Story by Spc. Cory Grogan
IRAQ - Soldiers from 2/218 Field Artillery's 1st Platoon, 2nd Squad, from the Oregon National Guard's 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, were reminded that Iraq is still a combat zone when they were struck by two separate improvised explosive devices, July 25. The Soldiers have been in Iraq for around two weeks and were conducting their first or second mission is a seven vehicle convoy that was going to Camp Adder to meet the vehicles they were to escort.
The first explosion rocked the trail vehicle in the convoy causing damage to the passenger side where truck commander, Sgt. Enrique Dominguez from Portland, and truck gunner, Pfc. Storm Brown from Forest Grove, were exposed to the blast.
The vehicles were passing a checkpoint as the gunners scanned their zones. When the trail vehicle slowed down, the IED went off, said Brown.
"Everything went orange; there was smoke everywhere. I dropped down into the vehicle and checked in the with the TC to let him know I was fine. We called in, told them we were fine, and then moved out," explained Brown.
Brown later said that his ears were ringing, his back and head hurt, and the blast threw him around a bit.
The Soldiers were in one of the Army's new Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles which may have prevented serious injury.
About a half hour after continuing their mission the fourth vehicle in the convoy was hit with a second explosion.
Pfc. Michael Byrd from Portland, the gunner in the vehicle, said he was scanning his sector from three-o-clock to one-o-clock.
"I went to my three and scanned with a spotlight, and came back around to my one, and then, whoom! It kind of sucked me up a little bit, and then I went back down and there was nothing but dust everywhere, and I just started coughing."
The convoy commander, Staff Sgt. David Gowan from Portland, who was also the TC during the second explosion, said he heard Byrd coughing and thought he was seriously injured. He said he had to momentarily pass off command because making sure Byrd was alright was all he could think about at the time.
Luckily, Byrd is fine, but Staff Sgt. Gowan mentioned that having this happen on his first mission has helped him tune in to potential danger on convoys, and that it will help him know what to do if the situation occurs again.
All of the Soldier's in the convoy were aware of danger in Iraq, but the convoy's experience was still a wake-up call for those involved. They believe the experience will help them be even more aware on future convoy's.
"You know that things like this can happen, but it was totally unexpected. There's a war going on here, it's still dangerous and you've got to stick to your training and know what you're trying to do. Hopefully you will be fine. We are all OK," said Byrd.
Brown said that the platoon they are taking over for hasn't been hit the whole time they have been in Iraq, and that being hit twice on his first mission has made him feel more aware of the realities of a combat zone
The violence in Iraq has calmed down, but the Soldiers from Alpha Battery's 1st Platoon, 2nd Squad, are now acutely aware that anything can happen at any time in a combat zone.
"Being the first mission a lot of stuff went on the last few days. I just hope we got that part of it over with," said Gowan.
Editors Note: The writer was on the convoy when the attack occurred.