BODI – Final
The sun had started to rise over the Iraqi desert. I had been monitoring the radio while the mechanics worked feverishly on our trucks and was tracking on what was going on out in sector. With our trucks fixed, we headed out the gate to link back up with the platoon and the rest of the element that had showed up.
I met Staff Sergeant Michael L. Ruoff Jr. after I returned from the Master Gunner Academy back in 2000. He and his wife Tracey had just PCS’d to Germany. He was high speed, and a “Gear-do”. Everything about him was Army. He quickly gained the nick-name “Ranger Ruoff” and fit right in with C Company, House of Pain. While most of us Tankers liked to keep our distance from the Infantry side of the house, Ranger Ruoff gladly cammo’ed up and played Grunt.
One of my favorite stories involving Ranger Ruoff was when we were shooting Tank Table 8, our annual Tank qualification. The Battalion Commander wouldn’t let anyone sit in the Battle Positions while another crew went down range to qualify. This didn’t allow any crews the ability to “G2” the range prior to the qualification run. This didn’t stop Ranger Ruoff. Armed with some cammo, a radio, binoculars, and a range sector card, he and a fellow crew member snuck through the woods behind the range tower and did some “Recon” of their own. They fired up the radio to listen to the tower prompts and watched as tanks went down range and qualified. After a few runs, he had the order of the targets, target locations, and anything you needed to know for each of the lanes.
SFC Raymond R. Buchan was a burley Infantry Noncommissioned officer in the Infantry company that was attached to our Battalion. During the first few months of the deployment, myself and my Scouts were itching to get into the City of Ramdi and fight. We were afforded the opportunity on a few occasions to work with SFC Buchan’s platoon. He loved to talk shit about me being a tanker and being on the ground kicking in doors. With a big ear to ear grin he would look down from the turret of his Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle and yell “You able to keep up old man?”
Both of these fine Soldiers were taken from us the morning of 1 July, 2007. As vehicles continued to clear the objective of Donkey Island, many bodies on the ground were discovered to be wearing Suicide Vests. The decision was made to establish a hasty defensive position and wait for EOD to clear the vests. By the time I had arrived back to my Scouts, a Platoon of Infantry and the Battalion Commander with his Personal Security Detachment had showed up. One of the Brad’s had engaged some enemy running into a tent; SFC Buchan and SSG Ruoff were conducting Battle Damage Assessment inside the tent. They walked outside and were gunned down by an insurgent that was behind some bushes.
That’s the crazy thing about combat. In one fraction of a moment, everything can come crashing down. Immediately the Navy SEALS that had arrived conducted first aid and sped them back to Camp Ramadi, but were unable to save their lives.
At some point later that morning, we Scouts were ordered back to the JSS to bolster security and continue operations. I headed back, upset about the loss of a friend. I then received a radio call that the Iraqi Police that were tasked with getting rid of the dead insurgents were acting like fools on the Objective. Each of the insurgents had a back-pack that was full of ammo, ID card, a $100 bill, and a cell phone. The Iraqi Police were all fighting over the back-packs instead of clearing the dead bodies. I lost my mind. After the most stress filled night of my life, losing two of my buddies, and then the IP’s acting like idiots, I couldn’t take it anymore.
I got word that one of the IP trucks was entering the JSS. I flew outside and flipped out on the IP Commander. I kicked the door of the IP truck and pushed back all the IP’s as they attempted to grab a back-pack. “Burn them all” was my order. My poor Soldiers having to deal with me…. I lost my mind… I really believe that they could have admitted me into the loony-bin that morning. I took all the bags, threw them in a pile, covered them in gas, and was about to light them on fire when one of my Soldiers stopped me. The bags had some machine gun rounds in them. Good catch…
And that’s the last thing I remember about the event…
I haven’t wanted to write about this night because there is so much that I didn’t cover or missed. The events that Saber 9 and his section took part in, he Company Commander and his actions, and the actions of my Platoon Leader Jimm are so numerous that I plan to interview each of them prior to writing my book about our deployment to Ramadi. The JSS and limited amount of security they had and their actions. So much happened that night that still needs to come out, and will at a later time. Many awards were given out that night for Valorous actions.
2 Distinguished Flying Cross’
2 Silver Stars
Bronze Star’s with V for Valor (2 that I know for sure, but think it could be 4)
Army Commendation Medals with V for Valor (4 that I know of but could be more)
Purple Hearts (too many)
35 confirmed enemy killed (that is just the bodies that were recovered on the main land, not counting those that were swept away by the river or were on Donkey Island)
Sergeant First Class Raymond R. Buchan – KIA
Staff Sergeant Michael L. Ruoff Jr. – KIA
Rest in Peace Buchan and Ruoff – We will meet again at the Fiddlers Green.