Wolfhound Reflections – SPC Andrew Olsen B CO 1-27 INF

Rest and Recreation was looked upon as a joyous, short term, moment in our otherwise long deployment. For many, the day we arrived in Iraq was the day we began counting down to our R&R. It was the sunshine in an otherwise cloudy existence. As your time draws near you begin to take extra precautions to try and guarantee your safe return home. You stop volunteering for those extra missions, just because you're bored and want to leave the FOB.

When the day approaches and you have your things packed and ready to go to Kirkuk, you try to get the safest most secure seat on the ride up. And as your sitting there prepared to leave the FOB, you start to think of the one magazine you have. You begin to wish you had brought more things just in case something does happen. You know that if something does happen you want to be there next to your friends defending yours and their life. Everything that could go wrong flies through your head a million times as you picture the best way to handle the situation.

For most, you leave the FOB, and make it to Kirkuk safely. Once on Kirkuk you relax and realize you’re just that much closer to being home. The stay on Kirkuk lasted about 4 days for me. During my stay I enjoyed the finer things available at the time in my life. I went to the swimming pool every day, resulting in sunburn. I enjoyed the meals at the dining facility, and enjoyed pool at the Cantina. Another item I had to purchase, because it had been so long, was a whopper sandwich. While I enjoyed such fine convenience at Kirkuk, I overheard other people degrade the Air Base. Looking at people who had no idea of what living in more undesirable conditions, made me angry. Do these people not realize the luxury they have compared to me, and my company?

The best news I had ever received was when my flight from Kirkuk to Kuwait had been scheduled and I knew I was getting on my road home. As I flew out of Kirkuk I took a much need rest on the C-130. I felt alive again and my stomach was turning in knots, knowing I would be seeing my wife and kids again. As we landed in Kuwait I had a grin from ear to ear. No matter how long it took me to fly out of Kuwait I knew it was only a matter of time before I made it home.

Once I was on the plane flying from Kuwait, I began to think more and more of my friends and fellow brothers still in Iraq. I had begun to pray and hope that nothing would happen to any of them while I was away. I trusted in my replacement to do the job I had done for so long until I got back. If anything happened it would go through him, being the acting Company RTO. I knew my friends were in good hands; Fallen Wolfhound soldiers had to be looking out for us.

While I was on leave I enjoyed every minute, being away from my family for such an extended period and taught me to cherish every moment with them. My wife and I got along better in those two weeks than any time during our marriage. I still did not feel relaxed during those two weeks spent in my own home. Loud noises startled me, and I woke in the middle of the night not being able to sleep anymore. I knew I could not release my grasp on those senses, urges, until I was done with Iraq all together. I did not want to show up after two weeks without the edge to keep me on my toes.

Wolfhound Reflections – SPC Cato

Hello my name is SPC Cato; I am in C co 1-27 Infantry. We were recently deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The task given to me today is to write about Iraq or an event in Iraq. I am going to take my time and tell you about the food, the black market, boot legged DVD's and the sports we played.

First is the food. The MRE or meal ready to eat is one of the Army's best creations. We had to eat MRE's for the first two months we were there. As I said before it is a great creation. I didn't say we should eat it that often. The thing that got me about that is that they constipate you something awful. But after you get used to that it is not all that bad.

The next thing that I would like to take the time to tell you about is the boot leg DVD's. They have some men that over in Iraq that can get you any movie that you want with just three days’ notice. The best thing about it is that it's only $5.00 for a movie and $7.00 for a double feature. Sometimes the quality wasn't that good but for the price you can't beat it. Sometimes you could even get the movie before it even came out in the theater. Do not ask me how they did that. The bad thing about that is all the money they made probably went straight to terrorism. Even though there is no real way to prove it this is my paper and I can put my own convictions in it. The men that sold them were really nice I ended up becoming friends with two or three of them. So every now and then they would cut me a deal. If you bought a bad copy you could just give it back to him and he would give you store credit or if you wanted he would give your money back. But who really wants five dollars when they can get an entire new movie.

