Blood Upon the Sand
P.O.V.-Staff Sergeant Addison 'Spook' Escalera
Two months after the ambush near Tikrit, Iraq
0800 Hours, September Eighth, Fallujah, Iraq
Bright and I stood around a fold up table where a map of the surrounding area in Fallujah and the city itself had been placed. We had been waiting for Lieutenant Mood to arrive and give us our daily orders and assignments. But, as always, Mood was late to the party and I had already become irritated. "How many times is it now Bright, six? Seven?"
"Eight times Spook. That's just between last week and now." Bright replied, and having been promoted to Staff Sergeant after Bravo Teams Sergeant had been killed by an IED a week ago, there was no honorable 'sir' in the sentence.
"How many more times are we going to have to wait around for this-" My sentence was cut short as Mood waltzed in thirty minutes late. Bright and I saluted simultaneously and Mood returned the gesture and lowered his hand. Bright and I did the same and looked at Mood.
"Morning Lieutenant." I said as Mood took off his helmet and placed it on the table where the map was.
"Morning Staff Sergeants. Let's get to business shall we." Mood said as he pulled out a chair from under the table. "Captain Flores wants a roadblock set up along this road here." Mood pointed to a road leading to the outskirts of the city as he spoke. "Both Sierra and Bravo get that job. I want anyone who passes in or out of this city to have a passport and vehicles checked and cleared. Same procedures as always. Wheel up at oh-nine-hundred and make sure everyone's there before you leave this time Sergeant Escalera." Mood said staring at me, referring to the time I had accidently left Hacky behind on the way to a patrol.
"Roger that sir will do." I replied with a curt nod. Mood looked back down at the map and I smirked somewhat.
"Sergeant O'Malley, I hope to see this roadblock a success with no screw ups. Don't forget, this is your first time leading Bravo and those men depend on your decisions as a leader to get them through. Don't disappoint me."
Bright stood up straighter than before and nodded. "Yes sir duly noted. I'll do my best Lieutenant." I felt some remorse for Bright seeing as how roadblock duty was a pretty dangerous job, and we usually got hit during those. I guess it was time to see how well Bright would handle Bravo under pressure.
"And Sergeant Escalera, your replacement for Sergeant O'Malley arrived this morning. Private Stanley Kazel and we're assigning your teams a medic. Corporals Jenna Cleary, assigned to Sierra and Vincent Batista, assigned to Bravo. They should be in the mess hall seeing as how that's where I left them. Dismissed." Mood said, mumbling the last part.
"Thank you sir, I'll pick them up on my way to the barracks." I replied, saluting Mood along with Bright. Once more, he returned the gesture and we walked out of the tent. I looked around until I could remember which way it was back to the barracks and where the mess was. The heat really did screw with your head here, and it only got worse during the day. I made my way to the mess hall which was only a few tents down from Sierras and walked in. Sierra had already gotten there and had begun to chow down, and they seemed to have found their new team members. I walked over and stood at the end of the table, looking at all of them as they stood at attention.
"At ease Sierra. I see you've found our new recruits." I said, looking at Kazel and Cleary. Kazel was tall and looked strong and Cleary was petite and seemed to be in good shape. "Finish up breakfast and gear up. We move out at oh-nine-hundred for checkpoint duty. Fireteam Bravo is going along with us for the job. Carry on." As I finished that sentence I walked out of the tent and back to the barracks. I picked up my tactical vest and threw it on, patching the velcro up and grabbing the holster for my M9 Beretta and clipped it to my leg. Picking the headset up dangling from the side of my vest, I put it on and then placed my helmet over it. Afterwards I got my M16 and checked to make sure there were no problems and clean the ACOG optic mounted on the top.
As I finished, Bright walked in and began the same procedure I had just finished. I rolled up the sleeve on my right arm to look at my watch. We had fifteen minutes until we had to move out, so I decided to make a call back to the states. I stepped out of the tent and walked over to the phones tent and sat down. Taking the time card out of my pocket, I picked up the phone, slid the time card, and dialed the number. It rang twice until someone on the other end picked up.
"Hello?" Asked a voice.
"Hey babe, it's me." I said, responding to the question and rubbed my forehead.
"Addison! How are you? Are you ok?" Asked the girl on the other end, my fiancé, Breanne Rittenhouse, who I hadn't seen in the past six months.
"Yea I'm good. And I'm ok. How're things back home, everyone doing ok?" I asked, leaning into the back of the chair.
"Yeah everyone's doing great. Ally and everyone hope you're doing ok. We all really miss you." She replied.
"That's good. I miss you a lot babe, but I have to go. Duty calls." I said with a laugh at the end.
"I miss you too, I love you." She said.
"Love you too, bye." I finished and hung up the phone. I stood up and walked out of the tent and out towards the motor pool where my Hummvee would be waiting. Sierra and Bravo crowded around the Hummer and truck and spoke with one another, more than likely learning about their new team members. I walked over and watched as they all stood at attention. "At ease Sierra. Let's get this show on the road shall we?" I stated as I opened the passenger door to the Hummer and got in.
