Former 4-25th Field Artillery Soldier tells of experience with land mines in Afghanistan
I’ve already been in military for 10 years, five of those were active and five were in the Reserves. I went into the military a day after my eighteenth birthday wanting to see the world and that’s exactly what it did. The only thing was also more than I wanted to. Am I complaining? No, not even close. However, my sleep deprivation of today will tell you otherwise. Most soldiers will tell you nothing about the past or even the present. We keep it bottled up and we don’t let it out because we’re trained to do that. Although, every now and then it’s good to get a story of a confrontation or a battle off your chest and that’s exactly what this is.
In 2005, I was already on my second tour in Afghanistan with the Reserves. My first tour was not voluntary as we were called to go, however, for this tour I actually raised my hand. I have no idea why because I have three beautiful kids at home. Maybe it’s just something I needed to do. Here’s my story.
Before I left a Regular Army, I’d been in charge my own squad has a Fire Support Team Leader. When I got to the reserves, I was placed with my own team again. Kandahar looked desolate but so did all of Afghanistan. To me it was all desert.
We were in our convoy and we had been traveling for about an hour and we stopped at a small village about 30 minutes outside Kandahar. It seemed some of the villagers were having some issues so our Commander thought we should offer some assistance. Once we stopped, we noticed that the whole disagreement was about a camel and a couple of locals were fighting over it. The Commander offered whatever assistance he could and we moved on. By now it was 2000 hours (8 pm) and we were 2 hours into our 12 hour mission.
We were on our way to our next checkpoint and by now the roads were narrowing and some of the vehicles were actually wider than the road. This was a bad thing because of road mines. We had eight vehicles in our convoy and the four would not fit in and mine happened to be one of them. It was nearing midnight local time and of course we all had our night vision goggles engaged as we’re driving and blackout mode. The five squad leaders were scanning the hills as we were trained to do when Fox 21 came on the radio and stated that he saw something to the left. I was scanning the hills to the right and when I turned to the left and looked up to the hills; I was surprised when I was met with an earth shattering explosion right after a bright flash.
The side of the FIST-V is practically lifted on one side and I could feel my back practically being bent back like a toothpick being snapped in two. I was standing on the seat in the turret and could feel my knees smack up against the controls. My legs were being twisted every which way but the only thing that I could think about was the welfare of my soldiers. Is the LT okay? Can my driver get us to a defensive position? After just 15 seconds, whatever the explosion was had sent whole convoy into a panic. I had the wind knocked out of me. Sand is everywhere. I couldn’t see a thing. The FIST-V was dead but the radio worked. The Commander came on the radio and said that we had been hit by an IED, two of them to be exact.
After I freed myself from the turret, I started to get my soldiers out of the FIST-V. I knew I was hurt, I just don’t know how badly. It was hard to walk but I managed to pull my driver and my radio operator out. My LT was already out. After I made sure they were okay, I started to do a sweep to make sure the IED’s were the only thing to worry about. About that time the medics came in and started to do their job. I ended up having a cracked rib and a broken thumb and a concussion. We actually spent the night right there and waited for EVAC at sunrise.
A few days later, one of the EOD specialists stopped by and told me that our convoy had hit antitank mines which were remotely detonated. The good news was that no one lost their life that day.