-Day 2 "Shock and awe"
21st of March 2004.
I woke up early this morning after a good sleep without any interruption. I was so tired and now I feel fully active and have this feeling that usually gets to the one when something huge happens, that the 1st thing that comes to his mind the next morning as he awakes: did that really happen or was I dreaming?
Ok, it was more than real for me. The 1st news that surprised me in the morning was the occupation of Om Qasir…(just a moment!) why did I write (occupation)!? Why am I still affected by the media, parroting what they say!? All right, I’ll re-write this line and delete what I 1st wrote.
The liberation of Om Qasir and raising the American flag on one of the buildings there. An unbelievable feeling came when I saw some of my fellow citizens there celebrating their salvation. They were destroying a picture of the tyrant and singing a phrase that still rings in my ears: “Saddam your days are counted”
Truly they are counted. Congratulations my brothers you are the 1st Iraqis to taste freedom. The day we’ll celibate seems to be sooner than I expected. The troops are now marching fast, the British army fighting in Faw too and Safwan has been liberated also. Hundreds of soldiers and officers surrender. Did this mad man expect they were going to fight!!?
I didn’t take a walk in Baghdad today and just met my friends. One of them said” did you see the Iraqi leaders' announcements on TV?” I said, “Not yet, I like to forget their ugly faces and their outrageous lies”
Today was encouraging, as from the beginning there was news about the fast advance of the coalition troops inside Iraq. Ok, it’s the 1st Friday in the battle but we kept an old tradition that was not affected by the events, to gather all around dinner table that is usually special on Fridays.
The noon was perfectly quite with exception of the alarm serine that usually goes on when airplanes cross Baghdad air defense sector and it seems that the mosques insist to go along with these serine to pray for Iraq and her leader. I think the leader is more important than Iraq to them.
We heard that the B-52 bombers had left their bases in London heading towards their targets in Iraq. It seems that the air campaign will start, seriously, soon. We’ve learned through our experience during “Desert Fox” that it usually takes 6 hours until the missiles and bombs start falling on their targets. Ok, then I’ll have to fix my watch accurately.
It was 8.20 p.m. and a friend, Omar and I were expecting the explosions any minute, when we heard the sound of the 1st one, which was huge. We sat around the TV watching with wide-open eyes when Abu-Dhabi satellite channel managed to show where most of the bombing was. It was very clear and close. Now I watch the missile land with the huge fire and after few seconds the sound and the shock wave would reach us. We had the scene on TV and the (sound effects) where we were sitting.
“Let’s go up stairs “I said. My father objected saying “it is too dangerous and you are hearing the sounds of anti-aircraft guns and their shells when they fall on the ground, you may get hurt as these shells can be lethal” however I didn’t listen and went to my friend's home and went upstairs to have a better look. I think I felt safer in open air seeing the missiles as they hit their targets instead of being shocked by the huge sounds of explosions when inside the house.
We were watching a scene I don’t think it was real. We were stunned, not able to utter a word. What we saw was something like “star wars” or “independence day”.
We couldn’t turn our heads to all the directions the missile were landing. They were everywhere and coming one after the other with an unbelievable speed. We didn’t believe what was happening, what seemed like endless huge explosions that shook the ground beneath us, they came from every direction; a striking light followed by a terrible sound and a wave of air that was strongly felt. The smell of gun powder filled our noses and the anti-aircraft were firing, sometimes, even loudly above our heads and I saw SAM missiles fired in all directions and in huge numbers.
The sky was crazy and the land went mad as well. I was panicked to see those SAM missiles falling!! They were not guided, they are like ballistic missiles and that what really scared me. One of those went from the ground high in the sky only to take a sudden turn and head towards, what seemed to us, directly to the place were we were standing before landing somewhere else. Omar shouted” LOOK!” there was a cruise missile exploding in the sky after being hit by one of those anti-air craft cannons.
The red light was overwhelming and covering most of the sky and earth, smoke went from everywhere. We couldn’t stand this and my friend shouted as loud as he can “DOWN WITH SADDAM” I looked at him in shock, he made me more scared. It seemed that he got rid of all his fears and that the falling missiles inspired and encouraged my friend, as he must’ve felt that it’s all over and that the war would be settled tomorrow.
Here one of the air defense battalions which was so close to us, started to fire and there sounds were TERRIBLE. It seems that there’s a target over our heads, but we didn’t wait to tell each other this. We ran like h*** downstairs lowering our heads and I put my jacket over my head, and here my friend looked at me and burst out laughing and said” what!? Do you think it’ll protect you” I said as I was still shaking “no, but I don’t know why I did it”. We were talking as we were jumping on the staircases on our way down. I went home to see that everyone was taking a corner in the shelter, and my mother screamed” WHERE WERE YOU? CAN’T YOU SEE THIS H***? GET INSIDE NOW” Omar and I didn’t like the idea, but a huge explosion at that moment was more than convincing!
I couldn’t know how long it took; seconds, minutes or hours, I couldn’t tell. I looked at my watch to see it was 10.30 p.m. then it went quite and we all calmed down.
We were screaming with each explosion and with all the fear we were living “MORE” in the hope that this time it will be right on their heads. Let them feel terror and fear like they made us live with them all these years.
It was a very hard night and as I tried every time to have some sleep, I woke up with another sound that rocks my house and shakes the windows and doors.
This will never be easy, we’ll face so many dangers and what’s coming is still unknown but I just pray to see the end.