You can read part II here.
Chalks-02 and -03 were touched down with their assaulters already collapsing on Mullah Omar’s walled compound, where they quickly blew a large breach. Chalk-04 with the Falcon and his men had already slammed into the side of a mountain trying to evade ground fire en route to Gecko. Then on short/final they had a rotor strike on the wall of the compound. Chief witnessed the hail of sparks from the strike — no good! The helo then impacted the ground hard tearing off its rear landing gear and bouncing back up into the air.
Consequent to one of the two crashes, the rear ramp sustained damage causing it to become jammed tight in a partially opened configuration.
Falcon: “Yeah, Geo… that was the first time I ever crashlanded twice trying for the same objective.”
Chief immediately called the two flying spares back from their orbit to the south of Gecko to be ready to replace chalk-04.
Inside Chalk-04 the Falcon and his men saw the flash of light emitted by the sparks from the rotor strike and braced for a hard impact. That they certainly got — a teeth-cracking jar was heard as the helo slammed into the ground, tearing off its rear landing gear and locking the escape ramp into a partially-open configuration. Falcon once again rallied his men in the helo to maintain their trajectory.
They felt the helo make a tight loop but it never landed. The flight crew struggled with the ramp but could not get it to budge wider open. A crewman yelled to the Falcon that they had lost both rear landing gear sets, the ramp would not open wider, and the helo was in a shaky hover over the objective.
Falcon called his men to bail out through the rear of the helo. He positioned himself at the rear of the ramp. He saw immediately that the open gap in the ramp was not wide enough for his men to exit with their rucksacks. He pulled their rucks off, stuffed each man out, and passed the rucks behind them. Enemy rounds were punching holes in the sides of the helo and bouncing about menacingly.
Chalk-04 looped it tight and back around. He could not land without the rear landing gear he had just lost on his crash “bounce” landing. He came to a hover as the Delta Operators were shoved out of the damaged rear ramp by the Falcon and jumped to the ground. Leon’s voice rang out over the radio net calling for fire support on the ground — Leon was dishin’ it out!
When he had stuffed his last man out through the gap in the ramp, the Falcon pulled off his own ruck and shoved it out. He then squeezed his way through and dropped to the ground. He rallied his men quickly as the damaged helo lumbered away. He got a headcount and status, then lead his men through the breach in the wall to assault one-eyed Omar’s home.
Adding to the Falcon’s stress was his Troop Leader — or lack thereof — that he had in the man filling that position. He was an officer quite junior to the Unit and had been a miserable failure as a leader all the way up to and including the assault on Mullah Omar. Falcon made up his mind somewhere in the melee of the raid that if he made it back from the operation he was going to contact Unit headquarters back at Ft. Bragg and have the man fired.
Chief Coke was ever on his game as he continued to hunt down and prosecute targets of opportunity that felt they deserved to come to the big shindig at Omar’s crib. They knocked the backs out of more ZSU-23/4 AAA batteries and other T-55 tanks that were trying to sneak into the party without admission tickets.
“No tickee — no laundry,” Chief Greg Coke (probably) said as his Spectre gunners Jack-hammered Russian steel such that it would be offered at a tremendous discount at any post-war surplus auction. “Mother of Pearl!” Chief (probably) exclaimed as yet another T-55 mushroomed into an inferno, “that’s gonna be another closed-casket funeral.”
“Eat lead, Hadji!” was another exclamation that the Chief might have called out as he transmitted target coordinates to his DAP team.
At last: “Target is Secure — Exfil, Exfil, Exfil!!” School was out for the Talibummer, and it was time for the teachers to go home.
Chief Gravy’s fighter/bomber armada was in a stack above the target, restricted to certain altitudes by the Combat Controllers to maintain separation from each other. They orbited over the target in their respective altitude rings watching the ground action below, all the while ready to pounce on any target at the moment of call.
The fighters/bomber flights checked in with Chief and he released them to exfil back to their bases of origin, sending them off with a hearty: “Job VERY well-done.”
Greg Coker sighed a shallow breath of relief and praised God that everyone was safely boarding the four Chinooks to fly to base Kandahar. Suddenly, to his horror, he heard an unspeakable call come over the fire support net. The call was a request for a bombing run at Target Reference Point (TRP) 30. The response from the fixed-wing FA-18 Hornets came back immediately:
“IP in-bound, I have the target in sight — 15 seconds to impact.”
The good Chief was well north of incredulous at what was playing out around him. He heard the requester clear the Hornet hot on their bombing run, and wheeled about to see that Monkey had been jarred from his nap by the awful sounds of violent guns and bombs and, working without even the remotest sense of situational awareness, was formulating a bombing run on Greg’s exfiltrating Delta Force brothers.
Chief keyed his radio:
“Knock it off, Knock it off, Knock it off!! Cease fire! Cease fire! Cease fire!! Those are the helos coming out!”
There you have it. The SEAL Team 6 LNO had just called a fire mission onto his own men. He almost annihilated the Falcon and all of his men, who had already arguably been through quite enough. Monkey was just a querulous little piece of shit punk that had to get his. What, he had just picked the first thing he could find on the ground and tried to kill it?
Two-hundred pounds of thoroughly dis-en-CHANTED Chiefage barreled through the AC-130 toward the Monkey’s cage. The Monkey tried to make the lump in his throat go down but he couldn’t — he needed a sip of water. Chief touched the tip of his nose to the tip of Monkey’s nose:
“You see this face, Monkey? This is a kind face when it is a couple of feet away, but this same face is a curse anytime it’s seen up real close like this here,” and the Monkey tried one last time to suck down the lump in his cock-deposit tube.
