While in Iraq, I was always aware of the danger around me.
In Baghdad, snipers shot at soldiers and civilians, shattering windshields and lives. Ambushes, artillery attacks, and accidents were some of the hazards on the road to Baghdad during my trip north from Kuwait with United States marines. Fortunately, I was able to contact family to assure them I was safe while on assignment. It was comforting to talk with my wife, and she was glad to hear my voice.
But one morning we had a less-than-reassuring conversation. Our convoy had traveled under cover of darkness and finally stopped around 3 a.m. I slept until 7 a.m. and then called home. I was in midsentence - "I'm safe, it's OK" - when BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! A series of deafening explosions shook the earth. Marines scrambled for cover and their weapons. I hit the dirt. Tense seconds passed before someone finally yelled, "It's outgoing!"
Unbeknownst to some in the convoy and to me, we had parked just a few hundred yards from an artillery battery that was firing on Iraqi positions. We looked at each other and shared uncomfortable chuckles. I continued my conversation through several more volleys.
It was bad timing for a phone call home, but an unforgettable conversation.