We were headed to Kuwait. Just south of Baghdad, we were ambushed. Greg was in the number 3 truck. I heard him radio that he was taking fire. I asked him from what direction. I didn’t see any turn signals going back there to tell me what direction. Then I heard Larry say he was taking fire. Then several others said that they were taking fire as well. All I could see was flashes in the mirror. That is a very frustrating feeling. To know your team, your extended family is being shot at and there is nothing you can do. Then I heard Roy’s voice with pain in it. Roy said, “I’ve been hit.” I could hear the pain and fear in his voice. But I could also hear his strength. I told Tim to pick him up if he goes down. Tim asked if Roy was stopped. Roy radioed again that he was hit. I said, “I know hon., but we have to get ya’ll to a safe zone before we can stop”. At this time, we are coming into a check point. I have to fight the urge to keep from mashing on the gas. I didn’t know if the guys were out of the kill zone or not. Roy tells me again that it hurts and I again say to him, “I know Roy, but you have to drive that truck. We can’t stop till we get you in the check point. The guys behind you are counting on you. I have faith in you. I know you can do it. I know it hurts, but you can do it.” All this time, I am fighting the urge to shove the lead escort out of my way and get my guys in the safe area. Once they get checked in with the soldiers, they pull on into the check point. I pull as far down as I can. I want to make sure everyone gets on this side of the check point. The escorts yell at me and tell me to stop. I keep moving till I know I have all my guys in the safe zone. I tell the guys to stay in there trucks. I grab my helmet, jump out of the truck and make a mad dash to Roy’s truck. I am there before they get him out. I feel relief as I realize that it is not a life threatening wound, but yet I still have this great amount of concern. I talk to Roy and let him know that I am there with him. I tell him he is going to be ok and that he did a great job. Ben is already there. He has helped get Roy out of the truck. I tell him I need his help. I ask him to go to my truck and Qualcom in all the info. I told him that Robert, my driver for this trip, doesn’t know how to run a Qualcom and I need him to do it for me. He checks out Roy, give him his words of encouragement and goes to my truck. I then get one of the other guys to come and check out Roy’s truck to see if we can move it. I don’t want to leave it if I don’t have to. The guys find a steer tire going flat, it has taken a bullet. I didn’t hear the air leaking out of the tire till they say something to me about it. I get on the radio and tell my crew that I need their help. We have a tire that needs to be changed and need to finish checking out the truck. The guys were great. Every last one of them got out and came to help. The left steer tire is the one loosing air. And even though I know they were dieing to come check on Roy, they went right to getting the tire changed. The first tire they got, the rim would not work and they had to get another. They checked out the rest of the truck and got the tire changed, all while talking to Roy from the other side of the truck and Roy talked to them. I think it did them all good to be able to talk to him. Being able to talk to him they knew he was alive and going to be ok. I was and still am so very proud of my crew that night. Ben and I were radioing back and forth to make sure all the Qualcom messages were answered. They wanted to know who was shot and were there any other injuries. They wanted to know if we could get the truck in to the next camp. Ben did a fine job in relaying my messages over the Qualcom to Trans opps. The guys got the tire changed and I sat with Roy, holding his hand and letting him know that we were all there for him. It was kind of crazy, but yet it wasn’t. It all went so smooth. I had three things going at one time, but it worked like clock work. Larry, John and I had been running together for 5 weeks and the rest had been with me for 3 weeks. We all knew what the other could do and couldn’t do. We were a well running team, a family that night. There was no one person out there doing it all, it was all of us working together. So many times I had told them that we are responsible for each other. I know that not of them understood what I was saying,… till that night. We have to be able to trust all the others with our lives and they have to be able to trust us. That night was proof of the family and companionship that had come to be in my crew. As the chopper was landing, I told the guys that if they wanted to say bye to Roy that they needed to do it now. They came around the truck one or two at a time and said their goodbye’s and gave Roy a word of encouragement. Roy had gotten a dose of morphine and was feeling a bit on the silly side. When I told him that I expected to see him back as soon as he got well, he told Greg and me that he had to come back so that he and Ben could whip Greg and me in a game of spades. We all laughed. I know that Roy being able to joke with the guys also helped them. And their being there and showing him that they were there for him made it easier on him and helped keep him calm. The military got Roy on the chopper and they lifted off. The soldiers, told me that we had to get moving. There was another convoy behind us and they need to get them through the check point. I asked my driver if he minded driving Roy’s truck to Scania. There was no hesitation, he said that he would. We all mounted up and started off.
