A normal day in Afghanistan by Lance Corporal Rice.
You can't call everyday out here normal because you never know what can happen, but a good day of dismounted operations would start off early in the morning. We try to do most of our movements during the cool parts of the day. We move through compounds along the way, or if we could we would take the high ground doing over watch for our other section as they move. We look for enemy emplacing IEDs (Improvised Explosive Device) or trying to attack. In the afternoon hours we would take over a compound with a good roof to properly employ security and with a good well (for drinking). During this time we would rest up, rehydrate and maybe eat some food. Around 15-1600 (3-4 p.m.) we would start moving again. Most of the contact would happen in the afternoon to evening. We would get shot at by small arms, medium and heavy machine guns, and very accurate 30mm Grenade Launcher. Most of the time you can't see them shooting at you right away. They (Taliban) are very good at hiding muzzle flash but once it gets a little darker you can see the tracers from their machine guns. Once it gets completely dark most of the fighting stops. Some days are more normal than others, but no matter what you got to stay on your toes because anything can happen.
The day in the life of a Marine Corps Scout Sniper is one that varies depending on the type of mission we run. The type of mission depends on our objective. We could be doing anything from conducting surveillance on a town from the top of a mountain to conducting foot patrols in a village. Each mission can be very demanding in many different ways. We always have to be in good shape and ready for anything because you never know what could happen at any time. When conducting foot patrols in the villages we can be involved in multiple firefights each day and have to be prepared for the worst. We normally stay out for weeks at a time and this can get both mentally and physically exhausting due to very little sleep and trying to fight dehydration at the same time.
As I previously stated, being in a Scout Sniper platoon means you have to stay in good shape which could be very hard to do during a deployment. When we are not running missions we are back at the FOB (forward operating base). Back here we get the chance to work out and make sure we're ready for the next mission.While at the FOB the first thing we do is clean all of our gear and weapons to ensure that everything is ready for the nextmission. We are also given the chance to catch up on sleep and relax because missions get mentally exhausting so it helps to relax and chill out when we get back from one.There is no average day in the life of a Scout Sniper. Everything changes and is never the same, we never know what's next, we just have to learn to adapt to and be prepared for anything.
One father told us he had a 1-month old baby with a pimple in its chest and was very sick because of this. My Corpsman, told the man to bring the baby to us. The man was gone for an hour. When we were done distributing the wheat, I told Fisher that we could not wait for the man to return with the baby because we had more villages to go to. As we were walking back to our trucks we noticed a car return to the village. Fisher checked to see if it was the man and baby. It was. I told Fisher to conduct a hasty assessment. He came back to me and told me that the baby did not have pimple in its chest, but rather, the condition was much worse and the baby had no more than 2 days to live. Fisher told me that the baby had a fist sized hematoma in its chest and that it was causing tension pneumothorax in its chest, and ultimately was not getting enough oxygen, due to a collapsed lung. In layman's terms, there was a giant internal blood clot in the chest that was causing extreme pressure on the lungs, denying the baby to breath properly. The baby's lips were purple, eyes were black, and was almost completely motionless. Breathing was labored, and the baby's future looked grim.
I called a priority air medevac to extract the baby and take it to a U.S. hospital over 100 miles away. As the helicopters were en-route to pick up the baby and father, a violent and sudden sandstorm appeared from the mountains in a manner of seconds. The sun had just set and visibility, even with night vision goggles, was less than 100 meters. Most helicopters would not be able to land in these conditions. At this point, I began to pray that a miracle would occur in the weather that would allow the helicopter to land. If the helicopter could not land, I would have no way of getting the baby to the hospital in time. The weather did not improve.
The British air force pilots called me on the radio and said that they could not see my Landing Zone. The smoke that we usually would use to mark the LZ was invisible to them in this weather. My Marines emplaced Infrared Lights in the middle of LZ, and my drivers turned on their headlights. The helicopter was able to finally locate the LZ, despite the thick dust storm.
The Pilots landed. Four Marines stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the baby and father, forming a human wall, as the dust from the helicopter raced towards them. A British female crew chief or nurse yelled to the Marines at the top of her lungs "Give me the Baby" They loaded the baby and her father into the helicopter, and they departed for the best hospital in Afghanistan. I believe that the only reason why the pilot decided to land in the adverse conditions was because they knew that they were picking up a baby that was in very bad shape.
After they left, I explained to the family and village elder that the baby was on its way to the best hospital in Afghanistan, to be treated by the best doctors in the world. I told them that my Marines and I would be praying for the baby's safety. They told me "In Sha Allah", "God-Willing" the baby will be okay.
They then told me to drive home on a different route because they knew that the Taliban was currently emplacing an IED on the road that leads back to our base.