30 | Jimenez
As we're running out there. We feel the machine gun around skipping through like the side of our legs like over our heads. Like, it's not Ernie Jimenez, join the military because he saw it as the career opportunity of a lifetime. He joined the marines because he wanted to fight as an infantry assault. And he got plenty of opportunities to test is metal and right from the first he got a good hard. Look at what it is like to have no choice, but the face down your fears are was super scared. And I was like my nineteenth birthday is literally four days away from now. And I'm like, I don't even know on her make it. What is true bravery? What makes a hero a hero tested by the worries of what's happening at home, thousands of miles away and the reality of what you're facing here. And now when your life is in danger every second and it's either kill or be killed and original podcast from incongruity media. This is Anthony Ryuzo and this. Is war? Father wasn't thrilled about the prospect of his son joining the marines just as a war was getting underway him and has convinced him of the benefits service disciplined money for college all the things the US military's known for. But as a seventeen year old man is only impression of military service came from call of duty even with the discipline and education of boot camp, he really just wanted to blow things up in as loud away as he could. I really wanted to play with machine guns and explosives and stuff like that. So I join the country if you're going to join the marines, you might as well join for women Rene's are like known for and that's going to fighting, but I chose the be an infantry assault man because I wanted to handle C four and stuff like that. And then we got the train in the small, which is a shoulder fell. Fire purpose assault, weapon explosives and the javelin missile. The anti-helicopter antitank missile as he trained in the weaponry Jimenez developed a steady hand in an accuracy with both blowing open doors for breaching and shooting rockets that would serve him well in Iraq. Although we still had no sense at that really was in his future into three training wasn't as pointed as it would become so although he knew how to use the weapons in urban combat technically he wouldn't have a deep understanding of the ins and outs until he hit the ground, which was something that still is an abstraction Jimenez, his company was cruising around the Pacific waiting for something to happen as much as they were doing anything else. But the time between when they got the call when they rolled into flu was amazingly fast. We deploy to Japan. Okinawa japan. We were supposed to go on like Westpac. We were in the middle of field exercise, and then we got called back early. And then they put us an auditory umn. And they told us, hey, guys, we're gonna go into I rack. So then we sailed there took forever. And when we got there does when they told us like, hey, we're going to be part of this huge attack on the city of Lucia, and we're gonna go against the force of three thousand five thousand terrorists. And that's when we all got brief in the recall, like, Lance, corporal underground where you hear all these rumors and like through the grapevine, and that's how we would get things and be like, okay. It's gonna be this days me this the finally they came and they told us they said aride like. We're gonna go in and we're going to stage November seventh we're just sitting out there. So we got the call the push in. We didn't know the impact that we're about to like throw on the city yet until nighttime hit and they said we're going in we got into the tracks. And we started going to the city, but I they had to blow. It's a bunch of charges like stuck together? And they blow a berms. So they launched one of those the berm and us when we started going into the city, and that's when we heard our first casualties over the radio the first battle of Lucia operation vigilant. Resolve was mostly a show of force launched in response to the killing desecration of blackwater contractors, the second battle was to be more than that. It was to be a complete routing of insurgents with the plan to literally go house by house, capturing weapons and fighters, but in a six or so months since the first battle at ended the insert. Urgency had been digging in and waiting as we're van seeing. They started shooting mortars and rockets at us the whole sky, look like like a Star Wars movie just tracers star, and they came and they shot rocket in the hair one of our tracks. The driver died and two of our guys guy hit I think only the driver in the gun died, and our guys there were just really wounded like the couldn't find any more. So than they got medevac doubt. We heard all that and the radio in all of us were like dead silent. We were like, wow, we're stuck in this like the sardine can and we can do anything. We're just bullshitting at first. But then once we heard the casualties we're trying to figure out who it was before we went in the gave us a number. So we roll on all our camby's like see for our company, Charlie company. And that's how they were gonna identify us. Every got hit. Or we died or anything they want to say our name. They would identify by that number. So over the radio, we heard the number and we're like, whoa. Who who is is like, do, you know whose number that is and in all of us were like, let's go let's go when you go in we need to go in if we were just sitting ducks here mind, you we have a full combat loan and the jammed us all into this little armored vehicle, and we're all stating on top of each other stuff. Like, we're sitting there for a couple