Assumed Risk (Border Ops Part II)

This is in continuation to the assumption of risk piece I wrote about here.

It was May 2005, and we were about to rotate off of the Syrian border in Rabiah for the last time (so we thought).  We had been out at the border crossing in the outpost dubbed “Hotel Charger” for about a week. The next day our Troop Commander was due to come in with elements from First Platoon, who would relieve us. Ultimately we expected to be completely relieved of our duties in Tal’Afar because 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) had been slowly replacing us in this area of responsibility.  We had been out conducting a number of snap-patrols during the nights to try and run border interdiction and counter-smuggling operations. On this last night we chose to remain in the combat outpost, preparing our gear and having a rest before the long drive home the next day. Continue reading

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Bringing Some History to History…

A long time ago in what seems like an entirely different life, far far away, I used some of the blood money I was making while downrange to procure something different. Something special. Something timeless, and unique.

I bought an original, unopened and forgotten by time, vintage bottle of absinthe. Continue reading

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V is for Valor

I have on occasion eaten my own words, and I am fine with that fact. Every one of us gets humbled at some point in time in our lives (sometimes over and over) and these moments hopefully make us better individuals. I talk a lot of smack against 3rd ACR, specifically the leadership of the Regiment, because they seemed hard-headed when we tried to impart knowledge to them as they assumed Tal’Afar from us. I have no real ill will or malice Continue reading

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Gone, But Never Forgotten…

Back when I first returned from OIF III, I spent a lot of time trying to forget stuff. But as time wore on, much like I counted down the days until the tour would be over, I tracked my time less by the calendar, and more by upcoming anniversaries of bad days and the departed.

Much like I wrote about the very bad day that was when I lost my gunner (which I have Continue reading

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Veteran Paranoia….or Not?

Earlier this very morning my better half and I were out to run some errands; we needed some meat from the local butcher to grill tonight (best friend and Army buddy is coming to town for the weekend) and we decided to stop at the Goodwill for a look, because you ever know what you find there (pun now intended!)

My better half went to stand in line [giant sign, ‘line forms here’]. She was the first one there, waiting a moment for the cashier who, noticing there was a customer, was on her way. I was on the other side of the store, but walking back to her. When I got around some Continue reading

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Assumed Risk (Border Ops Part 1)

The Iraq-Sryia border was a maze of concrete walls and barbed wire, but as soon as the town of Rabiah ends, the border pretty much becomes just one large earthen berm, with the occasional strand of barbed wire here or there. There is a gap of about fifty meters, and then a similar earthen structure on the Syrian side, if anything at all.  The nights at the border were boring because the border is closed at night. At least, the crossing is closed to legitimate activity; elsewhere along the line in the sand that essentially was the border, people were free to come and go (as had been doing so for centuries, more aligned with ethnic ties between villages and caring less about nationality). There was an endless sea of vast, flat farmer’s fields that stretched on in every direction. And being just one Scout Continue reading

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Scouts Out –

I again bring to you some incredible words from an old friend and former Soldier of mine. People say I have a way with words…. I’ve got nothing on this guy! But in reading his post and preparing this blog entry, it made me think of something. A lot of days at work I feel Continue reading

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The Last Photo I (Almost) Ever Took

The advent of combat photography helped shape the visual history of war, as well as helped us capture a moment in time. I had a digital camera I carried with me on deployment as a tool; as a leader, it was one of the things in my kit-bag that I could turn to to aid me in my job. I could capture photos of my guys or of myself for posterity, but I also used it to record evidence. I photographed IED craters (also called the blast seats), suspicious individuals, weapons caches, or even just locations for future reference (such as the location of a specific dumpster or a hole in a perimeter fence, etc.)

And though I spent more time on the radio or clutching my weapon, I did on occasion need Continue reading

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Not All Heroes Wear Medals

When I was eight I found a map among an old box of things in the sitting room of at my grandmothers. It was there I often sat and watched her stories with her, spending summer days with her and my uncle, playing in the yard or just being on the sidelines with ‘all of the grownups.’ I loved my grandparents dearly, and as far back as I could remember there was a large missing piece that was my grandfather; he died when I was barely four, yet I had these fond memories of him taking me for walks up and down the neighborhood. I Continue reading

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This is the face of an Extremist

This is Belal Mahmoud Al-Shofuk, an Islamic extremist recruited by Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia in 2005. This is Belal after he was captured and detained by my Platoon following a desert skirmish. This is the face of an extremist.

Belal was part of a cell from an Al Qaeda in Iraq umbrella group know as “The Al-Hamza Troop.” He participated in attacks on coalition (U.S.) forces, as well as against Iraqi Army and Iraqi National Police. He claimed that he believed he had killed at least one American that he was aware of. He readily admitted this to us. He also admitted that part of his cell’s  Continue reading

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