Dedication for this write goes to sister Kitt Yana Settle
Moses “Mos” Bently was one hell of a great operator: strong, eagle-eyed, motivated, smart — deadly. He came to the Unit from Charlie Company of the 7th Special Forces Group in Panama; a Commander’s In-Extremis Force (CIF). I was glad as hell he was not just on our side, but in my own Squadron.
I’m immediately put in mind of a secret about Mos that I have retained all of these years, not so much in keeping with the loyalty of brotherhood and to protect his reputation; rather, I just never felt a compulsion to spill out a moment of humanity that Moses experienced between just he and I.
It was in the grand expanse of the Jordanian desert — yes it was. The hour was somewhere past the mid of night, and once after midnight, most Delta men really didn’t give a phuq what time it was anymore, it was going to be another all-nighter.
Mos and I raced throttle wide-open across the desert on dirt bikes. We had run a long reconnaissance from our main convoy of combat vehicles and personnel. It had taken far longer than we anticipated; most of these operations did. Even padding the back end of the plan with extra time didn’t quite do it.
Skimming across the desert wearing Night Observation Devices (NOD) in the jet black of night, we took a particular interest in the sound of the rocks and stones we crunched over. They made a ringing sound like metal rods clinking together, and under the NODs, they gave off a faint blue spark as the bike’s tires crushed them.
I surrendered hours ago to the reality that if either one of us were to dump our bike in this crust, we would be guaranteed a certain death or at least a sound mauling. Far be it for us to slow down and pick our way through it like sensible men who wished to live.
And we raced on.
Our last radio contact with our convoy revealed that they could (would) not wait for us to pick our way back, so they were sending a Chinook from Task Force 160, the vaunted Night Stalkers. We were given a geocoordinate to move to and wait for the arrival of the Chinook:
“Why the phuq did they make the rendezvous so stinkin’ far, Geo? We might not make it in time!”
“Hell, I don’t freakin’ know; I’m sure the terrain doesn’t look as rough in the photos!”
We couldn’t hear it, but to our front came a sparking glow. It was the rotors of the Chinook flaring and cutting static electricity out of the dry desert air. It’s a thing I have never gotten used to; it always delivered an impression.
“Well just a few seconds late, but we are dead on azimuth!” Mos hollered back at me. I was pleased as piss.
We cut back throttled down as we rolled close enough to be in view of the crew member who had jumped out of the back of the helo to give us direction. Neither one of us really knew how we were going to get onboard the helo, and I hadn’t really given it much thought. I tended to pawn a lot of problems off on: “We’ll figure it out when we get there.”
Mos halted about 15 meters from the back ramp. I came abeam of him where we paused a spell to ponder. The ramp was part way down and then the crew had laid out a single runner from the ground to the ramp. Runners were used to line up with vehicle tires to board the helo. They are wide enough, I suppose, but not really that wide in the pitch of night, in a blasting sand wind, under NODs, in Jordan.
“Go ahead!” Mos blurted finally.
“Oh, you’re a real saint, Mos!” Actually, Mos had run point the entire recon and it was my turn to take some risk. It had been a relatively eventless run of it. No contact was made other than plowing right smack-dab through a Bedouin camp snipping tent lines and scaring the B-Allah out of their camels. Camels … I wondered what it would be like to ride one.
I revved and released the clutch, building up momentum to carry me up the runner. My tires sank into the sand and, to avoid stalling out, more throttle was needed. The crewman took a good bit of standoff in his front-row seat and just watched. I just knew I didn’t want to dump my bike in front of that chump — he would be telling that story at the Thanksgiving table for years to come:
“Yuk, yuk, yuk. Did I ever tell you about the time I watched a Delta boy slam his bike into the back of my Chinook? Yuk, yuk, yuk.”
I just kept that damn front tire as centered on that runner as I could. I hit the ramp and could see immediately that other than filled with the fine red glow of cabin lights the helo was empty. I squeezed breaks and slid all the way to the forward bulkhead. I laid my bike flat against the bulkhead and turned my head to watch for Mos.
At the end of the red glow was the black of the Jordan desert. As I waited for it, the red glow was split in half by the roar of Mos’ honda 350 coming in way too fast. He got air, Chinook air, and covered nearly a third of the cargo hold before he touched down.
“Moses has parted the Red Sea!” I morbidly thought as Mos laid his bike down like a pro and slid the rest of the way sideways to where I sat and cringed in horror. The Moses/motorcycle combo slammed into me hard but not such that I felt the urge to topple. He scrambled to right his bike. That was the procedure for a dumped bike; recover it before the engine died ’cause it might not start again and you could be phuqt.
“Cut your engine, Mos!” I yelled as I felt the mighty Chinook pull pitch and lumber up and forward into the inky sky of Jordan.
“You ok, brother-man?” I called to him. We had gone from loud to louder, but we were on our way through the breeze.
The helo shrieked like a hydraulic banshee; it rocked and vibrated and shuddered.
We two turned our bikes facing to the rear with kickstands down but remained on our bikes to stabilize them during the flight. At our six-minutes to touchdown time warning from the crew Moses called out to me from his current state of squirm:
“How will we know when our bikes had kicked over and running?!”
That was actually a good question.
“Reach back and put your hand over the tailpipe; feel the exhaust when the engine is live!” had been my only idea. Mos nodded briskly. I kicked the engine over several times and felt the hot exhaust on my hand. I twisted the throttle in rev but heard or felt nothing from the bike. I felt my hot exhaust one more time. I was golden, and Mos shot me a thumb up.
The bird thumped to the ground and the load crew threw out the runner, passing us a signal to go.
“Go ahead!” Mos called out to me.
“Oh, you’re a real saint, man. They should call you Saint Moses!” I retorted as I let out my clutch.
I couldn’t see the runner at the edge of the red glow where the black of Jordan began, so I just aimed for where the runner should have been. As I broke into the black my NODS locked onto the runner. With a minor adjustment, I hit the center and shot down the runner. I gunned the gas breaking the back wheel loose from the sandy bog. Once well clear of the rotors I watch back for mighty Mos to punch out.
By the Gods, it is incumbent on me to inform you that as the front wheel of Moses cleared the ramp it missed the entire runner and dove sharply for the desert sand. Where it impacted, it halted abruptly. The rest of the bike continued forward and the saintly Judeo-Prophet did with a distinct Godly grace vault himself over the handlebars of his Honda and augered soundly into the princely Jordanian sands.
He immediately scrambled up to right his bike and keep it running, because that is the procedure when you dump your bike.
As he closed in abeam of me he brushed himself down vigorously with his hands. To our front at about 150 meters was a faint flashing red glow; it was our convoy signaling for our approach.
“You know Geo, it’s good to get away but it’s great to get back!” he grinned and gave me a solid and sandy slap on my shoulder.”
We two motored on.
By Almighty God and with honor,