Below a moving experience from a civilian contractor in Iraq. Please take a moment to relflect on all of the tragic losses that this war has incurred, and the many, many lives that have been touched.
Preface Below I am sharing a new journal entry that just came in from our friend Harrison who is a govt. contractor at a camp in Iraq that we have been supporting for about two years now. He is an awesome example of a the most dedicated contractor I think you could ever find. He has put his heart and soul into his job and even lost his live-in girlfriend over his dedication to his work, by his constant extensions. He has been there almost three years I think and this is his second time!! He has been sending me his private journal entries and I usually don't share them but I thought I would share this because it is not only our "troops" that are in harms way, it is many dedicated people such as Harrison, and U.S. civilian employees that are as well. Harrison is finally leaving Iraq in about 10 days and coming back home to TX to resume his former career as a widely followed radio DJ.
Here is his entry...
Too many times now, I have sat down in this old broken chair, at this antiquated computer, to write about some uplifting occasion, or albeit fleeting, some comical moment.
Too many times now, in that short space of time, everything changes. We get sucker punched by life here, as I suppose everyone around the world does on a constant daily basis.
Chances are good you won't hear about this in the news.
We, as civilian contractors, are "invisible" in these accounting stats.
Late yesterday afternoon there was furious traffic on the radio.
Something had happened. Something very bad.
I called a friend that works at the airstrip and was told a chopper had landed and 4 stretchers were brought off it. Stretchers completed covered.
As Force Protection did not come in and put us on "Communications Blackout", it could only mean one thing.
They were civilians.
As soon as I was relieved, I walked over to the CASH to talk with my sources there to find out what had happened.
Upon entering the CASH I spotted one of my fellow MWR staffers there. I was not only shocked to see him, because I thought he was still on R n' R, but shocked at how he looked.
He is a big man, from a west Texas ranch, with looks and a country drawl in his voice, that if you saw him, you would think he just stepped out of a western movie.
His was dirty, his hair was disheveled, and he was shaking...there was blood all over one shoulder of his shirt.
I immediately went to where he was sitting and knelt down in front of him. "Are you OK", I asked, looking at the blood on his shirt. "It's not mine", he said, as I looked directly into his eyes that were welling up. I looked down at his hands and they were shaking. I put my hand over them and held them. I asked him again if he was ok and he kept saying, "Four"... "Four"..."They got four".
In a whisper of a voice, he told me how he helped carry the bodies of the dead and wounded from the Rhino to another vehicle after the explosion. On his face there was great sadness.
As I knelt there with him, a medic approached us and said they were ready for him to get checked out. As we both rose to stand, I hugged him and told him to let me know if there was anything I could do. Then he and the medic walked away.
This much is clear.
Yesterday afternoon a "Rhino", (an armored bus, about the size of a small RV), was traveling from another camp around Mosul to our camp.
On the Rhino's manifest of passengers, were KBR civilian contractors coming back from R n' R, and some new hires just arriving to begin work at our camp. They were flown into this other camp because our airstrip had been shut down for runway repairs. After they flew in to that camp, they jumped in the Rhino and joined a convoy to get back here.
During the short ride here...10 minutes by air on a Blackhawk...on the road between our two camps, known to be a hot spot, an IED detonated almost right underneath the Rhino. The huge blast lifted the Rhino in the air, blowing off the steel plates and bulletproof glass from the front of it. It landed some 15 meters from the blast crater.
4 were instantly killed, and 4 seriously wounded.
When I was at the CASH last night, also in the room were several others that had been on the Rhino. Many that I knew, that seemed to be physically OK, but the medics were checking them out anyway to make sure. One man I talked to showed me his leg where some shrapnel had pierced deep into his skin.
To compound this already tragic incident, we were told today that one of those killed, another MWR staffer, had just gotten married while on his R n' R.
This morning their flag draped coffins were flown out...back to loved ones who saw them, hugged them, and kissed them...only days ago...
Sadness...that word...just cannot describe this...
Somehow here in the everyday grind, we kinda forget that we are in a war zone...a "for keeps" combat life and death zone...the lull allows that...it is at those very moments...you get the shit slapped out of you in a most horrific way...