The last thing that I am going to bore you with today is the sports we played. We had a variety of games that we played on a regular basis. We started out only playing Volleyball. We would play every night if nothing was going on or if we were not too tired. We would play as the sun went down. After a month or two we were given money to lay cement for a basketball court. I started to shoot hoops every day. I had played as a younger kid so I picked the game up very fast. On certain days or holidays we would have Bar B Q's and on those days we would play football. That was my favorite time in Iraq. I'm not the most athletic but I will always play any sport as long as it’s competitive. I love to win or at least try to win.

Wolfhound Reflections – SSG Adam Grew

I am SSG Adam Grew of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 2ih Infantry Regiment. I am writing this about a specific event that occurred in the early morning hours on November 16th, 2004.

To begin, I am the section sergeant of a 60l11l11mortar section. During my deployment to Iraq, I resided at FOB Gaines Mills, just southwest of the city of Kirkuk. When we were not conducting mortar operations with the company during missions, my soldiers, along with myself were tasked with operating the company TOC. We normally worked the same hours yearlong, seven days a week, from 1700hrs to 0100hrs, and as you can imagine, that became extremely monotonous.

The month of November seemed to be very active, with many lED's, a lot of enemy indirect fire on or near the FOB, and a nighttime ambush on 3rd Platoon, which resulted in a direct hit by an RPG on their HUMMWV. There was one soldier who was seriously injured in the event, SPC Wooldridge, and he ended up having to get his leg amputated. This occurred on November 14th , 2005.

The date is roughly 140000NOV04 now, and my soldiers and I are about to come off of our TOC shift early, to conduct a nighttime patrol with 3rd Platoon. We bring along with us one mortar system with several illumination rounds, and of course some HE just in the case we need it. As the guys are loading up the vehicles, I stepped into the TOC with some other NCO's going along on the patrol. Out of nowhere, I hear the XO yell "Shut up!" and says that he heard over the company net that there may have been a vehicle rollover. Immediately he instructed someone to get on the line with battalion, and inform them that we may have had a vehicle rollover. As soon as we got a grid to their current location, we were jumping on the vehicles, and headed out the gate. I had mixed emotions at the time, but I guess most of all I had a general concern for the soldiers on that vehicle.

We arrived on location in about five minutes, and secured the site. Once local security was established, about five of us, including myself, ran to the accident scene. That was when we noticed that the vehicle fell off of a 20 foot ledge, and landed upside down. The back half of the vehicle was hanging over the aqueduct, which is a small canal, and the front half was crushed. My first thought was that this was very serious and life- threatening. 

There were nine guys in that vehicle, three of them walked away from the crash without injuries, one soldier was being treated in the back of an FLA, and five soldiers were pinned underneath the vehicle. All of them were conscious except for one, SPC McConnell.

It took a total of about three hours to get all of them out from underneath that vehicle, because of the awkward position of the way it landed. 

When SPC McConnell was finally pulled out, he was still unconscious. Miraculously, he had a slight pulse. When we heard the medic say the he had a pulse, I looked at another NCO, and he said, "He's alive." 

A few hours later, as we arrived back to FOB Gaines Mills, I was talking with my squad leader, when he told me that SPC McConnell didn't make it. 

I will always remember this soldier, and the ultimate sacrifice he gave, while honorably serving this nation. SPC McConnell, you will always be our brother, and will never be forgotten.

Daily Routines at the F.O.B – Anonymous

Daily routines at the F.O.B changes from day to day depending on what is going on around you and how you feel. I like to sleep a lot and every chance I get I will try to sleep the day away. The more I sleep the faster the day will go by for me. It seems like every time I want to go to sleep it is time to go and do something. I tried to keep my routine the same so I would not forget anything throughout the day.

In the beginning it was very cold and raining all I wanted to do was stay in my conex. The mission we had would not allow it we had to teams in the platoon during the mission week and every team was on the road for at least 8 straight hours. At the time there were no doors on the vehicle so we had to dress with a lot of layers of clothes in order to stay warm. I felt sorry for the soldiers that road on the back of the truck that felt the cold winds as they road down the road. When I was on the night shift we slept all day and then once we woke up we conducted personal hygiene and then made sure are vehicle was ready for mission that lay ahead. In the beginning it was rough because we did not have a system down and it just took most of our time. As the days and months went by things got better and we had more time on are hands to do things that we like to do.

