cover.jpg

My Salute to the Troops

The sole purpose of this book is to commemorate the soldiers who fought in every war. I appreciate what the troops do to protect this great, free country. I could not imagine what must take place over there in the Middle East. God bless the troops who are still over there fighting and volunteering their lives to keep our great country free. I also want to thank all branches of the military for their service. I pray that the troops stay safe while in each and every battle. No soldier shall be left alone. We must care for our servicemen and treat them with the respect they deserve.

When our troops come home they should be welcomed and treated for any condition they may be in. I cherish the troops and everything that they do. I thank every veteran I see for his or her service. To those fighting PTSD, I know it’s a long and tiring road, but what you went through must have been absolutely horrific. So, keep your head up and know you fought for a country that loves you and will support you. If others won’t support you, I will. I myself don’t like to see any soldier forgotten or abused.

In my mind, I believe that all soldiers should be treated fairly and never left behind. I believe in this country and I’m happy when the troops are brought home. Our troops keep our country safe and free. Even the dogs that are in war should be commemorated for their service. I don’t like to hear about our great soldiers getting hurt. If a soldier comes home in bad shape, their family should embrace them. So many troops have lost their lives, our troops get hurt and sometimes killed and their deaths are upsetting to say the least. Every soldier is as important as the last one. War is no easy thing to deal with.

Sincerely,

David

I also want to thank my good friends who are serving in the different branches of the military. I hope they stay safe in the endeavors that they choose to be in. God bless them all.

halftitle.jpg

Foreword

In the Crosshairs comprises stories told of acts of heroism from the soldiers on the front lines. The characters portray the lives of soldiers who are fighting in Afghanistan. A soldier’s job can be stressful and, through it all, rewarding. The soldiers who fight in the Middle East experience situations no one should ever be facing. The soldiers come together and sacrifice their own lives to save one of their own.

Introduction

Theodore was a retired marine who had been on two tours to Afghanistan and one in Iraq. He is now seventy-five years old and happy to be retired. He has lived a tough life and says that he does not want to fight anymore. He used to live all alone in a large ranch house that was four thousand square feet of living space.

CHAPTER 1

THE BEGINNING

He does not sleep well and some nights he wakes up in the middle of the night dreaming about his old buddies in different wars. While he was fighting in Afghanistan he had lost four guys from his group. One time he and his buddies were driving along and an IED hit the truck right in front of them. The bomb exploded and caused a minor dust storm. After the bomb exploded, the driver was burned to death, and the fellow soldiers who were in the back were complaining of not being able to hear.

Their ears were ringing from the intense blast. The Humvee’s front, right tire was blown clear off, and the blast caused the soldiers to lose track of where their weapons were. Then a convoy of terrorists came toward the broken-down convoy and Theodore was concerned that he was going to be killed by the incoming terrorists, so he manned the fifty caliber and stood his ground.

Off to the left of him was a Humvee that had not been hit by a bomb with three soldiers who were standing out front of the convoy. The sky was growing dark, and it looked like it was going to rain at any moment. Off to the west, there was a strong wind blowing in a bad dust storm. Theodore had been through three bad dust storms before and didn’t want to go through another. The temperature outside must have been a hundred and ten degrees.

He was so hot in his uniform that he thought that was going to suffer a heat stroke. In the Humvee with him was a bomb-sniffing dog it was hard to say what kind of dog it was, Theodore figured that it was a German Shepherd, as he was black and silver and had on a special kind of collar. He and the other soldiers got along well together, and they would always be talking about how life was back home and how much they missed being away from family.

Theodore remained behind the fifty caliber until one of his fellow soldiers said to watch out, he quickly took cover and ran behind a pile of rubble, keeping his M-16 by his side. He held it up, thinking to himself, I hope that the terrorists don’t come this way. Suddenly, there was a huge explosion off to the left, and rocks and debris went flying up hundreds of feet in the air. It must have been another mortar strike from the Taliban.

He thought on, well it’s do or die time, and standing up, he saw that there were two pickup trucks loaded down with a fast shooting machine gun. Just then a drone flew overhead, he immediately recognized it as being an American drone. The wings were loaded with Tomahawk missiles, and this made him feel better knowing that they were U.S. drones surveying the area. Next, he heard a loud explosion and looked out from behind the rock and saw that one of the Taliban’s convoy trucks was blown up and engulfed in bright orange flames. The other two Taliban convoy trucks retreated, and he could not see where they went. He heard someone yelling out, “I’ve been hit. Help me, please.” He stood up and walked out from behind the rocks and saw a soldier lying on the ground with a bullet wound on his left leg.

