YOU BETTER PRAY I hit the weights this morning before another â€œwhite knuckleâ€� express trip to downtown hell. I feel good, strong today as I superset the workout of back and chest. â€¦â€¦â€¦â€œye have suffered, awhileâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦.make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle youâ€¦â€¦I remember a scripture in my head as I do the last rep. Our gym is outside and itâ€™s a nice peaceful morning. You hear the surrounding city traffic and movement, birds, fresh air and distant 50 cal opening up off base. Im finished working out now and I will enjoy the remaining peaceful morning and a cigar. Fifty cal rings out again off base at a local check point. I eyeball our humble 4ft Christmas tree which is a representation of this place. Lacking ornaments for the most part, we used bullets, cigars, Marlboro packs and other things we like and hung them on the tree. (There goes a large explosion detonates off base/IED most likely). The tree looks like a freaking train wreck but its our train wreck. Above it a piece of paper size cardboard box flap that reads â€œMerry Christmas-USMC-Iraq 2005â€� in permanent marker duct taped to a cami net pole. Now multiple deep thump explosions off base characteristic of a MK19 grenade launcherâ€¦.friendly. Today feels like when your about to take a test you have been dreading and are nervous about but you know your ready, youâ€™ve done other tests just like it and youâ€™ve done all you can for this one however, you will be relieved when its over. More MK 19 impacts. Marines must have some enemy off site and engaging them. â€œSurrealâ€� Thatâ€™s the word for this place. As I smoke the nice stoag I scratch my head and listen to the impacts getting closer and think, I need to reshave my head. As my peach fuz hair is growing on my grape. The sound of snipers firing on a makeshift range nearby continues as they dial in their weapons. They are practicing long range shots as you can hear the shot then a full second later hear the impact. Dozens of carefully aimed shots perfectly executed as they hone and use their weapons like surgical tools. The MK 19 gunner is talking to us. Not with words but with rounds. Initially fast furious rounds were fired telling us he has the enemy in sight and is engaging to kill. Then a couple sporadic rounds telling us here is some icing for their cake to finish them off and I think I got them all. I draw a few more puffs of the even burning stoag, itâ€™s a good one a (PUNCH) Gran Puro 48 ring. Big beastly cigar. Like many things, size matters. As you get on your business suit (armor) your Initial thought is that you donâ€™t pray because you are getting use to the high pressure threats, its becoming second nature. Then you slap the hell outa yourself and begin to say a short prayer as its your foundation to pray. Then you buckle your chin strap and head for the truck. The hummer engine is whaling as you fly down the barbed wire lined road with concrete barrier liners and fallen buildings as the backdrop. The men are working as a perfect machine, all together all in sync. Truck one calls â€œDonkey in the roadâ€� Donkeys are all over the place in this country and this thing is confused and trapped as big hummers fly past it. â€œOne dismount, all black, right sideâ€� truck one calls out on the radio. Your doing your systematic checklist, curb, rooftop, alley, curb, mirror, rooftop continuous scanning the area. Looking at trash in the road, looking for a guy in all black. â€œMan with wires in his hand right side 40 yardsâ€� Truck two calls out. â€œCant see himâ€� Truck three says over the radio. â€œGunner of truck four, â€œI own emâ€� meaning hes got a beed on him with his machine gun in case he triggers an IED, that guy will die first. Nothing explodes as we speed by. It could have been nothing; it could have been a daisy chained multiple arty shell IED. Shot gun rounds ring out from my turret as the gunner warns off moving cars. They are too close to use a multiple layered escalation of force procedures and the gunner goes immediately for his shot gun. SBVIEDs happen in a flash and the gunner never hesitates as he fires warning shots Truck one yells over the radioâ€¦.skeshhhhhhhh hole in the skshhhhhhh look out for skshhhhh. We are hauling at this point. You decipher what the hell he was saying through the static in an nano second as I look to the driver and shout â€œrightâ€� and he knows to take evasive action as Iâ€™ve seen something and he should go right immediately. He doesnâ€™t ask, just swerves to the right, immediately (immediate response to orders). We miss one of many previous 2 ft deep IED craters in the road. The pavement is thick and you couldnâ€™t see the hole until right on it. Usually Haji puts multiple tank mines stacked or IEDs in previous craters. It will spell disaster if you hit one. I see young children staring at us, dirty poor things on the side street as we fly by. My chest relaxes a bit as â€œusuallyâ€� its ok if they are out, but Haji will try to kill you and kill some poor kid just as well as long as he gets you. It looks like the beginning of a Grand Pre race where drivers swerve back and forth on the track to warm up their tires almost like a serpentine sliming down the road as the hummers swerve around previous IED craters. I have a section of Marine F-18s circling like great white sharks above us ready to dive down and tear a holy shit ass into someone if needed. Im thankful they are Marines up there, they will know how we fight and that could be the difference in tenths of seconds and again yes Im very glad their fellow Marines. We get to our destination through a narrow empty alley. Its quiet and we quickly move past bullet ridden walls to our determined location. While conducting our business inside some of the men are outside establishing security and talking with Col Oliver North. Its weird seeing him in this shit hole but he is cool as hell and shoots the shit with they guys. Heâ€™s still a Marine and the men know it. You cant bullshit the men they will smell a turd a mile away like the stench of other Marines who have strayedâ€¦â€¦â€¦He hasnt let is fame get the best of him as a young Marine asks him to sign one of the Colonels books that the young Marine knucklehed keeps in his truck to read when its slow. Itâ€™s a good bone for the men and they donâ€™t let it interfere with business. While inside conducting business, AKs open up at us outside the compound. Our actions inside donâ€™t miss a beat and continue. I look to an Army joe who is with us thatâ€™s never been here before and is a bit nervous with open palmed ands I motion downward for him to relax and chill so we donâ€™t disrupt the business at hand. No rounds are actually hitting our building and the warriors outside have it well under control. Hope the Col is in a hummer with his gear on I think to myself. I monitor the radio and its just a short enemy burst and two sniper shots. No injuries. Its time to roll. We deploy smoke in a couple locations as we move to obscure our movement from the now present snipers. This is just freaking grand, I think to myself as we move. Again the race is on â€œtwo dismounts left in alleyâ€� truck six calls out. Thatâ€™s never good when truck one sees no one and the back trucks do. We lower the hammer and speed through the city as my Lt calls out on the radio with some forward thinking messages for all to hear. Heâ€™s a smart Lt and he wants to get out to be a doctor. Ive tried to convince him but heâ€™s hell bent set to get out. So every time I see him I ride his ass and ask him what steps he has finished to accomplish his goal to be a doctor. Its opened his eyes to reality and what he has to do yet. He would be a great doctor but a better Captain in the Marines. There is that stoooooooopid donkey again, heâ€™s been hit by Iraqi traffic and I think to myself we should shoot him and put him out of his misery but that would expose Marines to sniper fire, sorry donkey. This mission comes to an end. Adrenalin is a flowing and everyone is ok. Thatâ€™s whats important, we did a good mission and everyoneâ€™s ok. â€¦â€¦â€¦â€œye have suffered, awhileâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦.make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle youâ€¦I Peter Ch5 ver10 Semper Fi- COMBAT UPDATE A local convoy was attacked today by a suicide car bomber on a street in Fallujah. The bomber was parked on the side of the street in a yellow taxi cab and detonated the bomb as the convoy passed. The attack wounded one Marine and killed the bomber. The injured Marine was taken to a nearby military hospital for follow on treatment. There were no reports of Iraqi civilians injured in the attack. The night is quiet and we havenâ€™t had many mortar/rocket attacks todayâ€¦â€¦â€¦.there is always tomorrow.