Every two days we change are duty throughout the company so for two days we had base defense: than QRF and then mission week. I always like base defense because I got a lot of time off. During my time off during base defense I would go to the phone talk to my wife oh what j oy that is to talk to my wife and hear her voice. It was her voice that brightens up my day. Than I would go back to my room watch DVD and then go to sleep. It was kind of rough doing everything every two days it did not give you enough time to adjust to what was going on. When the Commander decided to change to a week the routine became much better you had more time to yourself to do more things. That was one of the greatest decisions that were ever made.

Being on base defense for a week was a blast for me. I would be SOG for 8 hours. That was the easiest duty for me. I got to listen to a radio in my room and if no one called I could watch movie read the bible and write letter. I would walk around and conducted guard mount and then check the guard post

OIF II Reflections – SSG Long

I guess the only place for me to start is when I found out I was going to be deployed to Iraq. I was going into my third phase of Ranger School when I got the word that 2nd BCT was to deploy to Iraq for approx. one year. I was pretty upset at first because the original plan was to deploy to Afghanistan for six months. Now I was going to be gone for a year. I didn't want to believe that I was going. I remember getting really mad and trying to hold it all in until I graduated and deployed.

When I did finally graduate I ended up going into the field about one day after I got back. You see back then was the time of good old "CPT CARPINATER" and when A CO went to the field, everybody in A CO went. It didn't matter if you were one hour away from ETS out of the army or you had two broken legs and you were in a body cast, if you could breathe you were going to the field! It was pretty upsetting and hard to swallow but that's the way it was. That was the way it would always be.

When I got back to the GUNSLINGERS all beat up from spending my 80+ days in Ranger school. Soldiers of whom I had previously only had the opportunity of working with two of them first hand. Now you got to understand, before I left I was really hard on my soldiers. The BN knew we were headed off to fight for our country. They just couldn't say exactly when and where. So I thought I should push my team to be all that they could be and get them ready for combat. But now that I had a whole new Squad and little time to train them the way would have liked to. I had to stick with the basics.

I knew that if I could get all my guys to stick together and always work as a team no matter what they had to do, it would help us out and keep them from trying to isolate them. What I mean by that is, going to war sucks. Going to war and not having anyone to lean on when your down and out is unimaginable.

I figured that the best way for me to build team/squad integrity was to spend as much time together as possible. We did it all, chow, PT, weapons maintenance, everything. And when we got to the point where we made it to our home away from home it stayed that way.

While in combat you develop close bonds with your friends and soldiers. There would be times that our platoon would be on Base Defense and when it was my squads shift the guys that didn't have to pull guard would split the shift with the guys that did. While we were out on patrol guys would work harder because they wanted to take care of each other.

Out of all the of the things that I took from Iraq; the experience, knowledge and wisdom are beyond my years. The best would definitely be the brotherhood I formed with my soldiers. I couldn't have asked for a better group of soldiers.

OIF II Event – SPC Bernard Villa 1-27 INF A Co. 2nd PLT 3rd SQD

When I think back to the year that we spent in Iraq, of course I remember the bad days. I remember April 7th and September 11th and Joe Herndon and Ernest Sutphin and SSG Eric Cagle. Those things are hard to forget, and sometimes I wish I didn't have to remember. But my deployment was also a learning experience, and one of the things I learned was how my platoon can make the best of things when the worst is happening around them. When morale was low, we tried to keep our spirits high. With our friends getting hurt and dying, and the long hours of patrol, and the lack of entertainment, we endeavored by laughing, playing, and eating; things so basic, we learned them as children. Many people will write their reflections on a significant battle, or a time they received enemy contact, but I'm a strong believer in remembering about the events in Iraq that I enjoyed.

It didn't seem like much at the time, but during the few hours we had between missions, we tried to get some brotherly bonding going. It’s the thing that can keep competition going without anyone getting hurt. The thing closest to combat other than actual combat: video games. More specifically, Halo 2 on the Xbox. Even though it seems very trivial now, it was the saving grace of spending our free time together without getting on each other's nerves.

