Combat Jump

Somewhere in Afghanistan….

We were coming in hot.220px-CH-47D_Chinook_spanish_army_(cropped)

I know the writers of combat novels always use that line; especially and usually when there is a chopper involved.

Goes like this: “We were coming in hot at treetop level, tracers ripping past the side door gunners causing them to lean back hard against their restraints from the opening, screaming silently at the top of their lungs, the panic and anger drowned out by the CHOP CHOP CHOP of the big rigs blades.”

You’ve read it all before, I’m sure.

Well, we WERE coming in hot but, not at tree top level; more like 12,000 feet. The view was spectacular.

But, it was freaking 12,000 down to the ground!

It was gonna be our first jump under combat conditions and I was nervous as hell. Oh sure, we’d trained hard; and yes, we had jumped many times but, that was training.

Now, down there on the ground was real enemies that would shoot real bullets and real rockets at us, they were hiding in trees where any tree could grow, they were hunkered down in the crags on the side of the mountains or just crouching in the shadows, praying silently to their twisted version of Allah; probably sweat running into their eyes, dripping from their nose into the sand…..

Watching us…..aiming at us.

“Get ready!” shouted our Jump Master, SSGT Copeland  into the deafening roar; he whipped a hooked finger into the air “Hook,em Up!!”

I saw everyone move in unison, dozens of hands clicking up to the overhead line. Packs squeaking, metal clinking and men shouting back in acknowledgement of the shouted order

“Form up!” Copeland shouted again

We all started the little parachute jump shuffle towards the gaping door, the wind coming into the chopper was pushing us back, as if it knew we were going to jump into the sky, conquering her and our fear.

For some reason my anxiety increased exponentially as I got nearer to my turn, watching the bodies ahead of me tumble out the door, their feet slowly turning over their heads as they fell into space; some of them hooted and screamed as they jumped. I heard Kramer, I think it was Kramer, yell “MaMaaaaa!!” as he vaulted into the crisp, cold, tearing, howling blue void.

I saw his chute open and I felt some relief.220px-Parachutistes_Balagne

Then….it was my turn.

I shuffled my bulky self and gear closer to the door when it happened.

The little switch in my head clicked and said “No”

I froze.

I couldn’t move.

I wouldn’t move.

I wasn’t going to move.

I had no intention of moving.

What in the hell did these people think? Did they think I was freaking nuts and would jump from a nice, cozy, safe helicopter into an area where people were going to do everything they could do to kill me as I fluttered slowly to the ground, a literal fish in a barrel, a sitting duck, a slow moving target.

There was probably 2 or 3 of the enemy making side bets about which one would hit me first, or laughing their asses off about getting extra points or virgins for shooting me in the balls as I hung there helplessly under my chute, floating to a horrific death.

My terror scenarios were rudely interrupted when I felt a big, huge hand grab a handful of my arm sleeve, it’s insistence and slight forward pressure pushing me closer toward the edge of the door.

“Let’s MOVE, Clarke! You’re holding up my line, you’re messing up my drop!!!”

I turned my head toward SSGT Copeland, noticing for the first time that my goggles were foggy from sweat and an undeniable realization, from the sudden look that swept across his huge black face, that my eyes had gone wild and crazy looking.

For a split second, I felt my legs trembling and my bladder was making squeaky little noises.

I shook my head violently at the SSGT.images (8)

I wasn’t moving. I didn’t care if I went to prison or hell, forever.

Copeland leaned forward, pulling me closer to him as he shouted into my ear “YOU BETTER GET YO ASS OUT THIS CHOPPER BEFORE I STICK THIS UP YO ASS, CLARKE!!!!”

I saw his big, police night stick, or baton sweep across my vision; demonstrating its willingness to be shoved up my ass.

I shook my head violently at the SSGT.

I wasn’t moving. I didn’t care if I went to prison or hell, forever.

Go ahead and shove it up my ass you big, black bastard!!!

“Well?” asked my son. It was he I was finally telling this story to. “Did you jump?”

I looked at him and decided to tell him the truth.720th_Special_Tactics_Group_airmen_jump_20071003

“I did a little bit at first but, I got used to it after a minute or two.

True story….






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