(c) Roger Leo
Three Americans died Monday on Senators -- Iraqi Highway 5. They were new guys -- had just arrived from the States for their year in Iraq. They were driving from the main American base around BIAP -- Baghdad International Airport, a strange name for a landing field with planes to almost nowhere -- to Forward Operating Base Falcon, to zero -- sight in -- their weapons. A Humvee crashed off the road, flipped over and three MPs inside were injured. Bandit Co., 1-8 Cav rushed to the accident. A medevac helicopter landed on the other side of the highway, and as the wounded MPs were being carried to it, a bomb exploded right next to them. The bomb had evidently been hidden in an old tire. The three injured MPs were killed, and eight other soldiers were wounded, four of them seriously. A medic has lost his leg, another soldier, a platoon sergeant, is out of action for the rest of his deployment. They and two others, including a medic on the first helicopter, had to be airlifted to the CSH -- Combat Surgical Hospital -- in the Green Zone. Blood and wreckage covered the highway. Cars were stopped in all directions. People watched quietly, somberly from around the neighborhood. From time to time, soldiers fired bursts from their weapons. Soon nobody was outside except the Americans. Soldiers covered the broken bodies with tarps, then placed them in body bags, then carried the bags to an ambulance. Soldiers poured water on the blood and swept it with brooms, then shoveled dirt onto the residue. Soldiers picked up every scrap of debris they could find. “It’s not supposed to be like this,” one said. “Not this close to going home.” Metternich, the 19th century German statesman, said, “The Balkans are not worth the life of a single Pomeranian grenadier.” Iraq has taken the lives of 1,539 American soldiers. One thousand five hundred thirty-nine Amercans, as of March 25. A higher price by far than Metternich was willing to pay for pursuit of empire in another land.