We made the cross over to the left and across the makeshift bridge. Then just as the tail of the convoy was getting back on our side of the road, the escorts stopped and told us to go lights out. We all did that in a hurry. The escorts told me that there was another ambush going on ahead of us on a north bound convoy. My heart just sank. All was quiet. I keep my windows down a bit so that I can hear anything going on in these night missions. I rolled them down a bit more now. It was totally dark. The only light was from the houses in the distance. I prayed to God. “Please, don’t let anything more happen to these guys tonight. They have been through enough. They don’t need this. Please let nothing else happen to them. I don’t know if I or they can handle it.” Then I see a grid go dark. “Oh shit”, I think to myself. That is one of the signs that we are told about. When a grid of houses go dark, that is the sign that there is a convoy in the area and that the insurgents are going to ambush. Then a grid goes dark behind us. “OH SHIT” I think to my self again. Everyone is quiet. No one talks on the radio. They know that our radios are not secure. If we talk we could be giving away our position and that we are there. After about 45 minuets, the escorts tell me that they had gotten the ok to move on. I tell the guys to keep their eyes open and we are moving. All are quiet. The rest of the trip was quiet except what as going on in my head. Several times I told myself out loud that I had to hold it together, I could fall apart till I had them in Scania and they were safe. As soon as we pulled through the check point at the north end of Scania, I started to cry. The stress and adrenaline was starting to wear off. As we pulled to the gate to check in I dried my tears. I can’t let them see me cry is what went through my head. Several time that night after we got fueled and parked, I had to fight the tears. I felt so bad for Roy. He had been in country for only a month and now he was shot. A part of me felt guilty for that. I know that it is not my fault that he was shot, but he is one of my family and I am their leader. I have thoughts of “Did I do it right?”, “Did I talk care of them like I should have?”, “Was there anything more that I could or should have done?. I talked to Moe, and he looked at the truck. All the guys were with me looking at Roy’s truck. Moe said that safety would be out in the morning to take pictures and get my statement. We all talked a bit and did our best to calm down. The guys told me that the middle and rear escorts did not return fire. Larry told me what he saw as a mortar round came in and hit the pavement. I listened to them tell their story of what happened and them sent them to bed. I had done all that I could do for them. They told me that. Not just with their words, but from the way they treated me as we stood there sharing our feelings over what had happened. They let out their anger, and their fear (though they wont and wouldn’t say that it was fear.). As I climbed back into my truck, I thanked God for watching out for us and it not being any worse than it was. Roy was alive and the guys and I were now safe at Scania. I tried to call Matt. I needed someone that I could let all my fear and pain out with. I couldn’t let the guys see me break down. I had to be strong. No tears, for fear, just calm cool and collected. That was what I had to show the crew. But now, I was back in my truck and I could let it out. Matt wasn’t answering his phone. I need to someone to talk to. I have been shot at before, but this was different. Being shot at and missed was nothing. Being shot at and hit was something else. So, I called Mike. I told him what happened. He told me that I did good and that it was time for me to get off the road. He gave me all the encouragement that he could. But Mike had been scared to run missions for while now. I knew when I called that he would start in on my getting off missions. I told him that I was not going to quit running missions. I love running missions. I love being out on convoys. But this time it was a bit scary. We talked for a bit and then I laid down to sleep. The next morning, Paula and Bull came out to take their pictures and get my statement. We dug the bullet out of the door that went through the drivers door, through Roy’s leg and had lodged in the passenger door. I wanted to make sure that Roy got that bullet. He deserves it. Everyone had to take a look at it and tell me what caliber they thought it was.