The Chief was a kind chief, he was a gentle chief, a happy and decent chief… but if you tried to slaughter his soldiers then the Chief became (suddenly) a mean Chief — a very very mean Chief.
With that, the other side of the kind Chief slammed the Monkey’s head violently and repeatedly into the bulkhead of his Spectre gunship. The noise of the impacts was ripe and crisp; it scared the crew who thought they were taking anti-aircraft fire.
The anti-matter Chief pulled the Monkey up clean out of his seat just by his grip on his boy’s helmet.
He continued to bash the Monkey over and over like a… raag doolll, little… raaag dooollll. The Chief lui a foutu une putain de reclée until the flight crew stormed him and saved Monkey from a potential forced and unplanned sex-change operation. The Chief… he was a very maaad chief!
When they landed the Monkey ran off of the gunship whipped and bloodied — never to be seen again. Some of the ground crew saw Monkey run by:
“My God… I can only imagine what kind of hell those guys went through tonight up there… (crumples to his knees in the dirt and performs the Catholic Sigh of the Cross) God bless them… God bless them all!”
The Chinook assault formation proceeded to Objective Rhino where the Rangers had secured the airstrip and set up a FARP to fuel the assault force. One of the supporting Spectre gunships had a malfunction with its 25mm Gatling gun, which consequently blew a large hole into the side of the airframe and it had to return on a very windy trip back to its base of origin.
Gravy’s gunship picked up fire support slack for the damaged gunship. At some point during the ass-whipping of Monkey, Chief had let his oxygen mask dangle and forgot about it until such point that he became overcome by hypoxia and slipped into goof mode. The crew intentionally left his mask off just a little longer to chuckle at the Chief’s goofball antics. He hooped and hollered and carried on like Slim Pickins’ riding the bomb down onto the target in the movie Dr. Strangelove.
Back at base, Chief Coker gripped and grinned with all the crews and expressed his sincere gratitude, for a job superbly done, to everyone but Butt-Monkey, as the new prefix he earned was so appended.
While back at the target, the Delta pipe-hitters left gifts for Mullah Omar in the form of American flags, hats, and patches from the New York Fire and Police Departments (NYFD, NYPD) as a reminder that America does not forget, turn the other cheek, or show quarter to terrorism.
As sadness went for the assault forces, two pipe-hitters from the 75th Ranger Regiment Quick Reaction Force (QRF) were killed in a landing mishap at their holding area in Pakistan. That was an absolute and peerless kick in the stomach for the Chief who said a very deliberate prayer for the souls of the men and their families. “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.”
Just after touch down at their base of origin, Delta Colonel, and personal friend of Greg and the author, Pete “Pantera” Blaber (author of “The Mission, the Men, and Me”), came running over with a flatly mortified expression:
“Greg… I have never seen so much violence and killing in my life.”
“RGR that, Pete — that is what we do.”
At the collective mission debrief they learned that one of the bombers saw a helicopter leave the target area, lights out, and could not be reached on the radio.
A few days later we focused on Osama bin Laden (OBL) and Al Qaeda (AQ) — the AH-6 Six Guns were about to get in the fight and get them some — the Chief’s forte!
Back at Kandahar base, the Falcon made a secure satellite call back to Ft. Bragg, NC requesting transportation back to the United States for his failed Troop Leader. Within hours, a black CH-47 landed at Kandahar and took on board a single figure and his gear — the Falcon’s major who he had just fired.
Very likely nowhere in the history of the U.S. Army has a Master Sergeant ever fired an officer — a major at that, but never in history has there ever been a man like the Falcon; all that follows him is a shattered mold.
Geo’s Tribute to the Night Stalkers:
I feel the weight of the empathy I share with the men of the Night Stalkers. They too are victims of an American circumstance. They are so unfortunate as to have been cursed at birth with a soaring patriotism they simply could never hush, praying all the while it would bode them well.
They’re just men, and having the hopes of men they’re only too content to revel in the spoils of freedom and to never dread for their lives or the lives of their families. Why shouldn’t it be ok for them to cash in on the benefits that their country provided for them as citizens, just like everyone else?
My heart bleeds for the Regimental brothers because they ventured to have families, and to fall madly in love with their children, yet jeopardize them wholesale by choosing patriotism over their own well-being and the guarantee of a sweet and comfortable life. Night Stalkers raised their hands repeatedly and stepped forward offering themselves completely. Quitting for them was never within eye- or ear-shot of mind.
Night Stalkers rallied without pretense to fight the most heinous conflicts along with the hardest fighters on the planet. They put their lives down as collateral for the promise to be where and when they say they’ll be with less than a Manhattan minute on a G-Shock to spare. How can you perceive that pledge and not be in reverent adoration?
As for your brothers in the Delta Force — as proven by warriors Gary Gordon and Randy Shugart in the Battle of the Black Sea, Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993 — though my mortal power is devoid of the promise that I can save you in each and every case, I can at a stark minimum promise you that you WILL NOT die alone… whatever incidental consolation that might grant.
Never before have I met a group of combat aviators who are more pilot than mortal, and even more soldier than pilot. God’s grace forever yours, my brothers.
By Almighty God and with honor,