Skip to comments.The Real Story Behind the April 9th Insurgency in Iraq (must-read by a US soldier who was there)
Posted on 05/19/2004 8:56:56 AM PDT by presidio9
My company is fuel transportation. We are the Army Reserve 724th Transportation Company. But in Iraq we have civilian contractors Kellogg Brown and Root. They do all the fuel hauling. So we basically become force protection for convoys. Friday, April 9th, about 7 a.m., my platoon started getting ready for a fuel convoy from LSA Anaconda in Balad to Baghdad International Airport (BIOP). We were running security for 21 civilian fuel trucks. We had 26 in the whole serial. I was in the 21st truck with a civilian, riding shotgun (passenger). I had never ridden with a civilian on a convoy before. The American civilians are non-combatants; they do not carry weapons, so I was the only one in the vehicle with a weapon. It made me extremely uncomfortable, because that means no one has my back if we get attacked.
We left the gates of Anaconda in Iraq about 10 a.m. The convoy was going fine and it was almost a regular day in Iraq; there were cars up and down the four lane highways and there were people everywhere in all the towns; it was a normal day. About an hour and a half into the trip, the people and the cars started becoming fewer. Then, the next thing I knew, my LT (lieutenant) - who is in the lead truck - comes on the radio and says, "We are taking rounds - everyone get ready!" then not even a minute later, someone else comes on the radio and says, "The LTs truck just blew up and I dont know where to go or what to do!" I looked at my driver and said "Oh sh** its about to get bad." Next thing I know, the truck about a hundred meters in front of us blows up right in front of us.
It was unlike anything I have ever seen in my life. We were in the middle of Baghdad on a main highway being attacked; there were buildings all around us, and people in the buildings firing weapons at us. I looked off to the left at a frontage road and I saw nine cars in rows of three. There was a line of women in front of all the cars, and some of them had children with them. I thought they were just watching us get attacked, and then men started popping up behind them firing at us - they were using the women as shields!! It took me a second to realize that. They were standing on the hoods of the cars behind the women and children; it shocked the hell out of me. Then we started getting hit with small arms fire, which sounded like golf balls hitting metal. I started firing back at them but I couldnt get passed the women; they were all I could hit, and they started falling down. The men turned around and ran back behind the cars to fire.
It was the first time I had ever shot anyone so I was extremely shaken up. We were going about forty-five miles an hour, which was the top speed possible. After we passed the women and cars, we came to an overpass. It was loaded with people; they were everywhere, and they had black blankets with what looked like cursive writing; it was Arabic. They were firing down onto our trucks from the bridge and attempting to drop the blankets on our windshields. I couldnt fire back because of the way I was sitting in the truck. I told my civilian driver to keep his head down, dont let any more than his eyes over the steering wheel. If he would have gotten shot, there would have been no way we could have gotten off the highway, and we were only 8 miles from our destination. The people on the bridge missed our truck with the blankets, but they shot the heck out of our cab and tanker. Our truck was spewing out gas everywhere all over the highway. I told my driver to try to speed up, since if the fuel ignited we would be goners.
We pulled up behind Mathew Maupin's truck, a fellow soldier who was riding with a civilian also, but no sooner did we get behind his truck then his tanker exploded, the truck swerving off the highway, down through a ditch into a bunch of buildings. It was one big ball of flames. Later on, Matt was seen on the Al-Jazeera network as a hostage, and is believed to be still in their custody. After his truck exploded in front of us, we came upon another truck that was laying on its side in the ditch on our left - it was one of ours. There were Iraqi civilian tankers on both sides of us, which the Iraqis use as roadside bombs - when you drive past them they blow them up.
Behind the military tanker on the right, I saw a man lying on his stomach, popping his head up and down to look at us. He just kept popping his head up, I propped my weapon up on the side mirror of our truck and started aiming for his head; I was either going to shoot him in the head or the back, all I could think at the time was, "he is one of the attackers and he is going to blow up both of the trucks as we pass." I saw that he was holding something up in his left hand. It was white. I didnt know exactly what it was, my heart was pounding so hard, and I was sure it was a remote detonator, but I kept looking and I didnt fire at him. As we got closer and closer, I saw that he was an American civilian, and he was holding his ID up trying to let us know he was one of ours. When I was in the hospital later on, I saw the same guy on the news, it was Thomas Hamill, who later escaped his Iraqi captors when he heard American soldiers outside the house he was being held prisoner in. We were going too fast to do anything; we couldnt stop and help him because we were getting hit so hard with small arms fire and there were explosions everywhere. At the time, however, I wasn't even sure that we had done the right thing to leave him alone; I wasn't completely sure he was really one of ours.