“Please help me, Theodore. Are you a medic?”

“No, I’m not but let me take a look anyway.”

“I got shot above the knee, and I can’t seem to stop the bleeding.”

“Hold on,” Theodore said, and he took his scarf off and tightly wrapped it around the soldier’s left knee, getting his wound to stop bleeding.

“Thank you so much, Theodore. You saved my life once again.”

“You are a good soldier, but please don’t let them shoot you.”

“I won’t. Theodore where did the medic go?”

“I don’t know. That’s a good question. Hold on a minute, and I will go look for him.”

“Be careful, Theodore, you don’t know what’s out there.”

“I will be back in ten minutes.”

“Okay that sounds good.”

He thought to himself, I hope the medic wasn’t shot. He looked to his left and seen that his convoy was still broken down where it was an hour ago.

The one soldier was standing by the Humvee and was bent over trying to get a jack beneath the Humvee to change its front right tire, it must have been blown out from the force of the blast. He was struggling to get the tire matched up with the frame, so Theodore walked over to him and offered to help, “Hey Theodore what are you doing over here?”

“I saw that you were struggling to get the tire replaced on the Humvee.”

“Okay, but you’re supposed to be on patrol of the area, although I wouldn’t mind if you helped me with the tire.”

“Sure thing, just show me what you want me to do.”

“Hold the tire while I take the brake off, so I can make sure the tire will be fastened correctly.”

“Why must you take the brake off?”

“An IED exploded just a few yards from the front of the Hummer and debris flew up and damaged the brakes so badly that the Hummer would no longer stop.”

“This tire is getting heavy.”

“Okay I am hurrying. I just have to get the last nut off the rim. Okay now place the tire right there and make sure that the tire is lined up.”

“It’s so hot out here.

“I know it is, Theodore. After all, we are in the middle of the desert, and it’s always going to be hot like this, you will have to get used to it. It must be 110 degrees out here, and there is no breeze going.”

“I can feel the sweat pouring down my back, and my forehead is covered in sweat.”

“Where is your scarf, Theodore?”

“I had to lend it to another soldier because his leg was bleeding, and I needed to stop the bleeding.”

“Would you like my scarf, Theodore?”

“No thank you, I am fine without one. I can see that there is another dust storm coming.” “Don’t worry, Theodore there won’t be another dust storm. Thank you for your help with replacing the tire. Now we can get moving along to our next objective.”

“What is our next objective?”

“We have to get to Point Bravo and watch out for the Taliban scout.”

“Where is the scout right now?”

“We don’t know just yet.”

“How much farther do we have until we reach Point Bravo?”

“We have another two miles, so climb in the Humvee and we will go on.”

“But hold on, there is a wounded soldier sitting over there just a few yards away. Let’s take a moment and go get him and take him along. Don’t you want to help him?”

“Yes, I do, Theodore.”

“Okay so let’s go get him. You never leave a soldier behind.”

“I know that, Theodore.”

“He is injured and needs help, so call ahead and have the rescue chopper come in here to pick him up.”

“I will, Theodore, how about you go get him and I will call in the chopper.”

“Sounds good to me.”

Theodore began to walk over toward where he had seen the soldier, but he was not there. He looked behind the one large boulder, and there he was. He did not seem like he was aware of his surroundings, and his eyes were closed.

“Come on, Josh, please hang in there, we just called in a rescue chopper for you.”

“I don’t know if I am going to make it.”

“Why not?”

“My left leg hurts so bad that every breath I take is painful.”

Theodore kneeled down right beside Josh and patted him on his right shoulder. “Come on, Josh. Hang in there, it won’t be long until the chopper gets here.”

“You are stronger than that, but it’s hard just for me to keep my eyes open.”

“I know it’s hard but you will get through it. The Sergeant just called for a chopper a few minutes ago. Are you a Christian? Can I say a prayer for you? Yes, I will pray with you, Josh. God, please watch over my friend Josh and give him the power to rise above his pain and heal his injured leg. God bless you, Josh.”

“I don’t know how much longer I can take it.”

“I am holding your hand, and it will be okay. If you have pain just squeeze my hand as hard as you want. No, Josh, don’t go on me.”

Josh’s eyes were rolling around in his head and his pulse was getting weak. “Please God, don’t let my friend die like this. If you have the power to walk on water, then you should have the strength to heal my friend. Please, God.” The tears began to run down both sides of his unshaven, rough face. “I am asking you Lord for an instant healing.”

