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DOC: Duty

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posted on Jul, 26 2006 @ 10:16 PM
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It’s the exhaustion that gets you. Not the tired feeling when you stay up too late and have to wake early for work. Rather the complete draining of all of your bodies resources brought about by keeping yourself at a heighten state of awareness for days on end. Thinking all of this and feeling sorry for myself, I still stretched my fingers out and eased my eye back to the scope. He was still there, had been there for the past three days. Walking around, eating, sleeping and taking the occasional dip in his pool. I was still here, watching him do all of this through my rifle scope and listening to the radio chatter.

This was not my first mission and I allowed myself no illusion that it would be my last. I also knew that this mission would be no different than all the rest. Lay here prone for a few days, fight the sleep, and ignore my spotter, until the order came to “stand down.” The order always came; this was the game the “Higher Ups” played every few months or so. Either stand down or put a round or two in a vehicle, just to let them know that we could anytime we wanted to. Then E and E to the extraction point and take a short ride in the Chopper back to the base. I’m not complaining mind you; after Sniper School, I had no misconceptions as to what effects the taking of a life would have on my well being. Something to be avoided at all costs and these little jaunts were only designed to keep us sharp and put a little fear in a local warlord.

I looked over at Tony and he was doing what he always did when he was nervous, lying on his back and cleaning his fingernails. Annoying little habit, but I didn’t really mind, we were over a thousand meters out and in full Ghillie Suit so the chance of being seen was negligible. Tony never said much; in fact he had not so much as spoken a word since we got in position. Now that was fine with me, it allowed me to concentrate on the target and I liked watching their lives and them not knowing. My right leg was cramping so I rolled over to reposition my Beretta and try to get more comfortable. Tony “grunted” at me, his way of asking if I needed a break and should let him take over watching the target. I shook my head no and rolled back, my eye again going to the scope in the natural way that only constant repetition can teach. The target was relaxing in a lounge chair by his pool, his feet dangling in the water. He look cool and comfortable, I was hot, tired and hungry. I played the crosshairs around the pool and exterior of the house, checking for any intrusions into the target’s area. I had a good position, height and distance allowing me to observe over eighty five percent of the Target’s house and compound. The area was clear as it always was, so I scanned back to the target to continue watching him cool his feet.

One more day, that was all I had to endure and then back to the base and the cold beer and hot women. One more day of watching this guy cool his feet, while I wallowed in my own sweat and listened to Tony clean his nails. The light was starting to fade and it was almost time for Tony to take over with the Night Vision Scope on the M-16. Time for my evening routine, check the wind, check the elevation and fill out the log book. More importantly it was almost time for my “service” break where I get to crawl back to the hole we so affectionately call the bathroom. Radio chatter is nominal as it always is, not much else going on as we are the only team in the field. That was when I heard it. “Home Plate to Angel One.” I almost jumped out of my skin before I recovered my composure and responded with, “Go Ahead.”

The next thing I heard over my radio will stay in my mind for the rest of my life. I can hear it sometimes, though it is years later, in my dreams. They say that it is always the first time and the last time that you remember the most, I can testify to this.

What I heard was; “Angel One has Green, I say again, Angel One has a Green.” I told Tony to request confirmation, not standard procedure, but better safe than sorry. The reply that came over the radio was unmistakable. “Angel One, you have a GO on your target, I say again, you have a Green.”

Thinking all of this and feeling sorry for myself, I stretched my fingers out and eased my eye back to the scope.




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