As we passed him, I looked in the rearview mirror saw the truck behind us explode, then it rolled side over side down the highway. I had never seen anything like that in my life. It really shook me up, it was just like something you would see in the movies. We kept going, and came upon five or six Iraqi tanker trucks that had been blown up and were on fire; there was black smoke everywhere. We drove right through it, praying that we would not hit any debris in the fire; we couldnt see anything. It was extremely hot in the fire and there was so much black smoke everywhere that I couldnt breathe.
Finally, we saw light and pulled out of the fire. It was a horrible experience. There was one more truck in front of us going very slowly, about twenty miles per hour. Its trailer was on fire. We decided to try to help them, and slowed down to pull up next to them. I yelled at the driver to stop, we would pick them up. It was two civilians; they slowed down and we pulled ahead of them a little ways. Tragically, at that time their truck exploded and blew us sideways. My driver kept our tractor under control luckily for us. We kept going towards our destination; neither one of us were sure where that was, but we were trying to get there. There were semi-trucks everywhere blown up and on fire. It was phenomenal - there is no way to exaggerate what was happening and what it looked like, the most horrible thing you could imagine is what it looked like; bodies everywhere, trucks on fire and exploding, so much weapons fire.
Finally, we saw the overpass we needed to reach. At this time, there were only three other trucks remaining with us. One truck was traveling over the overpass, and two were behind us. The one behind us was about a mile or two back, and there was a Hummer behind it. We went up the onramp to the overpass, but as we were turning left to head towards BIOP, my driver started yelling. I leaned forward and looked out his window. I saw a smoke trail heading toward our truck; it was an RPG (rocket propelled grenade).
The next thing I knew, our truck rolled onto its passenger side. I had my seat belt on so I couldnt move, but my driver didn't, and fell down on top of me, kicking and screaming trying to get out of the truck. He was all over me. I started hitting the windshield with the buttstock of my weapon until I broke through it. He ran out through it, turned around, and started pulling at my Kevlar helmet. He was trying to pull me out of the truck by my helmet, but my knee was stuck between the seat and dash, and my seatbelt was still on holding me back. He continued pulling on my helmet really hard, and at first I told him to get down and take cover, because we were still being fired at. But then it got to the point that I couldnt breathe. It felt like my head was going to pop, he was pulling so hard. Finally, I unstrapped my helmet and he fell backwards off me. I yelled at him and told him to get back in and lie down, but he was not listening, instead he came after me again. I unstrapped my seatbelt and pulled my knee out of the dash, falling down on my behind as my feet went out the window.
Next he started pulling my ankles to get me out of the truck. I kept yelling at him to get down but he wouldnt listen, so finally I kicked him in the chest with my left foot, and in the face with my right. As I kicked him in the face, he fell backwards. Before he hit the ground, blood splattered all over his face. I thought he had gotten shot, I thought "d*** hes dead and now Im alone." But he fell back on his behind and just sat there. I thought, "thats weird hes not dead." I was sure he had been shot in the face, but then his eyes got big and he said, oh my G** youve been shot, Im going to die Im going to die. I looked down and didnt see any bullet holes. I had no idea what he was talking about. Then I looked at him and said, "Lay the f*** down and do not get up," just to keep him safe."
Then I stood up to get out of the truck. My right foot hurt so bad I thought it was broken. I looked down and there was blood all over my foot. Then I realized the blood on his face was from my foot - when I was kicking him I got shot! I found out later that two of my toes had been shattered. Looking down and seeing the injury, I realized how badly it hurt. But there was so much adrenaline pumping through me that I could still stand. I looked back towards the rear of the truck to see if it was on fire. There was about a six foot hole in the tanker trailer, fuel was spewing out everywhere, and a small fire was building inside the trailer and on the tires.
