These are journal entries of an American Solider named Private John G. Watson who was sent to Afghanistan to fight the war on terrorism. These are the last few entries in his journal before his convoy was ambushed and he was killed. He was only 21.
August 2, 2001:
So, I just got my draft slip in the mail. Looks like I am on my first assignment already. I mean, I just joined the army 5 months ago. President Bush is sending troops out to Afghanistan to fight the war on terrorism. He is sending us out there to find the terrorists that were responsible for the devastating attacks on the world trade center on September 11th. All my friends that have joined the army with me are going as well, we may even be in the same convoy. I am really not ready for this, I am very nervous about this. But it is my duty as a solider of the American Army. Well, I better get some sleep; I leave tomorrow to go out there, to that frightening Middle East place.Order now
August 3, 2001:
This morning a bus came to the barracks to pick us up. The bus was full of guys like me. The youngest guy was only 20. Not much younger than me! We are risking our lives to preserve the lives of the other millions of Americans that would rather sit at home and hope for peace, to us where we are doing something about it. I can’t believe I am doing this. Right now I am on a C-130 cargo plane with about 70 other soldiers. We are heading out to a US base near Lwara in Afghanistan. We still haven’t received our specific orders. We don’t know who will be in each platoon. Well, we are almost to the base now, I will write back once I get the chance.
August 4, 2001:
The flight was over 12-hours, I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t with all the thoughts of what may happen to me out here. So, when we landed we didn’t land on a runway it was more like a desert floor. When we got off the plane the heat hits you like a punch in the stomach. We were directed to our barracks and to our bunks. Then, the commander, Col. Nathan R. Barten, talked us to about our mission out here. We each then got our orders. My friend Steve and I got an assignment driving in a hummer with a gun mount as part of a convoy. Some of my other friends are in the same convoy as me, but some of them were just in as foot soldiers. I was glad that some of the guys I knew were in the same group as me. This makes me feel a bit better knowing I won’t be alone. Tomorrow we learn about all the equipment that we will be using out here along with all the training and survival tips we need to know as well.
August 5, 2001:
Today was a very interesting day. We spent most of the day learning about our equipment. In my training I learned about the controls and techniques of driving a hummer. But I had never learned how to drive this type before. This was one of the newest models, with a gun mount and rocket launchers. I learned about all the driving skills that I would need to use in a combat situation. We even took a bit of target practice with the mounted gun. The sun was unbearable throughout the whole day. One of the most important things that we were told by Col. Nathan was to stay hydrated and to preserve the water we have.
After we did the training with the hummer we had a lecture about all the dangers of the desert out here. This was chilling stuff. One of the scariest things he told us was about the dangerous animals that live out here. He asked us, “How many of you checked your boots before you put them on?” No one did, and then he showed us this very poisonous scorpion that almost killed one of his other men because he didn’t check his boots before he put them on. He showed us all types of different animals and insects; spiders, snakes, beetles and lizards. He showed us one spider that was big as a freaking dinner plate! Scariest looking thing I have ever seen in my whole life. Now I feel really paranoid about sleeping out here.
August 7, 2001:
Yesterday we just did more technique training with the hummer and some stamina drills. Yesterday 6 soldiers passed out from heat exhaustion. It gets to be about 100 degrees Fahrenheit out here in the peak of the day.
Today they gave us a day off. They let us relax from the few days of hard training. Though there is not much do to out here, in fact nothing to do out here, we still had a great day. Some guys just slept or wrote home to love ones and some of us got together to throw the football around. Today at dinner, which is just an MRE prepared in large doses, we were told the real reason we had the day off today. It looks like tomorrow we are actually going to go out on mission. After dinner we had a briefing about what each platoon would be doing. I think that we got lucky; my convoy is just escorting a large truckload of cargo and troops out to another base. Hope all goes well tomorrow.
August 8, 2001:
We woke up early this morning, before the sun rose. It was cold, so cold you could actually see your breath. Everyone did what he or she were suppose to do, gear up and get into their places. We left early to avoid any hassle from the enemies. We drove fast to shorten the time. I lead the convoy because the hummer that I was driving had a GPS system in it. About 5 hours into the drive we were going through a small town when we started to take fire from a building. I did what I was told, to keep driving no matter what. The firing continued, then I heard shots coming from atop me, my gunner was shooting at the building where the firing may have come from. I also heard it from behind too. Steve came down from the gun to reload it. When he peaked back up and behind he yelled, “Stop!” I looked behind me to see that the other trucks had fallen way behind. I turned around to go back and help protect it. It turns out that the truck full of men had got one of its tires blown out. We were taking some pretty heavy fire from the villagers. Don’t they know that we are trying to help them? As I pulled up to the truck I found that the other hummer that was protecting the back of the convoy had flipped over.
I told Steve to stay and help protect the truck as I went to see if the others in the hummer were all right. I ran up to the flipped hummer, as I did I saw the two men inside start to crawl out. They had blood on them, just cuts and bruises, no bullet wounds. I helped them out and we ran over to the truck and they jumped in the back. I went to the front to check on the progress of fixing the flat tire. They had gotten it fixed and we all ran back to our vehicles to continue on. As I jumped in to hummer, I sat there and listened for a second. There was silence. The gunfire had stopped. I then realized that it had stopped as soon as I pulled up the truck. We must have killed them. I put it out of my mind and we continued towards the base. When we arrived at the base, the two from the flipped hummer were taken to hospital. We reported in, and we accessed the damage. There were about 50 bullet holes in my hummer alone. We were told that we are going to stay the night here, then drive back tomorrow morning. I hope that I can sleep tonight.
August 9, 2001:
It is early morning, I didn’t sleep well because I was too nervous about today. I have a really bad feeling that I can’t shake. As backup, we are going to head back to our base along with another hummer. Hope this goes smooth.
I woke up the voices of several people talking, I heard someone say, “He’s not going to make it.” As I woke up I was told not to move, I had been badly wounded. I asked for my journal to write down my last thoughts. They told me that I don’t have long. I asked about my comrade Steve. They told me that a bullet wound in the throat had killed him. This war is horrible; we are trying to fight an invisible enemy. Now, I am going to die too. Are we going to be known for what we had done? Had we done anything of importance? We had given our lives to keep others safe. I wish the people safe in their homes could see what we are sacrificing for them.
At 5:24pm on August 9, 2001 Private John G. Watson was pronounced dead from loss of blood and third degrees burns to over 40% of his body. As he was heading back to his base his hummer was ambushed. His hummer was hit by a swarm of bullets. Private Steven E. Sampson was hit in the neck from a bullet and was killed instantly. John was hit in the arm twice but he continued to drive. A small grenade flipped the hummer and caught fire. Unfortunately, the base was 2 hours away still and not much could be done till they arrived at the base, which was too late for John. He was declared dead shortly after treatment was attempted on him. In his last few minutes he managed to write the last portion in his journal. John was never announced as a hero of the war, just another casualty