Twenty minutes had gone by and Josh was still struggling to live. The Sergeant came walking over and saw that Theodore was kneeling down next to Josh and a tear went down his left cheek.

“Is Josh going to make it?”

“I don’t know. I’ve been praying for him, but I don’t think God is hearing me.”

“Yes, but, Theodore, the human body can only take so much before it begins to shut it down”

“Yes, but I wanted Josh to live. I mean he is married and has one kid. He can’t leave them behind.”

“Sometimes, Theodore , you have to let people go. You have done all you can for him, and now if he passes it’s just how it is. I know but he is suffering, and forcing him to go on is not the right thing.”

“Have you heard from the chopper pilot?”

“Yes, and I have bad news for you. The chopper cannot land here because there is a bad dust storm coming in.”

“I don’t care, Sergeant Rayner; this poor man’s life depends on that chopper. He needs medical attention right away. Does that pilot even care about anyone else?”

“He is worried about his own safety and his crew’s. You cannot fly a helicopter in a bad dust storm, it’s just not possible and it’s too risky. The Taliban might see the helicopter and shoot a missile at it.”

“Don’t be so negative, Sergeant.”

“I am not. Is Josh still breathing?”

“I don’t know. Let me take his pulse again and look at his chest. Yes, he is still breathing, but he is laboring to breathe, and his pulse is getting weaker by the moment. Isn’t there anything else we can do for him?”

“No, he just has to rest until the helicopter can get here.”

“How far out is the helicopter?”

“It’s almost an hour away from here and is going to be on its way as soon as they can.”

“Hey, Sergeant Rayner, do you have any water bottles with you?”

“I have one why?”

“Josh’s face is getting all red and hot. I was going to pour some water on his face to cool him down.”

“Listen, Theodore, we need the water more than he does right now.”

“Why do you have to be so self-centered?”

“I don’t know, but after all, we are out in the desert and need a water supply.”

“But one bottle will not hurt. What would Jesus do?”

“I don’t know.”

“He would use the water and help the man.”

“Theodore, you are religious, and I don’t really care about religion.”

“Please, Sergeant Rayner, give him a chance.”

“Alright, fine, I will.” “Thank you so much.” The Sergeant gently handed Theodore the bottle of water.

“Hey, Josh.”

“Yes, Theodore.” “I am going to pour some water over your face. You might want to close your eyes. Let me know if the water bothers you.” Theodore slowly poured some water of his hot forehead.

“That feels much better, Theodore, thank you so much.”

“You’re welcome Josh, you’re beginning to look better. I was so worried about you, Josh.”

“I know you were, Theodore, but God helped me get through all the pain and suffering. But my lungs burn from being so hot.”

“What can I do for you now, Josh?”

“The glare from the hot sun above is burning me eyes.”

“Here, wear my sunglasses.”

“Thank you so much, Theodore.”

“You’re welcome again, my friend.”

“How comes the Sergeant is not talking to me?”

“I don’t know.”

“He seems like he is in a pretend world. Is he mad at me?”

“No, he is not. Now don’t worry about him.”

“I won’t then.”

“He gets angered easily. He did not want to help you, Josh.”

“That is not right.”

“No, but I am helping you though.”

“When is the chopper going to be here, Theodore?”

“They will be here as soon as they can.”

“You don’t know a time?”

“No, I don’t.”

“Come on, Theodore, it’s time for us to move on,” said the sergeant.

“But that means that Josh will be left here alone until the chopper gets here. That’s not right in any regards.”

“Just please trust me, Theodore. He will be fine here alone. He won’t be alone for longer than an hour.”

“What if he chokes or something and no one is around?”

“Then the good Lord will take him home, Theodore. Please, now I don’t want to get to Bravo point alone. I need you with me, Theodore. Is that understood?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Now pick up your M-16 and let’s get going.”

“I am sorry, Josh, but I have to leave you here.”

“No, Theodore. Please take me with you,” Josh pleaded.

“Come on, Theodore. Time is wasting away. Don’t listen to Josh, and jump in the Humvee,” said Sargent Rayner.

“No, wait Josh said.”

“The Sergeant waved for, Theodore’s attention. ‘Time is wasting. Don’t listen to Josh.’”

“I can’t wait any longer, Josh, I have to do now what the Sergeant asks me to do, or I will be without a job.”

“No.”

“Josh, please let go of my arm. I’ve got to go.”

“Okay, fine, Theodore. I will let go of your arm. Just please promise me that the chopper will be here.”

“It will be, don’t worry about it.”

