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01-23-08, 09:54 AM
The Great Dragunov Jigsaw Puzzle

“Hey, LT.” SSG Boondock’s rapid banter rose above the incessant prattling of four Iraqi women, upset at being shepherded out of their house in the desert orange dawn. “You’ll want to check this out.”

I left the terp Billy the Kid with the locals, and followed SSG Boondock’s lead around the corner of the house – a mud hut, really, only consisting of two small rooms that supposedly housed two military-aged males, one of the men’s mother, three younger women, and four children. We were operating in the farmland outskirts of Anu al-Verona, acting on a tip one of the local Sheiks had provided us about a new family in his area possibly housing insurgents. The information relayed to us had been flimsy at best, and that combined with the unabated exhaustion that comes after an all-night OP immediately transitions into a predawn raid, left the majority of the Gravediggers impatient, annoyed, and eager to get back to the combat outpost. All we had found of note thus far had been a litany of poorly-threaded blankets, some homemade herb the grandmother claimed helped the children with their many illnesses, and a torn Van Halen tee shirt that SPC Big Ern thought he had owned in 1987 when he sported a mullet and drove a pesticide truck for a living.

SGT Axel and PV2 Das Boot awaited our arrival on the backside of the mud hut. They stood next to a well, from which a water pipe emerged, connecting to the residence in question. Through the eyes of a green lieutenant, everything looked about as normal as an Iraqi hellhole can look. They didn’t exactly cover what happened next in ROTC, you know?