Michael's Dispatches

Ambush this Morning

09 August 2011
Zhary District, Kandahar, Afghanistan

(A quick, unedited dispatch.)

At 0630 this morning, the Commander of 4-4Cav and I met for a morning run.  Lieutenant Colonel Mike Katona is on his fifth combat tour.   After the run, I decided to finish a dispatch and publish today, and therefore had to skip today’s mission with LTC Katona.

As the day unfolded, radio traffic came in that LTC Katona’s mission, consisting of four MRAPs, was in a serious and well organized ambush.  The Commander’s vehicle was immediately disabled from an 82mm strike to the engine, which scorched the Commander’s boots.  The gunner was knocked unconscious and fell down from the hatch.  The gunner quickly recovered and joined battle.  Katona spilled out of the MRAP and began firing at the enemy.

The other three MRAPs all were hit, for a total of four destroyed MRAPs.  The enemy used a combination of small arms, RPGs, and 82mm.  One RPG hit a windshield but did not penetrate, but the 82mm were devastating.  All or most of the troops were wounded, but all are MINOR.  The fight raged for about twenty minutes.

Reinforcements and recovery crews picked up the patrol and vehicles.  When they returned to FOB Pasab, I talked with four of the younger Soldiers.  All had taken some knocks to the noggin and are under medical care, but they also are in great spirits and free to roam.  They are not in danger and I suspect that all the wounded will return to duty very soon.  One young Soldier told me the ANA (Afghan Soldiers) who were there in two trucks did well and fought back.  Under fire, the Afghans stuck with the busted US vehicles and our guys and kept fighting.  The young Soldier also told me there was a slight altercation between two US Soldiers during the fight; both wanted the machinegun to get into the fight, but the higher ranking one just pulled rank and so he got the machinegun.  The Soldier started unwrapping his arm to show me his wound and I said don’t take off the bandage crazy man.  Are you crazy?  Just leave it on.  I said don’t take off the bandage.  But he’s ready to get back out there and just wanted to show that the wound was minor and shouldn’t keep him out of the missions.  (Not that my medical opinion makes a grain of salt.)

I talked at length with LTC Katona.  We are going to skip the morning run (I’ll go alone), but he wants to get back out into the fight ASAP.

Bottom line:  I know the FRG (family readiness group) already is burning up the lines on this.  All is fine, other than we need four new trucks.  This is the second time LTC Katona has been ambushed since the air assault about ten days ago.  His only regret is the busted MRAPs.

The enemy put up a good show today and deserves credit for that, but 4-4 Soldiers also suspect they may have killed four.  This is unknown.  Am looking forward to next mission with these men.

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