Frustration and pent up anger are everyday occurrences while being deployed. It's a good motivator, but at the same time its harmful if kept in. Our company knows this, and to let off some steam, we have "skits." A skit is a way for the lower enlisted to express how they feel about certain situations that have taken place within the company. They actually practice their skits and then perform them in front of the chain of command. There are no punishments or repercussions afterwards so "Joe" can say whatever he wants. Props can also be used and are actually what makes the skits funnier. My platoon has the funniest skits in the company, making fun of leadership and each .other .with .overly exaggerated situations and knee-slapping punch lines. During Christmas, we performed a skit in which we imitated our team leaders and above. Each one of us sat on Santa's lap and asked for something ridiculous but very applicable. Laughs abundant and bellies full of barbecue, I can honestly say that my Christmas in Iraq was pretty fun.

Yes, there were times I felt like I wanted to hurl my weapon across an open field out of frustration. Yes, there were times I felt like beating stubborn detainees out of the anger of my friends getting hurt or dying. But those aren't the memories that made Iraq for me. When I think back to the year that we spent in Iraq, I'm glad that I also remember the good days.

Wolfhound Reflections – SPC Nigel James C Co. 1-27 Infantry

I am Specialist James of C. Co. 1/27 Infantry. My subject for this essay deals with the living conditions as they were during my unit's deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. My company along with some slice elements including field artillery, medics and some commo personnel occupied property that belonged to an Iraqi associated with Saddam Hussein. He is known as Chemical Ali. We moved onto Gaines Mill, as it was named, in the early part of February 2004. When we arrived there it was still the rainy season so everywhere and everything was wet. There was mud everywhere also. Well, it was decided that headquarters and 1st platoon would live in the 2 buildings that were allotted to C. Co.: I am in the mortar squad so I fall in with headquarters. My squad moved into one building with all of 1st platoon. We lived in a room on the second f100r of the building. At first there were 7 of us in my squad living in the room but as time went on and circumstances changed we eventually got downsized to 5 in the room. The room was sizeable, we were able to store our equipment in the room and still be able to sleep fairly well. We did our best to keep our room as clean as possible. Some of the perks that we had included a 13-inch television and DVD combo that we had all put together and purchased prior to us leaving Hawaii, we had a refrigerator that we purchased from personnel belonging to the unit we were relieving.

The building that we lived in had 2 showers, one on each f100r. They were not very effective showers but we were able to use them. The water however was completely unhealthy; when we first arrived in Iraq we were issued warnings to not ingest the water from the faucets or the showers because there was a possible you could get sick from it. There was a chow hall set up, we were served 2 hot meals per day, those 2 hot meals were breakfast and lunch. Most soldiers received care packages from home that contained food so they would have something to eat aside from MRE's in the later hours of the day and on into the evening. There was also a telephone and computer center set up so that soldiers would be able to stay in contact and update family members on their wellbeing and needs. We were allowed to use the phones or computers for 30 minutes at a time so as to make it possible for everyone to get a chance to utilize the facility. We also had a makeshift volleyball court that came in very handy when there was some down time. We were provided with televisions to help keep us abreast of the news and other things going on around the world.

All in all, our living conditions were fairly good. Aside from the occasional mortar or rocket fire, we were pretty well off. Some people might wonder how I could say that. Well, I say that because when I look at the conditions that soldiers lived in doesn't seem quite that bad. Granted, we didn't have the space that we were probably used to but living together the way we did helped a lot in the development of unit cohesion.

Wolfhound Reflections – Anonymous

 

Hello, I have written three essays about Operation Iraqi Freedom II so I really don't know what else to say. As far as the Iraqi people, I honestly believe they don't have a chance at really having a Democratic nation. They take the cake for people with no ambition. Either they don't care or just don't want it. Besides, they've been around longer and they only know the way of Tyranny. Hell, it's probably best for them anyway. I honestly don't want to keep remembering Iraq with all these essays- my experience was that it was boring, hard, sleepless nights, scary, hot, cold, becoming a mechanic, and long. I thought it would never end.

