Monday, March 28, 2005

The Adventures of Cody Badger Part 2

This is the second installment of The Adventures of Cody Badger, and I think it will be the last for now. I started it to get some of this out of my head. Just processing it into a story did the trick. I'm not saying Cody is gone forever, I just don't need him anymore right now. This is violent, graphic and contains profanity so consider yourself warned. Please don't let you kids read this until you have. This story and everyone in it is completely fictional. It is based on actual events but it is all made up.

"Badger, Badger, G** D*** it, get that 50 going"

I new somebody was yelling, but it just didn't make sense.

"Badger, are you listening, they're shooting at us, kill em!"

I knew they were yelling, I just couldn't hear them. All I could hear was the ringing in my ears. I was looking straight down the gunners hatch in our Humvee at Schmidt. He was pounding on my leg yelling but I couldn't figure out what was going on. I could see the intensity in his face, I just couldn't make any sense of the words.

I was the gunner in the last Humvee of a four truck convoy. Steve was the gunner in the third truck, and Tanner, one of the guys from our unit, was the gunner in the second truck. The lead truck was a group of MPs providing security for our convoy. We were on our way to raid the house of a target we had been working on for some time.

All of the sudden the sound flooded back in my ears like a rush. There was shooting on both sides of the road. Fire and smoke in front of us, and everyone was yelling. We needed to get out of there fast.

"Go, Go, Go" I shouted as I slammed my fist on the roof of the Humvee. "They're shooting at us!" It was an ambush. As soon as I said it I knew we couldn't. The fire and smoke in front of us was a Humvee. An American Humvee. Everything came back into focus. The blast, the gun fire, the screaming. One of the Trucks had hit an IED. The blast dazed me for a second but it all came back into sharp view. I saw Steve's truck in front of us but the gunners hatch was empty.

"Steve!" I yelled hoping he would pop up a start shooting


His gun wasn't firing.

"Steve!" I couldn't see him in his hatch. The hood had been blown off of his truck, but people were firing out the windows. Somebody was alive in there.

"Badger, shoot the F****** 50 cal!" Schmidt kept pounding on my leg as he was shooting out his window.

Pop pop pop, I fired a burst toward the gun fire. I wasn't sure who was shooting yet, but they were shooting at us. Bullets were pinging off the armor on our Humvee, and it looked like one of the tires was flat.

Pop pop pop, another burst. I was coming back out of the initial shock of the blast. My mouth tasted like copper. I ran my hand across my face. Blood.

Pop pop pop, I saw the guy out of the corner of my eye. He had a bead on Steve's truck and was firing his AK-47 towards the gunners hatch. I spun my turret toward him as I saw his bullets walk up the road and then up the back of the Humvee as he tried to find his mark.

Pop pop pop pop pop, I fired a long burst and walked the shots up toward his body. He turned his head just as the last few 50 caliber rounds ripped into his hip and tore into his chest.

"Holy S***!" It literally ripped him in half. His head and arms flew back away from his torso as his lower body just slumped into a pile on the ground.

"S***!" I'd never shot anyone before. Ping, ping, ping. I didn't even have time to feel the shock before more bullets ricocheted off the coupola around the hatch I was standing in.

Pop pop pop, they were all over on both sides. Two more insurgent ran out to avenge their friend. Another long burst and both of them lay in a bloody pile.

It was a beautiful morning. There was a cool breeze and the morning sun was a blazing crest just popping up on the horizon. We had left the wire at about 0500 for the raid that morning. We were supposed to leave earlier so we'd be in and out before the sun came up. We'd done some raids in the daytime before but they always went better at night. We have a definite advantage in the dark. Some stupid mechanical problems held us up, but the target wouldn't be there all day. It was now or never. We'd been tracking this guy for a while and knew he'd be gone in a few hours. We pulled over the hill about 20 miles west of Baghdad just as the little village rose up over the hill. That's where we hit the IED. It hit the second truck. Tanner's truck. Their Humvee lay upside down in the ditch next to the road on fire. Smoke was pouring out of it and the flames were shooting up into the sky. The blast had shot the truck and it's five passengers up in the air, flipped it over twice before it landed upside down in the ditch. The third truck, Steve's truck, had the front two tries flat and the whole hood was gone. It looked like it was still running though.

Steve still wasn't in the hatch. Nobody was moving in the ditch.

Steve's truck was sitting sideways in the road. I don't know if the blast spun it around or if the driver was reacting to the explosion. I could see the rounds spraying across the bullet proof windshield. It cracked and spiderwebbed but it held together. Garrett stood up in the gunners hatch and lit up Steve's 50 cal. He got two of them before they even knew he was firing. Our main goal now was to kill all of the enemy or keep them from firing so we could attempt a rescue.

