Greg Street - Good Day ft. Nappy Roots
We’re gonna have a good day
And all my homies gonna ride today
And all these mommies look fly today
And all we wanna do is get by today
Heyyy, We’re gonna have a good day
And ain’t nobody gotta cry today
Cause ain’t nobody gonna die today
Save that drama for another day
These words have a special place in my heart. I used to listen to this song every mroning during my deployments to Afghanistan. Especially the first one where we saw a lot more action.
It must have worked.
Our battalion of ~775 Marines and Sailors lost one individual. Corporal Torbert, Eric M. was struck by an IED on December 18th, 2010. A week before Christmas, and 5 days before my company would travel north to Sangin District/Upper Gereshk Valley.
At this time Sangin was the most heavily contested region in Afghanistan. I had lost friends with 3rd Battalion 7th Marines there. 3/7 took enough casualties that they had mental health professionals embedded at the platoon level when they returned home to help with PTSD. But this isn’t about 3/7. This about 3d Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. Henceforth known as 3LAR or The Wolfpack.
About a week and half before Christmas we got the word to push north to Sangin. However, we weren’t allowed to take all of Erie Company(approx 125 Marines). We took 85. 10 LAV-25s, 2 LAV-L’s(Logistics variant), 1 C2(Command and Control, my vehicle), and 1 LAV-R(Recovery).
Two days before Christmas we made the 8 hour trek to Camp Leatherneck. Picked up some supplies, made a PX run. On Christmas Eve we drove the last 2.5 hours to FOB Nolay. We arrived after dark. Through the thermal devices we used to drive at night it looked like the ECP(Entry Control Point) was on fire. Turns out it was just the angle, as their burn pit(for burning trash) was in line with the ECP. Crisis averted. That was just the beginning of a very strange night. As we rolled through the ECP we were finally able to raise our seats out of the armored vehicles and drive with lights on. There was a MRAP 6x6 with a bearded black guy in a Santa suit in the turret. He was yelling “HO, HO, HO, MERRY CHRISTMAS!” while firing red and green flares into the air. This place was the wild fucking west. We continued on, passing dozens of vehicles that had been destroyed by IEDs. You see, FOB Nolay was a base camp for Army and Air Force convoy base. There was a small chowhall where they cook UGRs. Essentially a UGR is an MRE that is large enough to serve a few dozen people. This base was so lawless that most people didn’t go to the chowhall, they just broke into the lot where the UGRs were located and cooked them in little circles all over base. Started fires out of wood pallets to stay warm. My biggest memory of Nolay was a sign. There was a series of steps leading up to the outer wall, so that you could peer over. At the top of the stairs was a warning side that said “DO NOT LOOK OVER WALL, SNIPERS WILL SHOOT YOU.” The ground in the area was also so saturated with IEDs that camels and donkeys would set them off as they walked around. Especially in the morning when they were looking for food and water. We didn’t set alarms, we just waited until we heard two or three IEDs go off and new it was about 0730 and time to get up.
A few days after Christmas we finally left Nolay behind. We drove about 15km south from there and found and abandoned house with a nice wall surrounding the courtyard and took it over. We let EOD go in and clear it of booby traps. Then we moved in. We spent 2 full days hardening the location. Filling sandbags, putting up strands of concertina wire and razor wire. Building posts for security. Digging defensive positions for the vehicles at night and so on. Our mission was simple. A mix of British and Afghan contractors were paving a road from Highway 1 to Lashkar Gah. They were also putting in power lines and water lines around the highway. The Taliban felt that this would empower the people too much, so they targeted the contractors. They wanted to control the power and water themselves, or destroy it trying to gain control. We were there to provide security for the contractors and empower the local militia posts.
We provided security for them for 6 weeks. For 6 weeks we lived in the freezing cold, ate UGRs and MREs. The only available bathing was using baby wipes or water bottle showers. Too fucking cold for water bottle showers. In the first two weeks were there we lost 6 vehicles. In one evening I had to help call in a MEDEVAC for 7 of my friends. Well, we called it in for two, but by the time the medics landed they said they needed to take 7. They all survived. 5 of them were to back to work 30 days later. Another crushed his foot and eventually had it amputated. The other had a compressed spine, but recovered enough to deploy to Afghanistan a year and a half later with another unit. He’s now a civilian contractor in Afghanistan.
I’ve been distracted and forgot where I was going with this. Sorry for the rambling. By the end of our deployment, my company saw the most action of anyone in the battalion. We found more IEDS, the wrong way and the right way, than any of the other companies. We had 12 Marines hurt badly enough that they were sent stateside. A few lost limbs, but no lost lives. And only one life lost out of our battalion.
Here was our other major mission. Maybe I’ll write a long rambling post about it one day: http://waronterrornews.typepad.com/home/2011/03/3rd-lar-leads-raids-on-narco-terrorists.html