Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Who Fights This War?--Coming Back to Iraq


When the IED exploded it ripped through the left side of the humvee. The vehicle commander and the other passenger were shaken but not badly injured. The driver, 19-year-old Spc. David Broome was not so lucky.

His legs and hands were bleeding. His right thigh was badly damaged.

Medics were at the site in moments. They stabilized Broome, then loaded him in an M113 armored personnel carrier for transport to a MEDEVAC site.

After that short ride, Broome began a long journey from rescue, to recovery, to return to duty.

He was flown by Black Hawk to Baghdad hospital and initially treated for what he remembers as two or three days.

After that, he was transferred to the hospital at Joint Base Balad, where further treatment was performed on his badly injured right thigh. The next stop was the Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, then Fort Gordon, Ga.

In all, Broome was a patient in four hospitals for nearly two months before going home to begin the rehabilitation process.

After several surgeries and treatments, he regained the use of his right leg, but some of his thigh muscle is missing so he has limitations.

In 2008, when the pre-mobilization training began for his current deployment to Contingency Operating Base Adder with Task Force Diablo, Broome looked at deploying a bit differently from most Soldiers.

He knew how dangerous duty in Iraq could be. But he also was ready to go back.

“I’d say I am 50/50 about being outside the wire,” said Broome. “Part of me wanted to get back out on the road and see how much had changed from 2005, but part of me is happy to stay here on Tallil.”

At 23, Broome already has six years of service. The Manayunk , Pa., native enlisted at 17 after being a member of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) at Roxborough High School. He went to basic training in June 2003, and then to advanced training in 2004 to become a human resources specialist.

In January 2005, he was mobilized with the Pennsylvania National Guard’s “B” Troop, 1st Squadron, 104th Cavalry Regiment.

In June 2005, he was in Ar Ramadi.

Two of the biggest battles of the war were fought in Ramadi. According to Michael Fumento, who wrote about 101st Airborne operations in Ramadi, the phrase “The graveyard of the Americans” was scrawled on the walls of the city of 400,000.

Broome was assigned as a human resources specialist, but spent less than a week in that job.

“They needed more soldiers on patrol, so I was attached to a Vermont line platoon,” Broome said. “My truck commander taught me room clearing, convoy route security and detainee operations.”

“We responded when the gate got attacked,” he said. “We were attached to a Marine unit for missions.”

Broome served four months on security and patrol duty until he was injured and evacuated from Iraq.

“I know this tour is rough on some of the first timers,” said the Purple Heart recipient, resting his hand on his right leg as he spoke. “But compared to my first tour this time is cake for me.”