Usually I’m not going to go on a tear like this with posts, but I figured I’d get some content out there so that new readers can get a feel for what’s going to happen here in the future.
A key part of my life is my experience in combat. Those experiences also color my writing.
Here’s a day in the life of Jason.
It was a brisk early morning in the Hindu Kush mountains, on a lousy firebase that no-one remembers. The air was gray with the predawn, the sun had yet to peek out behind the mountains. I stood unwashed in front of a line of MAT-Vs and Hummers smoking cigarette after cigarette. My gear was stowed in the turret of truck 3-4, I was killing time. The stink of diesel fumes was barely extinguished by my noxious plume of tobacco smoke, the grumbling of the trucks drowned out most sounds.
Today, I would serve as my commander’s gunner. Kind of a weird job for a lieutenant, but I was pretty good with a machine gun. I was his personal shotgun, I took pride in my job. But damn was it deadly.
A couple of days before, I had witnessed an IED strike against a convoy of ANP (Afghan National Police) guys. We were in an area that had only one road in or out, and the horrible path was absolutely not safe for traffic. It was uncleared by any engineering assets. As we left, I was gunning again. We had to drive through the crater the IED had made. I nearly pissed my pants in fear, I could see myself dying as I flew through the air.
The memory made a strong impression on me.
So here I stood, ready to go out again. The guys made their ways to the trucks, I threw aside my latest butt and climbed up on the hood of my ride. I slid into the gaping maw of the turret and put on the gunner’s harness, it was a confusing mass of safety straps and buckles. By this point in the tour, however, I had it on and fastened in seconds.
I loaded my weapons, my little team “dual gunned.” That means that there was a heavy hitter in the turret, usually a M2 or Mk19, and then a little gun, either an M-240B or a PKM, depending on the mission. The guns were clean and ready, my ammo was straight and there were full belts loaded. My weapons were good.
I put on my communications headset and blew into the mic. I was ready. I heard some chatter, the sun began to peek above the nearby mountain.
All of a sudden, my hands began to violently shake. My eyes teared up, one thought scrolled through my mind. Today, the little voice said, today you die. This is your last sunrise. I pulled out another smoke from my sleeve pocket with my trembling hands, I had to brace my arms against my grenade launcher to get the damn thing lit.
I breathed in the comforting smoke as tears rolled down my face. I heard a voice through my headset. It was my commander, seated below. All that he could see of me was my legs. I was glad.
He spoke. “Guns, you up?”
My reply was terse. “Roger, sir.”
Without further ado, truck 3-4 rolled out on another combat mission.