‘Call To Prayer’ Came In Ramadi, Then People ‘Evaporated’ From The Streets, And This SEAL Knew What Was Coming Next

REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani.

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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This post is an adapted excerpt from former Navy SEAL Kevin Lacz’s upcoming book, “The Last Punisher,” which is set for release July 12.

After the call to prayer, the usual action began on the streets.

When a family doesn’t come out of their house in the morning, their neighbors know something’s going on. The body language on the street was a whole lot of combat rubbernecking. The neighborhood women out dumping their dishwater—or whatever it is they dump in the road—were looking at our building. Reading the nonverbal cues, I filled in the dialogue as the women conversed: “Why hasn’t Hiba or Muhammad come out of their house this morning? They’re always outside.” Of course, they know it’s because the Americans are there.

I saw several peekers—muj surveilling our position—and cars kept driving up to the intersection, dropping one military-age male and then picking up another. Everything I saw through my scope den. After a while, the bustle died down and everything got quiet. People started evaporating from the street. That’s when I knew something was about to go down.

It happened quickly. An RPG slammed into the wall of the house near Dale’s position. The intense blast rattled my teeth and set off an intense ringing in my ears. The concussion rang my bell and threw me off for a second or two before I could scan for the source of the fire. Bullets snapped and cracked all around me. I could hear the machine gun, and then I’d feel the rounds cracking like a bullwhip repeatedly next to my head. Rounds were chewing up the window in front of me. My heart was pounding out of my chest as I tried to decide if I wanted to hold position or take cover. In a few short seconds, I’d gone from feeling like a zoo patron watching the animals in their cage to being the main attraction.

I lurched to my left and pulled my MK 11 with me, sliding headfirst into the corner of the room to my ten o’clock, hoping the wall was thick enough to stop 7.62 rounds. At almost the exact instant I dove away, a burst of rounds came in and stitched up the chair I’d been sitting in.

If I hadn’t dove away, I’d be dead.

“Dauber, you good?” Luke called from the other room.

“I’m good! Still here!”

I waited for the opportunity to return fire, but I was pinned down. Before I could really think about how close I’d just come to dying, an RPG hit the side of the window and exploded—another earsplitting, heart-shaking blast. The deafening concussion felt like it sucked the air out of the room. After a couple of seconds, I looked up at the mangled hole where the window was and just lay there for a while. Being pinned down means the enemy’s effective fire is suppressing all activity. There was nothing I could do. Rounds snapped and splintered the masonry all around. It was not a feeling I was used to, and I didn’t like it. My instinct was to try to get back up and return fire, but the rounds kept coming in, intense and steady. All I could do was keep my head down and wait.

Luke low-crawled through the hallway to check on me; he was buttoned up as always with his helmet and body armor fixed tight.

“Dauber, what’s going on?”

I pointed to the window, the table, the chair.

“I think I got shot at,” I said, trying to laugh at the escape-and-evasion drill I’d just run against the Grim Reaper.

“All right. Well, get after it,” Luke said.

“Roger that,” I said. “Glad that fucking RPG didn’t come into the room.”

Bob managed to move around and get a clear shot out a window to return fire, and after about ten minutes, it all died down. I took another moment to acknowledge that I’d almost gotten seriously fucked up, and then I pushed it away. The rounds that shredded the table and chair I was sitting in had come incredibly close, and I found myself wondering, How close is close? Close, was the answer I gave myself. But almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, I thought, remembering another of our favorite mantras.

“The Last Punisher: A SEAL Team Three Sniper’s True Account of The Battle of Ramadi” — $17.08 Hardcover/$14.99 Kindle

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