July 17, 2007

Michael Yon: The Saga Of The General Lee

Michael Yon has another excellent dispatch from his embed mission in Iraq, although this piece gives more of an in-depth look at the connection between men and machines. Yon profiles the travails of a Stryker used by the men of the 1-24th Regiment as an example of how tough it is to lose one. The General Lee saved lives on more than one occasion in 2005, until IEDs finally retired it:

The patrols can be tedious. Fatigue accumulates after months of fighting, and it seems most units who are performing routine missions go against the grain of strict regulation and plug music into their comms to keep them alert. When they beep into the comms to talk, the music clicks off. It’s against the regs, but when everyone is tired—and weary—it works for a while. Some soldiers will listen to music before combat missions, sort of like Apocalypse Now, and that works, too. Gets the mind right. The Brits do it too, one unit I traveled with had a particular Rolling Stones tune. But that day was easy listening: Kenny Chesney was playing on the comms. ...

I don’t know which Kenny Chesney song they were listening to before the bomb exploded, but I played my favorite—“Me and You”—over and over while writing their story, wondering what might have been going through their minds just before the detonation. Although the bomb was massive, they couldn’t have seen it. It was hidden and packed into a culvert under the road. ...

As the bomb detonated beneath it, the General Lee arced like a dolphin from the sea of Hell. LT Brad Krauss can be seen flying out like Superman, if you look closely and imagine real hard. PFC Devon Hoch can clearly be seen standing in the back hatch. And that was it. Our guys’ lives seemed to be reduced to propaganda. The terrorists published reports that the soldiers were killed.

The story might have ended in the American press ... [b]ut that’s not exactly how it turned out.

It's a fascinating story, and it illuminates a larger point Yon makes about the difficulties in dealing with roadside bombs. Make sure to read the whole thing -- and throw a few dollars in the tip jar while you're there. Michael isn't getting a salary while on this mission and relies totally on reader assistance.


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Comments (2)

Posted by KW64 | July 17, 2007 4:29 PM

After reading Yon's story, I wonder why the vehicles supposed to clear the roads would not check the culverts. Given the all terrain nature of many of our vehicles, one wonders also why we stay on the roads as much as we apparently do.

Anybody know out there?

Posted by mrlynn | July 17, 2007 10:36 PM

The first guy who comes up with the solution for neutralizing the roadside bombs should get the Medal of Honor. There's got to be one. Maybe some kind of ultrasound bomb-sweeping gizmo that blows them up 50 yards ahead?

Of course the ultimate solution is to kill off the bomb-planters, but they seem to multiply like roaches.

The other option is to deploy enough troops to hold a territory and actually clear it of all enemy combatants, and keep it cleared. But we'd need a much bigger army for that.

/Mr Lynn