* 1 min reading

Dec 31 of 2009/10, New Year’s Eve, was one of the worst memories of my life. I spent about five hours in a bunker.

I worked during all 2009 in a town, approximately 25 miles (40 km) south of Baghdad, mostly made up of slums, old houses, unpaved mud streets, and was full of Shi’a and Sunni insurgents called al-Iskandariya. Forward Operating Base Kalsu (FOB Kalsu) was near a highway that connected the city to Baghdad. It was my last assignment with the U.S. Army as a linguist contractor.

It was a normal working day. I had left work early to go to the gym then went to rest in my room before going to dinner. The army unit was preparing the wood for the fireplace in front of the brigade command center. I was walking to the dining facility (DFAC) and thinking about my trip in early January. I was so excited to meet my girlfriend in Dubai and see my family in Chicago. It was a quiet evening. Stars were barely visible in sky.


It was about six o’clock in the evening, Baghdad time, when the gate of hell in heaven opened on us. The terrorists started a wave of rocket assaults on FOB Kalsu. The attack forced many army soldiers, and civilian contractors to run to nearby bunkers. We stayed put there from 6pm until about 11pm.

Shoulder to shoulder inside those small concrete bunkers, we were protecting ourselves from coward terrorists. Many people prayed what could have been their last prayer. I looked at the sky smiled and said: “So, this is it?…Will it end here…tonight?…Born in Iraq…Died in Iraq!”

Those five hours were an eternity of time. The painful sound of every landing rocket made death closer and closer to hear, feel, and see. I could have died in a massacre, but it was Maktoob for us to live and see the light of New Year’s Day 2010.


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