hours until like all the smoke cleared, and then finally we pushed in and when we pushed into that berm as soon as we walked out where I'm like knee, high mud as soon as we got there. We just met resistance boom, boom there. They're shooting down that us shooting everywhere. It was very chaotic marines objective with a nearby mosque filled with fighters and a weapons cache, but the resistance was such that there was no way that could make it through all that mud without taking an unacceptable number of. Casualties. Instead, they cleared. A nearby house to hold up for the rest of the evening him and his blew off the door and cleared the front room, and then he cooled his heels while the rest of the guys finished clearing the rest of the house known was home. So they bunk down for the night as best they could. There was a break in fighting in a soon as the sun came a boom, it was crazy. They're shooting at us from everywhere. The running now from everywhere for trying to take down the house, and we were just up there holding physician just boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. I got the shoe my first rocket in combat there, and I just shot a bunch of buildings full of insurgents just machine guns down on us, everything in the tanks rolled into the middle city and just started wrecking havoc on all these houses shooting at us. There is genuine rounds being shy ad positions on houses there is. There's rockets flying everywhere. Their machine guns blazing everywhere. It was it was not. Then finally, we go downstairs and advanced to that mosque after the onslaught from the tanks in the rockets the mosque fell without incident and the marines collected a massive cache of weapons that continued clearing-houses into the early evening. This is how the battle of flu go for the next week or so with marines clearing his many houses as they could before choosing to rest in for the night, we set up in a house and we kept giving pop shots from somewhere. But we couldn't now down where was nighttime hits. And we see a bunch of people running on the street me, and my friend rag among were on post. He's on the machine gun on the saw. And we radio in really is there marines patrolling because they look like it was marines patrolling. They're like, yeah. Yeah. We sent out a patrol, so don't shoot, right. And then we see them in the house kind of like robes because we're seeing them through our night. Vision goggles, we call again. We're like, I don't think these marines. And then they're like, all right shoot. We didn't get a chance to shoot them at all because they disappeared somewhere. After that in the morning. We started getting more pop shots. Like, boom, boom, boom. Like whizzing by our heads. Command decided to best tactic was to have some arena jump into the house next door where they could get a better bead on the building that was firing down on their position him and his friend. Aaron Pickering was among the guys on that team. He left across the Jason balcony to take up a position in the building next door when they jumped over the balcony, they immediately I heard shots fired. And I heard Cormon up. I was like all struggle was going on. What can I do the hell I can do anything? And that's when we just heard more shots. And then everybody inside got stuck in a room. Acept pickering. He was already shot up. I didn't get to see any of it. Because. All now side, then we called our third flew tune to come in eight us, and when they came the terrorist leaned over the window and shot, one of our navy, Cormon, doc woods, I was right on the ledge watching the whole thing. And I'm pretty sure he died soon as he got shot, and then they advanced into the the house, and they're still trapped. They're still trapped in there. And they're all trapped. One of our senior marines Hernan went up the stairs. And he got shot in the chest. But his plate saved his life. And he had like no scratch on there pushing through the call for a d nine bulldozer. It's like this heavy-duty craziest bulldozer. I've ever seen the come over and hit the side of the house. Maybe the wall would fall down. And we could see the insurgents when the denying bulldozer came and hit the wall. The wall came down on one of the means I was inside the house onto actually and broke one of their femurs. I believe and we just hear bunch of screaming screaming because the walls coming down the wall fell on him and broke his femur and he screaming in the screams. I I heard those screams on my dreams forever. There were like the craziest creams I've ever heard when the wall came down me and ragamuffin my friend Raritan unloaded on these guys. Like unloaded made them Swiss cheese team was sent up to the grab a Pickering and Pickering wasn't with us anymore. Dow was on the Marine Corps birthday training will get used to combat a lot faster than you think it adjusts your fighter flight mechanism. So that you're prepared to respond to an attack with the kind of precision you. Never would have believed you had there's no way to train for dealing with loss though, where with the quiet times between when you're fighting or battalion commander came and heard about that always wanted to be in the action, and he came in with a big old cigar mouth. And he was saying is a fine day Janse as a fine day. And everybody's looking at him running to kill him because we just lost two of our friends, and he sitting here saying the fine day visits, the Marine Corps birthday. But I guess he he felt that it was his job the chairs out for some reason. But when something like that happens, you cannot cheer anyone, you know, you have to push through you're still morning, and you're not going to want to talk about at all. That's when you realize that you're not finding for any country. You're not fighting for the Marine Corps. You're fighting for your friends the guy next to you is your fighting for because you love him. And he loves you in. We all. Want to survive? Go back to our families and die hit us, really hard. That was our first like boom back to reality. Like, you have to survive this though. So I kept telling myself, you have to survive Cerny to survive this with the marines at the beginning of a battle that would stretch into almost legend, and has had no idea how hard that would be or how often he would have to shove side loss, our apprehension just so he could get the job done, but within hours of catching their breaths. 