“I am sad to see you go, Theodore.”

“It will be okay, trust me.”

“Last call soldier. If you don’t get in the Humvee now, you will have to walk a mile or two to Point Bravo. Come on, we can’t afford to waste any more time here. We need to find that Taliban scout before he gets away.”

“Hey, Sergeant Rayner, do you think we will find the Taliban scout today?”

“If we get going, we will. I saw that you felt so bad for Josh.”

“I did because I have a big heart and care. You were giving Josh the cold shoulder, and I did not like it.”

“If you don’t like how I am, then you can get out of the truck and walk and be yourself—is that what you want?”

“No, it’s not that bad.

“That’s what I thought, Theodore. Now sit back and try to relax.”

“I can’t relax, we are in the middle of a war zone, and I’m nervous. We almost got hit by a mortar strike the Taliban set up. Weren’t you afraid, Sergeant Rayner?”

“No, I was not afraid of the mortar strikes. They were close, but they were off target and missed us.”

“How are the other soldiers doing?”

“They are doing fine but had to head back to base for an emergency.”

“What kind of emergency?”

“I heard over the radio that the Taliban was trying to attack the military base, and they had to go back to protect it.”

“Did you hear if they were able to protect it?”

“Yes, they protected the base just fine and now everything is going good again. But now we are the only unit out here—we don’t have a backup unit. Just you and me, and we have to reach Point Bravo before sundown.”

“Aren’t you going a little too fast?”

“No, I am driving just fine.”

“We have to pull over.”

“Why?”

“I feel like I am going to throw up.”

“Come on, are you a boy or a soldier? We have to go on.”

“I’m sorry. My stomach just feels tight and I feel sick.”

“I am not going to babysit you, Rayner.”

“I can see what looks like something covering the road a few yards ahead of us. Could you please slow down and stop? I think it could be an IED.”

“But you don’t know for sure.”

“Here, let me get out and take a closer look.”

“Soldier, get back here and that is an order. I would rather you stay back here and let me call the bomb squad, I don’t want to see you get blown up.”

“Yes, but I can still take a quick look.”

“Alright, go ahead, but just exercise great caution when stepping around the explosive device.”

“I will and don’t worry.”

“I have good reason to worry about you, soldier. It’s just you and me out here now. I wish the units could have come back out here to cover us but they can’t right now.”

Theodore walked over to where he thought the IED was and looked down; he saw a wire sticking up out of the brown, dusty ground. It looked like a big bomb and gave him reason to believe it was a two-bomb combination and would have enough force to blow their Humvee sky high and kill both of them instantly. The glare of the sun was now right in his eyes, and because of this he almost lost his footing near where the trip wire was to the bomb.

He was breathing heavy and his heart was beating a mile a minute. He was breathing extra heavy and the sweat was still running down his back. His uniform was getting hot, and he just wanted to take it off but could not. He looked down at the bomb again and he saw that there was a snake crawling around near the dynamite.

This made him concerned, so he backed away from the snake and the bombs. He quickly walked back to the Humvee where the Sergeant was waiting.

“Hey, what did you see?”

“I saw two bombs and their tripwire, and there was a snake crawling around the bombs.”

“Do you know much about defusing a bomb, Theodore?”

“No, I do not, and I am afraid that the snake is going to crawl over the trip wire and set the bomb off, which will kill both of us.”

The sergeant’s jaw dropped, and he had a puzzled look on his face. “Now I don’t know what to say, Theodore.”

“Hey, Sergeant Rayner where is the bomb squad leader at?”

“I don’t know.”

“Perhaps you could call him on the radio and tell him to come out here to defuse the bomb.”

“Did the bomb look very complex to you?”

“No, not from what I could see.”

“You know what, Theodore. I am getting tired of the Taliban setting up these ridiculous complicated bombs. It’s like they just like to always see things get blown up.”

“It seems to me, Sergeant, that the Taliban are not happy with us trying to take over their territories.”

“That is a true statement, but between you and me I don’t even know why we are over here. We should not be here, and besides that, there is always going to be some sort of turmoil going on over here in the Middle East. There is no way that we should try to talk to them, they just want to kill us and run. I don’t know who they think they are, acting like that.”

“Yes, but Sergeant, there are some good Taliban people out there.”

“I was not saying that there was not. I was just stating a fact about their behavior. I have met a Taliban family, Theodore and they were very nice and offered me to join their family for dinner. That was very nice of them, and it’s good to hear that some of them are that considerate.” “I still can’t think about what to do about that bomb in the middle of the road.”