I turned and looked towards the front of the truck, down the bridge. But before I turned my head all the way toward the front, something hit me in the chest. It hit so hard it felt like Sammy Sosa hitting me with a bat. It knocked me off of my feet, back into the truck. As I laid there, I looked down and saw a round (bullet) buried in the vest on my chest smoking. It smelled awful. I pulled it out of my vest and it burnt the hell out of my hand. I pulled myself back up and got out of the truck. I looked down the bridge in front of my truck and saw two little kids on the bridge, about a hundred to a hundred-fifty meters away. They both had AK-47s; one kid was about ten years old and the other was about seven. The seven-year old was holding his weapon upside down by the magazine, and the ten-year old was firing three rounds at a time at me. His first round hit the driver's side windshield on the truck - right next to my head. I turned around to grab my gun, and when I did, he shot me two more times in the back; the rounds went through me and into the cab of the truck.
It infuriated me as he kept shooting me. I grabbed my weapon, jumped out, and fired two rounds over their heads; I didnt want to shoot them - they were just l'il kids. After I fired over their heads, they turned around and ran down the bridge. Then I fell down onto my hands and knees; I couldnt breathe or move. I had been shot four times! I looked over to where my driver had been lying down - he was gone. I looked back and saw him running behind the truck, the opposite direction from where we were supposed to go. There was no way I could stop him, he was just running frantic. So it was just me on my hands and knees at this point, all alone. I couldnt breathe nor move, and my head was pounding very hard. I knew it was over with; there was no way I was getting out of there alive. I would either die or be captured.
I still was not going to give up though. I got up, grabbed my weapon, and walked over to the guardrail to look down on the highway. I stood there looking at all of our trucks blown up everywhere; the whole highway was scattered with our semis and our civilians. There was fire and black smoke everywhere. It was horrible. The last I remembered, there were two vehicles left on the highway, but I didnt see them anywhere, so I figured they had been blown up also. While I was standing there looking at the destruction, about twenty or thirty rounds hit the guardrail next to me. I fell backwards and lied down. Then I started low crawling towards the end of the bridge in the direction we were originally going. Bullets followed me the entire way.
Then, to my chagrin, I realized I was headed the wrong way on the bridge - into the middle of the city (Baghdad). I was just going to get shot again, and I probably wouldn't be so lucky the next time around. Bullets were striking all around me as I got up and ran back towards our burning truck. It sounds crazy, but at the time that was the safest place. On my way back, the last semi I had originally seen on the highway started coming up the bridge from behind our truck. It was almost demolished. All of the tires had been shot out, the trailer was burning, and it had bullet holes everywhere. It was losing fuel in multiple places. The tractor was completely trashed because of all the bullet holes. It slowed down just enough so I could jump up on the side. I jumped up on the steps of the passenger side and told the driver to speed up. There was a driver and passenger inside the truck, both civilians. The driver was wounded, but not badly. The passenger was hyperventilating; he had been shot in the right arm.
I continued to stand on the side of the truck as we went only about twenty-five to thirty miles per hour; there were no tires left on the truck, it was driving completely on the rims. As we entered Baghdad, I fired into the city buildings and just about everywhere trying to keep the suppressive fire down. Unfortunately, it wasnt working. The more I fired, the more rounds were fired at us. And I couldnt stabilize my weapon; I was attempting to hold onto the truck with one hand while firing with the other. I decided I would be more stable on the hood of the truck. I grabbed the side mirror to get up on the hood, but the mirror broke off. As I was falling off, the passenger had enough sense to grab the handle on the back of my flak jacket to keep me on the truck. Since he was hyperventilating, I dont have any idea how he did it.
I tried again. I reached back, grabbed the truck's passenger window, pulling myself back up onto the truck, then I jumped up onto the hood and lied down. I fired left and right into the city. There were people everywhere with weapons firing at us, it was horrible. I have no idea how I did not get shot. I heard a weapon fire really close to us, closer then the others, coming from my right side, which was the driver's side of the truck. I looked over and saw the two little kids that were on the bridge earlier, they were firing at me again. The older one, who had shot me earlier, was firing at the trailer and the semi, and the younger kid was firing two to three rounds at a time directly at me. I fired another round over their heads but they didnt budge, and apparently they were not about to. Then I aimed at the younger kid's chest and fired the round. It went into his throat and out the other side, and he dropped to the ground dead.