"Fireteam Sierra, to Fireteam Bravo over?" I called into the headset.
"Bravo here. Ready to move out Spook." Replied Bright from the truck behind mine as we finished loading up.
"Copy that, Sierra on the move." I finished and clicked off the headset. "Get us moving Private." I said to Kazel as he hit the gas and got us on our way. The checkpoint was only a half an hour from base, so I tried to make myself as comfortable as possible inside the Hummvee. The scenery in Iraq was the same everywhere you went. Deserts, streets covered in sand, buildings caked with dirt, and Iraqis everywhere. That last fact always made our job harder as we were always trying to determine who was an insurgent and who was a civilian.
"So what's the combat like here!?" Asked Kazel over the roar of the engines as he stared down the streets. I looked over at him for a moment and then back out the window.
"Same as everywhere else! Getting shot at, IED's going off near vehicles, trying not to get shot, trying to shoot the guy shooting at you, and trying to keep everyone you know alive!" I responded, intending to get him used to what he was going to end up seeing on his tour. Kazel nodded and continued driving along. "So private, do you have a nickname!?" I asked, doing my best to keep myself and everyone else from getting too tense.
"It's 'J.D.' Sarge! Stands for 'John Deer'! This kid has an insane fucking obsession with that guy!" Said BugEye as he looked over at me.
"What about the medic! The one over in Bravo's truck!?" I asked, learning about the new squad members.
"Her name's 'Short' sir! Girl is a god damn midget!" Laughed out BugEye. He readjusted his M16 that was partially hanging out the window.
"Thank you BugEye! You are now the team gossiper!" I joked as he had already gotten to know the two recruits better than anyone else.
"Fireteams Sierra and Bravo this is Command, over!" The radio buzzed. I grabbed the radio and clicked down on the switch.
"Sierra here!" I called out, responding to whoever was speaking at Command.
"You've got new orders! We've got two Marines from Fireteam Charlie hit a half a mile from where your roadblock was supposed to be! The rest of their squad has come under heavy fire and are calling for assistance! Can you assist!?"
"Roger that Command! We're on our way now!" I replied and nodded towards J.D. "Get us to them ASAP!" I yelled and pulled the charging handle on my M16, racking a round into the chamber. I could hear the rest of Sierra doing the same. I hit the switch on the radio once more. "Bravo standby! We're moving to a new destination! Marines are down and we're going to assist, get ready!" I called into the radio.
"Roger that Spook! We're right behind you!" Replied Bright from the truck behind us. We came into a denser area with more buildings in the area. Farther ahead I could see two Hummers in the middle of the street. One was completely destroyed and the other was sitting there. There were muzzle flashes both sides of the street.
"Stop here!" I said to J.D. and clicked down on the button on my headset. "Bright keep the medics with the vehicles and get everyone else out!" We came to a stop about sixty or seventy feet from the firefight and got out. I looked up at Hawk in the turret and told him to cover us with the medics.
We moved up in a line of four against the buildings at which I guessed the Hodgeys were holed up in. J.D. took point, me behind him, Hacky behind me and BugEye covering the rear. It was a tight street and we were pretty close to Brights team who was on the other side of us. We moved up about thirty feet with no problem at all until we came under fire from buildings on both sides of the road.
"Fuck they must've seen us coming! Hacky and J.D. suppress those windows! Kazel breach the closest door and get us some cover!" I ordered firing my M16 at whatever was in the windows. I saw a shutter open and the barrel of an AK47 pop out and I immediately turned my attention to that Haji. I let loose four rounds at the window and saw the AK fall to the ground.
"Breaching!" Yelled J.D. as he kicked down the door and secured the stairway next to it. I filed in with Hacky and J.D. behind me still laying down covering fire.
"Up the stairs, BugEye on point and Hacky on rear cover! Eyes open for any of these fuckers!" I ordered turning around to walk up the stairs. I got into place behind BugEye and kept my rifle aimed straight over his shoulder. We came to the top of the third flight when a door flung open in front of us and a Haji ran out screaming some random bullshit at us while firing his AK. Before he even got ten rounds out, BugEye and I had put at least six rounds into him. He fell to the floor and we kept moving up
until we made it to the top of the four floor. "Buildings clear! Get back outside and keep moving towards Charlie!" I ordered and keyed my headset. "Bright how're you holding up!?" I asked making sure his team was doing ok.
"I'm good Spook! We cleared our building and are almost to Charlie!" Replied Bright.
"Roger that! We're coming out now so watch your six!" I said as we exited out building and turned back towards the Marines from Charlie.
"Copy that Spook! Bravo out!" I could see Bravo farther down the street and they had almost made it to Charlie. BugEye was still at point and an insurgent popped out from a door on our side of the road and fired his RPD at us. BugEye went flying back and down in front of me as I fired off a round, hitting the Haji square in the head.