When asked about my thoughts on Iraq, I would love to say that in a shell it was by far the worst experience and some of the most valuable in my life, if not for the knowledge that I learned from another culture then the life experience itself. I would have to agree that the Iraqi people as a whole are undecided about their rise for Democracy. From the encounters with the people that I have met, they are uneducated, if not educated at all on the matter of their democracy or they just don't care. I personal would have to say that other than defending our Nation's interest, and filling out the orders of our Commander- In- Chief, that our purpose in Iraq was long over before the 25th ever stepped into country. As a lower enlisted, I felt the wrath of the operation more so than others, but overall it would have come out much worse in the sense that I could not have come home at all. I also liked the fact that we were worried more about how we looked instead of trying to get something done. Like picking up cigarette butts by the towers exposing soldiers to sniper fire or no cover for incoming. Changing sandbags was really fun, especially since the Guard unit that replaced us couldn't do it themselves. Then after that, change them again. I liked how if someone fired at us, and we caught him, he would get a "don't do it again" speech and be set free. Maybe I am wrong about all this, but I truly believe our mission was over from day 1.

The thing I hate most about Iraq was the details, We had details every day. And there was never any free time. I would go on a mission one day then the next day would be a detail. I also hated sandbagging it didn't matter what color the bags were. But I remember we had to change it many, many times! KP that lasted too long than the cooks wouldn’t even help do anything. They would just sit around and laugh while we did everything, I hope next time it will be different. No more KP and maybe get some good food.

Life on the F.O.B – SPC Ryanjay Panlilio CCO 1-27 2nd PLT, 2nd SQD

Life on the F.O.B. is difficult and frustrating, however the laughs, good times, and cohesions’ is what made time pass by quickly. Life is very different compared to what we were used to. We are isolated and have to adapt and change our way of life. Because that is what we have a great deal of, is TIME!! Time is what makes grown men do strange things and the creativity comes out. Like the day we used Saddam Hussein's poster for target practice, or when we sat around like little kids looking for dogs, cars, and dinosaurs in the clouds.

Things that were accessible to us every day, is no longer within reach. For example, McDonald's, shopping centers, and movie theaters. Also, interacting with the opposite sex was rare. Recreational activities such as going to the club, going to the beach, and even getting intoxicated ceased.

I could recall many times I laid in my cot, wishing I could have something simple like a cheeseburger, or a phone call from home. I remember, what made the time pass is building that brotherhood we had stronger bonding, laughing, while we were watching movies together, having a good time. Granted from time to time we got frustrated together, but that's what brothers tend to do.

I value the relationships I had over there, because they were so in depth. For example, it was a very cold February night. It had been snowing and raining for three days. My battle buddy and I had the twelve am to four am observation post guard shift. My battle buddy and I had twenty layers of clothing on, it was still freezing. I saw him intensely shivering, so I gave him one of my jackets. He said his legs were freezing, so I put the jacket around his legs. I started massaging his legs, so the blood would start circulating, what we had to do was survival. That's all life on the F.O.B. is SURVIV AL!! Adapting to survive the time. It also made me a more humble person. Because taking thing away from a person, they tend to value things more when they are given back.

So when I came back to the free world. I used my time to the fullest extent. I seemed to take less things for granted, and value less things more. For example, I didn't get to come back to the rear and relax away from work, I still had to report to duty and some days were long. However, no matter how long the days were, or how boring or monotonous the work was, I still had a warm bed to go home to, hot food to eat, and more things to do.

Even though I had all those things back and I could rest easy knowing that mortars wouldn't be flying over my head, it was the brotherhood and comradery that made me want to return. You would think that a person who was there and got to come home and wanted to go back there again is crazy. I'll be the first to admit that it's not crazy and I'm not crazy likewise.

There's a certain feeling one gets when separated from his brothers. It's like a baby separated from his mother at birth. It's not natural!

Battle of Hawijah I – SPC Lupo A Co 1-27

April 7, 2004 is the date that will be forever branded upon my mind. It is the day insurgents tried to take control of a city in our area of operation named Hawijah. The enemy efforts proved to be in vain. As you read the words I have written, understand that this is from my own perspective. I will begin with my memories first snapshots of the day.

