10 NOV: FALLUJAH
And that’s pretty much how my Fallujah experience started: I was asleep, it was early in the morning, and a loud pounding on my door –accompanied by much more “background noise” than usual– woke me up. It was time to go.
In real life I was herded onto a Bradley fighting vehicle. It was my one an only time inside a Bradley, in fact it was the first time I’d really been close to one. I had no idea who the guys were driving the Bradley, I was just put in the back and we roared off. There was myself and one other guy, and that was that. Bear in mind that I’d been awakened at about 4 AM or so, and the interior of the Bradley quickly lost its novelty. The two of us the back started to nod off– it is amazing how easy it is to sleep under those conditions. You can’t see much from the back of an armored vehicle while your hatch is shut, and on smooth ground, the vehicle can develop a slight rocking motion that is almost relaxing. The rumble, clatter and squeal of the treads and the howl of the diesel engines drowns out most outside noise, as well, so you don’t hear things that would otherwise worry you.
Our Bradley then parked near an M1 tank, and we started hearing sounds of fighting. Our Bradley guys –whoever they were– shot a few rounds from their turret but they didn’t seem too concerned; it’s possible they were just firing a few rounds to reassure themselves. The funny thing was, in real life, we sat there for about 45 minutes and I was beginning to wonder what I could do to go pee, when we turned around and headed back. I would go into Fallujah again later, but in the light of day and in a convoy of up-armored Humvees. But my Bradley adventure was done. To this day I have no idea what that whole short ride was about, or who we were riding with.
In the comic I have Joe and the rest of the Platoon get into M-113 Armored Personnel Carriers; I am much more familiar with the M-113 and can draw one easily– I am familiar with the technical details that help make the comic more authentic. Since the type of armored vehicle I rode in that day ultimately didn’t make a difference on the outcome of my adventure, I went with the more familiar M-113.
The burning tank? Later, on my second trip into Fallujah in Humvees, I passed by an M1 tank that had been blown up and burned. The M1 is a powerful tank, but almost all tanks are vulnerable in the back, where the engine grille is. In this comic, I combined the two experiences– I’ve mentioned before that I use a lot of personal experience in creating BOHICA Blues, but despite that it is not supposed to be an exact retelling of my personal story. I will mix experiences from myself and others, from different times, to tell the story.
This week, I will recount the Second Battle of Fallujah. It was Operation Phantom Fury, led by the US Marines and Iraqi Nation Guard inside Fallujah itself, with elements of the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division (the guys I was with) providing security around Fallujah to try to keep insurgents boxed in. In this week’s comic, I’ll use historical elements to make up a fictional battle for the 213th Battalion.