First light. Mission orders: Secure a half-moon shaped valley pocket on the battalion's left flank to let the main force conduct its assault due south. I mount my trusty iron warhorse, and off we go.
The first minutes are eventless, except lighting conditions becoming gradually better. I love the smell of desert dust mixed with diesel soot ... it smells like victory. Or, at least the night's preparations culminate with the first mission of the day.
25 minutes past H-hour the objective is clearly in sight. But where is the enemy?
Later the AAR reveals the position of a missile team on the mountain slope. The TOW launcher is loaded, and as the tanks of first platoon come into sight, a white puff of smoke and a bang are the almost imperceptible indicators that the fight is now officially on.
Barely audible over the roar of the 700 hp diesel engine and under the ear protecting headset cap is the characteristic WHIRRRR of a wire guided missile flying by. When you think about it, you can actually hear the guidance wire spooling off which is kinda surreal to contemplate in this situation. The bang of the impact however is sufficient to weak me from the track.
Hard to believe, the missile gunner missed his aim! He will pay dearly for that mistake. 125mm high explosive fragmentary ordnance are being returned to sender.
The missile crew takes cover as gunfire from several tanks pepper their position. To conserve the precious big rounds, I let the gunner pepper the position with coax fire. Fortunately I am close enough for this, about 800m. Shooting uphill, the gunner remembers to aim a bit lower - and indeed, one by one the missile team are served their own medicine.
As quite so often, all of a sudden I'm hit, and have no idea where it came from. Lucky #%&*$# that I am, the explosion flings me out of the commander's hatch. Dust and smoke everywhere, and a painful concussion ... about everywhere, too.
The tank is a write-off. The rest of my crew has not been so lucky, even if the fire suppression system prevented a conflagration of all the ammunition inside.
Time to get myself another ride ... gotta go now.