My Platoon and I entered the city on a routine patrol, expecting nothing out of the ordinary. The mission was to secure the city council building in Hawijah while our CO conducted a weekly meeting. We were met by a crowd of over a hundred angry protesters. They were chanting anti-American slogans, clapping, and pounding their fists in the air. The crowd was loud, but not as loud as my heartbeat echoing in my ears. After we secured the Company Commander and moved him to the city council building we took our normal over watch positions on the roof. After a few minutes of protesting the mob began to move west down the street, break up and scatter to the four winds. When I saw this I was relieved, but only for a few minutes, my relief soon dissolved.

The QRF platoon arrived minutes after the breakup of the angry mob. A few minutes later an insurgent peeked around a comer and pointed his RPG right at us. SGT Zuniga, who, was next to me, yelled out "he has got an RPG". LT Kahldahl immediately responded "kill him, if he has got an RPG, kill him". SGT Zuniga immediately opened fire, with a single round from his m-14, hitting the enemy in the shoulder. The wounded target returned himself around the comer. He began to peak out again only this time without the RPG. The order was given for him to be engaged again. He was hit by a few soldiers that time. Shortly after that, the insurgents engaged with all of their strength from every direction. They poured a dizzying volume of fire on us, and the death volley began. RPG's and small arms fire sailed over our heads, barely missing us. Bullets were hissing, popping, and snapping all over the city. The fighting raged on for several hours. After this I remember hearing Apache's coming to our aide. The enemy obviously heard it also because the fighting stopped. The apache's circled high above and we looked down upon a ghost town. I didn't see a single soul moving on the streets. The sounds I heard next sent chills down my spine. It was the call to prayer, echoing off the bullet hole filled buildings. I smiled at this and wondered if I was on a Hollywood movie set. Later when I was searching blood soaked bodies, I knew I was light years from Hollywood.

Sadly many people died that day. Fortunately, none of them were Americans. The insurgents brought everything they had against us, but failed to bring one vital weapon. They forgot the ability to finish what they started. We didn't start the fighting on April 7, 2004; but we sure as hell finished it.

Wolfhound Reflections – SSG Bender C Co 1-27 INF

This is about all the visitors that came to FOB Gaines Mill over the yearlong deployment. We had many visitors through out being there. To help train the local police, we conducted a once a week training day for a month period. The day would start out with basic physical training. Now this was a sight to behold. The locals of course were not accustomed to any real exercise. We would start out with some stretching to get them warmed up. After the stretching, we would show them some basic exercises like the side straddle hop, the knee bender, the push up, and the sit up. After that, we would take them on a little run around the FOB. Of course as the weeks went by we would gradually increase the run. Well as you could imagine, some of the police would quit, but you always had the few who wanted to prove themselves by going the distance.Then after PT, they would get classes ranging from basic first aid to basic movement techniques. At the end of the month, those who completed the whole course would get a certificate with a picture. We all know how much they liked their pictures taken.Some other visitors that would come were the police chiefs. They would come to meet with the Commander to discuss their problems and then come up with ways to fix them. So once a week they would come has their meeting, gets recommendations, and then leaves in the hopes of them doing their job to the best of their abilities.The mayors would also come to the FOB to see the commander. When they came, they always brought local food with them. They would bring bread, chicken, and cut vegetables and assorted sauces. Believe it or not the food was actually good, and it was always a big hit with the soldiers. Mainly because it was different than what we usually ate.Now every once in a while we would have the honor of the 1st ID commander or CSM come and visit the FOB. When they would come they always wanted to see how the soldiers were doing, and to thank us for the hard work we were doing. That was always up lifting to hear.We always looked forward to the bi-weekly log pac coming. Mainly for the mail. Nothing makes a soldier happier than receiving mail from a loved one. Plus that is also when they bring in more food supplies.The best visitor we had was our very own CSM. He would come at least once a week. He would always take the opportunity to talk with all the NCO's. His talks were always uplifting to hear. We would see him for the promotion boards. We would see him for the holidays when the Bn CMDR would come and say a few words. Those of us that lived and worked in the TOC really knew why he came. He came for some quality rest and relaxation from the hectic day to day activities at the battalion TOE. What was the rest and relaxation you are probably wondering about? Well, the video game "Halo 2" of course. Rest assured, there will always be an open seat and invitation for him!

