I didn’t have a picture from this embed yet, and out of sheer desperation I asked permission to walk around with the engineers. The GIs told me that I was an idiot; I could get killed out there, but it was my life. I hopped out, ran over to one of soldiers, and started taking pictures, dancing around him the whole time so snipers wouldn’t consider me an easy target. I got his unit—“18th engineers, 3rd (Stryker) brigade, 2nd I.D.,” my notebook reads—his surname (Gardner) from his flak jacket, his rank (sergeant) from a patch on his chest, and ran back to the truck. I just wanted to be back behind the armor of the Humvee. Another engineer was shouting at him, “Get off the sidewalk.” They were frightened of bombs buried beneath it
I was back inside the Humvee lighting a cigarette to calm my nerves when a massive concussion shook our truck. It was an IED. All I could see was a huge cloud of dust. The gunner made the only sound, a ratchet-click of the spinning turret, while he searched for the man who triggered the bomb. Then the radio squawked, “Gardner is fucked up! Get a CASEVAC! Gardner is fucked up!” Gardner had been split in two by the bomb.
Yes. The mission was accomplished, for a start.
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