A few Iraqi dollars and spent shell casings littered the floor among the papers. I immediately snatched up the first dollar I saw; I had seen hundreds of shell casings before which deemed them unfit as souvenirs. I looked out the windows lining the wall facing the main road outside I continued to watch the crowd beyond the wall of the building. Most of those who had gathered outside were men, but a few young boys tagged along to accompany their fathers. They gathered here not only to watch us but to listen to the recently appointed mayor discuss the city’s power outages and lack of running water. Most of these people wanted to know when they could get back to conducting their daily routines. The mayor relayed his message over the megaphone as he stood on the top of his car directly in front of the building.
My squad leader found me and directed me to follow him to the rooftop. Finally, I was reunited with my squad; at the most, only a couple of minutes had elapsed, but it felt like hours. We began to hump it up the six flights of stairs taking us to the rooftop. Along the way we continually conversed with one another as to what was going on both inside and outside the building. There wasn’t much information to pass along to one another because of the lack of action within the building. We were simply happy to express our strained emotions.
The initial rush of our assault into the building began to subside within my pounding chest and I began to feel the burden of my gear. I always hated wearing that gear. The helmet, although it was the right size for my head, never really fit properly as it was accustomed to wobbling back and forth as I moved. The flak jacket constantly dug into the flesh of my neck, my rifle always managed to bump and catch on every thing within its reach, and my deuce gear served as yet another contraption to hang even more accessories of various weights and sizes, further restricting
my mobility. The magazines were nearly filled to their maximum capacity along with the canteens, and my butt pack was bloated to its limit with a wide variety of materials from pens to food. All of this equipment was intended to keep me fully operational, but it felt like anything but.