Stories of Blood & Ink: Chapter 2
(EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS STORY CONTAINS DETAILS THAT MAY BE UPSETTING OR TRIGGERING FOR SOME. IT INCLUDES REAL-WORLD SCENARIOS, AND DETAILS TRAUMATIC EVENTS)
The M-240B is a belt-fed, air-cooled, gas-operated, fully automatic machine gun that fires 7.62mm rounds from the open bolt position. That previous statement is most likely a familiar definition that most soldiers remember from their time on “The Line”. It’s also a definition that most hoping to become an NCO are told to memorize for their “E5 Board” or “Promotion Board”. What you’re not told, though, is what that 7.62 (said: “seven point six two”) millimeter round will do to a human body. You are especially not told what that round will do a child’s body. They don’t tell you that 10 or 15 rounds from a belt will save your squad mate’s lives but take the life of a 10...12...fuck, I don’t know year old kid. A kid who, I can only imagine, was raised to hate Americans, and especially hate American soldiers. It’s because of that hate those kids are given grenades and told to throw them at patrols, convoys, any target of opportunity (T.O.O.) they can find. Well in July 2011 my squad’s vehicle just happen to be one of those targets and, for whatever reason I still can’t remember, I happened to be in the turret that day for our patrol. Our MRAP had a “two-forty” mounted to it. Which is a whole other story, but that can be summed up with: “THE CAV SUCKS” or “FUCK THE CAV”.
Anyway, we had just finished a patrol through some shit hole town in Iraq and the platoon
(See: “SIDE NOTE”) was loading back up in the trucks, and I started to hear a pinging sound.
Ping...ping, ping, ping...ping.
No gunshots, just the pinging, like rounds hitting the vehicle. I hear it at my 5 o’clock and as I turn my head and turret (when I dream about it, I turn my head then the turret like follows it, like when you look to turn your car, and then the car follows) to see where the sound is coming from. My driver says, “damn, that’s a big ass rock that kid has.”
“What kid?” I said.
The pinging was a group of military age males (roughly 12 to about 40 years old) throwing rocks at us while we were loading up to leave. It wasn’t the first time it had happened, and previously we had non-lethal shotgun rounds to pop them with and they would scatter like roaches. It was funny as shit to watch them when rubber 00Buck shot was sent their way. I wish more than anything in the world this had been a funny encounter, but it wasn’t, and it changed my life forever.
As I said, “what kid”, my turret was finally facing them and I see 2 of these kids part away, and another boy raising his arm with what looked like a RKG (looks kind of like a potato masher grenade from WW2), and I feel like before I could say anything to anyone my finger squeezed. Off went a burst of 240 fire that I wish I could take back. I pulled the trigger like 3 kids in front of a machine gun didn’t matter. Like everything else didn’t exist, except this kid face and torso that I could now see through my “1-4-5” (M145 is a machine gun sight). My squeeze felt like forever, but I know, intuitively, it was a “die mother fucker die” …just like we all learned in basic and, as the gun barked, I could see this kid cringe and then my sight got fuzzy (I realized after that it was just the gun shaking from firing).
In the moment it felt like I just dusted sand off of a table, or something…like his life was just brushed away. As I picked my head up off the gun, I finally get to see the full picture of my action. If you don’t remember at this point, it was a group of kids -I don’t know how many- but three were on the ground after. I can only say that it’s because of good karma that 2 are still moving, but the middle one is as still as could be, just lying there. Laying there, not moving, not doing anything but being dead.
I tell myself that I should have been better, I should have been more prepared…that if I had my M4, I could have just hit the kid in the hand, or maybe a warning shot...I don’t fucking know. What I do know is that this one event has completely ruined every experience with a group of children I have had since, to include experiences with my own kids and their friends. I can’t help but see that boy’s face in my head every time I drop my kids off to school, or they are playing outside with their friends.
I need to mention the fact that I wrote this story in the fall of 2017. Since then, many of the feelings I had, especially in the last paragraph, have changed. I have healed. I have learned how to cope. I’ve learned that I am not the only one to have experienced something like this, and I most importantly learned that I am not alone. There is help available in all shapes and sizes, and all a person has to do is ask for help.
SIDE NOTE: I must explain this in order for the story to make sense. I say platoon, but the Cavalry-only M-TOEs (Modification Table of Organization and Equipment) Infantry platoons with 20 dudes, so we are more like half a platoon when we are mounted in vehicles. Then, when we dismounted, 10 people stayed in the trucks. A platoon has 4 vehicles, so.... 4 drivers, 4 gunners (what I was doing in this story), and 1 or 2 vehicle commanders. So, 9-10 people stay in the trucks, and we have 10 people on the ground. 10 people is the size of a true Infantry Squad in the Army. We had 1 squad performing the duties of what my 40-man Infantry platoon did during my previous deployment. So yeah…fuck the CAV.
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