Jack Rice - Blog

Jack Rice is a criminal defense trial lawyer who provides legal advice to those charged with crimes in Federal and Minnesota State courtrooms.


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Our Convoy is Hit by an IED!

I know that it is possible. I know that it has happened before but for some reason, I don't think it will happen to me and to the convoy of five Humvees that are beginning to patrol in an area southwest of Baghdad.

I'm traveling with a Reconnaisance Surveillance Squadron with the 10th Mountain Division. The men are preparing to jump into these five up-armored humvees. And I should add that these humvees have seen some wear. Shrapnel holes and bullets holes, patched over, but still visible.

The men wear chest protectors and helmets. They all have fire retardent gloves and eye protectors. They check and recheck their weapons as I approach. I am there this cover their story. To try and explain what they face everyday and how it impacts them.

I'm probably not ready for what is in store for me.

I'm in the fifth humvee with Captain Matt Brown out of Eau Claire. Our driver is Jonathan Kindem of Zimmerman, MN and our gunner, Sgt Ryan, from upstate New York.

Captain Brown is a very serious man. He is tall, has dark hair and looks you straight in the face. He is also a very serious soldier. He has spent the last six and a half years of his life preparing for this day and days like this. And thank goodness because today, he will need that training.

As we introduce ourselves, Captain Matt, a serious and smart guy, hands me gloves, eye gear sound ear protection. It is not quiet in a humvee and, as he puts it, "if the worst happens, you might need them." I'm already wearing body armor and a helmut.

Finally, it is time to go. We climb into our humvee and take the fifth, the last, position as we leave Camp Liberty. It is about 10:30 in the morning and it is already starting to warm up. And a little bit windy which means there is a little sand in the air as well. It works its way into every available crevice.

We leave the heavily fortified entrance and head out into the streets of Iraq. We travel quickly, staying in a relatively tight convoy insuring that no other vehicles get between. We swing back and forth down the roadways and try to avoid cars because of possible explsive devices. And people on the road are immediately waived off, aggressively, if they attempt any sudden moves. Each gunner on the top of each humvee armed with an M-2 50 cal. machine gun follows everything.

We are traveling up to Huryah to establish some security. Things have been unstable since the bombing up the Mosque at Sumarrah and this should help. Of course, the best way to get their is up Route Sword. And that is where it happens.

As we come across traffic, forcing our way through the city, we take the entrance ramp onto Route Sword. As it wraps around, I see the other four humvees in front of me. And then, I feel it more than see it. Mostly, in my chest.

But then, immediately, I see the dirt flying in all directions, right next to humvee number two. Oh my God! Our convoy has been hit by an IED, an improvised explosive device!

We drive through the attack and then come to a complete stop in the middle of this freeway, Route Sword. Several of the humvees move into oncoming traffic and we take both sides of the freeway and absolutely shut everything down. I watch assessments being made by Captain Matt and his team.

At first, it is pretty confusing but then we find out more. One of our soldiers has been hurt. The gunner. The one in the second humvee. He was most exposed to the blast. While he was protected by steel and bullet proof glass, the impact is still there. We don't know how bad but we have to get him back to base and get him to the hospital.

Backup has been called and they respond quickly. The IA, the Iraqi Army, has also been called to provide additional support. In addition, all sides are looking in the surrounding area for any sign of the perpetrators. I follow Captain Matt from the humvee as we meet with the team and discuss the need to control the area.

The Iraqi Army soldiers arrive. American reinforcements arrive including Abhrams Tanks. The freeway is wired off and the search in the surrounding area begins. The weight of these massive machines is felt before it is heard. They demand respect.

As the investigation continues, we find that two 122 mm mortar rounds were buried in the medium and were triggered just as we drove by. Only one of the rounds went off. EOD, explosive ordinance disposal, comes for what is left.

Of course, as we wait and search, I hear gunfire in background and notice all of the bulletholes in the surrounding building. The places reflects what it is, a warzone.

Finally, we clear the scene. The soldiers race through the streets, getting our soldier back to the hospital. All the time, keeping an eye out for more IEDs. In fact, we come upon even more dangerous ground but avoid any additional problems.

Things go on like this for some time. I suspect it is only a few minutes but it seems a lot longer to me. Eventually, we make it back to Camp Liberty and get our man to the hostpital.

We stand around near the entrance. Are we calling it a day? Are these men ready to retire and say they did enough? Hardly! In fact, they found the exploded ordinance and pass it around like a trophy! They tell war stories and make fun of each other. Not particularly in a callous sense but, from my point of view, as a coping mechanism. Captain Matt says as much. And can you blame them? These are ordinry asked to do an extradordinary job.

After a few minutes, the men put another man in the gunner position on humvee two. And, believe it or not, we roll back out into the streets of Iraq.

The men I travel with thank me for coming out with them. Frankly, it is I who should be thanking them. We all should be . . .