The older kid looked down at him, then up at me, and started laying into it; firing twenty to thirty rounds at a time at me. I rolled over, trying not to get hit, then I aimed at his head and shot, but I missed and it went over his head and hit the wall. Luckily it knocked enough debris down on him to drop him. I knew he wasnt dead, but he was down on the ground and that was good enough for me. Then the truck started slowing down more and more until it came to a dead stop. I rolled off the hood and lied down in front of the truck. As I lay there, I realized all the bullets that were being fired were landing around me. A couple of strays were hitting the semi where the two civilians were. I knew that if a round hit them, they would not make it; they were already in bad shape. I got up and ran away from the truck, about fifty to seventy-five meters, and lied back down. I fired into the buildings wherever I saw anyone. At that time, to me everyone was the enemy except my own.
I looked back at the truck and saw the driver getting out. I knew if he got out, it would draw attention to him and he would end up being shot. I started yelling, telling him to get back in the truck, but he wouldnt listen. I know I should not have done it, but I aimed and shot a round into his door handle. I knew I would not hit him, and I hit where I intended. He jumped back into the truck and shut the door. They both sat there looking at me. I hope they didnt think I was going to shoot them. I was just trying to keep them safe.
We were stuck there for about ten minutes when a Hummer appeared coming towards us from the bridge. It was the Hummer I had seen earlier. That Humvee was our last chance. I jumped up and flagged it down. I helped the two civilians out of the semi and into the Hummer, then I jumped in. We took off towards the north gate of BIOP Safety. We were still about three miles away though. It was a long shot, and the Hummer had been shot up pretty badly. We drove a little ways and picked up two more people; one soldier, Gregory Goodrich, and a civilian. I was sitting behind the driver, and so when Goodrich jumped in he sat on my lap, and the civilian jumped in behind the passenger. We were really packed into the Humvee; there were about ten people in this four-person Hummer.
As Goodrich lay on my lap, he fired out the window. Next thing I knew, I felt a thump - he had been shot. He started yelling, "ah..ah..ah..I got hit, Ive been hit!" I pushed him forward so I could help him. I went into the back of the Humvee and pulled out my first aid pouch. I leaned back up to help him, but blood was coming out of his mouth and he wasnt moving anymore. He didnt make it. We were rolling about ten miles an hour at top speed. Then the Humvee died, I believe it had been shot in the radiator. It was not going anywhere. We were still about two to three miles from the gate, and we were under heavy fire. There was no time in this entire attack that we were not under small arms fire, RPGs, or IEDs (improvised explosive devices).
We sat in the back of the Humvee looking at each other. We all knew we were not going to make it. The passenger used the radio to call for help, but no one was answering. It was hopeless. We just sat there listening to the bullets bounce off the hummer, hoping no RPGs hit us, since it would certainly be all over over then. But we all knew it was already over; the Hummer was our last hope and now it was out of commission, and it was too dangerous to try and run for the gate. We sat there for about ten to fifteen minutes.
Then we heard a loud screaming like a banshee. Three of us stood up and looked out the roof of the Hummer. We saw a Bradley tank coming towards us, it drove into the city firing at anything that moved, and two more tanks were following behind it. They pulled up on both sides of us, and two armored Hummers pulled up in the front and back. They boxed us in for security. It was cool as hell! The soldiers got us all out of the back of the broken-down Hummer. I was put into the back of one of the armored Hummers with three other people. We were taken up the road about a mile, and then told that we were going to be put into a tank. I got out, and along with one of the civilians, helped the civilian that was hyperventilating walk to the tank. Unfortunately, the civilian that was helping him also was shot in the back and dropped. I dragged the hyperventilating guy to the tank and went back for the other civilian, but someone else had already got him. I looked around to see if I could help anyone. Then I got in the back of the Bradley. The soldiers shut the door and it took off. There were five people counting myself in the back of the tank. Three of them were dead.
