I took this picture while out on patrol in the summer of 2005. At the time I was the tactical commander of a Stryker armored vehicle. Back then Iraq had essentially no government and was basically in chaos so explosions and firefights were fairly normal. I remember rolling off the FOB that day and seeing this pillar of black smoke rising above and city and wondering what was on fire today. We had our own mission to worry about but as we got closer I saw that it was another unit’s Stryker burning.
The Stryker has dual self leveling gas tanks on both of its sides that supposedly blow outwards if penetrated by a IED, RPG, or whatever but this one was belching fire out of the back ramp. You could hear rounds cooking off inside as well.
Here is a closer look. While waiting for further orders regarding our own mission a Stryker from the other unit came pulling up alongside me. A panicked looking lieutenant asked if I’d pull security for him down one of the nearby roads. He was busy trying to seal off the area. I told him, sure, but we could get orders to move out at any moment. He seemed a little overwhelmed (guess I can’t blame him) and took off down the street. A few minutes later our orders came over the radio and we had to leave. Never found out what happened to that burning Stryker or the soldiers involved.