“Well, all I can say is you better back up this Humvee, or you will stand a chance of getting blown up. Why are you going to get blown up? Because that snake could crawl over the trip wire at any time and blow both of us in a split second. Is that what you want to happen?”

“No.” “Are you going to back this truck up or am I going to have to take control?”

“No, I will back it up Just give me a moment.”

“We don’t have a moment. Do it now to save both of us.”

“Yes, but the bomb did not go off yet.” “You don’t know when it’s going to go off, so don’t talk smart to me, especially out here.”

“You don’t know everything, Sergeant, and I just want to do the right thing, and you just sit here and don’t know what to do next.”

“You know what, Theodore, get out of here, and let me think about this for a moment.”

“You don’t have time though.”

“Okay, I backed the truck up a few yards.”

“That’s not enough. The blast from that bomb will throw debris hundreds of yards into the air. The debris could hit you and take out your sight or even stun you for a while.”

“I’m not going to get out of the Humvee right now because that would-be suicide.”

“I hope that the bomb does not go off right now.”

“I bet it will Sergeant.”

“Now, you are the one talking negative.”

All of a sudden, the snake touched the trip wires as it crawled along, and the bombs exploded with so much intensity that it threw debris hundreds of yards in their direction. Dust and sand went all over and caused a miniature dust cloud, neither one of them could see anything for a few minutes. Once the dust cloud settled there were some rocks lying directly in their path. The blast had shaken the Humvee with so much force that it shattered a side window.

“Now, do you see why I said move the Humvee back?”

“Yes, I do.”

“We are lucky to be alive.”

“I know that, Theodore.”

“Hey, would you man the machine gun?”

“No. I don’t want to stick my head out and got myself killed.”

“You’re not going to get hit.”

“You don’t know that Sergeant. I am already risking my life just by being here. I think we are going to get ambushed and come under fire.”

“I don’t believe that, Theodore. Now, why don’t you keep your negative thinking to yourself.”

“I’m just trying to keep you safe, Sarge.”

“Okay, Theodore, why don’t you take the wheel, and I will man the machine gun.”

“No, I don’t want you to stick your head out either.”

“I am going to anyway.”

CHAPTER 2

A TOUGH SITUATION

All of a sudden Theodore heard a stray round that struck the left quarter panel of the Humvee. “Hey, Sergeant, we are now coming under fire, I suggest that you forget about manning the gun and put the Humvee into gear and get out of here.”

“Are you sure that there aren’t any more roadside bombs in the way?”

“No, I am not sure Sergeant.”

“You better hope that we don’t run over an IED. I better listen to you, Theodore. You know what’s going on in your surroundings, and that’s good.”

Then suddenly another bullet struck the right quarter panel of the Humvee. “Oh, no, Sergeant, we just took another hit. We need to figure out where the rounds are coming from and take out the enemy.”

“We are just sitting ducks out here, and we need to keep moving so it’s harder for the enemy to pinpoint us. So, what do you suggest that we do, Theodore?”

“I suggest that we try to get to Point Bravo and keep a lookout for any incoming enemy. Watch out Sergeant, get down.” A round came through the bulletproof glass windshield and whizzed right past the Sergeant’s head, hitting the back of the headrest directly behind him.

His heart was racing, and he was shaking. “That was too close”

“I know it was; we need to get out of here.”

“Hey, Theodore, I think that we need to get out of the Humvee and hide behind it.”

“Listen, Sergeant, you don’t know if another bullet is coming our way.”

“Thank you for making me duck, or I would have been killed.”

“That was no usual shooter; that was a sniper Sergeant, and we need to find out where the sniper is situated up on the mountain. That shot was too close for comfort, and I now realize that we are in grave danger. I don’t know of any place to hide, Sergeant. I think that we need to keep on moving.”

“Theodore, I agree with you.”

“We need to drive in a different direction, to try to confuse the sniper.”

“Do you know what kind of gun that bullet came from?”

“I have to take a look at the round to find out. I am looking around in here and can’t find the bullet casing. Hold on a moment and I will find it. It must be in here somewhere.”

Theodore reached down between the two seats, and there the round was rolling around on the floor. He quickly picked it up. It was still warm. “I am so thirsty, Sergeant, that I could drink two bottles of water in one sip.”

“You sound like you are dehydrated, and that could cause you even more problems.”

“Don’t worry about me right now. We are in a tight spot here and have to think clearer before we get shot.”

“Okay, now that you have the round in your hand, what kind of rifle did the round come from?”

“It looks to me like the rifle that he is using is an AK74 with a long-range scope on it.”

