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Posted on Dec 28, 2006 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

Letters from Iraq 6: Light infantry, HOOAH!

By Russ Vaughn

Various sized pouches are mounted on the vest. The key to placing the first aid pouch, ammo pouches, and other work space gear is ease of access and having gear not impede movement. Hip extenders are added to carry more gear than space on the vest or pants cargo pocket allow. “A pouch for everything and everything in its pouch”. My apologies to Ben Franklin.

Next you add two or more liters of water in some form of hydration system and an assault pack. The assault pack contains mission essential equipment. Additional ammunition, explosives, batteries, food, and medical supplies are carried if space allows.

Head gear is next. The ACH (Advanced Combat Helmet) is padded and very comfortable. It sure beats the old M1 steel pot and original K-pot (Kevlar Helmet) for protection. Alas you can not use the ACH for cooking or warming water like we did with the old steel helmet because the ACH would melt. Many soldiers wear a cravat or other form of cloth covering to protect their faces from the incessant blowing sand. Some turret gunners wear various face shields to reduce injury and burns. All troops wear various ballistic eyewear when outside the wire. On the front of the ACH is an NVG (Night Vision Goggle) bracket. If you are lucky they issue you an AN/PVS 14 NVG that clips on to your helmet. When you pull the NVG down you look like a Borg from Star Trek . It takes a little getting adapted to seeing green enhanced light through the goggle with one eye and seeing ambient light with the other. It is a lot of weight for the ole stacking swivel. Light infantry, HOOAH.


Around here you never know what will happen or you will find. There was a brown colored brick that had been lying around a neighboring building on base for a long time. This old brick was being used as a door stop. People just walked by it day after day for a couple of years not giving it a second glance, until this last spring. I am not sure how it happened but someone decided to take a closer look. It was too heavy for a normal brick. It didn’t feel like normal brick. So the curious Sergeant scraped off a piece of the metallic substance. The Sergeant went on stateside leave a few days later and had the shaving analyzed. The test revealed the hidden secret of the brick; it was made of gold, 10 carats to be precise.

Around the same time of the gold discovery a new firefighter named Rock arrived. A few days after his arrival he went out on his first major and what he says has been his best call to date on the COB. The Security Forces team we replaced had an M1114 armored HUMVEE. One day while driving the perimeter they had an electrical short in the charging system. The electrical harness caught fire. Smoke began to drift out from under the hood. The crew stopped and grabbed the extinguisher, opened the hood, pulled the pin, squeezed the lever, and nothing happened!!!! The crew radioed the fire in and frantically tried to get MK19 grenade launcher off the ring mount and gear out of the burning truck.

The fire department gets the call. The north station is dispatched. Responding to the incident, Rock, sees a huge amount of black billowing smoke on the perimeter. He tells the desk it is a fully involved vehicle fire. The dispatcher doesn’t believe it because the fire truck is several minutes away from the burning HUMVEE. Minutes later the firemen arrive on scene. Rock calls the dispatcher and tells him again it is a fully involved vehicle fire. As Rock starts moving toward the conflagration with the hose he hears, pop, pop, pop.

Rock turns to his partner and asks, “What is that sound?”

His partner answers “Oh that is the ammunition cooking off!”

“Really?” replies Rock

“Yep” says his partner.

Rock continues to press forward spraying the vehicle with water thinking this is way too cool! Around this time the fire dispatcher radios them there are grenades and claymore mines in the burning hulk. Now the firefighters pucker factor goes way up with this tiny tidbit of information. Wide eyed they pass glances at each other and then back at the Security Forces guys standing behind them. The SF guys assure the firemen the 40mm grenades and claymores are out of the vehicle, but warn them a few of the rifles with ammo are still inside the flaming hulk. Rock just shrugs his shoulders, says ok, and goes back to putting out the fire. The fire was extinguished and everyone walked away ok.

My patrol received a call one afternoon to go to 00 to escort an LN (Local National) to the hospital. The LN had a gun shot wound that went through her eye and out the back of her neck. Her arrival was delayed by mechanical difficulties. When she did arrive the Red Crescent ambulance crew was very attentive to her needs and apologetic to our medics for the delay. The medics checked her vital signs, she was conscious, and could move her fingers; a very good sign she would make it. We arrived at the hospital and she went in to the ER. I found out later she was evacuated to a better facility by helicopter. With the exception of the one eye she will make a full recovery.

As an update I found out some of the Iraq Army guys from the bus incident I wrote about are recovering and will return to duty. The Docs and Nurses did a heck of a job repairing those guys. Also the guy that was just hanging on with 90% burns lived for 3 days before dying. The Meds kept him as comfortable as possible during his final ordeal. Please pray for our Medics they do so much for all of us and see more than their fair share.

One last item, I need to correct my fourth email. The sign going out the gate actually says “ Name Tape Defilade Saves Lives”. Pardon my misquotation. In all things I try to be accurate and research the stories I hear to get at the truth as far as it is possible. There are some great tales here. Some of them I would like to tell, they seem plausible, but I can not verify them to a reasonable certainty. By the way Colorado Shooting has been kind enough to publish one of my photos on it magazine cover this quarter. It is of the Sunset behind the tower here. My deepest thanks to Dave Gill for that honor. Until my next opportunity be safe and pray for our troops and the people of Iraq . Bye for now.


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