66th Transportation Company back in K-town after 13-month stint in Iraq
February 19, 2005
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Soldiers returning from Iraq bring Iraqi dinars, Iraqi “most wanted” playing cards, and all kinds of knickknacks gathered downrange.
Spc. Whitney Shaw brought back a bullet.
Shaw, a member of the 66th Transportation Company that returned from Iraq on Friday, carries the memento on a silver chain.
The brass bullet, fired from an AK-47, hit Shaw’s left shoulder while she drove a tractor-trailer through an insurgent ambush in Mosul last year.
Her body armor stopped the bullet, leaving Shaw bruised and the bullet bent at the tip.
“It’s kind of a good luck charm now,” said Shaw, a 19-year-old Tampa, Fla., resident.
Insurgent attacks were a daily reality for the 142 members of the 66th Transportation Company who returned after more than a year in Iraq.
In December, family members in Germany were told the unit’s deployment would be extended for five weeks so the company could bolster U.S. forces for Iraq’s Jan. 30 election.
On Wednesday morning, the soldiers returned to a gym full of loved ones at Kleber Casern.
Stationed in Tikrit, the soldiers drove supplies as far north as the Syria-Turkey border and as far south as Umm Qasr, near the Kuwait border, with many stops in between.
In 13 months, two soldiers from the company were killed and 12 others were injured, said Capt. Samuel Pena, the company’s commander. Sgt. Tatjana Reed, 34, and Spc. Torey J. Dantzler, 22, died July 22 when a roadside bomb destroyed their armored Humvee in Samarra.
On Aug. 4, 66th Transportation Company soldiers came under the heaviest attack of the year as they drove through Mosul.
“It was just like we were in ‘Black Hawk Down,’” said Spc. Marshall Wright, a mechanic from Belen, N.M., referring to the book and movie about a downed helicopter in Somalia.
“It came from all around,” Belen, who rode in the convoys, said of the attack.
Insurgents choked off a main route through Mosul and engaged members of the Stryker Brigade in a firefight when the 66th Transportation Company’s convoy rolled through.
The bullet that hit Shaw came through an open passenger window.
Drivers kept their windows open because there was no air conditioning in the trucks, Shaw said. Besides, leaving them up would do little to protect them: The tractor-trailers had no bulletproof glass.
At the start of the war, the Army had not planned to armor its tractor-trailers, Pena said. But plans changed when insurgents began using larger roadside bombs and detonating them more often, he said.
All of the company’s trucks were armored by the end of August, eight months after the company arrived in Iraq, Pena said. The trucks still have no bulletproof glass, he said.