“Is it an armor-piercing round, Theodore?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Great. You know what that means?”

“What is that Sergeant?”

“These bullets will easily pass through the armor of this Humvee. I have never been in a worse situation such as this one. I am not sure that we should even try to fulfill the mission; it’s just too much of a risk right now. I think we should call base and tell them that we are going to need more ground troops, that this just is not working out in our favor, Theodore.”

“Yes, but we are men, and I will never back down even in the toughest of situations. I am a warrior and will fight the enemy until they stand down. I won’t lay down and let them tread on me. I willing to defend my country.”

“I hear you, but how is what you just said going to help us out of this situation?”

“It won’t.”

“So please take your time, Theodore and help me to come up with a plan to get us out of harm’s way. First things first we have to keep driving in a different direction. Next, we need to pull over and get out of the Humvee, then I will use the spotting scope to find out where the sniper is situated. Why don’t you just use the scope on your assault rifle? Because I prefer looking for my enemy through the spotting scope; it’s just what I feel comfortable with using. Watch out, Theodore.”

Another bullet came passing through the passenger’s side window and struck the radio with a direct hit.

“Stop the Humvee, Sergeant. We need to get out of here. That was so close to hitting me. I can’t catch my breath after that attack—my heart is racing and I got the cold sweats.

“Are you saying that we need to abandon the Humvee?”

“Yes, we do if you want to stay alive. You never know what other weapons the enemy might have. They might shoot an RPG at us, and that would be the end of us and this truck. We would both be in heaven looking down and not realizing what had just happened. We have to make our decisions smart ones and must outthink and outmaneuver our enemy. Come on, Sergeant what’s taking you so long?”

“I wanted to check the radio to see if it still worked after the round passed through it.”

“No, Sergeant, the radio is entirely busted up.”

“What are we going to do now, Theodore?” “We are getting out of the Humvee right now.”

Then an armor-piercing round struck the front hood of the Humvee.

“Did you hear that Sergeant? That was the sound of another round passing through the Humvee’s body.

“I am afraid to get out of the Humvee and walk around outside. I don’t want to get picked off by that sniper. He knows his stuff and will keep on shooting at us until he either hits one of us or runs out of ammunition.”

“Okay let’s go.”

They both opened the doors as fast as they could and ran over by a large gray boulder. As they ran away from the Humvee, another bullet came flying in from afar and struck the Humvee in the driver’s side door. The bullet passed through the one door and went halfway into the passenger side door. Theodore was lucky that the armor-piercing round did not go through the driver’s side, or it would have hit him in the right kneecap.

“We are so lucky that we have not been hit yet.”

“You’re right, Theodore. Now stay behind these large boulders, and I will take some time to look around our new surroundings.”

“Good luck soldier, I hope you can figure where the sniper is positioned right now. I am tired of that sniper shooting at us, I just want to find him and kill him.

“I know you do, Sergeant but it’s just not that simple. I am thinking about how we are going to reach him; it’s not going to be easy.”

“You are just going to have to hold on with me and be patient.”

“We cannot let that sniper stop us; we are made for better things than to let that sniper beat us. We are American and there is nothing like an American—we are strong and we can beat him. I will make the shot that kills him—you won’t need to do anything but watch.”

“So, what you are saying to me, Theodore, is that you want to do everything on this mission. Do you think that the sniper knows we are behind this boulder?”

“I hope not, Sergeant.”

“Now I am going to look out, so let me focus all of my attention on the sniper.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“Theodore, just keep sitting here with me, that’s all. I am going to figure out where he is. Alright, I am looking through the spotting scope and I can’t seem to get the scope to focus. There is a big smudge on the lens, so I am trying to get the smudge cleaned off. Incoming.”

“Sergeant, what’s incoming?”

“An RPG. Quick, duck down.”

The RPG hit the Humvee directly in the front end. The RPG round exploded on impact, and the Humvee was thrown up a few feet off of the ground and was now engulfed in hot, orange flames. The fire was so intense that it melted part of the Hummer.

“I can’t believe that the Taliban just targeted us again and blew up our only means of transportation. How dare them!”

“Listen, Sergeant, we are not going to dwell on what just happened.”

“By the way, Theodore do you know where the sat phone is?”

“Yes, I do. I have it right here in the left side pocket; would you like it, Sergeant?”

“No, not right now. I just wanted to make sure that you had it. I am sad to see our Humvee sitting over there on fire.”

“It is what it is, Sergeant. At least we are still alive.”

“Are you going to take a shot at the sniper, Theodore?”

