Fourth Point of Contact

Anyone that has jumped out of airplanes knows what a fourth point of contact is. There are five points of contact when your body hits the ground when parachuting, if you conduct a proper parachute landing fall. They are 1. Balls of Feet, 2. Calf, 3. Thigh, 4. BUTTOCKS, 5. Push-up Muscle. Hence when we say someone has their head up their “fourth point of contact” it means they have their head inserted between their buttocks.

So after the ANA Commander returned from the ANP station we de-briefed him to find out what the ANP said and what he told them. The ANP had heard reports of the truck being lost earlier, but the timing did not make us feel better that they were alive. Bottom line was that they were still lost, so we called back to our higher again on tacsat to let them know of the latest developments and what the situation was on the ground. Our ANA were getting more frustrated as it did not look like anything was happening to them. I have to agree that it did appear that way, as we would also think that the ANA/US forces should have helicopters up or something looking for signs of these guys.

After talking to higher, I called Devil-7 to let him know that we had the ANA commander back and that we would be moving out to their position in a few minutes. All local and supporting 10th MTN forces were on this same freq., including the artillery guys that were about 100 meters from us. Once the ANA was loaded up, we told them we would lead as we had the technology to see exactly where the rest of Devil company was located. We pulled down into the same wadi that Devil company had used earlier and our plan was to pretty much follow their tracks. The wadi was very wide (at least 75 meters at the narrowest point), and there were lots of points to get stuck in there. I was in the gun hatch and Face was driving. After we made our way around the 2nd bend we were about 3 minutes into the trip, so I looked back to check on the ANA and they were not there. I told Face that they must have got stuck because not one truck was behind us. He turned around and we went back around the corner to find one truck buried in the sand. Since the ANA are not good drivers, and their trucks are all standards they were also burning the clutch trying to rock the truck. All they were doing was burying it worse in the sand. The tops of the wheels were barely visible it was so deep.

We pulled up in front of the truck and both Face and I got out to help them. Face tried to drive it out, even though I told him that was useless. I could tell there was no way that truck was getting out on its own. It was just too deep. I extended out the tow strap we have on the front of our truck and handed to the ANA. Through the terp I told them to put it on the hook under the bumper. Little did I know these trucks don’t have a hook. So I was going to pull around behind them and pull from behind, but the ANA stopped me and routed the tow strap around a bar on their front grill guard. I was curious as to how they would secure the strap until they amazed me once again. They used their tire iron, routed through the loop of the strap and used that as the securing mechanism. This was against any safety common sense a normal person would have. The tire iron could just fall out unless it was held tight against the strap so they held it tight while I backed up the humvee to take up the slack. I was glad that I was in the humvee and not standing anywhere near this contraption. I backed up to take up the slack and then gassed the humvee, of which it yanked the little light truck right out of the sand. I was surprised their tire-iron trick worked, but it also gave me another indication of why the life expectancy in this country is so much less than ours.

After pulling out the truck, I got out to help disconnect everything and get turned around to move out again. This is when the first round came in and time again “stood still”. The impact was about 75 meters behind us of where we just came from, right in the middle of the wadi. Everyone hit the deck, and then the ANA went running for their truck. I don’t remember what Face and I yelled at each other, but I am sure it had to do with getting out of there. I remember thinking “how could someone see us down here”. The explosion was small enough to be either a 60mm mortar round or a RPG, but I did not see or hear the tell-tale WHOOOSH of an RPG round. I thought maybe I missed it since I was not paying attention for it. I was wrapping the tow strap around a hook on our hood to get out of there and about to climb back into the hatch, when a second round impacted about 15 meters closer to us. Then we were in overdrive, as seconds turned into minutes. Face was getting in the humvee driver’s seat, the ANA were almost already all gone and we were still there trying to get turned around. I cleared the top of that humvee and jumped into the hatch as I turned around looking for a observer. I knew there was no RPG whoosh on that second round so it had to be 60 mm mortar rounds. I was amazed that we sat on the hill not 400 meters from us all day right next to artillery tubes (which had been there for days) and nobody shot at us, but we were in this wadi for only a few minutes and already getting rounds walked in on us. It did not make sense, and I think I yelled to Face that someone was vectoring in on us.