"Say 'Hey' to Allah for me you fucking prick! And while you're at it tell him to fucking suck it!" I yelled at the dead son of a bitch as I knelt down to help BugEye. There was no blood anywhere and I hurriedly opened his flak jacket up. A bullet rolled out and clattered onto the ground as his eyes fluttered open.
"Am I dead?" Asked BugEye, completely out of it. I laughed and pulled him up, patching his flak jacket back and pushing him forward.
"Snap out of it BugEye! We're not out of this shit yet!" I yelled and raised my rifle firing three rounds into the building across from Charlie. I hit the eject button and the magazine dropped from the rifle as I ripped out a new one and pushed it in. Pulling on the charging handle, we kept moving down the road. "Fireteam Charlie, this is Fireteam Sierra! Do you copy!?" I asked as we got closer to the building.
"Sierra this is Charlie, we copy you over!" Replied the Staff Sergeant.
"We're coming to the building you're taking fire from! Pop smoke and hold fire!" I ordered as we made came to a halt in front of the door. Charlie stopped firing a few moments before and I heard the 'clank' noise the grenade made as it hit the ground. Smoke spewed out moments later and we stacked up next to the door, BugEye still on point. "Bright on my order get those medics up here!" I said.
"Roger that Spook, we're ready and waiting with Charlie!" Replied Bright. The sound of the insurgents who were still spraying AK and RPD rounds down at Charlie and Bravo was heard even though the smoke was still up.
"Kick down that door BugEye." I said. He stepped in front of the door and with all his force kicked, and the door came crashing down. Stupid fucking Hajis don't even know how to bolt a door the right way.
"I've got stairs covered! Room straight ahead!" BugEye pointed out as we entered and sure enough, there was a door right as we walked in. I walked in along the left wall with J.D. on the right wall
and Hacky coming in on the left wall as well. We all had our backs to the walls and we were all looking in the center and corners of the room.
"All clear! BugEye you've got point stay ready!" I said as we walked back out, rifles still at the ready and fell into formation behind BugEye. I nudged him in the back to let him know to start moving up the stairs. My M16 was still pointing over his shoulder, and Hacky was behind me his SAW aiming a little farther to the right, with J.D. on the rear. At the top of the second flight I could hear multiple voices in the room ahead. A Haji popped out and fired off a few rounds from his AK47U and ran back in.
"BugEye cover me!" I ordered as I let my M16 fall down on its sling over my chest. BugEye began firing rounds into the room to keep the insurgents suppressed long enough for me to grab a fragmentation grenade from my vest, pull the pin, and lob it into the room. "Fire in the hole!" I yelled as we backed down a few steps. The grenade went off with not one scream. "Clear that room!" I ordered as we moved in.
BugEye moved along the left wall, me on the right, Hacky followed BugEye and J.D. covered the door. "All clear! Keep moving!" I ordered as we left the room and continued up the building. There was one more flight and one more room to clear. As we came up the stairs, I heard something fall over onto the ground and right as BugEye could see the room, an RPD began firing wildly at us from behind the door.
"Shit! They've got it covered!" Yelled Hacky as he ducked down. Once again, I pulled a grenade from my vest, ripped out the pin and lobbed it into the room. A few moments later it went off and we cleared the room the same way we had the last. Some random Haji jumped out from a separate room and started yelling. He had a belt full of explosive tied around him and my eyes got the widest I've ever felt. "Get out! Get the fuck out now!" I ordered pushing BugEye behind me and out the door where Hacky and J.D. had already got out. Not even five seconds later, I was barley out the door and down the stairs when he detonated the explosive. The house shook like all Hell and as we got outside, there was rubble everywhere on the street.
I looked up to see a huge gaping hole on the second floor. "Bright get those god damn medics up here now!" I ordered.
"Already on it Spook." Replied Bright. Then, Hawks fifty caliber machine gun began to let loose into something in the direction our squads had come from. As he continued to fire, I saw a white Sedan come screaming down the road, its front on fire from the fifties and speed right through between the Hummer and truck.
"J.D. hit them with a two-oh-three now!" I screamed as they got closer. J.D. switched his hands around and knelt down taking aim at the Sedan. A second later, a loud 'plump' sound echoed as he fired a grenade from the M203 grenade launcher mounted on the bottom of his M16. The shell sailed through the air and exploded on contact after going through the broken windshield. The Sedan swerved and careened into a nearby building, on fire. "Good job J.D." I said giving him a pat on the back. He pulled open the two-oh-three and let the empty shell fall out.
"Bright what's the status on Charlie?" I said, calmer now that we had cleared some of the area.
"Both privates K.I.A. Spook. We got here too late." I sighed and looked around.
"Roger that, load them up in the truck and let's get out of here." I said as we walked back to our Hummvee. I got in and grabbed the radio. "Command this is Fireteam Sierra, we've secured Charlie. Two Marines K.I.A. Over."
"Copy that Sierra, return to base for debriefs. Command out."