20 Meters

Today the convoy I was in was attacked by a suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive device (S-VBIED). In short, we got hit with a car bomb. No one in the convoy was hurt nor was any vehicle disabled. Unfortunately a few civilians were killed instantly and a few more may die in hospital.

I and a Canadian Army Major were manning the air sentry positions of our vehicle (standing up through two hatches in the rear of the vehicle). We were in a Bison, a smaller version of the LAV/Stryker. I was on the left so I was scanning the left rear.

I didn't see the explosion but my colleague did (it happened in his sector of fire). I heard a very large boom and felt the heat flash on the left side of my face. I swung to my left bringing my rifle up to bear and I saw a huge ball of fire and the remains of the chassis fall from the fire ball. The vehicle behind us had swerved out of the way and the last vehicle was coming through the fireball.

I had turned so hard that I disconnected my headset cable. I yelled for someone to plug me me back on. I needed to be able to give a situation report to the vehicle commander. I was able to tell the vehicle commander that the last two vehicles were moving with no visible damage and to get us the hell out of there.

I was scanning my area when out of the corner of my eye I saw that the convoy ahead of us had stopped. Our driver barely stopped us in time but we still hit the vehicle in front. I saw it coming so I ducked down enough for my body armor to take the hit. The vehicle commander cracked a rib. Our vehicle commander was screaming at the convoy commander to get us moving.

We got moving and we carried on with our mission.

Me and my fellow air sentry were in the sweet spot. We didn't get nailed with flying debris because we were close enough that the cone of the explosion went over our heads yet far enough to not get burned. We figure that we were about 20 meters, give or take 5, from the blast.

When we arrived we had to give an impromptu press conference for the cats we were herding (international media types). The convoy commander did a great job explaining what happened. None of the them saw anything because the vehicles they were in do not have windows so they were really curious. All they experienced was a large explosion that shook the vehicle, being thrown around a vehicle that was stopping and starting violently, and in my vehicle an American yelling for someone to plug his cable back in.

From my perspective as an Information Operations Officer, I was concerned that the S-VBIED was going to be the feature of the day. We were taking media to a village that helped us out immensely during recent combat operations against the Taliban. We were running a Village Medical Outreach (VMO, the Americans call them MEDCAPS) and handing out humanitarian assistance supplies like hygiene and first aid kits, staple food stuffs (beans, rice, cooking oil, powdered milk, baby formula, etc), blankets, and radios.

The media filmed the event and did some interviews and we held a press conference with the TF Orion Commander, the governor of Kandahar, and a high ranking Afghan National Army officer. Only one question dealt with the S-VBIED and it was a cheap shot at the governor who handled it well.

The other day I met an interpreter who used to work at Tarin Kowt and was there the same time I was. He worked with the Australians and we recognized each other. We got to chatting and I asked what happened to his leg. It got banged up when the vehicle he was in was hit. It was a Canadian vehicle! I laughed, saying that he spent nearly a year in Tarin Kowt and never got a scratch and he is with the Patricia's for less than two months and he gets hurt.

I was in Tarin Kowt for 6 months, rolled on over 50 combat missions, and never saw a thing. I go on my second mission with the Patricia's and my convoy is hit. Go figure.

I have a new lucky talisman. I brought my Coffee Zone go cup because I didn't have time to run it back to my office when I finished because it was time to roll out. From now on it is going on every mission with me.

20 meters, pretty close.

CPT NightHawk


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