26 Aug 2004
I woke up this morning knowing that manning vehicle search would not be a cakewalk. However, I did not know what an adventure it would turn out to be. Vehicle search is by far the most endurance testing job that I’ve experienced on this deployment yet. Vehicles steadily enter and exit the base throughout the day greeting us with constant work. My job was to inspect the underside of each vehicle for explosive devices. I use a rounded mirror on the end of a pole with rollers on the back of the mirror. While I inspect the underside of the vehicle another soldier checks underneath the hood. While we are busy all the various multinational soldiers clear their weapons of ammo. When all these events are complete the third soldier opens the gate to let them pass. Mind you we are doing this in full battle gear, hot weather, and no wind until dusk.
The interesting part of my day started with word that there was an ambush. The Afghan National Army took fire on their small convoy. Several Afghans were injured and four were killed. This happened within a couple miles of our front gate. Within minutes there was a seemingly endless line of US armored trucks and hummers passing on their way to the rescue. Being the selfish person I am; my only concern was that I was going to have to search every one of those vehicles upon their return.
Everything started to settle down from there on out until dusk. A small group of soldiers from another camp a few miles out came for a visit. So we start to do our normal routine then suddenly I heard a deafening explosion to my left. Before I could realize what had happened I hurried away from the explosion over to the other side of the vehicle which I was inspecting. By then I realized the explosion was an accidental discharge. When one of the men cleared his weapon he pulled the trigger while a round was still in it. Thankfully he was pointing it toward the clearing barrel.
You’d think that I would have been frightened out of my mind since I was looking for explosive devices when the discharge went off. However, I heard the explosion and found shelter which was from my position the other side of the vehicle. It puzzles me to think that I just automatically without feeling emotion reacted in a safe manner. I have even more trust in the ever engraved drills that the army has us do. Now I know that these drills will play themselves out before we can even react with fear.