Note: This is part of a series. You can read part one and part two here.

Now the rotor thumps were close enough to tell this chopper was heavy and touching down in our POW compound. This must be the assault force and ‘go time’ to break us out, I thought. Almost as soon as the chopper touched down outside, I could hear shouts, double taps, and my ears popped from the concussion of the flashbangs in the hall.

I poked my head up just high enough through the head hole to clear my eyes. I could see immediately that Jamie W. and Mike M. were also up for their tactical peek. All eyes in the room were on the door. We heard the rapid succession BANG BANG of a shotgun breach double-tap. The doorknob and mechanism arced across the room, rebounding off of the back wall. All heads quickly ducked back down to safety.

With the door open came the crisp snap of the firing pin of a flashbang grenade, immediately followed by the ear-splitting report of the grenade. I pushed my fingers into my ears firmly in spite of my earplugs, just in time to dampen the roar of the blast.

Green Beret high-risk survival, escape, resist, evade: Surviving as prisoner of war (Pt.3)

The first man to enter the room called out for us to identify ourselves in our box cells. We three in the room stuck a waving hand and arm through the head hole and shouted our names. The door latch rattled one last time as the door flew open and I was pulled through the tiny entrance hole.

Jamie, Mike, and I squinted at each other in the blinding light of the overpowering single 60-watt bulb that hung in the center of the room. Our rescuers were men from one of our sister squadrons. This was an honor. They swiftly ushered us into the hallway in a low crouch and pushed us into the growing line of other ‘criminals of the state.’ We pressed against the hallway wall, crouched with our heads bowed low, one hand on the shoulder of the criminal in front of us.

An assaulter moved down our lineup, pressing sets of earplugs into our hands. It occurred to me that I still had mine in since being pulled from my box. My peers and I were searching wildly for our captors to give them much-deserved goodbye kisses. The assault force expected this, and indicated more and more forcefully to keep our heads down, preventing us from making any ID. It turns out our interrogators had been absconded into a single protective holding room mere seconds before the helo touched down.