The flames from Tanners truck were licking at the sides of Steve's truck. I was at least 50 meters away but I could feel the intense heat on my face and hands. I could hear the RTO trying to scream into the radio over the noise. He was trying to call in air support. In a few minutes there would be attack helicopters circling the area ready to empty their mini guns into the sides of the road. The insurgents knew this too. This would be over very quickly one way or the other. And it was. Just as soon as it started it was over. I don't know where these people disappear to but it's like magic. A few more stray bullets in the distance and they were gone.

We cautiously dismounted our vehicles and set up a quick perimeter. We couldn't chase them, we had to protect the burning Humvee. We didn't know if there would be a second bomb, or another ambush. We needed to see if we could help the guys in the ditch.

Still no Steve and nobody in the ditch was moving.

By the time we got out of our vehicle Tanner's truck had burned to almost nothing. It was a mound of metal and a pile of ashes. Parts of the Humvee were scattered across the road and in those parts were five American soldiers I will never forget.

The blast had torn Tanners head and shoulders away from his body, threw him out of the hatch and into the ditch. The other four must have still been in the truck. Steve was laying across the backseats of his Humvee bleeding pretty badly from his head. One of the guys in the truck was a combat lifesaver and had given him first aid during the fire fight. Steve would lose his left ear and most of the side of his face before it was all over. His helmet saved his head and the throat guard on his Body Armor kept the shrapnel from tearing away his neck. I had some minor cuts on my face from Shrapnel but nothing major. It's not like in the movies where they shoot the place up, people die and then it cuts to the next scene nice and clean. It's not like that at all. You have to stay there and pick up the pieces. You clean up the metal and flesh and you carry on. You wash the blood from the Humvees so you can go on the next mission. You say goodbye to your friends and you wake up and do it all over the next day. And for what? We killed seven insurgents that day. A small victory for such a precious price. Five American families lost their sons and fathers and brothers. Steve has to call his wife and kids and tell them he's alive, but only has half of his face. What good can come from that? According to Steve Hope comes from that. I'll never forget what he told me that day.

The medivac helicopters came and took Steve back to the FOB. Another convoy came out to recover what they could of the vehicles and the bodies. We drove back to the FOB with their gun trucks. I went to see Steve before they flew him to Germany for surgery. His head was all bandaged and bloody, but he could still talk. I didn't know what to say to him. But he knew what to say to me.

"Cody, this was all part of God's plan."

"F*** God." I said, mad that he would even say something like that. "How can this be part of his plan."

"I don't know", Steve said, "But my hope is in him. I know he'll take care of me. He always has."

"No, man that's stupid why would God let this happen. It doesn't make sense."

"I don't know why, but I don't need to know. I trust him. Maybe someone else can see him through what happened."

The nurse was putting some medicine into a syringe next to Steve's bed.

"Cody, do me a favor."

"Sure man, anything."

"Give God a try."

That was it. Not tell my wife I love her. No patriotic keep on fighting crap. Just give God a try. That was the last thing Steve said to me. The nurses were sedating him for the trip to Germany and they made me leave. I haven't seen Steve since then. He had always talked about God. He'd tell me stuff but he never forced it on me. I knew what he believed. I didn't understand why he did, but I knew what he believed. I can't see how the loving God Steve talked about would let this happen. If there is a God I don't see how this could be part of a plan. But you know what. I'm going to give God a try. If Steve can go through this and still believe then maybe there's something to it I don't understand. I'm not making any promises, but we'll see what happens.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good job. Powerful. Thanks.

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He prepares for me a "Table in the Presence of Mine Enemies". You showed us the "Table" in the midst of the brutality of war. Awesome. God is good all the time.
We war not against flesh and blood but against the spirit of anti-Christ. KLM

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does a man survive with any sense of sanity without a savior. You magnify the pressure and stress of everyday life by throwing a little warfare, guns , blood and caos not to mention somebody hiding from you with the intent to kill. How do you cope without one?. Here's hoping Cody pursues his curiosity Good Stuff
Stay Safe,

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do hate that this fictitious story is all to real. Thanks for putting a face to the war experience. I hate that you and all the others have to go through this. I do love that there is a God above all the chaos and has a plan for each soldier. May He bless you and all the other military forces with peace in chaos, strength for another day, and hope for an end to the battle. We love you and your ability to share your talents and life with us. Prayers CnH

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anxiously awaited Cody's next adventure. Unbelieveable to think what you are actually going through over there. Loved the ending to your story, I hope and pray others who read your blog spot and don't know the One True God personally, will give God a try also. Without God our Creator, we wouldn't have anything or even be anything. scm

1:01 AM  

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