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That's ZipRecruiter dot com slash. T h I s I s w AR ZipRecruiter dot com slash this is war. Ziprecruiter, the smartest way to hire. Taken almost all of you valuable highground influenza and the only way for the marines to deal with that fact, was take the buildings back or to take them down as an infantry assault. -ment Jimenez was responsible for breaching in the first case and rockets in the second right after the happened. This said, hey, Ernie. There's a bunch of guys shooting at us like across the way, which was like three blocks away. And they said you have to go destroy the house. I was super scared. And I was like I don't know if I'm going to make it. I don't know if this is my last, Dan, the biggest thing that was going through my head was my birthdays in four days, and I'm going to spend it in this shit. Hope I was just like, please. Let me make it to nineteen at least they put two bulldozers in this empty field. And they told me go behind the two bulldozers. And I was like so you want me to run into a middle of an open field under machine gun fire to shoot as this is all that. I'm thinking like, okay. Okay. So I run out there. And I feel like a slow motion. Like, boom, boom, boom. And I told myself before I ran out there as soon as my knee had surround shooting the rocket. I didn't go out there loan. I went out there with my senior marine wreck Nagel, and we both ran out there, and we shot the rocket. We destroyed the top of the house when we ran back, and they're like, oh, you got to do it. Again. We're like what and mind is were running out there. We feel the machine gun around skipping through like the side of our legs like over our heads. Like, it's nuts. Then we run out there again and the same thing machine fire for somewhere else and skipping through the sand going above me. And I feel like everything's in slow motion. And those two rockets destroyed the houseful of light had to be like released ten to twenty people that were shooting down that us during the days of intense fighting everyone gets their chance to overcome their fear and do what? The mission requires whether and how well they take advantage of that opportunity is something that not only earns the respect of the other marines, but also gives others courage. That's what I meant is getting at when he talks about fighting for the guys he was serving with behaving in a way that shows everyone you are ready to do what's needed. It was just like one huge firefight after another. We would send out patrols to clear houses and on one of those patrols we got hit like really hard. They're shooting at us from house may be two blocks away from us. We clear the house and the house was while it was wild me. And my senior Johnson were sent to clear a house next door to it. So we set up a rocket position. So we go up and we'll win all the way to the roof, and we're sent up rocket physician. So as something went crazy in the house. We're going to just destroy it. I saw the whole thing. Like like, I was watching a movie they go up the stairs. And all of them are in about Guinea, they just met heavy fire. And one of our senior Rainsy's, huge, huge guy from Illinois, Kurtz. And he he wrecked. A guy like salt him in half. When he went up to clear and the guy popped out with a grenade, and he was gonna blow up and he like kicked off in and sprayed him. And then the grenade went off and stuff unle. They all got trout on me and Johnson. Do anything we fire? We're gonna hit one of them if we shoulda rock everyone's dead. You know, does when you see like what heroism really is. When you see a man do that. And you see him Pfeiffer his life up there. It's is it was actually like magical. You never really see true heroism and seeing like with your eyes like every day. Everyone's doing something crazy. It's is inspiring. After nearly two weeks of constant battle the marines. Established a firm based they named after Pickering Jimenez, spent the remaining months on loan to. Different units. Since his skill sets were in such high demand. Although he likes to joke that assault. Enter the smartest because if they survived the first room, they don't have to clear anymore during those last two months influenza, he would come to learn that being an assault and definitely had its downsides. It was mostly emissions out declare certain sectors, a lot of patrols we had to go like supports for clearing and stuff. But I guess I was like a favorite psalm it because I was sent to the other platoons to help them in. I never got to go back and kick a bath or anything. So I think I went like forty sixty days without about in the same clothes too. Because they kept saying like all okay, you're gonna go with second or third platoon. Okay. You'll go for I tune in and help them until I finally said something, hey, like, everybody's gone back in