04 June 2008

With the 1-503rd IN, 173rd ABCT at Zerok Combat Outpost

Spc. Corey McRae looks out a telescope to try to pinpoint a spot where he thought there might be some insurgent activity. Soldiers from 3rd Platoon man the towers around their small outpost around the clock.

"It’s been a long deployment." - SPC Robert Hool.

S&S's Kent Harris gives us a glimpse of life at Zerok Combat Outpost in Afghanistan:

Zerok Combat Outpost, at the edge of a plateau about 7,700 feet above sea level, is surrounded by mountain ridges rising several hundred feet higher.

Enemies love to climb on the far side of those ridges and lob rockets and missiles toward the soldiers below.

It happened Saturday morning. And Saturday afternoon. And Sunday morning. And more than 100 times since 3rd Platoon, Company D, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment arrived in this area, in eastern Afghanistan, in May 2007.
The platoon was supposed to rotate into the compound for about a month at a time with another platoon, but those soldiers have largely been needed elsewhere. So there was an 87-day stint in the winter and another 67-day stint. They’ve currently been on post for about 33 days.

Soldiers admit that the days can run together.

"I don’t know what date it is," Spc. Corey McRae admits. "I don’t know what day of the week it is."

Attacks serve to break up the monotony, according to [1LT Justin] Thornburg. "It’s about 95, 96 percent boredom with about 5 percent excitement," he said.
"You’ve got to think of other things" besides the next attack, says Spc. Jason Leehan, the platoon medic, adding that if you don’t, "it would drive you nuts."

Another morale booster comes in the form of Pfc. Jordan Davis, a cook rotated into the compound who puts together breakfast and dinner every day. Lunch comes in the form of MREs.

The latest morale booster is the feeling that it won’t be long until they’re back in Vicenza, Italy — and away from the rockets, the dust and the football field-sized complex they’ve called home for much of the last 13 months.

It's been a long deployment.

More (with photos) at S&S.

Click here for more 173rd ABCT Afghanistan posts.

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