Then, I was a part of the US mission in Iraq. I was stationed at Um Qassar, a small town in Iraq. It was a bright, pleasant sunny morning. I received a message that on that day my duty was to drop the base trash in my dump truck. This is usually a low risk task, as no real fighting is involved in it. For the very same reason it was very easy too. I set out with my driver to accomplish the task, thinking that the day will pass off peacefully.
That did not happen. A very unexpected incident happened which will be memorable for me, always. As we approached the dump site, after a drive of few miles, we could see hundreds of local Iraqi people, waiting desperately to eat whatever we throw off in the dump site. All of them wore a very hungry look on their faces, and the mental tiredness combined with physical weakness was evident in their body language. I presumed that they had not had any food for a few days, at least.
I instructed my driver to go slow, as the crowd was very strong in numbers, and it takes no time for hunger to get violent. It was a crowd of minimum of few hundred hungry, war torn Iraqi local people. As we approached them, they thronged our vehicle, and broke the lock and opened the soldier’s door. I asked my soldier to close the door and told him that I would get down and jog on the sides, to take care of the mob. As I moved down, the driver drove away the vehicle and I was stranded on the ground. I was surrounded by a few hundred local Iraqi mob.
I raised my weapon to ensure my safety, because the mob, though looking very innocent, was likely to change its intention and decide to attack me in a split second. I did not take any action with my raised arm, so the mob felt that I had no intention to start any unnecessary violence.
Suddenly I felt a hand moving under my neck, on my back side. My excellent reflexes, backed by vigorous military training, made me spin around, very swiftly. I coul not believe my eyes !!! I had hit the person with my weapon on his face and he was profusely bleeding. This was the last thing I had desired. It was completely unintentional, but it had happened. The crowd was also stunned.
I moved back to my vehicle and asked the driver to drive to the base to report for assistance, straightaway. We got the necessary assistance and the task was accomplished with the assistance of military police.
Once the task was over, I was being ordered to report to my Commander. The issue was my hurting an innocent, unarmed civilian without any provocation. I was questioned in detail, and I had to agree that it was a mistake committed on my part. I tried to explain that it was an accident committed in an attempt to safeguard myself from the mob, but my arguments were rejected. Perhaps they believed that innocent should not have been hurt in any case. My self defense was surely erroneous.
As a result, I was fined with a slap on my wrist. Nevertheless, today’s incident makes an interesting story. Perhaps my young daughter way back in USA, will be delighted to read this self experience of mine.