When I talk to my friends about various things I realize my deployment changes you long after you get home.
While I was in Afghanistan our team never got hit by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). But we did have a close call. I still think about it every once and a while and I don’t know why I never wrote about it. Probably because we were on our way to the main base for a mission and by the time I got back to my Forward Operating Base (FOB) I just never wrote about it. I also never wrote home about things that were dangerous. So maybe I did write about it, but I never sent an email home.
An IED Miss
I’m not sure if we were planning to leave and got delayed by the rain or if the rainstorm just happened to come through right before we were heading out. Anyway. I was placed in the lead car which was not typical, but since it was just a drive from one base to another there wasn’t a lot of protocol. We just filled up the seats. The truck commander had me switch from one side of the vehicle to the other because he said that the side I was sitting on was the most likely to get hit.
We headed off base through the cover of darkness and I think we were about halfway there when we saw it. A big giant hole. A big giant hole created by an IED most likely set off by the storm instead of our vehicle. And yes, it was on the side of the truck that I was moved to.
One of the security guys dismounted to check it out. He wanted to make sure there wasn’t anything else to stop us on our trip. After a quick search and some tense moments, we determined there was only one IED and it had already been used.
We drove the rest of the way to the main base a little shaken. But thinking how lucky we were to not have had to deal with this IED directly.
Reflection Looking Back
I don’t talk a lot about the danger I faced overseas. And I guess it has kind of made me numb to some of the fears my friends have. A lot of my friends talk about being worried about being in public places because of the possibility of terrorist attacks. I rarely think about things like that. After being in a place where you knew you were in danger every day and not knowing if you would make it home. You just don’t worry so much about things you can’t control. If you did you would go crazy.
My first night in Afghanistan I couldn’t sleep because every noise made me jump. I was certain there would be an attack and I would be running for cover. But no such alarm ever came. When I got to the FOB, I would go to sleep worried, sleep a solid 7 hours, and then wake up. Wondering how it was even possible to sleep.
Days went by and eventually I wasn’t worried. I had to stop worrying all the time. I had to adjust to the fact I was in an unsafe place and something bad could happen to me at any time. To show you how much changed, near the end of my deployment I was about to go to bed. I heard a chopper flying in the air and shortly after I heard a rocket shot into the air. I thought to myself, that is odd, normally we don’t shoot rockets when there are helicopters nearby. So I listened to see if they were going to sound an alarm. Nothing, so I rolled over and went to bed. Well…until they finally signaled the alarm 30 minutes later. ☺