It’s 4:30 P.M., early December 2004, and a caravan of Humvees rumbles out of Camp Victory carrying Staff Sergeant Jeffrey S. Sarver and his team of bomb-squad technicians from the U.S. Army’s 788th Ordnance Company.
As Sarver’s team bounces down Victory’s rutted roads, the convoy passes a helipad where Chinooks, Black Hawks and Apaches thump in and out, some of them armed with laser-guided missiles and 30-millimeter cannons that fire fist-size shells. Sarver sees the Bradley and Abrams tanks sitting in neat rows, like cars at a dealership, their depleted-uranium bumpers aligned with precision.
All that lethal hardware is parked, more or less useless against the Iraqi insurgency’s main weapon in this phase of the war: improvised explosive devices made from artillery shells, nine-volt batteries and electrical tape—what the troops call IEDs.
As they leave the front gate, Sarver is in high spirits.
He grabs the radio and sings out in his West Virginia twang, “Hey, ah, do you want to be the dirty old man or the cute young boy?” “I’ll be the boy,” comes the response with a laugh. It’s Sarver’s junior team member, Specialist Jonathan Williams.
"Okay, cute boy. This is dirty old man, over." "Roger, ol’ man. We’re en route to the ah-ee-dee."
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