November 10, 2003

Powerful stuff ...

Veterans Day is a good time to read about what our soldiers are doing and enduring in the War on Terror. I strongly recommend this piece from USA Today, a profile of Alpha Company, 2 Battalion, 8th Infantry. Part of 4th Division, serving just North of Baghdad, in some of the worst of what's going on (thanks to Bill Hobbs)...

...Summer was the worst. Temperatures were so intense that in a two-day period in August, 60 soldiers in 2nd Battalion suffered heat exhaustion and had to be revived by intravenous fluids. Men shoved pistols too hot to touch under vest armor where their body temperatures cooled the weapons. Every morning, GIs awoke soaked in sweat. "I honestly didn't think human beings could live in 140-degree heat," says the battalion surgeon, Lt. Col. William Smith, 53, of Murray, Ky.

Diarrhea and gastroenteritis took their toll, as did swarms of sand flies � maddening little hoppers that descend on an ankle or arm, creating a rippled harvest of hard, itchy bumps. In the worst cases, they spawn ulcerated sores impervious to antibiotics. Troops have taken to strapping on Hartz flea collars, received in care packages from home, to their ankles....

If one of our guys gets killed, You can bet you will hear about it in the news. But our major media don't want you to suffer brain-fever due to an overload of facts, so some unimportant details are left out. Such as that we are killing lots of the bad guys...
....And there was dealing with the slain enemy. Alpha has killed 47 insurgents in raids and ambush counter-attacks. Then the soldiers collected the bodies, loaded them into the back of the first sergeant's Humvee and transported them to the local police station. This was not a task taught at Fort Hood. "At first it was a shock," says Oquendo, "You never see that in the States. You don't know how powerful the weapon that you have is, the amount of damage it can do to a body, until you see that."

In six months, the learning curve for these GIs has been dramatic. Their quick and overwhelming counter-fire in the face of ambushes has, their officers believe, quelled direct assaults by the enemy, causing insurgents to rely more on roadside-detonated bombs. The battalion lost its first soldier to an RPG attack in October....

Posted by John Weidner at November 10, 2003 9:30 PM
Weblog by John Weidner