(This is a three part series. Read Part One and Part Two here.)

Amidst re-fitting and re-arming our kit, we were promptly summoned to a session with the boss:

“Guys, we are missing five passengers. All indications from the aircrew and other sources say that the five missing passengers were removed from the aircraft and taken to a location 45 miles from here. Its a tiny po-dunk town, so we need to plan for another assault, this time helo assault on urban objective ‘Limerick.’ Let’s get this done and get airborne in NLT one hour. Guys, we are not yet mission complete—let’s go!”

“Well, you sure can’t make this shit up—great work if you can get it” me thinks. We all jumped up with a flurry and bustle of maps and grease pens, slates and cartoons. I think the term they use for this sort of entertainment, a sort that doesn’t exist in the civilian realm, is called ‘jumping through one’s ass.

In my childhood years, I recall in a restaurant with my dad, witnessing a chef melt down because his shrimp platters were served late, and not chilled to 58 degrees Fahrenheit. “I refuse to work under these appalling conditions!” he had belched out like a little bitch as he executed his theatrical exit in a huff.

My dad messed my hair with the palm of his hand: “What do you want to be when you grown up, Georgie?”
“Well, I know I don’t want to be a chef, dad… it seems way too hard.” My dad burst into laughter and winked that wink he winked, knowing full well that I would be a future Pope.

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Clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, rang the magazines as they were jammed with fresh green tips. Bart W; stood next to me charging up.

“Hey Bart, the Smadge says we have to leave this place in better condition that we found it.”

“No we don’t!” Bart retorted

“And why is that?”

“Because WE… are inconsiderate!” he concluded; sounded legit to me.

Back at the Blackhawks the blades sliced and the boys leaned into the wash for a fake free-fall high. The red light circled and we jammed the cargo hold like a batch of frat boys in a phone booth. The helos strained hard against our fat asses as they slowly took lift and climbed with a lumber. Destination: Objective Limerick.

Soon they were leaning hard forward with their tails high and their noses low, grabbing all potential speed to our next objective. I yawned. My eyelids felt a distinct southerly tug. I was tired. But no place else in the firmament would I rather be than with these people. Sleep could fuck off.

In this armada, we had an intra-blend of assault teams, configure to meet the mission objective. I was attached to our C team. That was dandy. Some of the men rode four to a Little Bird. The TF-160 Night Stalkers (NSDQ) had the flight plan all hashed out. I had no worry other than for my performance on a mundane objective. No drama shown; none expected, right? Please dear Lord, don’t let me fail these folks:

Make me a juggernaut; push my foray
Guide my path, or lay me down
Give me the hardest task; spare me glory
Ford me strength, me, lest I drown

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Through my NODs (see-in-the-dark goggles) I could see the light symmetric lines of the buildings of Limerick, and knew we were moments from touch down. But the Blackhawk flared its rotors hard, too hard and too soon. I grabbed the edge of the door to keep from falling backwards as the nose of the helo rose so sharply.

mh-6-helicopter-hr

And then it happened.

I saw the most disconcerting scene out of the left side of the aircraft. I saw below us a Little Bird come at us from 90 degrees. In fact our Hawk had seen it just in time and flared hard as the Little Bird dove under us to avoid a mid-air collision. But the rotor wash of our flared behemoth was too much for the other light aircraft, and it augered into the ground. I caught a fleeting glimpse as it plunged into the ground in a shower of dust and sparks.

The last registration in my mind was the image of four pairs of legs instinctively locking out straight, to avoid being crushed.

I used to think that explosive diarrhea and simultaneous projectile vomiting sucked, but I was wrong. This situation right here… now THIS truly sucks.

Make me a juggernaut; push my foray
Guide my path, or lay me down

Our bird flared again, this time in typical fashion. We touched down and six men sprinted for cover toward our designated building and started to instinctively clear. A constant BOOM, BOOM, BOOM of grenades accented by a steady fusillade of double-taps ran up the line of buildings as we progressed through Limerick.

Give me the hardest task; spare me glory
Ford me strength, me, lest I drown

“Clear” “Clear” “All Clear” the men sang out from their positions as they rolled. There was a breather. I ran to the assault team leader Charles R., and shouted calmly: “Charles R, I don’t want to throw a wrench into this operation, but I am positive I saw a Little Bird go down… I’m sorry!” What a strange thing to say, “I’m sorry” at the time.

Charles R. stopped cold and fixed a piercing glare at me. “Where??” he quizzed. I pulled him to the opposite side of the room to an open picture window. “There, out there!” and we both strained through our NODs to see the telltale egg shape of a little bird laying flat on its belly in the dirt. Its landing skids were smashed flat to the sides. Two figures meandered around the crash site… the pilots.

The assault team was gone. They had picked themselves up from the crash site, raced to their objective building, and proceeded to assault their assigned target buildings… successfully.

Charles whipped another death stare at me followed by a “Goddamnit!!” And we continued to press our assault until we met our other two assault elements to form a contiguous line of security throughout objective Limerick.

I moved through the building until someone told me that the four from the crash were all operational on the objective. One man, Mark “Cuz” C. had broken his middle finger and was unable to flip the bird. I moved man to man until I found the four kneeling at security positions.

“Cuz!” a whispered hoarsely. A head promptly turned and I saw Cuz’s face, saucer eyes straining in the night.

“Yeah Chik!”

“How the hell are ya??”

And Cuz rendered a snappy salute with his right hand, middle finger bandaged tight to the fingers on either side in an anatomical splint. He still had use of his trigger finger, and he was of the mind to stay in this fight. I returned his salute and we went about the fight.

I returned to my position of responsibility with Charles R. wondering: “Where are Earth, do we ever find such men as these?”
By the light of morning we have all five remaining repatriated passengers speeding off in a flying spare Blackhawk. We owned Limerick and took our time to collect ourselves and all our gear for departure back to our FOB. I took to some TX (treatment) from a medic who noticed I had shredded the skin of my non-firing hand shoving it through a window hours before.

My flight glove saved me for the most part from serious cuts. I had not lost much blood at all, but gladly acknowledged the offer of an Intravenous Infusion (IV) from the medic, to quench my monstrous thirst if nothing else.

“Limerick” I thought… “Limerick… ok let’s see:

There once was a brother named Geo
Who thought he’d seen all he could see-o
One day he set down
In the middle of town
Was glad to be Taurus—not Leo

I was a tired Taurus; that I was.

10476061_10202672527993946_6670839350978597400_o
(geo takes a powder on objective Limerick prior to redeploying to FSB)

Geo sends