Joshua Bray

Joshua Bray, Deployed Feb. 2006 - June, 2006, Nasiriyah, Iraq 

00:00 / 04:03

“So, I deployed to Talil Air Force Base in Iraq in 2006, from February to June. So, when we got there and we got divided up. I went to Bravo flight and the four of us who were Mark 19 certified, which the Mark 19 was an automatic grenade launcher and its 75 pounds, and it goes on top of your turret right? You mount it up to your turret, and it is a bad motherfucker. I called mine Baby Ruthless. It was weird, man. We're out there and I'm on a Romeo unit. The Romeo units were two Humvees, right? [and] This is back in the day when these Humvees were barely even armored, you had, the most you had if you were a turret gunner were like a half cone of turret walls. [and] Then this rickety system to mount your weapon to. Otherwise, like some of the window's work, some of them didn't, you know, so you couldn't pull them up, or they were stuck in a certain position. But these patrols, they would be 10 people. So, you got your two turret gunners, you got your driver and then the three extra in the back. One of those is a 203 gunner, which I was also certified on. Their job is just to cause deterrence. [and] As we're patrolling through one of the sectors, there's this group of individuals, and they're wearing all black. [and] It made me want to watch them because one of our reports was that the JAM wears black with gold ropes. The JAM was associated with a terrorist group that was inside Nasiriyah, and there were like four or five of these people. They're all huddled together. [and] Where we're going almost all the time when you're off the hardtop, you're in an area that's surrounded by wadis, most of the time. [and] I'm watching these people and they're watching us, you know, I'm already red flagging and I'm like, “This is strange. It seems unusual”. So, we started to pull up towards this wadi, and I guess we're getting ready to go over but I start to swivel around when this happens. [and] I see that they start coming after us and they're shooting. [and] as soon as that started happening, I yell out, you know, “Contact right”. Next thing you know, the reposition is coming up and I feel my feet coming out. We had no straps and nothing holding you down inside the turret. Two weeks prior to this happening one of our dudes almost got fucking smushed. Loose terrain crumbled underneath, caused the Humvee to start sliding, and he decided to jump out. [and] It was good because as soon as he did, the axle broke, and it just fell down flat and started to roll. [and] He jumped out of the way before it rolled on top of him. So, they’d started doing this maneuver, we would go before we’d go out, the people in the back would pull you down. That's exactly what happened. I'm coming up and they just grabbed me. I could feel them. that's the kind of last thing I really felt before I got concussed. But I just started smacking against the walls, the half walls. [and] I just remember kind of seeing a blur and my head hitting something and I was out. Next thing I know, I'm awake, but it's like, I can't really remember now, whether those memories are because I've had this conversation with those people so many times and I can put the pieces together or if they're really my memories. But, I do remember kind of getting back on base and go into the doc-in-a-box and being cohesive enough to hear them say, “Oh, if he can't do it as a Mark 19 gunner, we're just going to put him on the gate.” They wanted to fly me out to Baghdad that day, but they were under attack. So, I got put on a watch. The next day. I came back. Sergeant Herman was there and he was like, “Hey, man, we're going to put you on a QRF.” [and] I spent the next three days just chilling as a Quick Response Force member in case something happened. [and] After that, it just kind of all went away. I didn't end up going to the gates. They just kind of put me back out on the field and let me do my thing to see how I would react and I got a couple of weeks into it. [and] Next thing I know I had to go home because my wife had a heart attack. [and] Then that's when the shit really started to kick off.”

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