“No, how could I if I don’t know where he is, and I am not going to waste any of my ammo.”

“What’s taking you so long to find the location of the sniper?”

“I don’t know. I can’t just snap my fingers and make things happen. Hey, Sarge.”

“What?”

“There are two men with long gray beards standing by a large boulder just eighty or so feet away.”

“Do they look like a threat to you?”

“No, I think they are just shepherds with their sheep.”

Just then three sheep were walking around the two men. Then a woman appeared behind the one guy.

She was wearing a red turban and had a disfigured face. She had all of her long hair tucked up in her turban. The two shepherds kept on walking around in a circle around their sheep. This did not make much sense, it seemed like they were moving around in a circle to let the terrorists know of their location. All of a sudden two more men came walking up the hill. Now there were five sheep standing around by the men. The one shepherd had a long wooden staff and was wearing an old robe that had some holes in it.

“Tell me what you are seeing over there?”

“Okay, how about if I let you take a look through the spotting scope.”

“I would like to do that, thank you. These spotting scopes work so well. Hey, did you see the shepherds, Theodore?”

“Yes, I did, and they are nothing to worry about.”

“You know two hours have passed, and we should have been to Point Bravo by now.”

“I know that Sergeant, but we came under fire and need to stay down before the sniper shoots us.”

“Alright, Theodore, I am done looking through the scope.” He gently gave Theodore his scope back.

“I think that I know where the sniper is.”

“That is great to hear. Why don’t you take a shot at him and take him out?”

“I want to make sure that I will have a clear shot.”

“Once you take out the sniper, we will be able to move on and get to Point Bravo. By the way, Theodore, do you think that the machine gun on top of the Humvee still works?”

“I bet it still does. But we can’t go over there to the Humvee because it’s still on fire. It won’t help us to make a good shot at the sniper. Now let me concentrate on taking a shot at him.”

“Are the shepherds still there?”

“No, they just walked back down the hill. I can’t take a shot, now.”

“Why’s that?”

“There is a little boy walking over here. He looks like he is ten years old, and there is no one else with him. It seems strange to me.”

“How close is he to us?”

“He is just a few feet away from us.”

“I hope he is not a suicide bomber.”

“I don’t think that he is Sergeant, don’t worry.”

“Why don’t you stand up and talk to the boy.”

“If I did that I would get shot by the sniper.”

“You make everything so much more complicated, Theodore.”

“No, I don’t, I just don’t want to get shot. Okay, I am going to try to say something to the boy. Hey, boy, what are you doing?” There was no answer; the boy just stared at them.

“Do you know what I am saying, boy?” He shook his head back and forth. “What are you doing here?”

“I don’t think you should keep asking him questions, Theodore.” The boy kneeled down in front of Theodore and began to stare at him. “I don’t think that he likes us, Theodore.”

“Why not?”

“He keeps staring at you and won’t answer.”

“I have a bad feeling about this, Sergeant. Listen, little boy, I need you to leave and please go back where you came from and take cover.” The boy did not move and kept his both green eyes focused on, Theodore. “Come on, boy, get up. I don’t want to ask you again.”

“Don’t talk to him like that, Theodore. He might run back to his mother and tell the terrorists of our location.”

“I think that we need to move our position, Sarge.”

“How about if I try to talk to the boy, Theodore?”

“Alright, go ahead.” “Hey, boy, can you answer some yes and no questions for me?”

The boy picked up a small rock and held it tightly in his left hand. He moved his hands around behind him and had a grin on his face.

“Can you shake your head to the left and right? Shake your head to the right for yes and to the left for no. Now are you here just to say hello or for another reason? Shake your head yes or no?” He shook his head to the right and stood back up. “Where are you going, boy? Fine, then don’t answer me.” The boy walked off to the left down the steep rocky hill. He continued to walk on and soon he was out of sight.

“That was a close call, Sarge.”

“I agree. My palms were getting all sweaty. I was not sure what was going to happen. Before any more time passes by, line up the scope with the sniper’s scope and take the shot.”

“The scope on my M-16 is not as good as the sniper’s scope.”

“I don’t want to hear any excuses, soldier. Now get a move on.”

“Okay, I can see the sniper; he is lying down looking through his scope. Alright, I am going to take the shot.” Theodore slowly squeezed the trigger and made sure he was lined up. He aimed right at the sniper’s head, and he held his breath for a moment then squeezed the trigger. The bullet went exactly where he wanted it to go—it struck the sniper right between the eyes.

