(4/7 story) Previously - "Ready For Anything"
Ramadi, Iraq, Government Center.
I sat in the driver’s seat and listened to the ‘squawk box’, a small olive-drab green colored speaker that I’d zip tied to the roof support of our HMWVV.
“You guys need to stay with the governor. He needs an escort and a guard element to stay with him throughout the night. We will send out another team at 12:00 to relieve you. How Copy?”, the radio blared as battalion relayed the plan across the net to my truck.
Curse words from the back right as our section leader, a Sergeant on his 4th tour, started swearing the existence of the battalion ops center. He let the radio finish, sighed, then keyed the mic and answered.
“Roger, Blade, we are happy to help.” He lied into the handset of his radio then set it down. “This guy’s dead within a week. I got $20 on it. Takers?”.
My VC: Vehicle Commander took the bet on the over, saying, “he’ll at least make it a week. The last governor couldn’t even read”.
“Lock it up.”, Lieutenant shouted. He was a prior Sergeant before going to school and earning the shiny rank. He was just as pist off as any of us.
I listened from the driver’s seat.
My gunner, Willy, laughed. He didn’t care. This was his 3rd tour. The other 2 he spent slaying enemy in the turret. This was no different. He just laughed, and enjoyed his chewing tobacco.
Lieutenant nudged me from behind. “Racetrack and Firetruck” he yelled the 2 street names and I drove, FAST.
Gov center, Sunset, 295, racetrack – northbound – firetruck, and I slowed down to the intersection, giving time for Willy to scan the area with his machine gun. Each following truck rogered up over the radio telling us they were good. I positioned the truck near the governor’s compound and held the brake with my foot for the next 4 hours.
At 12 I saw the other section come up the street. Their Lieutenant jumped out of his vehicle and walked up to my truck.
My lieutenant opened the door and greeted him, “thanks for the relief, brother.”
“Don’t thank me yet.” He replied. “Ya’ll are going on a day mission tomorrow, a raid. Captain is waiting in the operations center to brief you the op order.”
After saying his departure, Lieutenant got on the radio and called higher to notify our intention to return to base.
Once at base, I made my way to the back of the hooch where I lived and assembled with the other Marines and Sailors who were on patrol. Together, our individual accounts were recorded into a debrief for Lieutenant to use in the after action report.
He came into the debrief near the end to tell us what the next mission would be. A raid. On order, we would locate and secure the high value target who had eluded us for weeks. A mortar engineer who specialized in making tubes that could lob explosives over our walls. He was responsible for my friend’s death. I was ready to find the bastard who killed him.
....9 days later the governor was killed by a suicide bomber and Sergeant paid up.
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