Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Lost AA Blogs: Armed Reconnaissance

In the Army we have a saying, “The worst ride is better than a good walk any day.” I’ll illustrate the statement in this blog. This mission is similar to the last one only this time we’re driving.

The vehicles were Land Rovers with the soft tops removed and only the roll bars to protect us from the harsh sun. Each one had a metal post in the center of the bed upon which a light machine gun was mounted. There were small benches along both sides of the bed and a little bit of padding made them barely suitable to sit on. We could get only 2 other men in the back with a little bit of equipment, food and water and still leave enough room for the gunner to move around a little. They were hastily painted in sand colors and some scrap desert camouflage netting broke up their outline enough that they did seem to disappear into the countryside at a distance.

The roads were primitive jeep trails up steep mountain valleys which have probably never been graded and we drove up each side trail just as far as the Land Rovers would take us. The dust rose from the road with each moving vehicle and it didn’t take long before everything had an additional layer of natural camouflage. The skies were cloudless and temperatures reached 110 degrees each day.

The further up the mountains we drove, the more vegetation we saw until we even found ourselves driving through thick forests of junipers. Everywhere we drove there are adobe homes and small villages built right into the mountainsides. The homes were thrown in at any angle or location that seemed to fit the builder’s ease of construction. What was even more impressive were the terraced fields that were everywhere, they occasionally reached all the way up a mountainside. These homes and fields must have taken centuries to build.

After a couple days of driving we had covered more territory than we would have in a month of walking and only had suntans, sore seats and sour demeanors to show for it.

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