Bullets were pinging off our armor, all over our vehicle, and you could hear multiple RPGs being fired, soaring through the air every which way and impacting all around us, reported CNN. All sorts of crazy insane Hollywood explosions were going off. I've never felt fear like this. I was like, this is it, I'm going to die.
When U.S. Army machine gunner Colby Buzzell began blogging about his combat experiences from a military base in Mosul, Iraq, he wasn't looking for attention or trouble. Buzzell just wanted to a way to chronicle what he saw and did and felt during the Iraq war.
But his visceral, first-hand accounts were a bracing antidote to dry news reports and bloodless Pentagon news releases. In the first major war of the Internet age, Buzzell and other soldier bloggers in Iraq offered readers around the world unfiltered, real-time glimpses of an ongoing conflict.
"Here's a soldier in a combat zone ... writing about it and posting it on the Internet. I don't think that's ever been done in previous wars," Buzzell said.
"It just provides another perspective that no embedded journalist can ever do," said the veteran, now a freelance writer in San Francisco, California, and the author of "My War: Killing Time in Iraq." "An embedded journalist is just there observing. But a soldier writing about it -- you can't get more embedded than that." See an interview with Buzzell "
A suburban skateboarder with punk-rock sensibilities, Buzzell had no background in creative writing before he joined the Army in 2002. Inspired by a Marine buddy and burned out by a string of dead-end jobs, he signed up after a smooth-talking recruiter offered a signing bonus and sold him on the Army "like it was some [expletive] Club Med vacation."
When Buzzell arrived in Iraq in November 2003, he didn't know what a blog was. But after he read an article about a blogger in Time magazine in June 2004, he began posting anonymous journal entries on the Web under the nickname CBFTW (Colby Buzzell F--- The War).
"The only writing I knew how to do was ... like I was telling a story to the person next to me," he said. "I'd go to the Internet cafe [at the Army base], and my ears would still be ringing from whatever the experience [was] that day. There were times when I couldn't type fast enough."
Over the next six weeks, Buzzell wrote brutally frank, profanity-laced posts about the terror, tedium and misadventures of an infantryman's life in Iraq. At first, few people seemed to notice. But word spread, and before long he was getting hundreds of e-mails a day from readers.
Parents of troops in Iraq wrote to thank him for helping them understand their children's wartime perspective. One reader said they found Buzzell's blog more informative than the war coverage in The New York Times. Buzzell even heard from a sympathetic Iraqi in Baghdad who prayed for his safe return to America.
"Looking back now, I don't think we had any business [in Iraq]," said Buzzell, who wants to see President-elect Barack Obama end the war. "Hopefully, he gets us out of Iraq in a way that's not a disaster or that gets a lot of soldiers killed."