When I deployed to Afghanistan we spent four months in Indiana preparing us for the undertaking of going to Afghanistan. A good portion of what we learned was what to do in a combat situation. The likelihood of combat in Afghanistan was probable. Going out into a war zone a minimum of two times a week easily could mean that we would need the training we hoped we would never need to use. About halfway through my deployment I had my combat experience. We were lucky, we didn’t see combat very often and I only was out on a mission one time when it happened. Here is the story as I remember it.
My first mission outside the wire (off base) after I got back from R&R (15-day break, my husband and I met up in New Zealand) was supposed to be a quick check of a school and two roads, followed by a market walk. That isn’t what happened.
Combat In Afghanistan
We arrived at the school, and our four members of our security element went into the school to clear it and set up a security perimeter. While this was happening I was sitting in the MATV listening to the radio waiting for the signal to get out. About 5 minutes after they got out the school was cleared so we got out and rallied up to head into the school.
We started walking towards the school and got about halfway between the MATV and MRAPs and the school and then all of a sudden.
When the first explosion happened the Master Sergeant (MSgt) I worked with and I were mid-conversation talking about how the contractor had lied about the progress of the school and were trying to decide what we were going to tell him. The second explosion was like slow motion about 50-75 meters away from where I was standing.
Back to the trucks
The next thing I knew our security element was yelling, get back in the truck. So, I ran as fast as I could, and you better believe it was fast, back to the truck. I don’t remember turning around or my first 20 steps, it was so unreal. I do remember that when I turned towards my truck the MSgt started to follow me. Before I could tell him he was going the wrong way. He had already turned around and headed in the right direction. I got to the truck and scrambled to open the door and climb in. It felt like forever. By the time I climbed in I realized I was hyped up on Adrenalin and shaking. But my job wasn’t done.
In the MATVs the passenger seats are right under the gunner’s seat so I had to help give up ammo and smoke grenades.
We couldn’t turn around and leave because we had four guys stuck inside the school. Since we had radio contact with them we knew they were between the exterior wall and the guard room. This was not our first visit to the site. We knew exactly where they were. Since we were still receiving indirect fire (gunfire, AK 47 most likely). We had to throw smoke and the gunners had to lay down indirect fire. I handed up a can of smoke to our driver and the gunner.
I didn’t see the guys running out of the school, but the MSgt I worked with was in a different truck and said it was like watching a movie. It was so unreal. We laid out such a good layer of smoke that one of the guys from the security element said, ” We put so much smoke out that I was worried the guys wouldn’t be able to find the trucks.“
Luckily, there were no problems with them getting through the smoke and to the trucks.
One of my good friends was stuck inside the school. I was constantly sending up prayers for him and the other three guys. The whole situation was not a fun experience and am glad that it was the only time I experienced anything like this while deployed.
The good news, seeing combat in Afghanistan has its “benefits” especially when no one gets hurt. We all got Army Combat Action Badge (CAB) and I received an Air Force Combat Action Medal.
See all my 31 Days…Military Life