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(No, those aren’t trees on top of the hill – they’re antennas.)

Temperatures are expected to be in the 30’s tonight. Iraq, the desert tundra…


Last night I’m sitting in my truck, minding my own business, when a tremendous explosion rocks the vehicle. A stab of fear shoots through me – did they just mortar my antenna? The 15-meter radio antenna is pretty much the tallest thing around, and since we’re pretty close to the wall, I imagine you can see it from outside the perimeter. Then I thought: I don’t want to stay in this truck because shrapnel will slice through it, but I don’t really want to go outside because I don’t have my body armor with me and I’m parked in an empty lot…

I poke my head out the door and SGT Giggles does the same out of the switch truck; we look at each other like “what the fuck just happened?” I glance around the area – it’s dark but it doesn’t look like anything blew up. Then, from the direction of the DFAC, a pair of brilliant flashes, then a second or so later a tremendous boom like a stroke of thunder magnified. I knew it was our 155mm howitzers firing, since no little 80mm mortar shell would have such a tremendous blast at that distance.

They kept firing for about fifteen minutes, about once a minute; I was transfixed by the flash and the thunder, unable to help myself from exclaiming “oh, shit!” every time a round went off. The howitzers must’ve been a quarter-mile away or more, but even from there the blast was intense enough to make my ears ring and my truck shake. I could feel the concussion on my face!

Glad I’m not on the receiving end of that action…