On Deployment in Lebanon

Crusader74

Verified Military
Verified Military
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Oct 24, 2006
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I think it was around the third or fourth month of a six month tour in South Lebanon with UNIFIL in 1995. It was a summer trip and mostly uneventful but as a 21 year old soldier on my first deployment overseas it was enjoyable so far nonetheless. I was in A Company no 1 platoon, part of 77th Inf Battalion, with B and C Company having their own AO, or area of responsibility. HQ Company (Camp Shamrock) was located approx 1 km from 6-40 (A Coy Head quarters).

Back to Al-ya tun

I had completed my stint in a small outpost of section plus strength, and now it was my turn to go to 6-40 or A-Coy HQ. Al yatun or Al ya-glum which we called it had two main elements based there. A platoon from A-Company and the BMR or Battalion Mobile Reserve made up of Cavalry and Artillery. The BMR had Finnish SISU APC's armed with twin 7.62 GPMG's . The BMR had at there disposal 81 and 120mm heavy mortars. The BMR's job was to patrol IrishBatts entire AO and act as backup to anyone that required it.

During the summer months when the days were long the canteen run was done in a truck, Soldiers from the out posts who were off duty were collected by truck and transported into 6-40 from 1800hrs and brought back to their post by Sisu at around 2230hrs. We had a wet canteen open from 2000hrs to 2200hrs so we could have a few drinks. At the time the only communication home was by a satellite phone located in 6-40. So when you went up to camp you could phone home, go and do some shopping and then have a few beers in the canner.

Elvis who was in his mid thirties was a driver in A-Company. He gained that nickname for his boyish good looks and his Elvis style slick hair which seemed never out of place. I had approched him earlier in the day and volunteered to ride shotgun for him when going on the canteen run. I loved going on shotgun for drivers as it got me out of the camp for an hour or so and as it was SOPs to have a shotgun I was helping out the guys who were not as eager as I was!

Riding shotgun

The drive was approx a hour in total and we went to the furthest post first which was 6-15 or fraggle rock as we called it and worked back towards the camp. We would also have mail with us and drop it off at the posts as we went by as well. The Guys coming into the camp would be unarmed, bringing only their flacker and helmets, again SOP's. As Myself and Elvis were the only ones armed it brought a sense of responsibility to watch my buddies in the back of the truck.

On the way back to the Camp Elvis had told me we had to drop into IrishBatt HQ( Camp Shamrock) to collect mail. Irishbatt HQ or Camp Shamrock was located in the A-Company AO and about a 1 km down the road from Al-yatun.

On the way into Camp Shamrock we could hear a burst of gunfire from the direction of Al-yatun. This wasn't uncommon as a lot of locals had weapons. After a while you kinda get immune to hearing gunfire as it was that common. Elvis had got out of the truck and gone into the post office to see if there was any mail for A-Company while me and the guys waited and again another burst of automatic gunfire only longer and from the same direction. When Elvis returned to the truck I told him as we continued up to the camp.

Gunfire!!

We had just got out of Camp Shamrock and about to turn right towards the camp, when we saw Ramsey in his car coming down the road at some speed. Ramsey was a local Lebanese man in his late thirties who had a small shop outside the A Company camp and also did our laundry. Ramsey skidded to a halt and shouted that the camp was under attack!!!! and sped off.WTF!!

I jumped out of the truck and told the guys in the back to put their flackers and helmets on straight away, but I didn't have to as they had heard what we heard. The canteen run was a duty so Myself and Elvis had our flack jackets on already.We put our helmets on and cocked our weapons expecting the worst..

(The checkpoint outside A-Company and the shops in the foreground where we took cover.You can also see the roof on the left were we went when we got into camp)
img0095dnhk2.jpg

We sped up towards the camp and the automatic gunfire was getting louder and closer. Out side the camp we had a checkpoint manned 24/7 called 6-40A

When we got within sight of the camp we could see the checkpoint was closed and a queue of cars had blocked the road on either side. The occupants of the cars were outside shouting and screaming. We had got to the checkpoint and another burst of gunfire. We dismounted and I ran to put the tailgate of the truck down to get the Lads out when another burst of gunfire erupted. One of the Guys didn't want to wait till I had the tailgate down and jumped over my head catching the top of the tailgate with his foot and flying 8 feet to the ground! He got up straight away, adrenaline being a major factor and got into the cover of a wall of another small shop located outside the camp.

We were about 40 meters from the gate and we could see it was closed over and the BMR were located just inside armed with 84mm Carl Gustav's and the AML's 90 armored Cars. Although small, the AML's 90mm gun had a heavy punch and could take out a tank. The platoon from A company had taken positions on top of the main Building and stand-Too positions around the Camp. The Duty Sgt, browning 9mm pistol in hand attached to a lanyard, shouted over to us and told us to crawl over to the gate. Elvis took point and I took the rear,covering our unarmed buddies as we crawled to the gate and bolted in to the camp.

Myself and Elvis were told to get onto the position on the roof while the Unarmed Guys were sent to the armory to get get weapons.
It was then the truth of what had happened was told to us...

The local hezbollah and amal factions were having a power struggle which spilled out onto the street on that day. A local amal leader was ambushed in his car 100 meters down from A Company checkpoint 6-40A, getting shot in the face. The hezbulloh who shot him fleeing directly towards the Camp away from their amal pursuers using it as cover from the AK-47 rounds most of which were coming into the camp.

The gun fight lasted roughly an hour between the two factions using our camp as cover, making it look like the camp was under attack from two positions, which in fact it never was. And us expecting an attack which never happened....

When it all quietened down the camp was stood down and we were all lined up and our weapons cleared. I must admit I was scared stiff, adrenaline flying through me like a force 5 storm watching my arcs for the sight of a weapon pointing in my direction. but not for me..I had ten of my Buddies in the truck all unarmed and the responsibility of making sure they got into camp unharmed was made ten time more apparent to me when approaching the camp into the unknown.

A few days later we heard the two hezbollah who ambushed the amal leader were caught and taken care of....

On my last trip to Lebanon in 1999 the amal leader who was shot on that day back in the summer of 95 was still going around with a bandage around his head..
 
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