Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Liberal Soldier: Egyptian Attacks

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had been on mission in Egypt, before going to Iraq. I can't give you details about where or when, as in the Army, there is a set of regulations called OpSec, short for Operations Security. I cant tell you where we were, as this might give off operations details for the enemy. But I can tell you, that the enemy is real.

I wont try and use this post to examine what happened, or what happened. My goal here is to simply relate a bit of what happened, and how I reacted to it. Once again, this blog is partially meant as therapeutic outlet for myself, so that is the focus for this post.

Okay, we arrived on mission at the hotel that we were supposed stay at. Our forces were divided into two portions, the hotel guard and bus guard. I won't say where or even what uniform we were in, but I can say we were expected to blend it. I was apart of the bus guard, it was my job to check the busses for bombs and to watch out for scouts, and I did this at irregular intervals, plus every time the bus stopped. So I was very thorough.

My job gave me a great chance to see the city, including several historic landmarks that I never imagined in my life that I would get to see. For the most part, my job went smoothly. At most I had to deal with one person who I thought was a potential spotter, and a gang of thieves in one location. However, things went well.

But that was just while on duty. While I was off-duty, I mostly slept, as we worked in 12 hour shifts, day in and day out, and most of that time I was eating, conductin hygeine, or getting my sleep. I did bring a book with me, and watched a few minutes of television, but it was all in Arabic, so I didn't do well with it. However, the bus driver I worked with was taking his time to try to teach me Arabic, which I really appreciated, as now I take Arabic in a University context, and do well with it.

However, we did have one attack, that came close to injuring myself and a few other battle buddies. I still remember it, like it was yesterday. My room-mate was on the alternate shift as I was, and he worked inside the actual hotel. I had to get up in the morning, around 4 am, to get my shower, take a run, and get prepared for the first bus, which wold arrive around 630 AM.

I was in the middle of brushing my teeth, and it was around 515 AM. I heard what sounded like, to me, a clap of thunder. However, the whole time that I was there, I had yet to see a drop of rain, so this made litte sense to me. Less than a second later though, a larger boom sounded through the air, as something impacted right outside my room. Me and my room-mate ran outside, jumping over the barricade, to see a large tractor trailer which had been driven through two concrete barricades, and landed outside. Other soldiers emerged as well, and we proceeded to give the driver medical attention, assuming it was just an accident. He was quickly taken away by Egyptian Officials.

However, it was later known to be an attack as the vehicle was unregistered, and the back was loaded with bricks and a plastic explosive of some type.

I often look back and thank god that nothing more explosive happened. I also am left dumbfounded about the nature of my reaction. But given what happened, and given the fact that I know that not every Arab is a terrorist, I think my reaction is not only expected, but honorable on some level. Either way, it is what I did, and Im glad I reacted that way.

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