Saturday, March 10, 2007

Mortars Along the Tigris

I am still involved in training activities at Fort Bragg and I will soon tell you about some of the extraordinary individuals I have met. Until I can do so, I’ll reflect once more on my tour in Iraq in 2004. The above photo shows the Tigris River and downtown Baghdad.

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I was fortunate to lead the men of the “C.O.B.R.A. Team” (Staff Sergeant Aaron Self, Sergeant Chad Higginbotham and Sergeant John “Doc” Actis, II). Our job as a protective service detail, or personal security detachment, was to protect the life of Brigadier General Charles “Sandy” Davidson, the commander of the 350th Civil Affairs Command. Davidson is now a major general assigned to Centcom. Our team’s website is

When we lived in Baghdad’s Green Zone, our little house was directly on the Tigris River across from the Sheraton Hotel, a frequent target of insurgent rockets or mortars. We called our residence the “cobra pit”.

The following excerpt from my in-progress book tells about an incident during which we were the target of other incoming rounds:

“I was sitting alone in the cobra pit on the evening of August 7th when I heard two loud explosions. Running outside to see what was happening, I stepped into the courtyard just as a mortar or small rocket flew directly over my head and exploded about a hundred meters away. I muttered an expletive to myself, but another round flew into the Green Zone and landed even closer.

Looking for some reasonable cover, I ran to the concrete stairway leading up to the street. There was a small space next to the wall of the cobra pit and it provided good protection for the moment. Another round landed on the other side of the wall and the explosion sent pieces of steel shrapnel flying over my head. I could hear chunks of metal landing on the roof of our house. It was the closest these weapons had ever come to me.

After seven or eight rounds, it appeared the attack was over. I walked up to the street and headed toward the general’s house where I knew Higginbotham was guarding the boss. Several Iraqi civilians came outside and pointed to the end of the street where one of the rounds might have landed on a house. We all began to walk in that direction to make sure there were no casualties.

As we passed the house next to the cobra pit, another round came over our heads and exploded nearby. I told the Iraqis to go back and take cover and they started running to their house. Other rounds continued to impact near us and the last Iraqi in the group acted like he didn’t know where to go. I directed him to our stairwell and he joined me in the small area next to the stairs. The attack ended shortly thereafter.

Everyone was fine at the general’s house and Higginbotham made sure General Davidson was under sufficient cover. Fortunately, there were no casualties in our compound.”

SFC Chuck Grist

1 comment:

  1. I just read Spree's interview over at Wake Up America. Just wanted to visit your blog and say thank you for all you do. I enjoyed your honest answers to Spree's questions.

    You are very correct that while Iraq may or may not have been part of the original war on terror, it is the central front now. Even al-Qaeda has said they are concentrating on Iraq, while pulling back from other areas of concentration.

    Thanks again.