A Part of Memoirs of a Soldier

Compiled by: Faezeh Sasanikhah
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad

2022-11-1


People's gifts were being delivered one after the other in army cars. The ground had been colored by so much compote, fruit juice and oranges. We ate them as much as we could and smoked cigarettes together.

            The embankment where we were stationed led to the Khorramshahr asphalt road. For this reason, the Iraqis tried hard to recapture it. And finally, near at noon, they were able to settle in the embankment next to the asphalt road and shoot diagonally towards us from there. We had no choice but to retreat. Captain Barati, the battalion commander, ordered two kilometers behind to build an embankment for us to settle there. Meanwhile, a battalion of the Karbala brigade, which was related to the IRGC and Basij forces, had attacked last night to free the asphalt road; but due to their lack of familiarity with the region, they could not succeed, and the Iraqis' shootings had killed them. So that only a handful of them were able to survive and the rest, most of whom were martyred and some were wounded, fell in the middle of the embankment between us and the Iraqis. We should have resisted until the evening when it got dark and the wounded could retreat.

            The voice of "Dispensary, Dispensary" rang in my ears again. I took the first aid kit and ran. Two or three of the comrades were injured. While dressing their wounds, I saw that Ali was also there. I wanted to tell Ali to stay in the trench and not come out. I didn't want anything to happen to him. While lifting one of the wounded and taking him to the ambulance, a bullet hit me and Ali between the legs and fell on the ground. I saw that the comrades did not understand, I did not make his voice; because the morale of the comrades who helped us in carrying the wounded could be ruined. We put the wounded in the ambulance. Parvaneh said to me: "Kamal, isn't it necessary for Ali to ride in the ambulance to help the wounded?" I immediately rejected him. I don't know what force caused me to prevent Ali from getting into the ambulance. I took Ali's hand and prevented him from boarding. I told him: "There is no need for you to go by ambulance."

But how could Parvaneh drive alone and hold the stretcher of the car so that the wounded would not fall on the bumps?! I had to reluctantly let go of Ali's hand and said: "Very well, you too ride and take care of the wounded."

The ambulance started and left; But I don't know why I feel salty. I had a strange feeling. I sat in the trench and watched the ambulance return. A few minutes later, Shahbazi, who was a few bunkers down and next to the command bunker, came to me and saved me from loneliness. The two of us were sitting inside the trench and were talking when our company's Nissan car with some new soldiers stopped next to our trench. After dropping off the new soldiers, the driver said to Lieutenant Akhwan: "These have been given to your group."

After saying this, he left. Lieutenant Akhwan said to the new soldiers: "Make a trench for yourself next to the health trench and stay there."

What did the new junior soldiers know how to make a trench?

After hearing the sound of several cannons and mortars that hit the ground at close distances from us, they even forgot to walk; What about trenching? Shahbazi, who saw them confused and stunned, laughed loudly at them and said: "What? What happened? Why are you afraid? Let's be quick and build a fortress for yourselves!"

But they are right to be like that; Because they were divided into groups right during the attack and they were not even given a few days to familiarize themselves with the situation on the front. Finally, I stood up and pulled out the single shovel of one of them from his backpack and started digging a trench for them. The others started digging and in a few minutes we were able to dig a small hole. I got tired and gave the shovel to them and went to sit next to Shahbazi. They were busy with their work when suddenly an arrow hit one of them in the neck and he fell to the ground from behind. I grabbed the first aid kit and jumped into their bunker and motioned for the rest of the new recruits to go to ours. I bandaged his wound, which was in the neck and shoulder area, and it was clear that the arrow hit the shoulder area and came out of his neck. The longer I lingered there, the more likely I was to get shot. Therefore, when I saw the bruises on his face and hands, I knew that he was suffocated and he was going to be died. I put the wounded man on my shoulder and carried him a hundred meters down and put him in Mahmoudi's ambulance. I went back to our bunker and in response to the children who asked how the wound was, in order not to spoil their spirits, I answered: "It wasn't like that, it will be fine."

The Iraqis were making the encirclement tighter by the minute, and we had to retreat as soon as possible to the embankment where two loaders were making it. I said to myself: What is the duty of the wounded and martyrs who are left in the middle of two embankments? If we go to the back embankment, they will fall into the hands of the Iraqis. So what to do? I was thinking that suddenly the terrible howl of a missile was heard above our heads. One of the loaders, which was working to fix the embankment, caught fire by a  rocket. All the soldiers were looking at the scene dumbfounded when the howl of another rocket made us all bury our heads inside the trench. After we looked up, we saw the second loader burning. The morale of the children was weak. How did the Iraqis so easily destroy our two loaders in a few seconds? It was clear that they used a new and advanced missile. I had not yet taken my eyes from the burning loaders when another rocket was heard, followed by the explosion of a car coming towards us. The children shouted: "Ambulance is on fire, ambulance is on fire."

Oh my God! Which ambulance? Is it our own ambulance that Parvaneh and Ali were in? No, no, never. The guys must be wrong... it was a jeep, not an ambulance. But Shahbazi took me out of doubt and said: "Kamal, it's our own ambulance. Those blankets thrown around the ambulance: they are our own blankets... look!"

The world became dark before my eyes. I felt so weak that I almost fell down and passed out. It seemed to me that the Parvaneh behind the steering wheel of the ambulance was burning. I said to Shahbazi: "Get up, let's go and pull Parwaneh's body out so that at least it doesn't burn so much that it becomes ashes."

But the sound of the explosion of several RPG bullets from under the burnt ambulance made us wait for a few minutes. I couldn't take it anymore. I got up and started running towards the ambulance. Shahbazi also came behind me. When I got near the burnt ambulance, I stopped and looked inside it; But there was no news about the bodies of Parvaneh and Ali. I got a little hopeful, but Shahbazi, who was ahead of me, shouted: "Kamal, Ali's body is here."

My hope turned into a painful despair.

I went a little further and saw the severed head and hand of Ali, who was lying a few meters behind the ambulance. Oh my God, I wish I wasn't alive and didn't see such a scene. The head and hands of Ali, my loyal and kind friend who loved me the most, were separated from his body and fell on the ground. The tension still remained inside the ambulance and the flames were coming out of it. I barely managed to keep my balance and walk towards the Parvaneh who was lying on the ground a few meters away and crying. I hugged and kissed the her. While still crying, she told me in a crying voice: "Kamal, Ali was martyred. Our Ali is no longer alive..." And he started crying again.

Parvaneh told me again: "I wish I had died instead of Ali... why did I survive?"[1]

 


[1] Source: Shokoofeh, Kamal, A soldier's memories, Tehran, Surah Mehr, 2013, p. 178.

 



 
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