The tank took us to BIOP to the hospital there. I cant remember much of what happened there; I was in so much pain. I believe I passed out. I spent two days in BIOP Hospital, then I was sent to Balad for a night in that hospital. The following day, I was sent to Landstahl Regional Medical Center in Germany for a week. After that, I returned to the U.S., to Walter Reed military hospital in D.C., where I spent another week. The doctors there thought it might be best for me to go home and spend time with my family, in order to try and get over what happened. So now I am home until May 25th. I will then go back for surgery. If I heal fast enough, I will get sent back over to Iraq. I hope I do get to go back. I left a lot of friends behind. And I lost a couple good friends on the day of the attack.
bump for later
This will be shared.
Thank you, and God Bless you, Soldier.
All I can say is Thank You! otherwise I am speechless.
BUMP BUMP FOR LATER
thanks for your story and your service.
i'd like to see the u.s. military back up convoys like yours with more support. some wart hogs above, or whatever would be effect. teach the bastards a lesson.
my question is, how do all of these leftist photographers working for the media get the critical shots during or immediately after?
i get tired of seeing some iraqi celebrating over american injuries or deaths.
i'd like to see sharpshooters with these photographers that steal their photo opportunities by killing the perps.
We saw a Bradley tank coming towards us, it drove into the city firing at anything that moved, and two more tanks were following behind it.
A good summation of combat vs service support troops...
How could a convoy of fuel trucks move through Baghdad and not have more cover than this???
Good God! This is astounding.
Real information BTTT!
God help our soldiers. This is a remarkable story! What a writer Jarob D. Walsh, U.S. Army Specialist is!
Our soldiers. God love them.
View of same convoy action by contract driver.
Silver City resident caught in ambush in Iraq
By Melissa St. Aude
May 11, 2004, 17:58
Edward Sanchez Jr., 35, of Silver City, said he wasn't trying to be
a hero when he took a job that required him to drive a truck through
an Iraqi war zone, but that didn't stop fate and world events from
conspiring to earn him a place in history.
He said he accepted the truck-driving job with Texas-based Kellogg,
Brown and Root - a subsidiary of Halliburton - partly for the money,
and partly for the adventure, he said.
"I took the job knowing I was going to Iraq," Sanchez told the Daily
Press. "The job market here (in Silver City) is bad. The money (the
company offered) was good, and the job provided room and board, so I
thought, this was an opportunity to save some money."
Sanchez left the United States for Iraq on Jan. 11, in what would be
his first overseas adventure.
"I'd never been anywhere except Canada and Mexico," he said. "My
family was worried and tried to discourage me from going."
Sanchez had been in Iraq only a few months when, on April 9, his
civilian convoy of about 20 trucks, transporting fuel and other
supplies through Iraq, was attacked by Iraqi insurgents outside of
Baghdad. The attack resulted in several civilian and military
casualties, injuries, and kidnappings - including that of Thomas
Hamill, 43, who later made headlines when he escaped and was found
by American Army personnel.
Sanchez, who was driving a truck at the time, was injured in the
attack when a bullet struck him in the upper leg and a bullet
fragment hit his neck. He drove for about two miles after being
struck, and along the way, picked up several stranded co-workers and
soldiers from the convoy, before his truck finally broke down.
Ray Stanndard, of El Paso, Texas, is one of the Kellogg, Brown and
Root employees Sanchez rescued that day.
"The day was the ultimate bad day," Stanndard told the Daily
Press. "It was pretty terrifying."
Stanndard said most of that day's 60-mile trip from Camp Anaconda to
Baghdad International Airport was routine, until the convoy reached
the outskirts of Baghdad, about 15 miles from its destination.
"That's when we saw some ominous signs, some burned-out flatbeds and
tankers, and very little traffic," he said. "It was kind of strange,
but we just kept on going. We had been doing longer trips with only
slight incidents, but that day, we set out not knowing what we would
run into. The lead vehicle was shot at, and everyone in it was
killed, and then, all hell broke loose.
"People were coming over the radio and saying, 'I'm hit,' and I
wasn't sure if they meant their body had been hit or their vehicle.
I remember Tommy Hamill coming over the radio saying he had been
shot. He was one of the first, then more and more people came on the
radio, saying they had been shot. Some were crying on the radio. We
saw one truck engulfed in flames and black smoke."
Stanndard said he continued driving, keeping an eye out for
survivors, until his truck, which had been struck by several
bullets, broke down.