Wolfhound Reflections – SSG Adam Grew

Hello, I am SSG Adam Grew of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment. This is a short story about our first enemy incoming round we took while in Iraq.

Not soon after our unit arrived in Kirkuk, Iraq, we heard sirens going off in the distance. It was nighttime, around 0300hrs, and we were not sure exactly what the sirens were for. Around the same time, there was also small arms fire in the distance; we knew that this couldn't be good.

I actually remember the first incoming round that we received while on FOB Gaines Mills, because it made us laugh, well most of us anyways. As my section and I were walking back to our living quarters from the gym, we were walking in front of a soldier from the unit that we were relieving. We heard the whistle from the rocket go right over our heads. It was very loud. It was then that we heard the loud impact of the round, and all we could do was look at each other and wonder. There wasn't anywhere to seek immediate cover, but the soldier that was behind us all of a sudden ran past us full stride, looked at us on his way past and said, "That's incoming!" The expression on his face was unforgettable; I don't think I will ever forget it.

From this point on, we began to take incoming round on a regular basis. It became a regular thing for us all. I guess you could say when it' your time, it's your time. That sounds like a very awful thing to say, but it is the truth. You could be at the wrong place at the wrong time, and that's when something could happen.

One positive aspect about the incoming rounds that the insurgents were firing is that they were highly inaccurate, for the most part at least. Don't get me wrong, there were some that landed dangerously close, and the closest one that landed near the Company TOC impacted roughly 150 meters away. Another close call that Charlie Company encountered was when three mortar rounds impacted just three meters from the latrines. Luckily, there wasn't anyone in them at the time. The damage was remarkable, holes from shrapnel entering from one side, and exiting the other side, going right through the walls.

From the first day that we were in Iraq all the way up to the last day, I'd have to say that every soldier had high morale considering the incoming factor. We knew that regardless of our whereabouts, inside or outside the FOB, there was the chance you could take incoming. Everyone was trained on how they should react in these circumstances. Also, every soldier knew and understood the SOP and what needed to happen after something like this happened.

Wolfhound Reflections – SPC Nigel James C Co 1-27

As a soldier, I believe that morale is very important especially when deployed in a combat zone. You are separated from your family and friends, totally removed from your home and regular surroundings. Expected to perform your duties to the best of your abilities and deal with it all without faltering.

Well, being a soldier in C. Co. 1127 and spending a little over 13 months in a combat zone with my company has taught me as a leader you have to be able to help your soldiers maintain their stability and their sense of self and at the same time give them room to think for themselves and mature on their own. Several times while we were in Iraq our leaders put together events to help bolster the morale of their soldiers. For instance, we somewhat celebrated all the national holidays. A grill was built using and old oil drum and some pieces of steel, along with the ingenuity of the soldiers who built it. Our leaders would coordinate with the soldiers in charge of the Dining Facility to prepare a meal for the occasion. A time would be set when we would have a formation minus whomever were still out on a mission. Usually there would be some kind of activity planned such as, sports or some form of physical competition. We would participate in volleyball, basketball, touch football, relay races while carrying sandbags, etc ... We would participate in the activities planned then we would eat and attempt to take our minds off where we were, even if only for a moment. Being the only family we could count on right there on the spot we grew and matured like any other family would. We were happy when there were promotions. There would be congratulations all around, like a brother proud to see his brother doing well.

We also made weekly trips to FOB Warrior, where soldiers had a chance to make purchases from the Post Exchange. Soldiers were able to go to the post office and mail packages or whatever they needed to send home. We would be able to get haircuts or go to the gift shop that had been built so we would be able to buy keepsakes of our deployment or gifts for our family members back home.

It's events like those, in my belief, that kept a lot of soldiers doing their jobs and made it possible for us to carryon and withstand the time away from our families a bit easier. Knowing that we did not have a time that we would be off from work and be able to fully relax or go out with friends or enjoy any of the freedoms that are so easily and readily available to us when we are safe at home, it is my perspective that without the efforts of our leaders to maintain and boost troop morale the difficulties we faced while deployed would have taken a much greater toll on our soldiers.

