This is a long post so SPC Mark broke it into three parts:
There was never enough room for the whole company to
go out. Usually one squad was chosen from a platoon
to stay behind.
To be honest I really didn't mind being left behind that week. The rest of the company would
be gone for a couple days and we would sit and watch movies and sleep. Sort of a mini-vacation, no one to bother us.
And so it was that night I caught the camp
bus back from midnight chow, which technically had
become lunch since we were on a reverse schedule. I
got off the bus and walked the short gravel road up to
our little compound. In the clear, crisp desert night
the moon reflected off the windows of a now silent
Chinook helicopter that had appeared while I had been
My eyes never left it as I crunched by. I could see
several more lined up perfectly one behind the other.
The moon was so bright I could see each separate chalk
line against the 10 cement blast walls lining the LZ.
There was little to be heard but a few stressed NCO's
and officers frantically trying to square everything
away in the little time they had remaining. I kept
walking turned my head and looked toward the ground.
In my heart I wish I were with them. I hated not
being with them. I hated not going out. I'm not a war
junkie and I'm not a super hero either but for some reason I
didn't feel comfortable letting them go without me.
Not that I could do anything more if
something happened but I only trusted myself with my
I had no sooner looked toward the ground when in
unison the birds made that hair drier noise. Massive
fans kicking on as the powerful engines began to roar.
Kept walking and past through the little gate that
was little more than a hole in the blast wall. I
stopped, Styrofoam to-go-box in hand, and turned back
towards the gate. The giant rotors started to turn
and I found a spot against the wall and crouched down.
the engines now in full swing i could make out lines
of paratroopers shuffling towards the open ramps.
Rotors spinning so hard the bird looked as though
they wanted to leap off the ground. They stayed
faithfully on the ground waiting for the pilots to
release them into the air. Finally the time came, and
when you thought that those things couldn't get any
louder, they wound up more and began to look skyward.
Five of six Blackhawks took off in the distance and
the four or five bus-sized twin rotor Chinooks all
lifted up and turned away. The wind generated from
those fans is enough to blow you over. I may have been
if it weren't for the concrete wall against which I was leaning.
The birds thundered off and left a thick
dust cloud in their wake. even though it was my turn
to stay behindI still felt very low. One of the
lowest points of my Army career was sitting there with
my cheeseburger and French fries in my hands watching my
brothers head off with out me.
I patted the dust out of my uniform as I stood up.
Walked into the tent without saying a word. I laid on
my cot staring at the floor. And somehow I was on
that bird with them. That calm excitement. Wondering
what was going to become of us all.
Combat vet, part 2 will appear shortly.