By Nicole Lemal
Times West Virginian
A loud bang outside suddenly awoke Casey Mayer, as he was knocked onto the floor in his tent.
Sirens sounded, indicating to his troops to take cover in this dangerous area of Iraq. Disoriented, he rushed to find his combat boots while wearing only half of his uniform.
“I went running out to this bunker, wearing one combat boot and one tennis shoe,” he said. “I remember after that, every night trying to go to sleep lying there, and I couldn’t help but think about, ‘Am I going to wake up in the morning?’”
Since then, trying to go to sleep at night fills him with that same sense of trepidation, as he recalls the days spent in a country where he said he didn’t feel safe anywhere.
Rocket attacks were a daily occurrence. Troops were always in danger at what was known as the Triangle of Death close to Baghdad.
As a sergeant and scout team leader, Mayer was responsible for 15 Marines in Iraq at that time. Each day they would travel to different sectors of the city to clear buildings and homes. Most often at night, he would also locate ambush sites with his troops, leading them there before their convoys could be attacked.
Suspicious activity and observations during their searches were thoroughly investigated on those missions. Bombs up close filled his heart with fear, knowing that someone could be watching him, ready to dial a number on a cell phone to set the bomb off at any given moment.
Still, nothing compared to that shuddersome night that left him in a panic.