The night was as black as coal, other than a dim trucks head lights there was nothing- nothing for our nods to operate off of. I don’t think the guys in the middle could sense the change in motion. Or maybe its effects were more keen to me since I saw the change in elevation as well as felt the shift in velocity. Like the abrupt shifts on a roller coaster. Some remain unfastened, as I unlatched mine. However, I never let my seatbelt’s latch fully come apart. As I sensed the shift I tighten my fingers, feeling the vibration of the snap as it locked into place.
All of a sudden dust engulfed the helicopter. There wasn’t time to process it. It all happened so fast, and yet there were seconds that played in slow motion. I remember the tug of a greater mass, like when I skier falls but holds onto the rope for a moment longer. The drag of the dirt was substantially greater. I felt as if I was creating a rivet as I was being dragged, pushed, and bent into the ground. I don’t know the moment I finally went out, but it was towards the end. As if I went unconscious for the last skip across the hard packed dirt, a bat of an eye it seemed like. I was the first to wake. Everything was numb to the world. Confused, dazed, in a terror, but if felt so real. I quickly realize what had happened, however much I doubted the situation. How could it be real? No one was there, there was no sound. It wasn’t real because I didn’t hear the sound of helicopters above or any screams.
Still strapped into the seat but detached from the helicopter, partially hanging, strapped face down in the dirt. I pull my hand up to disengage my harness. It was an easy motion to unlock, a ¼ turn clockwise or counter clockwise. My fingers couldn’t seem to find themselves. Feeling distended I next try to remove my plate carrier. This too proofed to be a challenge, but quickly overcame the obstacles, for I felt the dyer urge that it needed to come off for some reason. My pure primal instincts emerged. Going against procedure, I strain and grimace as I feel if someone was piercing my body with searing rods while I try push up what seemed to be 300lbs. I feel nothing but pain.
Exhausted, starting to shake, I then struggle greatly to unlatch my radio from its pouch. My fingers seem to pass through the latch for I could not put my fingers on it. I wipep my warm muddy wet face, trying to clear my eyes. The warm blood mixed with dirt made my fingers too slippery. I removed my glove and unlatch the buckle. My fingers feeling as if i just struck a ball to close to the handle of a baseball bat. It was snapped in half. My hope fading, lost for thoughts of what to do next. I couldn’t radio for help. At this point I thought I may be the only survivor and I don’t have a radio. I sit there briefly. Before a plan came to be, a flame came into existence. My first thought was if I don’t get out of here im going to be burned alive. The fire starts to drip, not 5 feet from me I feel the heat of its gaze. I began to move my whole body for the first time. Now in a somewhat sitting up position, I plan to turn to my stomach and craw away. As I rotated my body to lie on my stomach I had felt the worst sensation I’ve ever known. It was a dul,l disconnected feeling of leaving my legs stationary as my upper body committed to the turn. A surge of energy became me; heavily panting I fell to my back. Searing, screeching pain shot my whole body. I lie there for a moment. Just before my next move I anticipate the pain with a pending doom. My eyes glaze with water.
I needed to get away. I began to pull myself backwards with just my arms, while moving I began to feel distended swelling, bloating, and a dire need to urinate. As I go as far as I can bare I unbuckle my belt and try to relive myself. It never came. The urge was so intense it made me ignore other pain as i roll on my side. Still nothing, I roll back to my back. Taking a moment to access the situation, I begin to calm myself with focusing on nothing but deep breathing. Something happened in that moment. My pain subsided, I am warm, I feel good, as nothing had happened and I was just lying under a night sky. I thought this isn’t so bad, it’s ok to let go. So I made peace with the fact that I could die here and there’s nothing I can do stop it.
That’s when one by one shrieks began to pierce the night. Pleading for help, screaming I’m trapped, medic, please god help me! this went on for a while. As I lay on my back trying to remain calm their screams for help begin eating away at me. Only to remind myself I’m helpless, unable to move. I call out for the first time “just breath” or something along those lines. Help began to arrive; I have yet to call for help. How could I when there were grown men crying to god or for someone to help them. While I just lie there on my back just one deep breath after the other I block sounds around me. At that point in time I was ready to die. I wasn’t scared, frightened, or thinking of anyone else, I was just warm and ready. I believe it was one of the air crew that came upon me first. I asked him to pull me back further. He did and I told him to go help someone else. I lay there a little longer. Then all of a sudden my wife came into mind. I couldn’t do this to her, couldn’t leave her alone. So I clung to her for help.
Random thoughts and images I have no sense of when they took place. Due to fading in and out of consciousness.
The distant thuds of artillery, a time lapse of 10-25secs elapse before three shells exploded in the short of target. Relief, that they weren’t close but worried it wouldn’t take but a min or two to get dialed in. After the second barrage of mortars boomed from afar I began to think this is the end. To my surprise and delight they missed again. The two apache helicopters over head had located their position by the flash of fire from the mortar tube. They began spraying that location with 30mm ammunitions and hell fire. All enemy fire was ceased.
I saw my almost brain dead Lt stumble confusingly around my litter, blood smeared face as soldiers try to catch and calm him. He eventually passes out due to an overload of pain.
I hear the blood curdling scream of a crewmember being pulled free from having his ankle ripped free from the helicopter. Foot hanging limp from his leg, they put him on a litter. While another crewman sat trapped in his seat from the engine being compressed against his helmet. I imagine that’s the only thing that kept him alive.
Pfc Wyk, my personal saw gunner. Always attached to my hip was smashed and disfigured beneath the main cabin of the helicopter. Nothing but his legs stuck out. Like the scene in the wizard of oz. as I lie on the ground helpless I witness my counterpart, bravo’s team leader having to step over and on top off jakes body. There was no other way to gain access to the other solders trapped inside. when I made it to bagram air base, a SF CO came to my bedside and briefed me of what happened after I was medivaced. I thought it was fascinating that and SF team came to secure the crash site. The even had a c-130 overhead. At that moment I finally felt a weight lifted off my chest. I knew that the rest of my team and squad had made it out. The image of my fellow soldiers burns into my memories when they described jakes body as they pulled his body out from under the Blackhawk. His head had rotated 180 degrees along with his waist down.
Its been just over three years now and the road has been tough for all of us. My LT has severe brain damage that now has learned to read and write again. My squad leader who broke almost every bone in his body alone with lacerating a few organs. Now has found golf as a form of therapy while his loving wife and daughter are at his side. Me to not being able to walk for a better part of a year has also found golf and has a lovely wife and twin boys to help me down the path of recovery. For all the other members that were injured and found peace. May we never stop fighting, as long as we draw breath.
Thank you team never quit! Listening to you guys adds coal to our engines. You guys are a beacon of light for those in need. Marcus, reading and watching your story always gives me the motivation I need. When I think of you, I think who am I to give up? I have gone through nothing compared to men like you. I draw strength from our history’s heroes and the endeavors they have faced and overcame. I am but a grain of sand compared to the men and women who have given their lives. I reminisce often of the old days and find myself discouraged. For I didn’t give all that I had… my life.
Thank you and take care.

Author: Michael