Josh’s fire team reaches the front door just in time to receive a volley of 7.62 slung at them from a RPK set up on the other side of the shack’s mud wall. They do not hesitate. They act. They run into the throat of that monster, directly through the door that has the business end of a very large automatic weapon pointed right at it.

At the helm of that weapon is a man hell bent on their demise. The do not hesitate. They act. At this moment I notice someone running from the objective directly toward weapon squad’s position. The only thought in my mind was watching second squad disappear at the hand of a suicide bomber just seconds earlier.

I raise my rifle. It’s dark and he’s 75 meters away but the green infrared beam illuminating from my PEQ-2, only visible by night vision goggles, locks on his chest. Squeeze. Squeeze. I didn’t even realize it but I instinctively come to a complete stop to take those two shots. As the figure dropped I continue to run.

I’m not entirely sure why but I change directions. Instead of running toward the front door, I begin to run to the motionless body that just a breath ago was standing. I’m within 15 meters. BOOM. I feel that second blast. This one was much closer. My exposed face is peppered by what feels like tiny ball bearings. I stay on my feet, my eyes never lose focus of the white tunic laying 45 feet in front of me. I will later learn that this blast came from a frag grenade thrown by my good friend Allen in an effort to clear the back room of the shack. The sound of controlled pairs being squeezed off hasn’t stopped by the time I reach him. For the second time in the longest minute of my life my breath is stolen from me.

He’s a boy… and he’s still breathing.

I am going to be completely honest. I don’t remember the next few minutes. The world kept moving and I am assuming that I did too because the next thing I know I was kneeling over one of the members of second squad talking to John, my senior medic. He was okay. This guy just had a suicide vest detonate within spitting distance, how the hell is he alive?

As I look up I see Thomas, second squad leader. He is directing the rest of his guys. They are alive. They are all alive! How? I am at a total loss for words in this moment. I am not a pious man, but in this moment I would bet you a handfull of Chili’s coupons that those men were recipients of a little divine intervention. I begin to tend to some of their minor wounds as I realize that first squad took heavy fire upon entering the building. I hand over care to John and quickly make my way to the front door.