Standing In The Explosion
I never really think about moments in my life but instead tend to focus on greater path. Last night I clicked on a movie on Netflix called Kilo Two Bravo and a lot of images flooded back at once. There are things in war that stick with you through time and you never erase. Other things just lurk till you get a scent or sight that brings it all back. The silhouette of a body on the ground, the smell of a firefight, or even the taste of dust mingling with your own blood.
There's a moment when you’re laying on the ground trying to find your breath with the earth buzzing and you realize something has just happened. At that precise second you don't register it but for those who care about you and even yourself things have changed. The person that you were seconds past has literally been blown into the cosmos of being. Some people become savaged by the memory of trauma and for others its passing is virtually unnoticed. The thing about standing in fire is that it can burn or it can solidify your inner peace. I don't remember fear for myself being a seconds thought and later in delirium I remember worrying about what happened to a chicken. I vividly remember the hug of a brother after a long ride back to the firebase and the strength in that moment.
The dust was mingled with the copper of blood in my mouth and the sticky feeling of blood was running into my pant leg. I remember trying to check off how I was okay and that wet just pushing itself to the front. I didn't want to look at it because I didn't want to go into shock. Once you go there you don't get to decide what you do next and all I knew was that I wanted to be in control of whatever that was. I expected the shooting to start so I think I drew my pistol but I can't remember really. I think my rifle was separated or maybe it wasn't I honestly can't remember. The order of things gets jumbled in the weathering of time but it seems to be there. I wasn't supposed to move but a member of the team was half buried and reaching for me from beside the vehicle. There is an overwhelming drive to do anything for your brothers in war. You will read stories of heroes who dove on grenades to save their brothers without a moment's hesitation. This story isn't anything close to those stories but the sentiment is the same nonetheless.
I made the decision to hop up onto my feet rather than look under the rational of if I could stand my leg was still there and if I couldn't then I would worry about that next. Besides the fact that it wouldn't have changed my drive to get to my friend. It's strange because this is more vivid then I have remembered this event in a long time yet I'm struggling to describe it and doubt even my own recollection. I was interviewed about this subject in the recent past and I'm positive I left most of this out. Maybe I treat it with such little respect because I'm constantly told how it should be a reverent moment. For everyday since then it's just another day and a laugh but I find myself sweating as I try to express this rampaging reverie. I don't remember the pain normally but right now I remember feeling like I had been hit by a truck. I remember trying to think clearly being the equivalent of trying to play a grandmaster at chess while Tyson rang your bell. The struggle for clarity was like punching through water but somehow I was still in control and that my short term rock to cling to.
When I was on my feet I looked and I think the rest of the team was keeping their distance but all were popped up on their four wheelers like prairie dogs in search of coyotes. Some were fixed on the scene of the explosion and others were searching out in anticipation of a fight. Then again maybe that came after I had started consolidating people I can't remember. For a second I think I remember someone telling me to stop as I turned to move for S but maybe that was my training telling me it wasn't really smart to run fifteen feet back towards the scene of an IED strike. Like I said it's barely a memory now so maybe it did or didn't happen I don't recall. S was the junior medic on the team and I remember a second of fear that if he was missing the lower half of his body I was not capable of doing much with my IFAK and blowout kit. While I had been to EMT-B school and Combat Lifesaver those types of injuries are in most cases fatal. Before I could blink the distance was closed and I had his hands helping out of the pile. I couldn't identify any cover where we would be visible to the remainder of the team so I settled for some micro terrain about ten yards away.
Just like that the moment is gone...It's back to the place it lives buried in my memories racing at a hundred and twenty miles per second. What that movie did bring back was the memories of three more trips across that ground recovering personnel and equipment. It brought the taste back and the debilitating haze of fighting for control of your own mind. It wasn't a bad memory just so vivid it was hard to shake for a few minutes. Now when I think back the normal smile returns and I can laugh at the thought of flying through the air with the greatest of ease like a boyhood fantasy of joining the circus. People often ask what it was like and I don't mind sharing but I guess I'm leaving out more than I realized. I can tell you that after several hours on the back of a fourwheeler CASEVAC’ing there was nothing better than that hug from a brother.