|From The Stars & Stripes stripes.com
April 22, 2006:
Wrong number: Interpreter answers cell phone, dupes insurgents
By Jeff Schogol, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Saturday, April 22, 2006
Jeff Schogol / S&S
IBRAHIM AL MARKHUR, Iraq — One misplaced cell phone and one savvy interpreter equaled one dead insurgent, several pieces of intelligence and a whole lot of captured weapons.
On a routine patrol, U.S. troops with 1st Battalion, 68th Armor came upon a house in the midst of dense greenery and at the end of a dusty country road.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Nicodemus, 33, said he immediately noticed that no Iraqi men were around.
Suddenly, a cell phone inside the home rang, said Nicodemus, of Altoona, Pa.
“The interpreter went in and answered the phone, and on the other end of the phone the person said, in Arabic, ‘Hey, coalition forces are here, go ahead and run away,’ and he specifically said, ‘Go and run into the palm groves all around here,’ ” Nicodemus said.
The troops then fanned out into the palm groves and found several weapons including several rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades, two AK-47s and a new sniper’s rifle, Nicodemus said.
They also found a hand-written map of a U.S. military base, diagrams on how to build rockets and a CD-ROM with several thousand files written in Arabic, said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Greer, 35, of San Luis Obispo, Calif.
If that weren’t enough, the insurgent kept calling the interpreter back to ask what the Americans were doing.
The interpreter kept the act going.
“He’s basically acting like, you know, he’s watching us ... making sure everything is fine,” Nicodemus said.
The U.S. troops knew the insurgents were coming back and decided to lie in wait for them.
Many troops said they were psyched by the prospect of killing the person on the other end of the phone.
“I love this [expletive],” said Sgt. Nicholas Hake-Jordan, 23, of Springfield, Ore.
The troops didn’t have to wait long.
Shortly after U.S. troops set up, the insurgents called the interpreter and said they would be by in about 10 minutes to attack the Americans, said Staff Sgt. Art Hoffman, 30.
When seven insurgents got to the house, they ran into a wall of U.S. fire, said Hoffman, of Baltimore.
“The first guy that came in the door just dropped like a rock. The other two guys behind him got hit pretty hard, too. The rest grabbed their wounded and just ran back off,” said Hoffman.
One insurgent was confirmed killed in the fighting and the other two were in bad shape, he said.
Afterward, the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Thomas Fisher, 42, praised his soldiers’ actions.
“The initiative demonstrated at the platoon level is exactly how you win this fight,” said Fisher, of Sioux Falls, S.D.
© 2009 Stars and Stripes. All Rights Reserved.
|From The Register-Guard, Eugene 01/07/04:
After Iraq stint, soldier revels in pleasures of home.
Byline: Randi Bjornstad The Register-Guard
SPRINGFIELD - Snow, freezing rain, bitter temperatures: Bring it all on. After serving eight months in Iraq, Nicholas Hake-Jordan doesn't give a rip about nasty weather - he's just happy to be home for a few weeks of R&R with family and friends.
At least he will be, once the weather clears enough to do some serious shopping for a new pickup truck to drive to Fort Carson, Colo., where he'll spend the last 18 months of his stint in the U.S. Army.
The 20-year-old Specialist E4 - he turns 21 on Jan. 17 - arrived in the middle of Monday night's sleet storm after a marathon airplane trip that started in Germany and stopped in Amsterdam, Chicago, Denver and Las Vegas before depositing him in Eugene at 2 a.m.
Being back in the states seems even more of a relief after Hake-Jordan's harrowing job in Iraq as part of a small "quick response force" responsible for securing dangerous areas in Baghdad following emergencies such as downed Apache and Blackhawk helicopters or outbreaks of fighting.
His scout unit - known officially as a brigade reconnaissance troop - also conducted raids of houses and other buildings in and out of Baghdad, similar to the ones that netted Saddam Hussein and other top fugitives from the Iraqi regime.
Sometimes information about their "high priority targets" came from informants, other times from intelligence carried out by the soldiers themselves, Hake-Jordan said.
"We usually knew how many rooms the houses would have, who would be there - they often had their families with them - and what we might run into," he said. "But you can never train for everything. When it comes right down to doing it, you also have to use your instincts. But we were always well-prepared."
His unit left Iraq for Germany just days before the capture of Saddam, Hake-Jordan said.
"There were times they would say Saddam might be in the area" when his unit went out on a raid, he said.
"We always hoped we would be the ones who would get him," Hake-Jordan said. "But when he was caught, I was really happy."
At least now he no longer has to be on constant alert for danger from other people.
"Over there, you just had to think of everyone as a suspect," Hake-Jordan said. "The guy smiling at you might be the one trying to kill you. Being (on duty) wasn't a 10-hour-a-day job - it was 24/7."
Hake-Jordan said he joined the Army two months after his June 2001 graduation from Thurston High School. He did his basic training at Fort Knox, Ky., before being sent to Baumholder, Germany. From there, he went to Kuwait, where his outfit provided escort service to a brigade before making its 36-hour march to Iraq in April.
With the panache of the young, Hake-Jordan views his military service matter- of-factly.
"I had planned to join the Army for a long time - I did it to get money for college," he said.
When he completes his four years of service, he will have earned $50,000 toward college expenses. He's not sure yet what he plans to do - `I can go anywhere and do anything," he said - but a degree in business might be in the offing.
Neither of his parents, Doug Jordan of Springfield and Darla Hake of Fall Creek, takes his experience so lightly.
"We're just an ordinary family," Jordan said. "But what he's done makes us a little better."
Hake says now that her son has come back to this country, she can finally relax again.
"Having him gone was pretty rough - I tried not to think about it," she said. "But I didn't celebrate the holidays at all, not my birthday in November, not even a tree for Christmas. Now we'll celebrate it all."
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