Friday, September 22, 2006

It All Changes Today

To those wondering when the next post would come about, sorry. I haven't updated this in a long while because I felt like I had nothing to tell. We've been a lucky bunch, and nothing interesting or exciting has gone on for weeks. That was put to rest this morning. We were the auxiliary force when we got word that a house simply exploded. At first, everyone had guessed it was an IED maker who detonated a bomb prematurely. We set out and in a few minutes pulled up to the house, the ramp facing away from the site, and we piled into the house next to it, a three story. In the corner of my eye I caught a bunch of rubble and wires all in the street but I didn't have time to look. As soon as I stepped past the threshold, I began stepping on broken glass, which was scattered about the whole house. We cleared every room to make sure it was safe, finding two little girls and their mother. They appeared to be unhurt but very scared. I walked deeper into the house to find the last room almost completely covered in shards of glass. The explosion was so great it broke every delicate thing in the house. I tried to explain to the little girls to watch out for shards sticking out of window sills. I was then called up to the roof to help with security, and to make sure no bad guys took positions on other rooftops. When I got to the edge of the roof and looked down at the carnage, I was taken aback at the scale of the explosion. On the street where I had been earlier, there was nothing but huge chunks of concrete, wires and metal strewn about. A chunk of a wall across the street was decimated. I still had not seen the house itself, or what was left of it. I trotted over to the other side of the roof to glimpse down. I really cannot describe what I had felt when I saw nothing but bricks and a flattened car where a house was supposed to be. I was simply apalled by the scale of destruction, the flames that licked the walls of a house across the way, the rooftops of nearby houses covered in dust and rocks, cars crushed by the biggest fragments. When I noticed a man in the middle of everything just standing there, I had to take a picture. I could have gotten in a lot of trouble by whoever saw me, and it wasn't the right thing to do at all, but this was monumental. We later learned that some insurgents found out that the house was owned by an Iraqi policeman, seemingly high up, and decided to toss a bomb over the gate to send a message. I saw a dead body for the first time last week. A guy tried to blow up a Stryker with a car bomb but only ended his own life. A pile of guts and a pair of legs were all that was left. After today, the destroyed house is the most striking image in my mind, one that will be difficult to get over. This is who we're dealing with, people.