Read this IED-busting soldier's amazing story of his time assigned to an ODA team.
In late 2007, my teammate and I were attached to an ODA team from 3rd group. The mission was to drive south into the Tagab valley that the French were in charge of. It would take us a day to get there and at least a week in the valley itself. From the way we loaded out the truck, it was going to be one hell of a week. So we began to get to know the team guys and get schooled up on how they expected us to fit into the team. I was pretty glad to learn a few things from the pros.
As a little bit of back story, this was my first deployment. I was all of 20-years-old. At this point I had run a handful of IEDs and been involved in some IED strikes. but had never been in actual contact. So we make it to the valley and take up a blocking position for another ODA team that had started a mission on the other side of the river. Pretty uneventful. Got to watch a few JDAMs drop but that’s about it.
Now it’s time to link up with the French. This is where I start to get a real taste of the pecking order and how things worked. Since it was the French area, they wanted to lead the operation and the convoy. The most ludicrous thing I had ever heard was said through an interpreter. The commander of the French said, “We will not run operations after dark!” This was followed by a good laugh from the team. The team leader agreed and we mounted up. I ask what the deal was and got the response of; “They will have to go back alone if they really want to come back before dark!” Remember this statement.
My spot is in the back of the gun truck with the medic. My team mate was the driver for another GMV. Intel said that the local Muj had a plan of running up to trucks to open doors as a tactic. So they gave me an MP5. Why they gave it to me, I have no idea. I wasn’t going to argue one bit about that. As we pull out of the gate the medic asks me if I had ever been in a fire fight. I told him no. So he hands me an AT4 and proceeds to tell me what to do. He said to get out of the truck, run into the open, find more than one guy and shoot. Sounded good enough to me. At one point in our route we stopped on a hill to look across the river. This is where my life pretty much changed forever! I got out like I always do and start to take a piss. I can remember every detail of the next two minutes and I doubt I will ever forget it. A kid of maybe 14 or 15 jumps out with his AK, I remember thinking I was going to get shot holding my dick. But unlucky for him the 50 directly over my head was in the right place and opened up. I looked down and the concussion of the rounded was making the stream of piss splatter. Even though I had some piss on my boots, I was happy with the turnout.
We continue on and turn up the river bed. Now I’m no genius, but if I was going to ambush some guys, I would do it in a place that I can see them coming from a long ways off and only one way out. So we follow the French right into hell. I was in the last U.S. truck followed my some ANA. About two clicks down the ANA gets stuck. We stop to pull them out while the convoy kept going. We start to hear the gun fire. The convoy is in full on contact. We ride in, in a way that I thought was only in movies. The entire team was shooting into both sides of the waddy with every gun we had. Guys had the windows rolled down potting 203s, every turret was spinning and fucking things up.
We stop the truck and the medic tells me to get the AT4 and shoot it. So I get out and do exactly as he told me. Sure enough when I ran into the open I got shot at. I fired and ran back. When I hopped in the back the guys laughed at me and call me a dumbass (all while still shooting). My teammate and I were getting a crash course in the art of war. It is about three hours into the fight and we are pretty much getting our asses handed to us. No one knows how to get out of the area we are in. Going back the way we came is not an option...