SPC Mark weighs in with another post:
The guy next to me leaned to my ear and said, "One
I turned to my left and repeated it to the
man next me.
Sat forward and strained to untangle
myself from the cargo net on which I was sitting. Reached
down and opened the feed cover tray on my M-249 SAW.
Ran my hand across the feed tray and grabbed the charging
handle. With a little force, I locked the bolt the
rear. Fumbled in the darkness and finally grabbed the
belt of ammo hanging from its pouch. It was so dark
my eyes may as well have been closed. Blind and
alone surrounded by my fellow paratroopers, I loaded my
light machine gun. Slapped the cover shut and placed
the weapon on safe.
The bird banked hard and shuddered back and forth. I
could feel the rapid descent in my stomach and then
through the noise someone yelled "THIRTY SECONDS!''
Adrenaline shot through my body. I took a deep
breath, looked up and asked God to spare me. The
bird seemingly crash landed and hit with a solid
"GO! GO! GO!''
Guys are falling over each other. Blind and
confused, I stood and turned toward the ramp. On my
feet, my body strained from the heavy load. I began to
run off the helicopter.- everything in slow
I couldn't tell whether the loud thump was the
chop of the bird or the heavy beat of my own heart.
When I got to the the ramp, I was stopped dead in my
tracks from what I saw.
In that short hour on the helicopter, I had been
teleported to another world. I was no longer in the
desert but in a lush jungle. Ten-foot tall grass
being fanned out in every direction from the massive
rotor blades. A brilliantly lit full moon
illuminated everything from the clear sky, giving it a sort of silver lining.
I stepped off the ramp and dropped straight to my knees.
The ramp, which I totally misjudged, was at least two feet off the ground.
Under several layers of thick grass were a couple inches of water and, in a half second,
my boots and knees were already soaked.
"AHH!" I thought.
For a second, I thought I was in Vietnam in a rice paddy. Picking myself
up, It started to run off at a 45-degree angle from the ramp. All the men were falling into a half moon around the tail of the aircraft. Found my spot and crashed in the mud. Extended the tripod on my weapon and flipped my night vision down over my eyes.
The bird throttled hard and the wind and grass and
dust whipped violently. In an instant
the bird was gone. All was quiet. The grass stood
back up and I disappearred. Breathing heavily and nervously. Time slowed as a bead of
sweat rolled down my forehead.
With a blink, I look down at the beer I'm holding in hand as a drop of condensation rolls over my fingers. The wind starts to blow and the cold moisture a chills my face. With a deep
breath, I look skyward at the full moon looking back at
me. I peer into the clear starlight sky over Ft.
Bragg, N.C., blinking slowly.
With another deep breath, I lower my head and turn back to the barracks, beer in hand.
I can still smell the grass.