Overall, I have spent over 34 months operating in what would be deemed a combat zone. Whether it be Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and others, I have come to the same conclusion. No matter the appearance or the tactics, when someone is trying to take your life it all blends together to one scene.
There are always supersonic decisions being made under frenzied situations by leaders who do their best to live up to a certain standard. A standard that is quite definitive across the spectrum of military branches. That is to do the very best, of their ability, to bring home all, or as many as possible, of the men and women of their charge.
This challenge, whether in triumph or failure, is one that haunts them throughout their lifetime. This alone can cause many great warriors to doubt themselves during challenging times, feeling as though they are failing their mission. Add that on top of financial, marital, and family problems, the unthinkable becomes a reasonable scapegoat. This is why we must always continue to support, defend, and understand even when it becomes a burden.
“Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.
It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger.” (National Institute Of Mental Health)
Before We Start
Before we start with the short story The Convoy, I wanted to showcase a few examples of actual events captured during my first deployment. Certain information will be redacted for security reasons.
Before reading this next passage, it is important to understand that ALL of this occured on one day, in April. When a person is overseas for roughly 210 days, with each day being a little bit different but similar to the passage below, it can become overwhelming.
SEQUENTIAL LISTING OF SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN FALLUJAH IRAQ
“Weapons 1 reports being hit by an Suicide Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device in the vicinity of CP 39. No casualties to report at this time, the Improvised Explosive Device was located in the median of the road. The Suicide Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device detonated on the second vehicle, on the right side. The Suicide Vehicle approached the convoy from the south, moving north along Khandari Market St (Grid Redacted). When the convoy passed Market St, the vehicle moved over to the side of the road and as Wpns 1 was passing the vehicle pulled out after the first vehicle passed and detonated directly adjacent to vehicle 2. At about the same time the vehicle exploded, Wpns 1 began to take fire south of their position. The point of origin was south of Kilo 3 X-RAY. Wpns 1 could not see where the fire was coming from, they could only see muzzle flashes. Wpns 1 reported (2) Friendly Wounded In Action, and minimal damage to the vehicle.
Weapons 3 discovered a brown bag that contained an Improvised Explosive Device at (Grid Redacted). The bag was located on the shoulder of the southern edge of the Eastbound lane of MSR Michigan. The patrol set a cordon around the Improvised Explosive Device and awaited EOD, who rendered the Improvised Explosive Device safe. It was determined that the Improvised Explosive Device had consisted of (1) 105mm tank round.
Weapons 4 discovered an Improvised Explosive Device at (Grid Redacted) on MSR MICHIGAN, consisting of (1) 120mm mortar round in a burlap sack. The round was laid in a hole that had been previously used for an Improvised Explosive Device. Weapons 4 set a cordon, requested EOD and conducted a sweep for more Improvised Explosive Devices and the possible triggerman.”