Monday, November 5, 2007

Morning Wake Up

I haven't really written much specifically about the rocket attacks occuring here other than to generically mention them. Only one of them has made the news, but there have been many more in the 5 weeks I've been here. To attempt to give you an idea of what it's like to go through one, I'll describe the one we had this morning. They're all different depending on the type of munition used and how close they come to where a person is on the camp - for security reasons I won't describe the type of rocket or the exact location of the impacts.

As I've mentioned before, there are lots of explosions all the time around here. Many of these occur outside the base but they still get your attention. I mention this because it has become somewhat normal to hear these at any time of the day or night, and usually the warrant nothing more than a quick "wow" or something of the sort and then you keep doing what you were doing. Rockets are different. We have an early warning system that sometimes goes off and gives us a very small amount of time to take cover. It can't always be heard depending on what you're doing or where you're at - but it's something. In our housing trailers, we have air conditioner units running non-stop and they make it hard to hear this warning system. This morning I was sound asleep, the AC was going so there was no hearing the warning. What did wake me up was the sound of the first rocket coming in. It's hard to describe the sound - it does have a whistling noise to it and sometimes you can hear the initial launch and rocket burn depending where it comes from. This morning it was just the whistling - it brought me out of my sleep just enough to not be fully asleep when about 2 seconds later the rocket impacted close to my trailer - I promise you it's not the way you want to wake up. The explosion is a very deep earth rattling sound - literally the ground shakes - followed by strange reverberations. It's very hard to describe. The time from initial sound to impact is seconds - but let me tell you - I was instantly awake before the reverberations were over. This was by far the closest impact yet. Now - after the initial rocket comes several more. Same scenario as the first, with them coming in over a period of 5 to 7 seconds. That may not seem like a long time, but when you're sitting there listening to each whistling rocket followed by the explosion - it seems like forever. In my 5 weeks here, we've had dozens and dozens (I don't want to get too specific, but it's a lot) of rockets come in. They hit all over the place at all times of the day - people laugh them off and everybody acts tough, but I'm not afraid to say these things are kind of scary. Today was the first time I've actually grabbed my helmet and body armor and hit the floor during an attack and the adrenaline took a good 30 minutes to wear off.

This was not the best description of what a rocket attack is like, but it might just be one of those things you have to experience to understand - I for one would be happy to never experience it again.........

On a different note - while this sounds bad for us, and it is, things are actually improving very dramatically in Iraq. Here's a link to an article in the Washington Post that pretty accurately captures what's going on.


No comments: