One of the hardest parts of speaking about past events, is that in order to make them have an impact, you have to make it personal. To make it personal you have to open up a chapter of your life that is either joyous or painful, Humorous or Tragic. I think it is time for me to talk of the nightmares that I've had. The nightmares that haunt me still to this day. They are not as bad as they once were, but they are still there.
I'm on an Iraqi street. Complete with shit trenches, and walled off courtyards. It could be anyone of a dozen streets, there is nothing recognizable, but unlike the normal Iraq, there's a fog. A heavy fog that only allows me to see a few feet in any direction. I'm alone. In the center of the street. By IBA is heavy, and my Aid Bag is cutting into my circulation of my arms like it always does. I raise my M-4 and assume a defensive posture, but everywhere I look I'm alone.
"MEDIC!" I hear someone cry. I think I know the voice. Its one of my guys but I can't tell which one. Its coming from down the street. Maybe 100 meters off. How did they get so far away?
"Hang On!" I call back. I start running toward the call "I'm coming!"
from the opposite direction I hear another, younger voice call out "DOC! Help Me!"
Its Drew? No that can't be right. Drew is back in the States. I stop.
I hear the unmistakable sound of an AK somewhere near the first voice. I have to hurry! I run for all I'm worth, but when I get to where the voice should have been I see no one. No blood, no evidence of a body. Where are they? I begin to worry I might have left someone behind, I raise my ACOG to my eye and look all around trying to find the source of the voices.
I hear a loud scream of pain. Back from the other direction. Dammit! I left someone! I double time, back towards the second voice. This time I can hear a piteous plea.
"Oh God, Doc, please help me. It hurts. Help me. I don't want to die, Please Doc!"
I run as fast as I possibly can. The voice is someone else now. Herman? It doesn't make sense but I have to get there now. Whoever the soldier is I hear his sobs of pain. They're growing weaker. I can save him if I just get to him. I have to hurry. I'm out of breath, but I put on all possible speed I'm almost there! And as before nothing. I look around now, in a panic.
"WHERE ARE YOU?" I cry out.
"No! No! AHHH" I hear a blood curtailing scream yet another voice, coming from behind me. Something else this time another voice. Not American.
"Allah huAKBAR!" there's a sick gurgle and I know without a doubt what has happened.
"NO GOD DAMIT!!!" I scream, I raise my m-4 and fire into the mist at the voice, but I begin to hear another "Allah huACKBAR!" this time from behind me
I hear another trooper scream, and he to fades to a sick gurgle, One by one I hear more and more. The chanting increases, chaotically. They don't chant together, its a few, than a crowd, then a mob. The voices of my troopers crying out for help are being drowned out by the growing chanting. I'm alone, I can not see anyone or anything. I fire a couple of rounds without effect. My guys are all dead. I sink to my knees utterly defeated.
I feel my head jerked back, a man with a headscarf covering everything but his brown eyes which are filled with an inhuman hatred. He puts the knife to my throat, "in-SHal'lah!" he spits out at me. And thats when I wake up.
its 17 July. I got to 2-2 in time. Everybody but Harrelson is out. I run up to the door, and try to get it open. Harrelson is dazed, but he sees me and there is a spark of recognition in his eyes. his face is bloodied, and he is trying to say something but I am not paying attention, I have to get the door open. Thats when he notices the fire. His eyes fly wide open, and he starts pounding on the door weakly.
He's screaming. I can hear that. Its a panicked scream, but I can still get to him. The door handle won't budge. I go to the Drivers rear door, but that's already engulfed in flames I can't get near it. I go back to the drivers door, and struggle for all I'm worth to get the door open. I can see the flames have him trapped in the drivers seat.
I wave at 2-1. MAybe if they can get back here in time I can still save him. They start backing up. Clowly. Too slowly. Harrelson lets loose a scream that chills my blood. I know what it means. He's on fire now. I can't stop to think about that I have to get him out. But now I start to hear him.
"HELP ME! HELP ME! GET ME OUT PLEASE GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!" Words soon begin to fail him and he just screams for all he's worth. A scream I have heard before, but I think no man should ever have to hear.
Hurry dammit! I can still save him. I look at him now. The flames are licking his face. He's pounding futility on the door. his face is starting to char. I can see a look of pure unadulterated terror and all I can do is stand there and watch. As the flesh starts to peel away, a new look comes over his face. Sorrow? I swear I can see a tear, as the inferno gets worse. Its so hot I can't bare to stand this close, I can't even touch the door anymore, but I cant leave. He looks at me one last time. As if to accuse me. Why didn't you save me his face says.
"I'm sorry" is all I manage to say. The flames finally obscure his face and I hear one last searing agonizing scream. And I wake up.
There are more. But I don't have heart to talk about them now.