NO DOWN TIME

Firepower - - QUEL BLADES -

The car­nage hap­pen­ing in the moun­tains was hor­rific, and the Rangers there needed help. I didn’t want to just sit by, wait­ing for my team to bring load af­ter load of wounded back to the base. I wanted to get out there and help. But, at the same time, I was un­sure and a bit scared. Af­ter the debrief, we went our sep­a­rate ways. I stepped out into the thin, crisp air and took a mo­ment to look up. Sounds of foot­steps on the gravel be­hind me brought me back.

Crew leader Roger [Sparks], above all oth­ers, knew what I needed. He cleared his throat; I could sense a heav­i­ness in his de­meanor.

“To­mor­row morn­ing,” he said, “I need you back on alert.”

My stom­ach plum­meted to some­where right above my boots. He knew it was best, and I think I did, too. I’m sure Roger sensed my reser­va­tions, my grow­ing sense of dread and fear. In a way, he was res­cu­ing me from my­self. His tall fig­ure hov­ered over me, his long arm a hoist that of­fered to bring me up from the depths of fear and what would surely have been a fu­ture of doubt and self-loathing.

I had two choices. I could grab the air horn and yell, “I quit!,” or I could do my job. For me, it was a mat­ter of em­brac­ing a choice I had been mak­ing all my life.

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