After getting turned back straight in the gunner’s hatch I was behind the machine gun, eye behind the sight, looking for anyone that looked like they were calling in rounds. The walls of the wadi were about 40-50 feet high and I could see anyone that would be up there. I did see two kids to the left of there the rounds impacted, but they were not looking at us, just looking at where the rounds impacted. In milli-seconds I did not consider them a threat as they were just curious. In those same milli-seconds my mind was racing trying to find a target so I could smoke it before it called in another round and smoked me. Face was spinning the truck around and taking off as I was scanning the area and toggling my microphone to tell Devil-7 that we were under fire. I called him telling him that we were taking indirect fire and it appears someone was adjusting it on us. That we were racing to him and nobody was hurt and no vehicles damaged. I heard him call to his one platoon to mount up and come to us in order to provide assistance. Face was yelling at me telling me we should turn around and find the spotter as we were pulling up next to the ANA (who had stopped after getting out of the danger area). I told Face we should not turn around until Devil shows up so we can have enough to fan out and chase down whomever is spotting and shooting. As he and I were having this difference of opinion dialogue, I heard the artillery guys come on the radio and tell Devil-7 something to the effect of “uh, Devil-7, the report you just had of incoming was us shooting M203 grenades to keep the local’s heads down for the night, and not enemy fire.” Time has started returning to normal speed since we were out of danger, until this point. I got on the radio and asked the young lieutenant if “I had heard him correctly” I asked “did you just say you were conducting H&I (harassment & Interdiction) fires into an area that you just saw us go into and without clearing the area you were firing?”. I really could not believe a commissioned officer in our Army that is in charge of troops and has been in a combat theatre for more than a day would be doing this. He responded yes that is correct, and then I took the gloves off. I screamed at this guy over the radio letting go I don’t know how many explicatives at him. It is common for 1SGs to yell, scream, and cuss but not over a military freq where you are not supposed to. At this point I did not care and I think it was justified. This guy, through his complete disregard of common sense and safety, had one of his men just shoot two 40mm grenade rounds into a wadi that he could not see into and knowing we had just went in there. If he had hit an ANA soldier, vehicle or us, it would have been a blood-bath. The ANA are muslim and the muslims believe in an “eye for an eye”. They would have thought nothing of exacting revenge on these US forces had they hurt someone and the ANA found out it was them.

Very few people have seen me as mad I was at this moment. For it is rare that I ever get that angry. Even my own wife may have not ever seen me this mad, and if she has I am sure she remembers it. I understand mistakes happen, and that is fine as long as we learn from them. But for pure stupidity, I cannot stand. I would have probably punched this guy out if I had turned around and went back to him. The LT was already on the radio profusely apologizing and trying hard to suck up. He knew what he just did could have and can still cost him his career and his current position. Devil-7 had heard the traffic and called his platoon to stand down. As we came out of the wadi I could see the patrol base. Devil-7 as a fellow 1SG tried to give me a smile by telling me they saw us and we could enter the patrol base and not to worry they won’t be doing any test firing as we entered. Later I laughed at this, but at this moment I was in no mood. I got out of the truck and placed the ANA vehicles into position while Face drove on. I needed to walk the several hundred meters and kick some sand to release pressure.

All I could think about was how this idiot almost killed some kids (they were in the azimuth of the gun to impact line) had the soldier raised his grenade launcher another inch or so, or how he could have killed us or the ANA had the gunner moved his barrel to the left a few degrees. In those hundreds of meters of open sand as I walked, I thought about this and about what a dumbass thing that guy did. I wanted his head on a platter and him relieved before he did something else this dumb and hurt someone. I thought that this is something I could see the ANA doing, as they have no regard for safety, but not a commissioned US officer or any US soldier for that matter. It is one thing to get wounded or killed by the enemy and even though I don’t want that to happen, I am prepared for that to happen if it does. However I cannot fathom being wounded or killed by a fellow American, who had his head up his fourth point of contact.

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