Good times at Retrans

20245565_10212849572050815_2190705307229902654_nWas chatting w some guys tonight, and a theme developed… the ‘retrans’ site, otherwise known as Khe Sahn.  Basically, it was a radio relay site, a few klicks north of 3/2’s main base, Camp Al-Qaim (see map).

It was a desolate outpost, with a few bunkers and a radio tower, placed there to establish a comms link between the Battalion Combat Ops Center (COC) at Camp Al-Qaim, and India Company at Camp Gannon up in Husaybah.

Kilo Co. squads had to rotate out there to protect it from attack.  Apparently retrans duty had its pros & cons.  It sucked, but at least the leaders left you alone.  Here’s the way Ian Norris put it (used with Ian’s permission):

Ian – We had some of the best times out at retrans. I’m not sure if anyone told you about that place.

Ajax – No, what was retrans?

Ian – It was a retransmission site so Al Qaim could talk to India Co. in Camp Gannon. We would take mortar and rocket fire and return mortar fire. But the best part was that after the first month or so the higher ups stopped going out there so basically you had a squad plus to do whatever we wanted.

Aha! Googled up a couple of photos from the place.  Doesn’t look like fun to me…

Ajax – Was it just out in the desert?

Ian – Yeah just on top of a hill. We had three machine gun bunkers, a comms bunker, and command post (CP).

Ajax – Who would go out there? Was it a Kilo responsibility? Did squads rotate out there

Ian – Right, K Co.  So we would rotate a squad with a machine gun team and a mortar team.

Another contact from Kilo Co., John Parina, told of a firefight they had out at retrans during a sandstorm (used with permission):

John Parina – The insurgents tried to make their move when we couldn’t see. Unfortunately (for them) we could see their muzzle flashes.  We were playing spades in the CP when we started taking small arms fire. There were 4 bunkers–the CP, a 240 bunker, .50 cal bunker, and a Mk19 bunker.  We all ran to our respective bunkers and started firing back. The .50 and Mk19 were in the front where we were taking fire.  The 240 dismounted and ran up to the .50 cal bunker and also started returning fire. I was on the Mk19, and took the traverse and elevation off the gun, so I could track targets faster. We returned a lot of rounds, then it quieted down, cleared up and was all over. (see update and video below…)

A third Kilo Marine, Ryan Lusby, told about spending a record-breaking stint out there. Pretty rough (again, w permission):

Ryan – I remember pulling duty out at retrans (comm site we protected), while taking mortar rounds and sniper fire.  Trying to piss off the enemy for messing my card game up.

Ajax – Hah! I was just talking to two guys about crap that went on at retrans.  No kidding… They said no one checked up on them out there so they could relax.  

Ryan – Yeah it was fun. Man, I miss it. Damn choppers always reported us for not wearing any gear and my squad was there the longest. One month, no lie.

Ajax – The rotorheads ratted on you?! Blue Falcon bastards… One month!! Good grief. Did you guys piss someone off?

Ryan – I looked like a zombie when I got back. No shower. MREs for a month. It was wild.

Update (8jan17):  I’ve found a video of a big sandstorm that swept over Al-Qaim.  This might be the storm John Parina mentions above.  Tonight another Kilo Marine, Davis Sanders, told me there was one big sandstorm during the deployment that everyone remembers. The video isn’t clear about the date of the storm footage (1st 10 minutes), and the 2nd part shows clips from Operation Spear in June of 2005.  So, not sure, but it looks like a big one…

Youtube of sandstorm and Operation Spear

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