Last night I stopped into the chow hall for a bowl of chili. It was about 2030 hrs and I planned to head to bed after eating. The chili was pretty good, too. With only a few spoonfulls remaining in my bowl, a siren sounded somewhere on FOB Airborne, Wardak District. Some people looked confused, until a voice came over a loud speaker telling everyone to head for bunkers.
I stood up, dumped my bowl in the garbage on the way out. Some people still stood around in disbelief. Who’d want to kill them?
Once outside, there was momentary mayhem. The FOB is blacked out at night. No lights on the outside of buildings. Only the momentary beam of light from small flashlights cut swaths through the darkness. Some one ran into me in the dark, spraying with what I think was soup.
There was a loud bang I’d estimate about 50 meters away from my position, a a huge flash backlit the mountains on the horizon.
Insurgents were tossing rockets at us. I moved to the nearest cement bunker. Outside the door, several local national kitchen employees stood clumped together, the few that were inside not moving far enough into the protective shell to allow everyone in. People seemed confused. Even some Soldiers looked as if they’d just been woken from deep slumber. I knew they hadn’t. They just couldn’t believe they were being bombed.
“Move the f$%^! inside!” I pushed through the people and into the shelter, telling the people blocking the way to let others in. I was irritated. We’re in a war zone and these people were surprised. No amount of TV or violent movies could have prepared them for real aggression. It seems most had never experienced the system shock that comes when violently confronted.
I estimated that we were hit by rockets because of the flashes seen in the distance. And there was the almost campy whistle before the explosions. The rockets were most likely the old Soviet model Katyushas, capable of being fired from single, man-portable stations, or mass fired from trucks.
“I really hope QRF (Quick response Force) hoses those fuckers,” I muttered. I felt anger. Some one had ruined a perfectly fine bowl of chile.
I could hear the grumble of distant helo rotors. Hunter-killer gunships already in the sky, not more than 15 minutes after the attack. Someone said they could see tracer fire from the mountain top, likely small arms used in hopes of scoring a big kill. QRF vehicles flowed up and down the road leading to FOB Airborne, search lights sweeping. I imagined the insurgent hugging the ground, hoping to be missed. But I’m sure the IR and night vision scopes on the gunships didn’t miss them.
Then I could hear the roar of twin-engined F-15 Strike Strike Eagles overhead, the same ones that wake me from my sleep at Bagram Airbase, shaking my whole room with raging afterburner. They’d been called in to drop bombs that could verily thread a needle from 30,000 feet.
After an hour in the bunker, we poured out. Later we were told that 4 rockets hit inside our compound, though I haven’t heard that anyone was hurt. Though I’m sure the bad guys on top of that mountain didn’t make it out alive.