“Pssst! Wake up, Stand to.” The Platoon Sergeant gently kicked my feet and moved on. I thought, “Does he ever sleep?” It was O’dark thirty
and I was having trouble focusing my mind after only two hours of sleep in the past 24 hours.
We were out in the middle of nowhere and I thought, “Here we go, another long hot day of patrol.”
I had just rolled off my back and grabbed my weapon when all hell broke loose. Multiple RPGs detonated, followed by sustained bursts of machine gun
fire meant to keep our heads down as the insurgents crept ever closer. Chaos reigned and I could hear cries of “Medic!” over the fire. Crap! We
were taking casualties. I knew these guys and I wanted to avenge their death and pain. I fired at the flashes in the night, not knowing if I hit
anything, but hoping I did.
I heard the LT yelling into his handset requesting air support when his sentence was cut off in midsentence, followed by another cry of
But the thing that sticks with me is the Platoon Sergeant; He was like a beacon of light. Directing fire where it needed to go, shooing the medics off
the dead and directing them to help those who were still alive. He was everywhere. Always calm, always sure.
I know only minutes went by, but it felt like eternity. As the sun rose, I felt a glimmer of hope. We, no…I, was going to get through this. The
incoming fire started to peter off as it got lighter. The enemy was starting to withdraw. Thank God! Now we can get a MedEvac in.
Once the firing stopped and we felt secure enough to consolidate our wounded and dead, those of us who were still intact swapped ammo, repositioned
the Joes and the Team leaders huddled around the Platoon Sergeant awaiting instructions, while he called in the Helos to get us out of there. The
relief I felt upon hearing that we were to be extracted was immense.
After he signed off, he stood, looked out over the scene and said,”OK….” And that’s when it happened. A single shot rang out. In my mind, it
was like a slow motion movie. I saw the pink mist exit his left shoulder and he slowly spun to the earth. The round had found a weak spot in his body
We worked furiously, stripping him of his gear and shirt, trying to stem the flow of blood. But the round had found an artery which had retracted.
There was little we could do. I begged the medic to OD him on morphine so he didn’t suffer, but he was out. There was nothing left he could do.
The Platoon Sergeant grabbed my arm, then my hand and said, “Its ok man. I never had family nor a wife. This Platoon is my family and I am blessed
to pass among those I love. You’re in charge now. Take care of them, be tough, but fair. They may be Soldiers, but they’re people too. Earn their
respect and they’ll follow you anywhere.”
Then a small smile crossed his face and he left this realm.
I looked at those around me, faces seeking guidance. I stood, hoping the next round wasn’t for me.
“Allright guys! Let’s set up a perimeter for the LZ and get the hell out of here!”
As the choppers came in I pondered, “I always wanted to be a leader, but not like this…not like this.”
edit on 18-6-2011 by TDawgRex because: (no reason given)