Friday, April 20, 2007

Missing Wounded Iraqi Soldier

18 Apr 07
Lots of rockets throughout the day. Finally at about 1600 the Brits returned fire. Seems to have quieted them down a bit.

Rockets again at 1930. Man, it was close! Sounded like a 240 just on the other side of the camp. I set a personal record with 5 separate attacks. Though only 14 rockets.

The day I returned form Baghdad I met SciFi in the terminal to do turnover. He was heading home on his R&R. He is stationed in TX but is meeting his wife in FL to go sailing in the Caribbean. He’ll be gone approximately one month.

I have been working an odd request the last few days which SciFi turned over to me. You may remember Abdul Raheem who is the Chief Warrant Officer in the squadron. (His brother was recently killed by insurgents. He had been the sole provider for his family as well as his son’s wife and children after the son was killed by insurgents.) His neighbor’s 21 year old son is serving in the Iraqi Army. The young man was wounded on/about 1 Apr in Fallujah. He had facial and head wounds and was evacuated to a Coalition hospital. Since then none of his friends in his unit or his family have heard from him and they’re not certain what hospital he was moved to. The family is wrecked with worry and is desperate to learn his status. Abdul Raheem asked us to contact Coalition headquarters to see if we can locate the young man and obtain status. I have personally contacted two Coalition hospitals with no luck.

It seems incredible to me that he could be serving in the national army and be missing within their medical system for weeks. One problem with locating the young man is the spelling of his name. For every Arabic name there are dozens of phonetic spellings and Western computer systems and databases are not designed to search for multiple spellings of the same name. His name could be spelled “Jasim,” “Yasim,” “Jasem,” etc.

Dhiaa has not left for Kansas yet. When he returned to Baghdad this week he brought me several gifts: a yasmagh (headdress), a higal (the rope for the headdress), and a dishdasha (the “man-dress” all the men wear). Tonight he taught me how to put the headdress on. At one point he looked at my Teva flip flops and realized he needed to get me some sandals. He asked what size I wear. I told him a size 13…he said “what is that maybe a 45?” (meaning metric sizes). I told him 48. He grimaced and said “I don’t think they have in Iraq.” I laughed but Dhiaa was very serious and said, “no really, I don’t think we have in all of Iraq.” I laughed harder…story of my life!

When I was in Saudi Arabia you could hear the call to prayers five times every day. I have never heard the call in Iraq. You can tell the very religious Muslims who observe the five daily prayers by the calluses on their forehead from constantly placing their head on the carpet, floor, or concrete. Abdul Raheem, Salman and Brigadier Jaffar the base commander are the only people in the IqAF I have met with the callus on their forehead.

A few weeks ago, one of our Seeker aircraft landed with a bullet hole in the wing. We found out later what happened. Over one million Shiias from all over Iraq had walked the several hundred kilometers to the city of Karbala for the Al Arbaeen Festival commemorating the assassination of the Caliph, Imam Ali. (The Caliphs were the 5, 7, or 12 leaders of Islam after the death of the Prophet Mohammed depending on what sect of Shiia Islam one believes in.). In the morning after the festival a British Merlin helicopter flew over the crowd which was now walking back to the south. During the flyover its defensive systems detected a threat and ejected several flares burning at some 4000 degrees to deceive the threat. The flares landed in the crowd and naturally upset the crowd. An hour or so later, two of our pilots flew overhead. The crowd was already primed from the Merlin incident so fired on the anything that appeared overhead. The Iraqi pilots should never have been in a position to be fired on. They had disregarded orders and descended from 4500 feet to 1000 feet to take pictures of the crowd. Col Sami was furious.

1 comment:

emitch1 said...

I'm thinking the body protection is a good idea! Stay safe!

Eric