Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The Real Story Behind the April 9th Insurgency in Iraq

The Real Story Behind the April 9th Insurgency in Iraq
by Jarob D. Walsh, U.S. Army Specialist
17 May 2004

My company is fuel transportation. We are the Army Reserve 724th Transportation Company. But in Iraq we have civilian contractors Kellogg Brown and Root. They do all the fuel hauling. So we basically become force protection for convoys. Friday, April 9th, about 7 a.m., my platoon started getting ready for a fuel convoy from LSA Anaconda in Balad to Baghdad International Airport (BIOP). We were running security for 21 civilian fuel trucks. We had 26 in the whole serial. I was in the 21st truck with a civilian, riding shotgun (passenger). I had never ridden with a civilian on a convoy before. The American civilians are non-combatants; they do not carry weapons, so I was the only one in the vehicle with a weapon. It made me extremely uncomfortable, because that means no one has my back if we get attacked.

We left the gates of Anaconda in Iraq about 10 a.m. The convoy was going fine and it was almost a regular day in Iraq; there were cars up and down the four lane highways and there were people everywhere in all the towns; it was a normal day. About an hour and a half into the trip, the people and the cars started becoming fewer. Then, the next thing I knew, my LT (lieutenant) - who is in the lead truck - comes on the radio and says, "We are taking rounds - everyone get ready!" then not even a minute later, someone else comes on the radio and says, "The LT’s truck just blew up and I don’t know where to go or what to do!" I looked at my driver and said "Oh sh** it’s about to get bad." Next thing I know, the truck about a hundred meters in front of us blows up right in front of us.

It was unlike anything I have ever seen in my life. We were in the middle of Baghdad on a main highway being attacked; there were buildings all around us, and people in the buildings firing weapons at us. I looked off to the left at a frontage road and I saw nine cars in rows of three. There was a line of women in front of all the cars, and some of them had children with them. I thought they were just watching us get attacked, and then men started popping up behind them firing at us - they were using the women as shields!! It took me a second to realize that. They were standing on the hoods of the cars behind the women and children; it shocked the hell out of me. Then we started getting hit with small arms fire, which sounded like golf balls hitting metal. I started firing back at them but I couldn’t get passed the women; they were all I could hit, and they started falling down. The men turned around and ran back behind the cars to fire.

It was the first time I had ever shot anyone so I was extremely shaken up. We were going about forty-five miles an hour, which was the top speed possible. After we passed the women and cars, we came to an overpass. It was loaded with people; they were everywhere, and they had black blankets with what looked like cursive writing; it was Arabic. They were firing down onto our trucks from the bridge and attempting to drop the blankets on our windshields. I couldn’t fire back because of the way I was sitting in the truck. I told my civilian driver to keep his head down, don’t let any more than his eyes over the steering wheel. If he would have gotten shot, there would have been no way we could have gotten off the highway, and we were only 8 miles from our destination. The people on the bridge missed our truck with the blankets, but they shot the heck out of our cab and tanker. Our truck was spewing out gas everywhere all over the highway. I told my driver to try to speed up, since if the fuel ignited we would be goners.

We pulled up behind Mathew Maupin's truck, a fellow soldier who was riding with a civilian also, but no sooner did we get behind his truck then his tanker exploded, the truck swerving off the highway, down through a ditch into a bunch of buildings. It was one big ball of flames. Later on, Matt was seen on the Al-Jazeera network as a hostage, and is believed to be still in their custody. After his truck exploded in front of us, we came upon another truck that was laying on its side in the ditch on our left - it was one of ours. There were Iraqi civilian tankers on both sides of us, which the Iraqis use as roadside bombs - when you drive past them they blow them up.
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