House to House: A Tale of Modern War

House to House: A Tale of Modern War by David Bellavia

Book: House to House: A Tale of Modern War by David Bellavia Read Free Book Online
Authors: David Bellavia
Tags: General, History, Military
passes, and some of us have to piss. Our leg muscles start to spasm. Mine cramp up altogether. Still we don’t move.
    Another volley of 155mm artillery explodes much closer than usual. The Brad quivers from the concussion wave. I can hear a flight of jets surge onto the scene and I picture their strafing runs along the northern edge of the city. An AC-130 Spectre gunship rumbles overhead at ten thousand feet and spits out greetings to the insurgents with its whirling Gatling guns and 105mm howitzer. There is nothing more terrifying than the sight and sounds of that gunship. With its wings banked, it unloads an unbelievable barrage of bullets and shells into its targets. “ Grrrrrrrrr —Boom—Boom— Grrrrrrrrr ….” The AC-130 is the closest man has come in imitation of the fist of God.
    The driver shifts into gear. We surge forward. This is it. I say a quick prayer.
    Ten feet later, we halt again.
    Mother fuck.
    The wait continues. We endure, but only barely. In Fitts’s track, Ware is completely beside himself and hammers again on the ramp. Everyone’s on edge.
    And then it begins. Several of our tanks cross the line of departure and move to the berm. They volley-fire their 120mm cannon into the buildings closest to the breaching point. This is the cue for the engineers to come up. Led by Lieutenant Shawn Gniazdowski, they pass through our ranks and speed ahead.
    We roll forward again. Is this it? Adrenaline surges into us. We stop. We’re here to provide support fire for the engineers. Some of the company’s Bradleys pick out targets. Their cannons bark.
    We’re still trapped in the depths of our metal boxes, unable to see more than a keyhole-sized sliver of the battle raging around us. Our bodies are totally confused. Should they be relaxed or pumped? The anticipation drives us all crazy.
    Finally, we’re off. Our driver floors it, and the Brad charges forward. All around us, every vehicle, tank, and track takes off in one pell-mell chase for the breach site. We have faith in our engineers. It is total chaos, a modern-day version of the land rushes of Wild West lore. As our Brad works up to its top speed, we’re thrown around like bowling pins. My head cracks against the bulkhead, then I’m thrown against the ramp. Just as I recover, Lawson’s Kevlar slams into my chin. Gear starts flying around us. A machine-gun belt lands on top of us and uncoils like a snake. More belts fall, and soon we’re tangled in our own ammunition.
    Outside, the explosions grow in volume and intensity. I look out the periscope viewer in the back of the Bradley. Blurring, jarring images flash before me. I see tracers, and fire, and more lights on the horizon. I sweep my eyes left and catch sight of the Bradleys on either side of us, keeping abreast.
    The engineers’ vehicles come into sight. They’re catching hell at the berm despite all the suppressing fire the task force can muster. Tracers form fiery webs over them. Bullets spark off the armored flanks of their trucks. An IED detonates. The engineers ignore it all. Sievers and Lockwald fire their MICLIC rocket carrying the long rope of explosives. An enormous series of blasts follows. The concussion waves slam into our Bradley and stir our guts. The embankment sports a gaping new hole.
    The radio crackles, “Go! Go! Go!”
    On the fly, we swing into a column. We close on the railroad embankment.
    Wham! Our Brad rocks on its tracks. An IED has exploded close by. Another one detonates, then another. Soon, we’re engulfed in a series of near-continuous explosions. Shrapnel whines off our thick metal hides. More of it clatters overhead or strikes our turret.
    Don’t break track. Don’t break track.
    Flares and flashes line the horizon. Off to the west, I see a steady series of IEDs going off. The Marines are getting hit as hard as we are.
    We’re in column now, my Brad in the lead. Ahead, we see the breach. We steer through it, careful to stay between the chemical lights and

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