Paula said that I could stand the crew down for the day if I wanted to. The guys were still angry over the escorts not returning fire. Paula told me about the military having a combat stress team and that if I wanted, I could have them come out and talk to the guys. I did that. But after the meeting, I wish I had not. I seemed like the guys got more angry after talking to them than they were before. But, I guess it did do them some good. They were able to let out some of their anger at the escorts. So, I guess it was a good thing I had them come out, but I didn’t feel that way then. I asked the crew if they wanted to stand down that day. I told them that we could take the day off and hang out and calm down, but that it was put to them. They all agreed that they wanted to push on and take a day in Kuwait. So a few hours later, we pushed out to Cedar. When we got there all the people that know me there had to ask me if I was ok and how my crew was doing. See, there may not be a way for us to all talk to each other like we want, but when a driver is hurt, everyone knows about it and knows who’s crew he was ridding on. I also know that there were lots of folks that were not sure that I could handle it all. Being a woman and all. At least that is the feeling I got and is what some of my friends told me was going around. “She did good in holding it together even though she is a woman.” That is one comment that I heard that was said about me. Why should the fact that I am a woman make me any different in being able to handle the ambush that one of the guys? I let it go, but didn’t forget it. I just made me want to show them that I could handle it more.
When we got to the border the next day, I called Ken and told him that we were there. He had me split my crew up into 3 and sent us different directions. I was pissed. I told him that the guys needed a day off. He said that we didn’t have time and needed to get the ice moving back north. All that day and the next I argued with them about it. And why wasn’t there some one there to tell these guys that they did a great job? I told Ken that they didn’t care about my crew. That KBR didn’t care about my crew. That this was all a bunch of bullshit. Ken said that they couldn’t “baby” the guys and that we had a job to do. I wasn’t asking him to “baby” them. They just needed a break. We had been running for the last 3 ½ weeks without a break. We had been turning and burning more than most of the crews and then getting shot at and having Roy hurt, we all needed a break. I was again told we had to get back north. Then they started in on the fact that I had to go back to the Kuwaitis and give my statement about being attacked at the Safir back in the spring. They tried to tell me that I was to stressed out and that I should hand my crew over to someone else. Matt was in from his R&R and he could take them. I told Ken that I brought them down that I would take them back home. I had to be the one to take them home. They kept on me about how I needed to take care of this “other” problem. They took me to the EAP councilor and I was pulled form my convoy. Matt took them back north. At least, Matt was the one there and taking care of my guys. I know Matt is a good CC, unlike some of the other idiots we have and that my guys were in good hands. Matt called me several time during their trip back north and let me know what he was doing and I gave him my thoughts on what I thought needed to be done to make the guys feel better and safe on the trip. Every time I talked to Matt, he told me that the guys were always asking if he had talked to me and how was I doing. Non of them knew about my attack until I told them that I was being pulled from the convoy and Matt was talking them north. They were all so cool about it. They all gave me their support and wished me that best. Some of them even told me that if I saw this guy while we were out on mission, to let them know and they would take care of him for me. Matt let them know that I was doing fine and let me know that they were doing fine. We all got through it. The thing that made us all made was when Matt got back to Anaconda, they split my crew up. They all had it in their minds that they were going to Anaconda and then turning right back around and coming to pick me back up. From what Matt told me, it was very important to them that they were the ones to come get me and bring me back north. That made me feel good. My guys felt the same for me as I did for them. We area family, we all stick together and watch out for each other. We leave no one behind. They had been forced to leave me in Kuwait, they wanted to bring me home, just like I had the felling that I had to be the one to take them back home. But it didn’t work that way. I had to stay in Kuwait for 3 weeks to get that taken care of and my crew was chopped up and thrown to the four winds.