I sat in the interview room in my dress uniform, waiting for my turn to give my version of the ambush. I knew all the survivors were going to be interviewed. Too many had died and they were looking for a scapegoat. I hoped it wouldn’t be me. This was to be a fact finding investigation so no counsel was allowed. But the level of brass that came through the door looked a lot more serious to me.
I stood at attention while they sat down. The officer that appeared in charge was a one star general. The rest were majors, six of them total. The general made the opening statement.
“Today we are here to continue the formal investigation into the ambush of convoy 12630. Convoy 12630 left Penshaw, Pakistan at 0400 on 6 June 2012 to deliver fuel, ammo and supplies to Camp Little John, Afghanistan,” he read from his prepared statement.
“Sergeant Jones?” he asked.
“Present sir,” I replied
“State your full name for the record,” he replied.
“Sergeant Roberta Josephine Jones serial 294229595 Sir,” I answered.
“Your birth date is shown as 10 July 1984 and you have been a Marine for 10 years; is that correct?” he asked.
“Yes sir,” I replied.
“Let’s start at the beginning. Were there any unusual events in putting the convoy together?” he asked.
“Yes sir. The number of Afghan scouts was less than we normally had and the convoy makeup was different. The Afghans were new to us and they seemed nervous. Captain Walsh was also a rookie to convoy duty. His initial makeup of the convoy would have been suicide. He ordered trucks carrying ammo to be pulling fuel trailers, a bad combination. We convinced him to make changes and the Afghans were not happy about the delay,” I replied.
“The final makeup of the convoy was a lead HumVee with Captain Walsh, a driver and two gunners. A deuce and a half carrying supplies pulling a fuel trailer followed the lead Humvee. Then another deuce and a half with ammo followed by another with supplies pulling a fuel trailer, then another HumVee with a driver and three gunners. Two more deuce and a half’s with supplies and fuel trailers followed the gunners. Near the end were two deuce and a half’s with more ammo. Finally, another HumVee with a driver and three gunners were the final trucks in the convoy. Each of the deuce and a half carries two soldiers,” I stated.
“There were a total of 10 trucks, 4 trailers and 26 soldiers. The Afghans’ were in the lead with their own 4×4,” I stated.
“How many of the soldiers were female?” he asked.
“A total of fourteen female soldiers were in the convoy. Two in each of the deuce and a half’s,” I stated.
“You had the highest rank of the female soldiers?” he asked.
“Yes sir, two field promotions,” I replied.
“So you were second in command,” he stated.
“Yes sir,” I replied
“Where were you in the convoy?” he asked.
I was driving the deuce and a half behind the second HumVee,” I replied.
They are looking to blame this on the female soldiers, I thought.
“When did the trouble start?” he asked.
“It started soon as we crossed over the Afghanistan border at about 1200 hrs. The Afghan scouts turned on a road that was not on the mapped route. I questioned Capt. Walsh, he radioed back; the scouts said that the mapped road was under attack up ahead and we were going around the attack. I radioed Capt Walsh back requesting air cover. He said he would consider it if anything happened. I reminded him that anytime we left the mapped route it was SOP. Five minutes later I heard him make the call for air support,” I stated.
“How long after the call for air cover did the action start?” he asked.
“Maybe thirty minutes at the most. The lead HumVee took a direct hit from an RPG and was on fire. The driver and Capt Walsh were outside lying on the ground. We started taking small arms fire from a ravine on the left,” I replied.
“What was the situation on the ground?” he asked.
“I assumed the Captain was dead and took over command of the convoy. I exited my truck and told my partner to take over as driver. I ran forward to the HumVee, climbed in as it was returning fire and lobbed grenades in the direction the enemy fire was coming from. I called in our position. I told them that we were under attack and needed air support now!” I stated.
“The ambush setup must have been fast because the place was poorly chosen. The road was wide enough for two vehicles to pass so I ordered the rest of the convoy to go by the burning HumVee to try to escape. I ordered the two remaining Hum Vee’s to go to the left of the deuce and half and provide covering fire until the convoy was past the ambush area. As we pulled out to the left around the deuce ahead I saw our two Afghan scouts by the burning HumVee. One was shooting the driver on the ground and the other was shooting into the deuce and half behind the HumVee. I killed both of them. I heard a tanker explode behind us. This blocked the convoy,” I replied.
“Air control was calling on the radio to coordinate the strike. I established direct radio contact with the strike group,” I said.
“We have the audio and will play it in this afternoon’s session,” the general said.
“A few moments later an F18 dropped bombs on the enemy positions. A few minutes after that I heard the sweet sound of ground support A10 warthogs. There were four of them. Those Gatling guns were a beautiful sound. I ordered the HumVee to sweep the enemy area and make sure everyone was dead,” I stated. What I didn’t say was that I had told them to take no fucking prisoners.
“I also ordered the convoy to stop so we could regroup and sort things out. While this was going on the Medivacs arrived and started checking everyone out. It was at this time I realized that I had taken a couple of minor hits. I was bleeding from shrapnel cut on my leg and a bullet graze on my arm,” I stated.
“It was at this time one of the medics said I was needed at the deuce and a half I had been driving. I ran back to find that my driving partner Betty Smith had taken several rounds of small arms fire and was dying.” I replied.
Betty and I grew up together, lived next door and had been inseparable; even joining the marines together. She and I always seemed to have a kind of silent connection no matter what. She almost knew what I wanted before I did sometimes. This was going to be bad. I knelt down and she reached up to pull me close and whispered “I’m sorry, I love you,” and then she was gone. I broke down sobbing. It was as if something had been ripped from my chest; I had other soldiers die in my unit before, this was totally different. It seemed like several minutes before I regained my composure but I know it was only seconds.
“The losses were as follows:
We has lost the lead HumVee, the drivers of the deuce and a half behind it, a deuce and a half with supplies and a fuel tanker that had been behind the second Humvee. It was the one I had been driving. There were seven causalities; the four men in the lead hummer, including Capt Walsh, and three female soldiers,” I stated.
The general cleared his throat and said “Let’s take a lunch break and then we will lay out the aerial photographs and review your statement for errors. We will resume at 1300.”
Edit by Alfmeister