I wrote this on the second of May 2003 and just came across it in a folder on my computer. I found it interesting to read in light of all that has transpired in the mean time. I never could think of a title so if you any suggestions let me know. It is a bit long so I am very thankful if you took the time out of your day to read it.
The whine of an incoming mortar shell was all I could hear. I felt my stomach leap into my mouth. I didn’t want to be here anymore. I had reported from frontline combat positions before but had never experienced fighting this intense. In a split second the mortar shell exploded sucking all the air from my lungs and flung me around the room like a rag doll. I was on the Iranian frontline with the American 101st Airborne division.
We had been pinned down in a bombed out hotel for 6 hours before the courageous U.S. soldiers had begun to regain ground as opposed to sheltering behind old, dusty desks or partially collapsed walls. Air support was impossible due to several Anti – Aircraft batteries that had been established on a number of the surronding roof tops. The first onslaught had been furious. Rocket propelled grenades and small arms had ripped through this hotel, a hotel in a supposedly secure area of Tehran.
Easy company was as astonished by this attack as I was hence why we had been pinned down instead of counter attacking and conducting a tactical extraction, retreating. The Iranian campaign had gone on much longer than first anticipated by Coalition strategists but finally the coalition forces had reached Tehran. The final battle.
This had all started 7 months previous at the end of May. As operation Iraqi Freedom came to a close not only did Saddam Hussein sit, dethroned, in the Hague awaiting trial but a low flying missile cruised towards Camp Liberartion in Baghdad International Airport. Its origin was Iran. Its cargo was VX-Nerve gas. Two minutes before impact the air raid alert rang out across Camp Liberation. Two minutes was just not enough time for 430 servicemen and women to find cover in their protective N.B.C suits. The western world was furious.
This unprovoked act of bio-terrorism elicited an immediate and vicious response from the coalition. Within hours stealth bombers and carrier battle groups were pounding Iranian military and government facilities with cruise missiles. By mid-June British and American forces had launched an awsome ground invasion into Iran from the ideal staging area of Iraq.
The figthing had been arduous and vicious. I had covered the exploits of the 101st Airborne since they first crossed the Iraqi border; I stood beside them as the fought for Nasiriyah through to the battle for Baghdad and to the siege of Saddams presidential bunker and now here to Tehran. I reported live on the battles for Kermanshah and Hamadan, even the 101st’s diversion down south to Isfahan and Yazd to liberate POW’s and destroy a suspected nuclear, biological and chemical weapons plant. A suspicion that was later confirmed.
I was abruptly jarred from my reminisce by lieutentant Streicher shouting “Get the lead out of your pants, boy, we’re pulling out of this rat-trap!” “Bu…..But they’re still shelling us” I managed to stammer in reply. “Very true but over the past number of hours my snipers have managed to neutralise the enemy ground forces in our immediate area not to mention the hostiles manning the anti-aricraft batteries to the East, a Black Hawk is inbound for immediate extraction, we have to double time it half a click up the road.” “I’m going to die”, I murmured and pulled myself off the ground where I had been cowering. The rest of the company was already up and moving out. I slotted into the middle of the company and made my way to the lobby exit. Sporadic small arms fire still rained down on the entrance of the hotel. I threw a worried glance at Lieutentant Striecher who before I could open my mouth reassuringly stated, “Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.”
Four men dashed out of the entrance, two going left, two going right and began laying down suppression fire on the surronding roof tops to cover our exit. I didn’t want to leave the relative safety of the hotel. I was terrifed. One of the men laying down covering fire turned around and shouted at us to move. I caught his eyes; they were filled with such emotion. Hes face was the picture of terror, he wasn’t covered and was coming under fire but his eyes held an inherent nobility he was putting his life on the line for me but to him it was just doing his job, I wanted to thank him but knew I had to run. Streicher had ordered us to move to a doorway about 100 metres to our right. I was sandwiched between 4 other soldiers we were all running flat out to make it to the doorway. As we made it to the doorway Streicher ordered us to move out right away, we were still coming under small arms fire as we started the 400 metre sprint to a square where the Black Hawks would be setting down. Between the bouts of incoming and outgoing fire I could hear the unmistakable sound of incoming helicopters.
We were insight of salvation, only a stones throw from the LZ when someone screamed “R.P.G”. An explosion thundered behind me. I could feel a burst of intense heat agaisnt my back then a searing pain tearing along my side as I was thrown through the air. I didn’t know what way was up, I thudded back to earth as everything was starting to go black. All I could feel was a dull throbbing in my side. I came to on board one of the Black Hawks looking at a stern faced Lieutenant Streicher. “A piece of shrapnel grazed your side, you’ll be fine just make sure to go to the infirmary” he said. “I will, but what happened?” I managed to blurt out. “An R.P.G struck the tail end of the company, 2 of my men are dead, 4 wounded” I looked out the door of the Black Hawk at the roof tops passing underneath us.
We set down on the coalition controlled side of Tehran, Easy Company went to be debriefed and I headed to the infirmary, just as the nurse was finishing cleaning my wound the two bodies from Easy Company were brought in. I was standing up to leave when I realised that they were the two soldiers who had covered our exit from the hotel. They had made the ultimate sacrifice for their comrades and me, a reporter. My heart sank like a stone, I headed to the press office and with tears streaming down my face filed a report on what would be recored as a minor skirmish.