“We trust the vehicles,” said Spc. Haring, “As long as we wear our helmets and seat belts, you don’t move too much. The worst thing we have is rollovers.”
The enemy is adapting here in the Tangi Valley — creating larger and larger roadside bombs. “They’ve gotten bigger,” said Col. David B. Haight, commander of the Army’s 3rd brigade, 10th Mountain Division, “They are several hundred pounds, some of them.”
Maj. David Stevenson, executive officer of 287th Infantry, 3rd brigade, 10th Mountain Division, says he can see the psychological toll on soldiers from almost daily IED attacks. “They never know when they’re going to get hurt.”
“I always expect to get hit,” said Sgt. First Class Millard, “When we don’t — it’s a good day.” Although the Wisconsin Guard unit completed the mission without casualties, it was not to be a good day for the coalition along Route Georgia.
Just a few hours after the Guard passed, another convoy got hit.
This time, the MRAP flipped over into a small river, killing 23-year-old Gunnery Sgt. Jerry Evans Jr. of Orlando, Fla., and shattering the legs of two other soldiers. It happened at the same location where the Guard unit had earlier discovered and detonated its first IED of the day.
“The most common misconception is that once we clear a road — it stays clear,” said Sgt. First Class Millard. “Once we lose visual site of a route, it’s no longer clear.”