Sunday, August 16, 2009

96 Hours and 10 Miles Later

Week six was the final week of training here at BOLC II. Each day brought different missions, odd sleep schedules, and of course left us out in the beautiful Fort Sill weather which was around an even 100 degrees this past week. The 96 hours of combat operations came to a close with a 10 mile roadmarch back to the barracks and smiles of relief all around as all graduation requirements had been met and we were now prepared to move onto our respective OBCs. Words cannot express the level of excitement all the students have to move on and begin training in their branches.

Monday began bright and early with weapons draw and inspections to ensure all our gear was ready and squared away for the upcoming missions. Each mission we went on would have a new chain of command in order to ensure all students got to be in two leadership positions prior to graduation. We left the barracks on trucks and headed to FOB Kelly once again. After arriving at the FOB, we stowed gear and assembled in the class room for our first mission brief. The mission was to move to a village that had a traffic circle,close off some of the roads and operate a hasty Traffic Control Point (TCP). TCPs are used to check IDs and allow soldiers to search vehicles for weapons, intelligence, or people in and around areas of interest. For this mission I would be the M240-b gunner in charge of covering a closed down road. The mission was quick and we left the area in 30 minutes. But nothing is ever that easy. As we drove away we were ambushed with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and small arms fire from OPFOR. We dismounted and returned fire, assaulting the enemy ambush position. I was all ready to lay down some serious scunyon with the 240 but when i pulled the trigger and dull "click" and no recoil told me that the gun was jammed. As i tried to fix the gun my fellow platoon mates took out the bad guys. I then got to lay in the sun with the big gun for another hour as we awaited the Quick Response Force (QRF) to come out and recover our "blown up" vehicle.
We returned from our mission and got ready for a long night. Half the platoon would be on guard, manning the towers and gates in an effort to protect the FOB from attack. The other half, which I was a part of, would serve as QRF that night. QRF reminds me of my time as an EMT as we sat in a room talking, sleeping, and playing cards as we waited for the radio call to suit up, get on trucks, and go save a platoon that was in trouble. Sadly we only got one call that night and there was no contact at any point.
Tuesday brought a welcome nap in the middle of the day before our next mission which would be a cordon and knock of Liberty City in an effort to build rapport with the local Sheik and gather intelligence on enemy activity. I was once again assigned to provide support with an MG, this time the SAW. On arrival I moved up with my team to the roof of one of the buildings so I would have a good view of the sector I was supposed to be covering.
The mission seemed to be going well until a woman saying we had killed her son the day before flipped out and incited a fire fight. Gun fire erupted throughout the town as OPFOR and the good guys engaged each other in close combat. I got a few bursts off from the SAW but "missed" the bad guy running in the alley. Had they been real rounds I'm sure they would not have missed but we have no way of feedback with blanks. Mission was not exactly successful.
View from my SAW Position. Photo by the author.
The next day we would have two missions. The first was a raid on Liberty City. Unlike the day before when we tried to be tactful, the city was now declared hostile so we would show up guns blazing. We rolled up in force on trucks and began to throw grenade simulators (which emit a large "boom" when they go off) and smoke to disorient the bad guys on the objective. I was leading one of the elements tasked to suppress the buildings in order to let another squad move in and clear that building. The mission was quick, violent, and led to the capture of the mayor of the town and whole lot of dead OPFOR. It was the best mission we had.
OPORD brief prior to mission. Photo by author.
That night we had a recon mission. I can't speak to this mission as my squad was tasked to be on QRF and I did not take part in the actual recon piece. Thursday had us running a mission and then playing OPFOR for two other platoons. The mission in the morning, to escort a VIP to an important meeting, was an absolute disaster. We got lost numerous times, including a very funny off road trip that took us to a dead end. Needless to say the VIP never made his meeting and we failed big time. And then we got ambushed.
After the "Mission: Impossible" we returned to Liberty City to prepare to play OPFOR as another platoon was going to do a raid on the town like we did the day before. Its always fun playing the bad guy. We got dressed up in "mandresses" and assorted other Middle Eastern chic and prepared to fight. We first got artillery dropped on us and then were quickly beaten into submission by the good guys but not before I was able to take my fair share of people out of the fight. After that it was back to FOB Kelly to pack up and prep for the 10 mile road march that evening.
The author as OPFOR. Photo by 2LT Sarah Anderson.
We stepped off with 35 lbs rucks (mine was 44lbs) at about 2100 and began the long walk home. We moved the first five miles at a good pace before we stopped to take a breather. Once we started again though, blisters and cramps started to make their presence known throughout my legs and feet. The last five miles, for lack of a better term, sucked. We made it back to the barracks around 0020 (12:20 AM) and stretched out. The next day was weapons cleaning and hobbling around on sore legs and crusty feet. We were off early and then it was time for Steak Friday and a movie. Saturday was the farewell tour of OKC to include a baseball game and a visit to the few bars we had not been to yet. The rest of this coming week is out processing, packing, cleaning, and then the 14 hour drive to Fort Benning, my next home. The next post will hopefully be written from the comfort of my own room down at our house in Benning. Until then, ATW!

1 comment:

  1. Hope you and the "boys" have a safe trip to Benning!!!