have still wearing the same clothes when we started in Finally, I guess bag by. Myself. Finally, they got word that the tour was getting ready to close out. And there was a kind of collective sigh of relief Jimenez, had another two years left. So he knew he probably wasn't done with combat. But at least he would be able to put flus behind him and go back to a world with hot, meals and showers. We got sent back to al-assad without we're going to go back on ship there. Oh, we're done. Like we had a unit take over for were done. Yeah. They said, hey, Iraqi elections are coming up. We need to go supports all these little towns. So they could go vote we go sent to this weird like town by the Syrian border the marine base out there. Like firm base was called camp Korean village. As couldn't have been less thrilled with the assignment, not only would he be stuck on this detail supporting the Iraq election, but he was sent out ahead of the rest of the platoon. He'd been attached with these same guys for nearly the entire time and having to do the menial work while the rest of them, flew out on helicopters, really. Dragged him down I flew in the morning because I was tasked to do a working party. And they told me like, hey, you're going to go set up tents and stuff our super bummed out. Man, you're gonna make me work like that you don't and we landed in set up tents and stuff and we went to sleep. I have one of my best friends Ephron Moreno came and told me. Hey, heavy see my pack, and I was like on on what you're talking about. His like, I'm pretty sure that the other helicopter blue Moreno had been asleep on the second shopper. But some of his gear was on the first he probably had held up hope that maybe was just a dream and the easiest way to confirm that was if he found out that his gear made it, but it was a half-hearted wish at best and before too long. They got the news. The CO comes in and tells us we hey, guys when you talk, and we all go out, and we all held around and toes. The the other healer Hilo went down. And there is no survivors. All of us were like crying and hugging each other because we just went through this crazy battle in then all of friends die on helicopter corP, Steven Johnson. With whom as it cleared that house and flew to provide rocket support lance-corporals Murad Ragam off and Ronald burden who had helped him turn the insurgents into Swiss cheese when the bulldozer knocked down the walls in all thirty marines and one sailor died in that crash men. He had fought with house to house with whom he'd spent a few good times that made the tough times a little easier. Like, we said you can't train to deal with loss. But after two months and change fighting flew the best you can do is Doerr and hope to complete the mission. The next day. They make us sift through all their gear and the gear full of melted. Skin and stuff like that. And does like one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. One of my. Close friends rather than how special helmet that he bought it was like a special forces home. And when I saw that I couldn't control myself because it was part of his like scalp was still there. And I just I just one of the up everywhere and cry in everything because how are you going to get the people that were attached to their friends to sift through their gear? The see why what was usable. That's all dark, the Marine Corps. We were sent to still do the mission. And we went, and we did the mission with the very few people that we had and the mission was a bus. There was no one voted. We went out there. And we guarded stuff for no reason after that we just flew back. And we're all thinking still we're still haven't really grasped that all our friends has died because we were sent out so quick to this mission. It wasn't just a lack of time to process the tragedy that stuck with Jimenez. It was also the injustice of it. These were some of the toughest guys he knew guys would fought fearlessly house to house influenza. They had earned the right to go home. If anyone had. But that's the thing about combat. It isn't fair. It's fickle. Sure. Training and commitment can help you stack the deck. They can make you able to protect yourself and your buddies from anything in everything except chance as a man is prepared to head back home. This deepen Justice kept him completely off balance. When I got back to the airbase. I went to my friend's tent. He's embroiled company, and I ask for our friend that died when we first got to fluke. I knew that he was dead. And I went and I asked them, hey, whereas boa, and my friend digman you like kinda like hug me and said, we all your dead because they said the most Charlie company died, and then he. Told me Volvo died in October. And I just hit me there while I'm not you in here right now. It was very crazy because then you start talking to your other friends that were we're into and they all got saved by little little weird like things. So one of my friends, the one that asked me for the pack. He put his pack in there and was going to sit in there. And then they told them like it's two full here. So then he went onto the other helicopter one of my friends was in there and he had to go pee. So he got out of his seat when and Pete on the side of the helicopter, and then they told my, hey, gone the other helicopter, so that pissed saved his life. And then you start thinking like man, this is so like crazy. We all got saved by little things. Little coincidence things that you can't control everyone that that I loved out there. And I felt like the all died for no reason for an Iraqi. Election that had no merit. No nothing chance cuts both