Saturday, April 26, 2008


Did you see on the news today where an IED or a VBIED (Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Devise...they put bombs in their cars) blew up on the news today? Did you glance at the TV and sucks for them, or humm and go back to painting your toes, or switch back to days of our lives....?? Or did you see where an RPG ( Rocket Propelled Grenade) hit an Army truck flipping it over injuring all inside? How long did you stop to think...damn, that's not good. Or did you even think about it at all? Did you keep doing what you were doing not out of inconsideration to what is going on over here and by no means was it because you don't worry about those people or were busy....or possibly just de-sensitized because you see it so often on the news. Of course you didnt see that stuff on the news.....but, response was different.

The RPG was first..."did you feel that?" 45 min later a phone call comes in....1-6 Soldiers in an IED blast....get ready! We rush to the CSH (Combat Support Hospital) to get ready not knowing what just happened...Heart thumping, nervous as shit because we have no idea what will be on the inside of the vehicle when the doors open and the injured get out... Is this the day that I will really see some nasty shit? 2-6 of our guys! OUR GUYS! It's not some Iraq insurgent that got what he deserved, but our guys! A tank and another large vehicle pull up....I go to the large vehicle...the automatic rear hatch opens....

Next.....3 hours later, sitting back in the office where Pat Sayjack and Vana White keep us entertained while we are not busy.... just finished talking to John about this and that, just sitting around in our comfort zone... The blast shook our building so hard, people that have been here for a while and are used to it, came out to see what happened. What was that!?!? A smoke cloud billows about a mile maybe two from our location... not much smoke...but some...we go up on the roof and look to see where the explosion took place..... minutes go by, we settle ourselves, and go back to the office....and wait. We wait with that same sick feeling in our stomach. What will be waiting for us? More blood and gore? Sick....sick because the thoughts of horror running through our head have no mercy....war has no mercy. So, we wait. We wait for the phone call that says "come help us get patients into the CSH". The phone call never came.

1800. My NCOIC bought a wonderful new's called a "magic jack" and I was in my room trying to get it to work so he could call his wife. Browsing the internet while downloading some software.... the blast rattled my door like a scared school girl was trying to get in a locked door with the boogie man after her....get it? Layman's shook the shit out of my hooch. So, this time I grab my video camera, go to the roof top. Finding the smoke this time was easy. About 8 miles away or so.... a fresh mushroom cloud was on the horizon. About a min of video, and I head back downstairs to the office and wait on a phone call. 1900...shift change....back in my room trying to figure out the "magic Jack" (awsome by the way....if anyone wants to buy one or two, I'll be happy to give them to a Soldier that will use it graciously) with my radio next to me just in case....then, a beat on my door. "SGT Strader, wanna help, we got 6 more!" Sure! I'm not gonna sit back while they need help. We scurry to the CSH...."what do we got?" 5-6 IA (Iraqi Army) Soldiers from the blast....not sure if it was an IED or VBIED, but whatever caused the mushroom cloud....caused these guys to be sent to us. Pictures from T.V. can't prepare you for this...the pictures we saw in training...we're good enough. The times they tell you to stay calm....calm my ass. If I could smoke out there....I'd chain smoke. I'm calm on the surface, but my nerves are out of control. I was expecting a few vehicles like earlier this morning....up pulls one Ambulance. I open the back doors, American Soldier gets out...."take him first, him second, third, fourth, and him last!" So myself, my team, and other Soldiers and Docs get these guys off the truck. My eyes racing...heart thumping....can't really hear too much because my brain just isn't processing all the chaos. My brain tells my arms.... "Get the litter off, get the litter off!!" too easy right....yeah, I did get enough practice with that part. So is it now?! Blood and gore? Dismemberment and disgusting??.... It was a pretty good sized mushroom much of this guy will be missing?

Now let's get one thing straight. I'm not afraid of the blood. I'd like to say that I'm not afraid of the nasty part of someone being messed up....let's re-think the situations I've dealt with before.... a motorcycle wreck in P.F., a car wreck in sevierville, my own wounds through life, people at the VA hospital....wait I know what it is.....none of those injuries were blast injuries that cause a person to be blown in half....or be missing an arm, leg, or both. None of those injuries included the patient yelling in pain in my not so good left ear.(thanks John) Only one of those incidents required me to actually think and re-act. So, is it the blood, NO. Is it the gore and nastyness.....maybe. Is it a fear of "oh I don't want to see it, please no!".....No, it's not like that at all....I want to see it. I want to know how my body and, more so my mind will react. It's kinda like jumping out of planes for a living.... you tell yourself you can train to do're ready for it....but when it comes time for you to stand at that door for the 1st time... butterflies are THERE! But after you either jump or get kicked out of the's usually ok.

So, re-cap: RPG: lucky guys! No serious injuries that I know of. No blood, no mess.
1st explosion: "Controlled explosion"
2nd explosion: Nothing traumatic. One gash to the head...interesting drain tube, other injuries....bad to the patients...but not worth talking gore, no bloody mess.

So, did you see the news, stop for three seconds and say a prayer for our brave guys fighting day in and day out. And I promise's every day....either small arms or big blasts. Everyday something. Someone, somewhere stopped and said a prayer....I know that because 4 hospital beds are empty and 4 Soldiers are back at their unit telling the story to thier moms and dads and loved ones about how they survived their vehicle being blown upside down by an RPG.

Somewhere.....thank you. Thank your for your prayers.

So what's an IED to you?
Hopefull it's not just an unnoticed daily headline on CNN.

Somewhere in Iraq,

SGT Strader


Gena Hernandez said...

Strader... I am sorry and I want you to know I am praying for you. These are the things I wanted to tell you whenever we talked about being over there but I just couldn't ever find the right words. Because as you know you can put it in words but it just doesn't really describe it. It's the intangible things that really impact you. Jeremy, I am really thinking and praying for you every day. Always know that if you need to talk I am here.

mom said...

Wow ..... just getting around to check out the blog in about a week. You two boys are really seeing a lot of stuff. John getting the better view of being away with his buddies. Enjoying what I can send to him and sharing with others. I am glad that I am able to send packages and the boys get them so quickly.
Jeremy working in a different field and seeing a whole different picture of what could be/is/will be. I know that I could not do it and it takes someone special to be able to do what Jeremy is doing. I have great respect for the stories that you both have written to open our eyes to what is actually going on where you are.
John has already been there to Iraq and seen some of the things that Jeremy is seeing but maybe not so graffice.
If you are reading these comments and reading the blog that are posted ...... YOU SHOULD BE SENDING CARE PACKAGES to those who are serving and giving there time.
Jeremy got married and has not seen his wife since August and John is missing his little girl growing up when life is the most fun. You can send candy bars, M&M's all flavors, individual koolaid packets (like crystal light), chewing gum, ball glove, frisbee, baseball and bats, or just use your imagination. Summer is coming and chapstick would be great due to dryness and sand. Show your support to these boys and send them something in the mail. thank you MOM