Saturday, March 04, 2006

I and one of our HUMMVs at the Gov Center, again on the LAST MISSION outside the wire.
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Loading the MTVRs upon completion of our last mission at the Gov Center. This was the "puddle" down there from all the rain we'd had.
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Master Guns Traylor down at the Gov Center, outside the wire for the last time.
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These are ACEs (Armored something or other) stuck in the mud. THREE of them stuck in the mud. I thought it was HILARIOUS, but I wasn't the first guy to stop and take a picture. Apparently a lot of other folks had stopped to do the same.
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Gy Greene, Gy Roche, and Top Radke at our farewell meal, thrown by the Iraqis (which means we ate lamb and rice with our right hands). Why so happy? Only a week left to go.
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This is the type of truck pulling that M1. It is HUGE; looks like something out of Mad Max. I am telling you people: Oshkosh rules.
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Speaking of tanks... If you can zoom in on this picture, you'll notice that this M1A2 has been ROLLED. It still had dirt wedged into the bustle rack. (Sorry for the photo quality; we were having yet another duststorm).
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The Buffalo. This is simply the baddest thing on the road short of a tank. The arm is used to manipulate possible IEDs; the screens are used to detonate RPGs prior to hitting the vehicle itself.
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This is one of the Iraqi trucks on base, slightly modified by the US Army soldiers. Everyone needs a hobby, even in Iraq.
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Smoke screening the movement of one of our platoons into the Souk from the Gov Center.
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Why stand post AND be uncomfortable? This is a Marine at the Government Center in Ramadi.
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Friday, March 03, 2006

Drifter 5 still on the net

Hi, all,

Man oh man, THAT went by fast. I don't have time to write anything new just now, but I did want to let you know that we ARE all back, everyone is back home, and the deployment is effectively over.

Still all very strange.

I will post something else this weekend - including some great pictures. For the moment, I will post something I had been working on before we flew out of TQ. It will be the first in "what really happened".

Keep ckecking back...

Maj P

One last entry from Iraq, and then on to Kuwait.

There isn’t much to report from here right now. As I wrote in my earlier post, we got in about 2230, 11 Feb. That move actually went pretty smoothly, with a giant forklift and pallet meeting us at the birds when we got off, and ferrying all of our gear over to the giant circus tent that we are in now. There are 26 of these tents here for temporary billeting and each can house about 80 people. They are all supposed to have heat, lights, and electricity. Of course, the duty lance corporal in charge of the billeting stuck us in the one with only one working light and two apparently non-functioning heaters. But there is electricity (thus this post), and I could honestly give a tinker’s damn if it is a little chilly at night and I have to use a flashlight. We are days away from being home, so no tent has ever been so nice.

It is interesting finally seeing all of the other MTT teams again, too. Most of these guys we haven’t seen in months, some since we arrived in-country. Every team has a different story, but there are common themes. We all “lived the dream” with our Iraqi brothers, all had to deal with “jundi-ism” (as Master Guns calls it). All had different crosses to bear.

Of the probably six teams and 69 Marines that make up our little 1st IA Div MTT, ours and only one other were left intact throughout the deployment. Some of the teams had personality conflicts within the teams; others just didn’t adapt well to the mission of living with indigineous forces and advising them. One team – our sister team with whom we had trained in Quantico and who we came over here with - was fragmented by one Marine being killed and several wounded in action. There are more personal stories that I will be able to tell more first-hand, but up front, I wanted to start off my upcoming posts about the “rest of the story” with telling about Sgt Brian Dunlap, a Marine assigned to our sister team, a Marine who we all got to know quite well in Quantico, and a Marine who was killed in action against a nameless, faceless enemy in a shitty crossroads east of Habbaniyah named Kalidiyah.

Sgt Dunlap was a great Marine. Outgoing, gregarious, would give a fellow Marine the shirt off his back. He was a Marine reservist like so many of us, a crash/fire/rescue medic, I believe, from California. He was a little older (who of us isn’t), unmarried, and our sister team’s duty weapons expert. Our teams were separated when we got into country, they going to Mosul while we went to Habbaniyah. In late August or early September, their unit (2-3-1 IA) moved down to Habbaniyah and began patrolling to the west while we at 3-2-1 were patrolling to the east. On one occasion, our camp came under small arms fire and a couple of civilian workers were hit. Sgt Dunlap responded immediately, administering first aid in vain to one of the two wounded Iraqis. He was the guy who would see what had to be done and would DO it without hesitation. It was probably this trait that got him killed by an IED on 24 Sept 05. Out with his battalion, mounted in an armored HUMMV, one of the Iraqi trucks was hit with an IED, resulting in several wounded or killed. The Marines maneuvered the gun-truck near the site and Sgt Dunlap got out to move to the scene and administer first aid, as all of his training had told him to do. Apparently, as he dismounted the vehicle, a second IED, buried in the road, was command detonated by an insurgent, and Sgt Brian Dunlap, USMCR, was killed instantly. He had almost been standing on the IED, which consisted of a propane tank linked to an explosive, a common and exceptionally effective enemy tactic here, and Brian was nearly vaporized. The three other Marines in the vehicle –SSgt Bork, SSgt Hunter, and Sgt Castellanos – were all wounded by the concussion, Castellanos being thrown from the turret. For SSgt Hunter, this was the second IED he had been wounded by in as many months, the first being while he was dismounted on a patrol with the Iraqis, which had left him with a concussion. All three were moved back to the US due to wounds and did not return to Iraq.

Sgt Dunlap is gone from this Earth, but not forgotten. Shortly after his death, the 3rd IA Brigade pushed across the Euphrates north of Habbaniyah, and established Combat Outpost DUNLAP, a patrol base in the heart of “Indian country” to enable the unit to maintain a presence in the Area of Operations. COP DUNLAP has been a thorn in the enemy’s side since its establishment, and it carries the name of a damn fine Marine.