ways. But in this case there was little satisfaction that when Jimenez was assigned rear party duty. He didn't even have the energy to complain whatever's going to happen was going to happen. He started partying when he finally got to Okinawa. And kept it up all the way back to the states. Once when he was home drinking like Marini said, hey picked fight with three guys. He didn't remember why in retrospect, he realizes that. He was pretty much just a walking ball of anger and aggression at the time Jimenez did end up doing some mandatory counselling before getting sent to Afghantistan, but all that was left for him. Now is to finish out a service and call it quits. Was pretty numb the honest like a let's get this deployment done. So I could get out of the Marine Corps. Like, let's let me just power through everything and get out and get our everything's gonna be better. Everything's gonna be better. We went to Asadabad Afghanistan to be honest. Deployment was like nothing to me compared to where we just went through because everyone shoot each other from far distances did not like almost face to face with their pop shoddiness from mountains and shooting. Rocky Mountain warfares way different the only bad part about it was it was physically demanding all our command. They were pokes there were like, they weren't infantry. So like they wanted us get haircuts in the middle of Aghanistan into shave and stuff and like this combat who cares about us though. That's why would again trouble when I got banished out there for two months, and I lived on an outpost with two other marines for two months and the Afghans special forces there Likud list once over. Because I would always give money to the local kids. Go get me, food, and cokes and stuff Jimenez, his last two months of combat deployment where like a loud, violent camping trip. Asadabad was not the corn gall valley and being banished to the small outpost just meant he had to endure the occasional long distance attack and engaged. Likewise. But when he wasn't fighting. He joked with the local kids learned how to kill and clean, chickens and just waited to be cycled out. But coming home wasn't what he thought it would be. I was living with my dad. I was still trying to come in grips with like, my friends dying having a culture shar getting out of the Marine Corps when you are in new fantasize getting outright when I leave is gonna be this. It's gonna be and then when you actually leave life hits you right in the face near like, whoa. I have to get a job after school after list that you know, and I have to do it. Someone was telling me I have to do it. That's when you start getting a little lazy tried holding down a couple of jobs, and I would just quit that's one. When I started having trouble sleeping, and I would sleeve one to two hours night, and I wouldn't be able to function. They're in the day. I wouldn't be able to fall back a sleep. Both having crazy nightmares about everything. And then I started getting survivor's guilt and the same. Why why did I survive? Why why am I here? Why do they have to die? And I mean since I got how we've had like at least one or two suicides a year with like friends or acquaintances of ours. I always all struck when something like that happened because they all look happy and stuff, and I've talked to some of them, and then they go, and they do it. And that's one thing that I think we need to fix this. People are coming back from war and feeling like lonely feeling like. They don't belong him in his try to handed college, but he wasn't sleeping at all. And ended up withdrawing from more classes than he completed. He was having trouble staying employed as well mostly though, he felt bad about just hanging around. His father's house waiting to feel like doing something. So we got help the VA helped me out along. My former doctor was one of the leading experts and PTSD. She did a great job with my meds and stuff like that's how I got back into school. And then the real person that saved me was my wife. She was like my missing link where like she made me feel like I was person again instead of right this walking mess having a support system with like my family, and my wife and my kids like really helps. And I know a lot of people don't have that. I have a happy ending the most thing to get. And I I can't complain. In the real world. Where people go to work and shit chat. Jimenez is found a sweet spot. He works at a company. That's veteran heavy which is only. Plus most important though, Ernie Jimenez, got the supporting needed from his family and friends even through the early dark times after he got home. Eventually he pushed through to the light. But it isn't something that he takes for granted. He knows he's alive and other guys aren't and that's a responsibility. He takes very seriously. Next time on this war and have point. I just picked up Mark nineteen I shot it until we didn't have any left of that. And then I picked my saw, and I shot that until I didn't have any ammo the meta that calico came in. And it was it was really bad. Are you a combat veteran or do, you know one with a story to tell reach out to us at stories at this is war dot com with your dates and branch of service, and a brief description of the experience that you'd like to share. This is war was written by me, Anthony Russo and produced by incongruity media, if you like to show you can help support us by visiting our sponsors or by leaving a five star review wherever you're listening right now, you can also follow us on social media at this is war. You also can find show notes photos and more background on each episode at this is war dot com.