Friday, July 31, 2009

IED attack introduces Oregon soldiers to combat zone

Pfc. Storm Brown from Forest Grove, Ore., locates a piece of shrapnel on top of his MRAP vehicle, which was hit by an IED explosion during a convoy in Iraq. The blast blew off the mirror on his turret and caused damage to the window, but Brown suffered only minor injuries.

Soldiers from the Oregon Army National Guard's 2-218 Field Artillery's First Platoon, 2nd Squad, were reminded that Iraq is still a combat zone when they were struck by two separate improvised explosive devices recently.

The soldiers have been in Iraq for around two weeks, and were conducting their first and second mission in a seven-vehicle convoy when the blast occurred. They were enroute to meet the vehicles they were going to escort. No one was seriously injured.

Truck commander, Sgt. Erique Dominguez of Portland, Ore., and truck gunner, Pfc. Storm Brown of Forest Grove, Ore., were in a vehicle rocked by the first explosion.

The vehicles were passing a checkpoint as the gunners scanned the horizon. When the trailing vehicle slowed down, the IED went off, said Brown.

"Everything went orange, there was smoke everywhere," Brown said. "I dropped down into the vehicle and checked in with the TC to let him know I was fine. We called in, told them we were fine, and then moved out."

The soldiers were in one of the Army's newest vehicles--the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAP)--designed so as to protect its occupants from serious injury.

About a half-hour after their mission began, another vehicle in the convoy was hit with a second explosion.

Brown said the platoon the Oregonians took over for hasn't been attacked the entire time they were in Iraq. He added that being hit twice on his first mission has helped him become more aware of the realities of a combat zone.

Pfc. Michael Byrd from Portland, Ore., the gunner in the vehicle, said he was scanning his sector when the explosion happened.

"I scanned with my spotlight, then came back to my one o'clock position, and whoom!" he said. "It kind of sucked me up a little bit, and then I went back down and there was nothing but dust everywhere."

The convoy commander, Staff Sgt. David Gowan from Portland, Ore., who was also the TC during the second explosion, said the attacks help him tune into potential dangers while on convoy missions. He added that the incidents will help him know what to do if the situation reoccurs.

All the soldiers in the convoy were aware of the dangers in Iraq, but the recent incident served as a wakeup call for all those involved. They said the experience will help them be more aware on future convoys.

"You know that things like this can happen, but it was totally unexpected," Byrd said. "There's a war going on here--it's still dangerous and you've got to stick to your training and know what you're trying to do."

"We are all okay," Byrd added.

Story by Spc. Cory Grogan,
115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment,
41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

that was our unit that was attacked, and just to clarify, it was 1 Sqd, 1 PLT, not 2 Sqd, you know better Grogan...just start pushing.