around the DFAC started handing out MREs.



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