Wednesday, December 21, 2011

DFAC Bombing Mosul, Iraq 2004

On December 21, 2004 my Platoon Leader (PL) LT Raub Nash our company Fire Support Officer LT Kyle Dewalt and I sat down for lunch at the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Marez Dinning Facility (DFAC) in Mosul, Iraq. I had just sat down after grabbing some salad dressing when a loud explosion went off right where I had just been.  We jumped up as the smoke began to fill the tent that served as our dinning facility and immediately saw a hole in the canvas roof. We moved out to a bunker outside the door and waited for the possibility of another, what we thought at the time was a mortar or a rocket attack. I looked at my PL as we could hear people screaming and yelling for help inside and told him “we have to get back in there and help”. We both ran back inside and the scene we ran into was horrific, there were people laying all over the floor and people slumped in their chair. I saw some of my Soldiers and asked if they were ok, when they said they were I directed them to grab the first aid kits that were placed throughout the DFAC and start helping those that they could. I moved around and began to help those that I could. One Soldier was laying faced down in his plate of food I could see a half dollar sized hole in the back of his head. I knew he was dead but I tried to get him to respond, but no response. I heard someone crying and I looked over to see a female Soldier laying on the floor her hair and her coat were smoking she was crying and asking for help as she crawled toward her friend who minutes before she was sharing lunch with lay dead. Body parts were everywhere a foot under a table, a hand laying on a chair and blood spilled all over the walk way and salad bar.  I then looked over and saw my Company Commander CPT William Jacobsen on the ground and two Soldiers performing CPR on him. I asked if I could help but could see they had everything under control.  I continued to help carry wounded Soldiers out on tables to vehicles that were waiting to take them to the Combat Support Hospital.  Later I learned that 22 Soldiers had been killed and 50 wounded by a suicide bomber that infiltrated the base dressed as a Iraqi Soldier and detonated an explosive vest he was wearing while standing in the middle of the DFAC.
CPT William Jacobsen, KIA 21 Dec 2004
SSG Robert Johnson, KIA 21 Dec 2004
It is protocol to immediately shut down all outside communication to the states so four days before Christmas my brother and mother received news that numerous Soldiers had been killed at a Dining Facility in Mosul but no names were being released. I would not be able to call them for a few days and I remember my mom crying and yelling to everyone in the room “he is ok, thank God”.  To this day my brother Will and I still refer to this as the worst Christmas surprise ever.


A Soldier stands watch over his wounded friend until he can be evacuated.


23 comments:

  1. Wow! Thank you, Top, for sharing this story. The Mosul DFAC attack was our first shock of horror and reality about the terrible possibilities during our deployment to Iraq. I could not acknowledge or accept the pain or horror I felt in my soul at the time as I heard the reports of the wounded (we were down in Balad and had only taken control of the mission a couple of weeks earlier). Many of the wounded were taken to Balad afterwards. Our hooches were in direct line of the runway descent, so we got a good measure of the prop blast when the choppers came in to bring the wounded to our field hospital at Balad. They would come in maybe a hundred feet above our heads in their approach. And this continuous onslaught of inbound choppers lasted all day and night following the reports of the attack. I'm not sure the reasons for so many chopper flights, but I had no measure of what was to be expected when we faced the various attacks or IEDs on our soldiers out on the roads. Nonetheless everyone on Balad knew why these choppers were coming in so frequently. This was my first baptism to the horror of war, although I could not let any of my subordinates know what I was feeling at the time. I felt so much grief in my soul, but I tucked it away to deal with later because I knew so many troops were depending on me to hold it together through this horror show. Zane Chambers, LTC (ret)

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    1. Very sad day.....I was with the fire department on diamondback. (Yellow fire truck)... Our team was suppose to eat lunch there that day at 1200 hrs. sgt.K was late that day..the mess hall was hit at 1208 hrs. Thank you for being late that day SFC. K

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  2. Thank you for you comment LTC Chambers, I never thought about the casualties and how this attack affected so many others. I did another post about it not sure if you saw it it is called "So you think you had a bad day". I hope that you were able to let some of that grief out and are enjoying retirement.

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  3. I was an alabama national gaurd soldier at diamondback when this happened. I helped with the mascal at the hospital at diamondback afterwards. This has effected me everyday since. Such an act of cowardice, such a loss of brave young soldiers is something that is hard to let go. Thank you for keeping the memories of our fallen brothers alive by this post. Sgt Ken Raburn, 115th Signal Bn, Retired."kenrab2012@yahoo.com.

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  4. Horrible unforgettable day... I was there at main entrance...
    blast was near Food wrapping area :( I lost lots of my friends there...
    RIP my friends at DFAC H4 Mosul Iraq

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  5. I was in kirkuk when that happened. After that they really tightened up at the gate at FOB Warior. Thanks for sharing that insight and thanks for your service.

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  6. not to mention civilian KIA's...Afghanistan (2002-2003)...Iraq (2003-2007)...Afghanistan (2010...2012)...been there too...my cousin, Anthony Stramiello Jr. was killed in that blast.