Wolfhound Reflections – Anonymous

Imagine living in a world with no johns nearby. This is an account of rushed trips to drop deuce. Take a minute to imagine yourself in a world where you can't just wake up in the middle of the night to go and sit on the throne. This is a world filled with piss bottles and port-a-potties. A world where it's not necessarily looked down upon to sleep in a bed where bottles full of your own urine lay beneath you.

I can recount plenty of nights when I have woken up in a cold sweat already knowing what was coming. You can never really get dressed in time so you're constantly having to go out of you room in mismatched uniforms and head for the port-a-potty. As you walk you're praying that some sergeant isn't taking that particular time to do the same thing you are, but in reality he's doing the same thing you are so he can't really yell at you for being all jacked up. As you walk you're constantly telling yourself, "I can make it. I can make it." Then having to stop and tell yourself, "I might not make it! No, I am not going out like that, I'll make it!" Your first instinct is to run straight over to the toilet but you can't because if you went any faster you would have a mess running down the side of your leg. So you go slow and easy, stopping every once in a while to suppress any urges your body has to just go right there.

Just as a side note it doesn't help that you've been eating the local food all day long because the mayor of a neighboring city decides to drop by and bring his gift off smelly body odor and food such as lamb or chicken surprise. What's the surprise? You'll be on your way to cleaner bowls in no time.

Back to the trip down the torturous mile. It never helps to realize half way down to the port-a-potties that you forgot to bring your own stash of toilet paper or baby wipes. So you have to make the decision of a life time, do you turn back or keep going? Of course there's no turning back so you just have to hope and pray that the crap suckers left some TP in there for you.

Then comes the moment, you have finally made it to the stalls, and of course you always have to go to that one special one that you claim as your own. You open the door to the inevitable misery of no toilet paper, so you check the next stall no, no dice. This process can continue from anywhere to 3 stalls to every single one of them the last one being the only one with TP in it of course. Then comes that moment of total euphoria, when you sit down and finally relax. Now that was a Painful but very much worthwhile experience. Now you think to yourself, "Now where was I? Oh yeah let me get back to my dreams of being back in Hawaii drinking beer and chasing hot girls."

Wolfhound Reflections – SPC Nigel James C CO 1-27

I am a soldier, I am an infantryman, I am a mortar man, and a WOLFHOUND. This is an account of an experience that occurred in Iraq that I am in no rush to repeat.My mortar section was working as a split section. We had a mission coming up to accompany an element from our 1st platoon to a cache site that had been discovered in order to secure the site and stay on guard until BOD arrived to dispose of the mortar and rocket rounds that had been found at the site. We prepped and left our FOB at approximately 1800 hrs.All went well on the convoy to the cache site, it was an uneventful drive. We arrived at the site, relieved the element that was already there and took over security. We separated our vehicles by about 100 meters and parked where we would be able to have a good position to watch over the area.After we parked we dismounted the vehicle and set our mortar gun into place just in case we needed it. We got settled in for the time that we would have to stay at the site. At approximately 2330 we heard a whistle, a whistle that we become quite familiar with due to the numerous mortar and rocket attacks on our FOB, we scrambled to take cover. The mortar/rocket impacted about 200-300 meters from where we had set up. Almost immediately following that, my squad leader, my gunner as well as I preceded to fire illumination rounds from our gun. In the process of doing so, we began to receive small arms fire. Luckily for us we were parked and set up behind a huge dirt berm. We were able to hear the rounds from the small arms whizzing by above our heads and some landing into the berm.Immediately following the small arms fire we fired a few rounds of illumination in order to increase visibility. A soldier from the 1st platoon element then began searching for the shooter/shooters through a thermal sighting device. By the time we were able to locate them they had already crossed a field and a road and were headed off into another field. We loaded up our vehicles and proceeded to pursue them. We were unable to detain them due to the head start they had gotten as well as the obstacles in front of us that we had to maneuver around.We were all pretty upset that we weren't able to apprehend them but at the same time we were all very grateful that there were no injuries sustained. That incident later paled in comparison to what occurred the rest of the time we were out there that night but it was a significant event for me because it comes to mind most frequently and helps me to appreciate everything on a whole a little more.

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