Some days it was smooth sailing. In fact, for the first few weeks there wasn’t much going on because the first battle of Fallujah had just ended and the bad guys were regrouping. But we knew they were gunning for us because we were the only PSD in the province, and there had been afew other attempts to take out Miami before I got there. The thing about Ramadi that made it unique is that the Iraqi Special Republican Guard, the Fedayeen, (the most fanatical and well-trained soldiers in the Iraqi Army), were based there before the war. When Ambassador Bremer disbanded the Baath Party it left them all without jobs, so they were all pissed off, and they all went back to their homes. In Ramadi. Where they had been stationed. Where their families were. Where all of their stockpiles of demolitions and weapons and equipment lay hidden and easily at hand. You see, Iraq was set up for an insurgency war because they were expecting Iran to invade. They already had stashes of guns and ammo and demolitions rat-holed all over the country and had a plan for running an insurgency war in place. All they had to do when we showed up was in initiate the plan, ad hoc.
I had just been promoted to Limo driver. It was my second day in that position. It was August 10, 2004. I remember we were out taking pictures of ourselves in all of our cool guy shit before the mission just because there was nothing else to do and we needed pictures to post on hotornot.com. I had a pretty healthy score of 9.5 running for a good long while and I was trying to get it up higher but could never quite maintain a 9.8 threshold. In fact, hotornot.com even contacted me and offered to showcase me as Hotornot Man of the Year. I was honored. I guess a lot of girls out there had a thing for sexy mercenaries. I can’t say that. I wasn’t really a mercenary. But I was definitely a gun for hire. Close enough. And what’s not sexy about that? Anyway, we rolled out that day and took an alternate route in to the Government Center in the middle of Ramadi. It was called River Road. It was usually avoided because it went right through some bad guy land, but we liked to alternate our routes to keep them guessing. Everything was fine on the way there and we didn’t even fire a shot on venue. But then suddenly I heard over the radio that the meeting was breaking up and we were getting ready to leave earlier than expected. I didn’t think anything of it. I just ran back and got into the Limo and got the god damn AC on and the car into position for pickup. Once we got the Principal safely into the backseat and doors closed, the Shift Leader, Smuggler, came over the radio and said “We just got word that foreign fighters are lining the streets waiting for us on the way back. “
FAAAAK. Here we go.
We were planning on just blasting up route Michigan, which was the primary route through the center of town, but traffic was so bad that we decided to take the route out that we had taken on the way in. It was obvious that something was going on right away because as we turned down toward River Road there were cinderblocks blocking the street. We couldn’t stop and bunch up at the intersection, so we cruised along on high fucking alert hoping to push on through as we hadn’t yet met any resistance and we didn’t want to just be sitting ducks in the middle of the traffic jam. But we knew some shit was about to go down. Suddenly I noticed civilians running and scrambling away, and off to the left I could see masked gunmen with AK-47s and PKM machine guns running to get into ambush positions. And sure as shit everyone else saw it too and everyone got on the radio at the same time and stepped on the Shift Leader’s transmission when he gave the command to reverse out. (When more than one person is trying to talk on the radio at the same time on the same frequency, it just garbles everything), so the command never went out over the radio, but the Lead car got the idea turned nose in to the left onto a curb in order to turn around. I queued off of the Lead and backed up onto the same curb getting ready to accelerate out and turn right back down the way we came. As soon as I had backed up, the Principal in the backseat and the Agent in Charge in the right front seat called out: “RPG-RPG!!”