Today is a Good Day for Terrorists
The Baghdad air is filled with dust. The air is hot, stagnant and the color of rust. You can’t see a 100 meters in front of you. Sitting next to me in the vehicle is retired Iraqi Army Officer General Fawsi. With his heavy Arabic accent he says, “With all this dust, today is a good day for terrorists.”
We arrive at the hospital for a regular appointment to find a lot of action in the Emergency Room. In the waiting area there are several soldiers in all their gear. They are drenched in sweat, adrenaline still pumping through their body. It is obvious their buddy has been wounded. As we sit there, doctors come and go quietly, quickly and professionally, equipment moving in and out of the room. The staff is quick to close the screen behind them to keep from anyone looking inside. In another area, staffers being to inventory the soldier’s equipment. Magazines, ammunition, rifle, pistol, scope, night vision devices, all laid out and covered with blood. Soon a doctor comes out and talks to the soldiers platoon leader.
“Ok what happened?” the doctor asks.
“We got a call to check on an IED (Improvised Explosive Device.) When the sergeant got out of of the Humvee, he fell down. We thought he tripped or hurt himself. Then he didn’t get up, so we went over to his side of the Humvee and realized he’d been shot.” General Fawsi’s words were prophetic. The dust was the perfect cover for a sniper. The soldier was shot twice, once in the face and once in the thorax.
As we sit there I think about what phone calls his family is about to get. Within the next couple of hours, a message will be sent to someone in his unit back home and his unit will relay the information to his wife. The panic she will feel, the information not perfect or precise. She will ask a lot of questions that, initially, will not be met with answers. Will her husband live or die. Did they argue they last time they spoke? What about their kids? What about his mother and father. Two ounces of lead so powerful; that shot heard on the other side of the world.
My thoughts are broken by the flurry of activity in the waiting area. The soldier is being moved to surgery. He passes by us on the gurney, plugged in to an IV bag and monitor, neck brace around his neck, the sheets around him covered in blood, a tube down his throat to keep his airway clear, his olive skin holding on to his drying blood, the large tattoo on his left arm unclear.
In my head I think, “God. You haven’t heard from me much over the last few years. Let him make it. Thanks.”
Today was a good day for the terrorists.