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September 06, 2007

Jeff Emmanuel, On Patrol With 82nd Airborne, Witnesses IED Attack

Doing the jobs American reporters won't do.

As we crossed the median and made the left-hand turn onto Rte. Heat, Captain Ferris – who has been half-jokingly called "The Prophet" by some of his men for his knack for knowing when and where things are going to happen, before they actually do – said to Spc. Scalco, "You may want to plug your ears." Less than two seconds later, it happened.

BOOM!!

A sound like a cork being pulled out of a bottle – magnified a hundred times – was accompanied by a ball of dust which engulfed the entire Humvee column. The IED had gone off between our truck and the one in front of us, across the median and alongside the northern side of the westbound lane of Rte. Heat. Had the lead vehicle pulled into that lane instead of into the southernmost one, then at least one truck would have taken the full force of the blast.

As the dust cleared, the situation was assessed. There were no injuries, nor was there any damage to the Humvees. The drivers of the second and third vehicles in the column had had their heads rattled a bit, but that was the extent of the damage to our element. Based on residue in the road, the IED had either killed a person or been planted on a body (perhaps one of the ones killed yesterday) – a common tactic, as the terrorists know that if a dead body is reported in the city, the coalition soldiers there have to come out investigate it, and then take it back for identification and proper, respectful burial. Yet again, the enemy is using the unparalleled humaneness and respect of the American force against them, and they will continue to do so as long as the opportunity is there.

Less than three minutes after the blast, the Humvees began moving again, still toward the objective: there was a mission to be accomplished, and no little thing like an IED almost killing members of the Platoon was going to stop them from going out and completing it.

"All right, let's get our heads back in the game," Captain Shea Goltry, White Platoon commander, said very calmly over the radio. The California native wasn't a Silver Star recipient (for heroism in combat) for nothing. "We still have a job to do."

Correction: I originally wrote he was with "Rangers." I'm corrected that the 82nd Airborne isn't a Ranger unit.


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