Matthew Troyer, Deployed Feb. 2010 - Feb, 2011, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
“So, I had been in Afghanistan maybe like, I want to say this was probably three months in. Me and my videographer end up getting attached to like one of our units underneath us because they were doing a big operation. [and] The idea was, there was this place in an area of the Helmand Province of Afghanistan called Nowzad, and there was an area called the Salaam Bazaar; a bazaar is like a big market; a bunch of people live there. The idea was, we’d go out with this unit and document them sweeping the area, because it was like a known, like, Taliban hotspot, they were, you know, like illegal Bazaar. So, they're selling weapons, making IEDs doing all the nasty shit. [and] We'd go there, find all the stuff, clear everyone out, and then if there were any, like, you know, like noncombatant people, we had an area that could be moved to, and then we just, we had a bunch of explosives, we're going to strap the place up and just like, blow to hell. The interior patrol ended first, obviously, because the exterior is a longer distance to walk. So, the infantry unit I was with, they went and staged over by their vehicles, which is maybe like, anywhere 50-75 yards away from me. [and] I got in my vehicle, which is this big 7-ton like military transport vehicle. I sit in the back, and then like, I undo my plate carrier, which is like a bulletproof vest. I take my helmet off. [and] So, I'm sitting there and then hear kind of like a boom in the distance. [and] So, you know, your ears perk up, and then you're like, you start going through like things in your head, like, it's probably just a controlled detonation. [and] Then I'm like, let me take a peek, because in 7-ton’s, you have like these walls that are like, you know, like six feet tall or something like that. [and] Then there's like, just kind of like benches in the middle of the back of the carrier. [and] Then there's like a two-foot gap and then sort of the ceiling part. So, I get up on the bench, and then grab on top of the sidewall and like, kind of hoist myself up and look over and I'm looking outside, and then I hear this whistling sound. [and] then it's getting closer and closer and closer and all sudden, something like, whizzes right past my face and hits this building like, I don't know, like, five yards away from me or something like that. I don’t know it was pretty damn close. [and] It smacked the building and then there was a big explosion. I just get straight it knocked off my feet right onto my ass on the floor. [and] it's like the movies where you hear like, that kind of like ringing weird muffled, [imitates high pitch ringing noise] and I'm just like, what the fuck, like I'm disoriented. [and] I just grabbed my plate carrier, threw that back with my helmet, my rifle. I forgot my camera. I was like, fuck that, I don't even care, hop out the back. Then there were two Marines who were in a vehicle behind me who came running towards me like “Holy shit, man”. I was like “I know” and then all sudden, like we're hearing gunfire and this is my first time getting shot at in my life. You hear it's sort of like Indiana Jones when you hear his little bull whip crack and you hear that noise. [and] Then you could feel things going by you and it's literally these bullets whizzing by. So, we're like shit get into cover. Basically, when everything died down for the day, you know, I get to kind of explore and look at what happened at the start of the battle for me that day and which was that RPG attack. So, I standing there looking over the wall and I can see the crater it made. [and] Then I look at my vehicle and I'm just like, “Damn”. I look directly to my left at my vehicle, which is like I think it was two gas pumps. [and] Then I look at the vehicle behind me that had the two Marines that I met up with and I was like, “Oh, damn, they were in a fuel truck”. I was like, gas pump, fuel truck, my truck. They threaded the needle with that RPG between all the most dangerous things that would have blown me to hell. And so like, even to this day thinking about that, it's just like, “Yeah, I was fuckin lucky”, and yeah.”