"We got out of the truck and crouched down and played dead until a
soldier came along to help. A Humvee arrived and another soldier
tried to wave to us to get on, but before we could get on, the truck
went up in flames, and the soldier had to jump out," he said. "Then
Eddie (Sanchez) came along. He was driving, and could have kept
going, but he stopped and told us to get on. We jumped on."
Stanndard said another wounded co-worker had attempted to climb into
the truck as it began moving, but didn't make it inside the vehicle.
He hung onto the door as the truck proceeded down the road.
"As he was driving, Eddie was holding onto this other man, who was
hanging onto the door. The man had taken a bullet and was trying to
hang onto to the truck. Eddie kept him from falling," Stanndard
said. "Then the truck Eddie was driving was shot up. A solider with
us had been shot in the chest. The truck came to a complete stop on
The group of 10 - five soldiers and five civilians - spent about 15
minutes to half an hour in a sheltered safety zone before American
Army personnel picked them up, he said.
Stanndard suffered a broken wrist and other injuries during the
"They took the seriously wounded first; two from our group later
died," Stanndard told the Daily Press. "Me and Eddie, and another
guy were patched up in a field tent and then sent to the hosptial."
Only seven of the more than 20 trucks from the convoy made it to the
safety of the base in Baghdad, according to Stanndard.
"My faith got me through that incident," Sanchez said. "Trucks were
on fire and we could hear people on the radio getting shot and
asking for help. Bullets were hitting the truck and coming in
through the windows."
Sanchez said that prior to arriving in Iraq, Kellogg, Brown and Root
had provided company employees defensive driving courses to try to
prepare them for incidents such as the April 9 attack.
"We were trained for this, and the military trained us also on how
to respond," Sanchez said. "But it was still frightening. I do feel
that the company took all the necessary steps to ensure our safety."
The wounded were transported to a nearby Army facility, then Sanchez
was taken to a hospital in Kuwait where he underwent surgery for his
bullet wounds, and was debriefed.
"My family had been worried," he said. "I called them as soon as I
could to let them know that I was all right."
Sanchez returned to Silver City on April 26, and says he respects
the civilian and military men and women serving in Iraq.
"The living conditions are rough," he said. "Most people are living
in tents and the dust is very hard on the lungs. Most are working
very long hours - 10- to 18-hour days - to help bring a better life
to the people of Iraq. Part of the reason I wanted to go to Iraq in
the first place is to help, and also, I hoped to evangelize and
minister to the Americans working there. They're going through
hardships, being away from home."
During the months he was there, Sanchez said, he was able to help
comfort many of the men and women serving in Iraq.
"We had Bible study groups, and I think that helped a lot of
people," he said. "So much of Scriptural history takes place in
Iraq, so that made being there special. Jesus must have walked
through there at one point, and the Garden of Eden is supposed to
have been in Iraq - although, we didn't see any traces of the
In a press statement released by Halliburton and KBR on May 7, the
company said: "Books may not be written nor movies made about the
courage, dedication and sacrifice of our employees in Iraq, but each
and every one is a hero in the cause of peace and stability, and
history will record them as such.
"While our employees choosing to serve in Iraq recognize the dangers
inherent in working in a war zone, they are driven by their desire
to help rebuild a country and contribute to the creation of a
"Civilian contractors work side-by-side with the military and Iraqi
people. Our work is difficult and in a dangerous environment, and
Halliburton and its subcontractors have lost 35 personnel while
performing services under our contracts in the Kuwait-Iraq region."
Sanchez said, he doesn't think of himself as a hero, and was only
trying to do his job while in Iraq.
Now that he's home, he said he'll continue to recuperate from his
injuries and appreciate the time he can spend with his mother, Irene
Sanchez of Silver City, and wife, Dana Sanchez, also a Silver City
He has kept the piece of bullet doctors removed from his neck, and
said he'll hang onto it for a while, as a reminder of the role he
played in history.
© Copyright 2004 by thedailypress.com
Just to show you guys that I am not all about Anna Kournikova, and underwear, and how Germans relieve themselves, and Morford, I want you all to read this very moving story.
next thing you know, Martin will be trying to claim some sort of legitimacy also... ; ) thanks, P9 : ), i don't think of you as a little ball of fluff no matter what everyone else says...
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