A Smoking Bullet in a Bulldog Bite
of everything, and this included fuel and men. Less fuel meant less hover time. That meant less protection and more chance of being left or leaving someone behind to refuel. The risks were there.
We sat all morning. The sun broke over and bathed the tall mountains in light and heat. This was the not-so-sexy part of being a PJ: waiting.
The flight engineer came running from inside. “Hey, guys, we’re starting to get a nine-line.” That was the warning. Shit was about to get real.
TIME TO ROLL
boys killed in action; a hero.
The soldiers in the mountains needed help badly, and the aircraft commander requested permission to proceed with the mission in a single-ship formation with support from other air assets. Permission granted.
As we approached the battle site, we established radio contact with the ground forces. Maintaining visual contact with our objective, I noticed a loose collection of square, adobe-colored, single-story mud huts built into the mountain beneath us. In the periphery of my vision, at my 7, several flashes erupted from a darkened doorway. Following the flashes was the unmistakable sound of gunfire. There were more flashes and repeated sounds of gunfire over the rumble of the choppers and through my foam earplugs. They were shooting. they were shooting at us. The distance wasn’t more than 400 meters.
I tried to identify the threat to the aircraft, but in the fraction of time, I couldn’t process how the enemy was engaging us with automatic weapons. I saw a bright flash and heard a loud thwack! I felt myself rising, being lifted and thrown across the aircraft toward my partner. Darkness. Then searing pain.