    Gary M. Mauro
    Astoria, OR
    garymmauro@yahoo.com

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  7. My friend Tom D. volunteered to go with the 133rd engineers
    He couldn't wait for the 152 maintenance company to get deployed.
    He was killed that day. He was promoted to Sgt. after he died.
    I went to Iraq in 2005-2006 as a security guard.
    I was the fobbit searching all the third country nationalists on third shift in Tigerland.

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  8. All I know is that mortar fire was coming in first and that is what led us to believe that's what it was at first. We had just finished up and stepped out to run for cover as we were taking direct mortar rounds! I found out later the mortar rounds were just a distraction for the suicide bomber on the inside. A day I will never forger!

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    1. i was there myself just walk out of the DFAC i knew something was wrong i know more about what happen then what they are saying

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  9. We were there in line waiting to get chow, but got called out to support 2nd platoon. we heard it on the radio on our way out of the wire.

    REMEMBERING MY BROTHERS.
    1/24 Charlie co. 3rd platoon

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  10. I was with the fire dept.on diamondback. We were suppose to be there at 1200hrs. Sfc.k was late that day...suicide bomber went off at 1208 hrs...thank you Sfc. K....a very sad day.

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  11. Thank you for sharing. Our son was there and helped with the wounded. We were among the many who waited for "the news."

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  12. Every once in a while I do a google search to see if anyone has posted anything about this day that forever changed my life. I was critically wounded that day and am very, very blessed and lucky to be alive. I look for these stories to put the puzzle pieces together because I can remember bits and pieces. I thank everyone that stepped into that hell and saved mine, and many, many more lives.
    SFC(R) Shawn Graves
    2-8FA 1/25 SBCT
    shawn.t.graves121@gmail.com

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  13. I was rear detachment, 1013th QM. My unit arrived around the 20th of December. It was my first experience of war... and what we were going to face for the following 12 months. I arrived at Diamondback December 24 ,2004... and had several friends that were at the hospital that day assisting with the mass casualties. God Bless you all!!

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  14. Top, my unit lost a couple guys in that bombing - I was normally stationed at FOB Courage as PSD and went to Marez on Saturdays for the BN brief, eating lunch at the DFAC. That Saturday the BC had to go to Q-West first, and we were delayed enough so we didn't arrive until after the blast. Sad, sad day, and I guiltily thank God for the delay that caused us to miss lunch...

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  15. Thank you for your service. My cousin, Jeremy white, former army, was involved in this. He was one of the wounded

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  16. that day lives with me everyday i was with the 276 eng i lost my friends that day and several more brothers. as all that were there did. I was almost to the door when it hapened i ran right in i was also at dimandback helping with the wounded and a female soilder pulled up in a truck when she got out i know know one was alive in the back i cant tell you her name but i still see her face it never left me. but i still honor all them and always will . former sgt wesley brown

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  17. 10 years ago today...
    Rest in peace warriors and friends.
    You will never be forgotten.

    Busa

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  18. Thanks for sharing this. former SFC G Cunningham, med psg

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  19. SFC James D RobertsFebruary 21, 2015 at 1:18 AM

    Only now seeing your article as I look for details of the incident on Dec 21, 2004. I was the Platoon Sergeant for the radiology services with the 67th Combat Support Hospital at the airbase in Mosul that day. Our unit was less than 30 days from heading back to Wuerzburg, Germany after a difficult year of attacks on our base. From the articles I have found there were many details left out. The biggest detail not mentioned happened about 20 to 25 minutes after casualties began to Medevac to our hospital. As dozens of soldiers, and civilians lay on stretchers in the back of the hospital at the EC entrance, an RPG hit the top of our cement built facility about 20 yards away from reaching the back of the facility where those dozens were lying being triaged. The reason I was looking for articles is because I have gone over 10 years since that day without seeking treatment for what I know is PTSD and know I can't go on without getting counseling. Since that day I average 4 to 5 hours of interrupted sleep waking 3 to 4 times a night. Tried almost all the sleep aids but the side affects are to much. Will never forget that day as it would have been my 16th wedding anniversary. My message to all who have been devastated by war, don't wait or be afraid to seek help right away. Let go of the macho persona that comes with being a soldier and not wanting to show weakness but it is not weakness to seek help.

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  20. I re-read all of the emails my soldiers and I shared the day before this day about what we were gonna do on Xmas as well as when leave was granted to us.Never in my dreams did I think I would come home without them. They were my brothers, they were my family. I can still here Ayro's corny jokes, and Castro's smile was infectious when we were missing home. I still visit their burial sites and cry like it happened all over again. I have a low points to where I think about this day, as well as the days following. Those of us that witnessed this time will never forget you, sir, or anybody we carried through the duration of that deployment. Stay strong, we hear your war cry!!
    73rd Engineers, Ft. Lewis, WA
    3-21 Infantry, Ft. Lewis, WA
    25 BSB, Ft. Lewis, WA, "Without Delay"
    2-8 Infantry, Ft. Lewis, WA
    1-76 CAV, Ft. Lewis, WA

    Rest On Brothers!!!

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  21. I was a civilian working the SSA warehouse on Dback living on Marez. Had just arrived 30 days prior.

    http://youtu.be/AaqGHwIdV0I

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