first published on February 2, 2018 by Josh
In the event you were actually wondering what it was like to be in an IED blast, here’s a quick synopsis. You feel an utter lack of control in a single second that seems to last at least one hour. There is a sound similar to a pillow being punched, immediately followed by a squealing that seems like it will never stop. Your vision is completely cut out, either surrounded by light, or full of dust.
Afterwards, yelling becomes your only volume, dirt becomes the most prominent taste. Your body is completely numb. Shortly after these feelings and sensations begin to subside (About 5-20 seconds), your automatic actions take over. You regain a semblance of control, you check your buddies to make sure they’re okay, and then the cycle of the Infantryman begins. First you assess your surrounding and start to search for secondary devices. Next, some will begin to search for a trigger-man or an incoming ambush. Higher echelons of command will start to spin up to gain a better understanding of the situation. The Marines on the ground will continue to do their job.
During their 2009 deployment to Afghanistan, the Marines of 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines would hit a number of improvised explosive devices, and even conventional mines. On top of the stockpile of conventional mines left behind by the Russians that littered the ground in Nowzad, there was an insanely effective IED cell operating in the area. In fact, the threat of buried ground explosive devices in Nowzad was so high, that it actually impacted the way that the Marines there were able to patrol. They were limited primarily to a ranger file when it came to dismounted patrols, and they were under explicit orders to ensure that each man’s footsteps fell into place exactly where the man in front of him stepped.
Marines from Fox Company, Echo Company, and the Battalion’s Combined Anti-Armor Teams, were tasked with securing a route known as 515. This road was dominated by a moon-dust like dirt that was very easily moved. The IED cell they were up against was so efficient that they were able to almost conduct drive-by style IED emplacements from their motorcycles, stopping only for a few brief seconds to push moon dust back into the crater of the IED that came before it. A majority, not minority, of Marines who went on the deployment had at least one direct encounter with an Improvised Explosive Device on Route 515, as did the Marines from 2nd Battalion 7th Marines, and 3rd Battalion 8th Marines who were operating in the same battle-space just before them.