3.27.2008

Escalation Of Force

The kids in the school crowd in the doorways and peek out the windows at the foreigners clearing the area. Once we finish and take up positions inside the courtyard, the kids become more curious.

"Hello Mista!"

"Mista! Football!"

"Mista! Pen!"

"Mista! I love you!"

"Mista! Give me!"

The teachers were obviously annoyed by the distraction and the kids' unruly behavior. There was really only one way that I could ever respond to something like this.

I gave the kids the thumbs up, which they returned, moderate cheering.

I threw my fist in the air. More excitement. I started clapping my hands over my head and making hand gestures to further rile them up. The shouting and cheering and idiocy amplified. I threw both fists in the air, bringing them to a crescendo of simple childish screeching. It was all I could do to keep myself from breaking out the chant of, "USA! USA! USA!"

Satisfied with the grade school riot I had incited, I went over to the main doorway again. First Sergeant asked what all the commotion was about.

"No idea, First Sergeant," I said. "I gave 'em the thumbs up. Guess they're happy to see us."



As we walked back, I took point, with my good friend, the travel partner, Solid Steak, on the other side of the road next to me. I went about the usual scanning paranoia routine, looking for the supposed bad guy before the supposed bad guy could supposedly get it on.

Down the road in front of us, an old dude pedaled towards us on a bike. I gave him the closed fist hand signal to stop. He didn't.

I gave him the Iraqi hand signal for Stop. He didn't.

I yelled at him, something polite like, "Hey! Keef! Stop! STOP MOTHERFUCKER!!!" He didn't.

I raised my M4 and put my sights on his face. "HEY! STOP AND GET THE FUCK OFF THE ROAD!!!" He didn't.

This ain't right, man. This motherfucker is wearing a suicide vest, HAS to be, no one would keep on pedaling--

BANG!
BANG!

I release the trigger as two plumes of dirt kick up five feet away from him. I had jerked my rifle a little to the right and downward to fire a warning shot, and Solid Steak sure wasn't going to pass up an opportunity to spit lead, and fired at the exact same time I did.

The old man hopped off the bike with a weak, "Aaah--aaaaah," sounding more like a lamb than anything else. Not thinking, I started walking towards him while shouting profanities, directives, and pointing to a lot off the side of the road.

"Take your fucking bike OVER THERE and WAIT for ONE MINUTE! WAHEED!" I tapped my watch. It took what felt like a minute of screaming at the guy to get my point across. It was stupid of me to get any closer to the guy than I already had, but it quickly became clear that he was just old, and possibly stupid. He didn't have any bulges in his clothing. I'm still on this earth writing this, so fuck it. Dumb move on my part.

An interpreter and a female officer talked to the guy on the side of the road as we headed back to another courtyard. Once everyone was inside, First Sergeant was relating what happened with one of the platoon leaders.

"What the fuck was that guy's problem?" I asked Top (1SG).

"Shit, he's just old, damn near blind, near sighted as hell, and probably half deaf too."

I would have felt bad if I had smoked him, but self preservation comes before my bleeding heart. If he wouldn't have stopped after that warning shot, I wouldn't have hesitated, not even for a second.

24 Comments:

  1. Anonymous said...
    well, you did admit to being a plagiaristic prostitute...
    Anonymous said...
    Antagonizing the kids: Funny

    Doing what you have to: Respectable.

    Come home safely...
    Red said...
    You can't hesitate if you want to come home alive.


    LOL @ the gradeschool riot :)
    David M said...
    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 03/27/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.
    Jenni said...
    as far as antagonizing those poor grade school teachers, you're just doing what you've done best since kindergarten (1st grade: ow! my pancreas! to senior year: calling your 85-year old business teacher out in front of the class...) why stop now? =)

    as far as staying in one piece until you get home, do whatever you have to do...
    2SBCT Mom said...
    LOL at the riot.

    I read this in a comment on another blog and agree wholeheartedly: "better to be tried by 12, than carried by 6". Don't hesitate for one second. You need to make it home safe!
    Anonymous said...
    I was reading the grade school portion out loud to the "house" and everyone was laughing so hard I had to stop and wait for everyone to clam down so I could read the "clapping my hands over my head" section. In the end I was worried I would be cleaning up a mess! HA! ;-)

    Love you,
    BK
    themorethingschange... said...
    "I would have felt bad if I had smoked him, but self preservation comes before my bleeding heart. If he wouldn't have stopped after that warning shot, I wouldn't have hesitated, not even for a second."

    I'm glad to hear it Suspect. Make it your mantra!

    I think that in spite of what you said earlier about not letting anybody get near you, you can't help being who you are ... a man who likes people, who never met a stranger, maybe not a bleeding heart (think you had to be a 60's radical to qualify for that title ;-), but a man with a natural inclination to help others.

    I doubt you can put that guy in a box till you get home so keep your head on the swivel your eyes on the lookout, and say "self preservation over my bleeding heart" repeat, "self preservation over my bleeding heart" repeat ...

    ~P~
    Earl said...
    Leadership or future teacher? What makes men twist their following generations of males so well? Nice handling of the old man on the bicycle, except for the bad language but the critical parts were the bullet placement and control, keep it all cool and keep the boys wanting to grow up to be you. It won't get better than that.
    Army Sergeant said...
    Grade school riot, definitely awesome.

    Not having to kill someone in the wrong place at the wrong time: priceless.
    Anonymous said...
    Ok, so you have this great ability to make me laught hysterically, then suck in every last breath worrying about you. Like the school riot. Not as a teacher, mind you. I was gonna invite you to the school to do your "I'm a hero" speach for the kiddies, but now I'm not. However, you could go to your little sister's school... I'm sure your Mom misses going to the principal's office over you.

    Aunt Sandy
    Anonymous said...
    Just stumbled on your blog. Got a good laugh. Be safe.
    Anonymous said...
    Your words; "I would have felt bad if I had smoked him, but self preservation comes before my bleeding heart." Well durn your nasty, evil, mean spirited little hide. You just might make it.

    Look, you got a serious season coming up here. The rules are going to change. Things will get a lot tougher. If you're reading this and thinking, ". . . well, DUH. Asshole." The you don't need anything else I might say.

    I remember guys coming back, regretting shooting the wrong guy. But the guys who didn't, and got killed, never said nothin'. And, since you occasionally say something funny, it'd be better to get ya back, than to lose ya downrange.

    Party on, dude.
    Anonymous said...
    I've tried to leave about 4 comments now, and none of them ever come out right. You make me smile and then laugh, and then I feel the panic. Not many people can elicit those emotions through nothing but words. I hope you can always share your words with us, even when this experience is long over. You have such a talent... I hope you are eventually paid well for what you do...
    Lynda
    MissDaisyAnne said...
    I found your blog through the Dallas Morning Newspaper. I'm a mother of a son that was in the Army 4th ID 1-22, now National Guard. Stay safe.
    Shari said...
    The grade school riot sounded like fun!
    As far as the old man, I'm glad to hear that you know and will do what you need to do to survive. Do whatever it takes to get you home safe... I dare say thats the most important thing to all of us here! Take care and never stop given 'em hell!
    GRUNTSHIT said...
    and now your a plagiaristic pimp cuz i stole that shit from you so that would make me a prostitute... Kids don't like airsoft guns either.....
    Anonymous said...
    Just googling around and came across your blog. Interesting character you are. I'll bookmark it and continue reading. Best of luck to you over there, I'm in the process of doing what I can to head over there myself.

    (Current Reservist reclassing to 11b active duty)

    Stay safe man.
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