The sniper’s dead body rolled down the hill into the ravine below. Then he looked further off to his left, and there was another terrorist holding his AK-47 tightly in his hands. He had a real stern look on his face and was mad to see his friend get shot.

He quickly took cover behind a large rock and lay in a prone position. He aimed his AK-47 and took a shot toward, Theodore. The bullet just missed him—it whizzed past and hit the rock right beside him.

“Get down, Theodore, you almost got shot.”

“I know, but I am aiming at him to take the next shot.”

“You don’t have much time to get on the next target.”

“I am acquired on the terrorist.”

“Take the shot right now.”

Again, he slowly pulled the trigger back as the bullet hit the terrorist in his left shoulder and made him fall back onto the ground.

“Hurry up, Theodore, lock, and load before he gets the chance to take another shot at us.”

Theodore chambered another round and got lined up with his target again and took a shot. This bullet struck the terrorist in the chest. His body remained there motionless.

“Are there any more snipers out there, Theodore?”

“No.”

“How about other enemies?”

“Not that I can see.”

“Okay, then we have to get out from behind this large boulder and get on down the road.

“Are you ready, Sergeant?”

“Yes, I am ready, let’s go.”

They both began to get up and walk down the road when a mortar round hit the Humvee right on the top and blew up the machine gun.

The machine gun was on fire and you could feel the hot fire coming off it.

“Now you know why I mentioned that we need to keep moving.”

“Is it getting hotter out here or is it just me Sarge?”

“To me, it feels the same. Now enough about the weather. Let’s keep watch and try to stay safe.”

“Hey, look, Sarge, there is a small, run-down shack off to our right. Do you think that anyone lives in that shack?”

“I don’t know. Maybe we should find out.”

“Alright if you want to we will.”

“Do you want to kick the door in, or should I?

“You kick in the door in Sarge, I don’t have much energy left to do it. Besides that, I need to hydrate.” Theodore took a quick sip from his bottle of water. They reached the old run-down shack and the door had a lock on it. “Sarge, this door has a lock on it. Look in the distance, Sarge. There’s small village over there.”

“I am looking through my spotting scope, and I can see at least five people out in the street walking around.”

“Do they look like they are going to be a threat?”

“No, they don’t, and they are probably just farmers. There is a woman and her two kids standing beside her. They are both girls.”

“What are they doing?”

“Just standing there relaxed.”

“What’s that noise?”

“I don’t know. What’s it sound like?”

“It sounds like your sat phone is going off. It might be our base trying to get in contact with us, why don’t you put your gun down and take out the sat phone and check. Come on, you have to be quicker than that. Let’s go, soldier, it’s time to hurry up. They are not going to keep calling the sat phone.”

Theodore put the sat phone up to his ear and heard one single beep and that was all.

“Come on, soldier answer the phone.”

“There is no one there to talk to.”

“So, you missed the call—now what are we going to do? We may not hear back from them today.”

“You don’t know that though, Sarge.”

“You know what, Theodore? This mission has been a real disaster. You aren’t doing everything that you should, soldier.”

“I don’t want to hear that; I am doing all I can for you, Sergeant.”

“We have been around each other way too long now.”

“Now, Sergeant, are you going to kick in the door, or are you going to forget about it?”

“No just give me a moment to get around to it.”

“I don’t think that you should kick the door in. I just don’t trust it.”

“There is a lock on the door, so I will just pull out my pistol and shoot the lock off.”

“No, don’t do that, Sergeant. It will disturb the people in the nearby town. We don’t want to draw attention to ourselves.”

“Alright, so how else am I going to open the door then?”

“Try to pick the lock.”

All of a sudden, an explosion went off, and the door fell in, throwing them both back flat on their backs. There was a lot of dust in the air and it took some time for it to settle.

“I don’t feel so good, Sergeant.”

“Why? What’s the matter?”

“A stone hit me hard in my left thigh, and it hurts. I can’t see right, Sarge; my sight is all fuzzy. I need your help to get up. I am dazed and confused and can’t seem to balance.”

“That was a big bomb. I was not expecting that to happen.”

“Could you help me get up now, Sarge?”

“Yes, just give me a moment.”

All of a sudden, a drone flew over. The drone was flying very low, and Theodore could hear the drone’s motors as it whizzed by.

“Did you see the drone, Sergeant?”

“Yes, I did, and I still don’t feel any safer with the drone being around.”

The Sergeant helped Theodore to stand up and then some of the people from the town came wandering over to them. They greeted them and said hello. There was a tall man with a clean-shaven face with a scar on his left cheek.