. There was an RPG gunner standing not 20 feet away from me with his RPG leveled and pointed at my face. “He’s going to shoot! He’s going to shoot!” All I could do was cringe. I knew this was going to hurt. An RPG-7 can go through 9 inches of armor. Even with the Level-7 armor on our Mercedes S600, the windshield being about 5 inches thick, there was no way that that the rocket wouldn’t blow us all to smashed and battered dogshit. Remarkably, the RPG misfired, or the gunner forgot to take the safety off. For whatever reason he ducked back away without firing. It’s then that I looked up and noticed that there was a very high curb and a telephone pole in the path of my egress on the road median and I had to back up even more. So, I threw the car into reverse again to back up a few feet so I could turn around. This was all taking way too long. We were sitting there stationary on the “X” with AK and PKM fire popping off all around us. The follow car reversed out before I did and caught a tight group of PKM rounds to the right rear window. Sonny was sitting in the back seat and watched the window spiderweb as the rounds slammed into it. The armor held up and only part of one round made it through the crease in the door and lodged in Sonny’s seat back headrest as they sped off. It’s a good thing that Sonny had his lucky ear plug in that day, and that ain’t no shit. I was still reversing. Another RPG gunner then stood up about 20 feet to my left and fired. He was expecting me to pull forward. I pulled backwards instead, and the RPG sailed over the hood of my car and slammed into the ground next to the left rear quarter panel of the Follow car. It spread shrapnel all through the gas tank and the right rear side of the BMW. Sonny was taking a serious beating but Bags, the driver, stayed on it and shot down a side road with the CAT team following the crippled BMW as it gushed fuel all over the road. I finally pulled my head out of my ass and got myself turned around and heading back toward Route Michigan. On the way out, my left front tire blew on a rock or someone shot it out but it held up OK. We ran Pirelli P-Zero tires and they performed marvelously in spite of the gaping hole in the sidewall. I was doing about 100 mph by the time I hit Michigan, and I started running cars off the road to make room for myself to get though the traffic and make a hole for the others behind us. The big heavy S600 didn’t even notice when it would hit it normal car. It weighed in the ballpark of 17,000 pounds with all the armor on it and the V12 under the hood, and when it ran into something lighter, the lighter thing moved over and out of the way. All along Michigan we saw “broken down” cars blocking the side roads in order to congest the road with traffic. They had been channeling us into their ambush, but we got there just a few minutes before they were ready to kick it off. The Follow got itself turned around and joined back up with us, but not before a sniper put a bullet into the driver’s side window four inches to the left of Bags’ head. It was an amazing shot at that speed, but again, the armor held up. The Beemer was leaking fuel pretty bad, but it was still mobile. As we made our way back, Johnny Bravo came up on the radio. “Elvis, how’s my hair?” I thought he was asking me about MY hair, so I said, “9.5 on Hotornot.” The immediate pressure was off, so it was important that we de-escalate and resist the urge to succumb to the adrenaline and stay ramped up. We had to reel it back in again so we could be ready to dial it up instantly if we needed to. “Inflate –Deflate”, Rancher, one of the Delta guys, and a personal mentor, used to always say. We managed to get back to base before all the fuel ran out or something caught on fire. All the Marines stared, awestruck at our survival, as we drove back onto Blue Diamond, but we all made it back.
My first big ambush and I had fucked it up big time. Only by the grace of God am I still alive. But it was me screwing up that saved our lives. If I had pulled forward instead of backed up it would have been over. You just never know with something like that. We had dash cameras in the cars and somehow afew years after that, the video made it onto LiveLeaks on YouTube. If you search for “RPG machine gun ambush Ramadi”, you’ll see it. Johnny Cash will be playing in the background. Go ahead. Look it up and watch me screw up in combat and live to tell about it. We managed to get back OK and we didn’t lose anyone, but we didn’t win. We had gotten very lucky. One thing really burned us all, and that is that we didn’t kill a-one of them. After that we decided that if they were going to tangle with us again, they would pay. I think that attitude is what saved our lives in the long run, because after that we didn’t take no shit without giving a lot back. And after that it was game on. We knew it and the bad guys knew it, and they would come out to play almost every time we went downtown.
NOTE: Finally Somehow Home is a separate book from The Perfect Fucking Life, and is not yet in publication at the time of this post.
All this shit is written and created by Jason Lee Morrison © 2022