It was April 9th of 2007, I’d been in the Army for several months, most of it stationed in Afghanistan. It was rough, especially with Sergeant Peters trying to break me. I missed my life back home. I missed my girlfriend Maria and my cat Mr. Pibb. I needed a break, I needed to find peace and acceptance. These were my thoughts that day when I first saw combat on Dailia Abullah road on the outskirts of Kabul.
Sergeant Peters: I hate riding with you Private. I’m hungry, its noontime and I have to ride in a f*cking Jeep through the hot desert.
Private Velez: I’m sorry sir. I’m sorry I’m the one escorting you. I’ll check our coordinates and calculate our arrival time.
Sergeant Peters: Yeah, you do that. sh*t, I have to report to Bagram Air Base. You know, I chose you Private because if I’m going to suffer, than so will you. You’re a waste Velez. I’m going to make sure you’re dishonorably discharged from the service. We don’t need bitchy assed homosexuals in the military.
Private Velez: I want to serve in the military, I’ll try harder, sir.
Sergeant Peters: You’re f*cking useless Velez. I can’t believe a dyke like you was allowed in. You can keep quiet all you like about your filthy sex habits but you’re one of them. That damn Hawaiian in Chief, better not allow you fruits to serve openly, the military has enough problems.
Samantha Velez: Sigh. Sorry sir. GPS is saying we’re only 20 minutes away from Air Base.
As Sergeant Peters prepared more homophobic abuse, that’s when we both noticed it. An RPG was headed toward the Humvee leading us to Bagram Air Base.
Sergeant Peters: What the f*ck!
SSSSSSSSSSSS WWWWWWWWW RRRRRRRRR KKKKK AAAAA BBBBOOOOOOMMM!!!
The round hit the leading Humvee, causing the vehicle to jump into the air. Burning shrapnel shot through the sky, scattering in all directions. We saw our lead of four soldiers thrown onto the hot sand. We heard the next round coming but didn’t see it. It missed as a direct hit but still caused our Jeep to flip over on its side. I was okay but Sergeant Peters wasn’t.
Sergeant Peters: Ah, my arms broken. I think my leg is too. Velez…
Private Velez: I’m fine sir, where are they? We were supposed to have cleared this region of Taliban last week.
Sergeant Peters: Help me Velez.
That’s when machinegun fire was heard. I scanned the hills and finally saw a line of twenty Taliban firing on our convoy. They were wearing scarfs and Muslim garbs while taking aim at the soldiers who were in the lead. I grabbed my M-4 Carbine.
Private Velez: I’ve got my gun. The insurgents are killing our lead. I’m going to help.
Sergeant Peters: What? Private we need to radio in for help.
Private Velez: You radio in, I’ll go check on the others.
I didn’t think much at first with what I was doing but I did it anyways. My comrades were 25 yards ahead, two of them had landed behind their burning Humvee to safety. I picked myself up and held my M-4 tight and pushed forward. I laid down fire on the Taliban, as I made my way to my fellow men. My shots had forced the insurgents to duck down and stop their advance. When I reached the Humvee, Private Brians was sheltering in place but had visible shrapnel wounds. Private Brians had his rifle in hand. Private Scott was unconscious.
Private Velez: Provide me cover fire. I’ll go get the other two!
Private Brians: Okay, I’ll get into position.
KKKKKK POP POP POP POP POP KKKKKKKK POP POP POP POP POP KKKKKKK!!!!!!!
I slung my M-4 around my shoulder and moved forward into the barrage. Private Brians started firing, as I looked up, two Taliban fell dead. When I got to the soldiers, I noticed they were in bad shape. One missing a leg and the other his arm. I grabbed Sergeant Yates and started dragging him. I was never that strong but I did it anyways. As I got Sergeant Yates to the safety behind the Humvee I felt it. I had been shot in the thigh. The pain was almost too much to move.
Private Brians: Get down! You okay?
Private Velez: I’m fine. Both Sergeant Yates and Private Daniels are seriously injured and not communicating. I’m going for Daniels now. Watch over Yates and provide me some more cover.
Private Brians: Wait, you’ve been hit, you’re going to die out there.
I didn’t answer. I knew if I had replied, I’d have not gone for Private Daniels. I could feel the pain and taste blood in my mouth. It was better to just push through, better to forget it all. I didn’t care anymore. I had only one thing to do in the world to do and that was saving Private Daniels. So I ran to Private Daniels, I ran into death, not knowing if I would live or die.
KKKKKK POP POP POP POP POP KKKKKKKK POP POP POP POP POP KKKKKKK!!!!!!!
All I could hear was gunfire. Private Brians was returning fire and the air stunk of gunpower and burning metal. The Taliban were firing and moving toward us. As I reached Private Daniels, the sand all around was getting picked up by the bullets. I could hear rounds swishing by my head. I grabbed Private Daniels and started to drag him to safety. Half way there, I felt another bullet hit. It was a graze wound of my right arm. The sting scorched and I let out a yell. The wound made me loss grip of Private Daniels for a second, but I was able to get it back and keep going. As I got Private Daniels to safety, I hoped it was over.
Private Brians: Whoa, Daniels is f*cked up, what’s Sergeant Peters doing? We need a radio!
Private Velez: I’ll go check on Peters.
That’s when I went out there once more, into the sights of the Taliban’s crosshairs. I crouched down this time and made my way to Sergeant Peters. Private Brians continued to provide cover fire and fended off the insurgents from advancing any further.
Private Velez: Sergeant Peters, we need a radio.
Sergeant Peters: I was able to call in for assistance. Where not far from Bagram Air Base. They should be here soon. Get some clips from the Humvee. You’re going to need them. We’re going to have to fight the insurgents ourselves until help arrives.
Private Velez: Yes sir, I will.
For a moment, I was taken over by happiness, happiness that Sergeant Peters would be so kind to me. I had tears in my eyes over this but after looking away, the pain in my leg and arm took over. Now the tears came from my wounds. I dug through an ammo crate in the Jeep and retrieved several ammo clips and put them in a backpack. I was about to leave when Sergeant Peters grabbed me by my arm.
Sergeant Peters: Somethings wrong with my back. I can’t move.
Private Velez: Sorry sir. Daniels, Yates, and Scott are hurt too. Me and Brians will hold the Taliban off until reinforcements arrive.
Then I got down and made my way to Private Brians while firing at the approaching Taliban to hold them off. He saw me coming and emptied his clip, so I could make my way to his position. The winds were picking up, sand was in the air, but I made it to Private Brians. I leapt behind the Humvee with the sound of bullets ricocheting as I finally was secure.
Private Velez: Here, I have ammo. We have to hold the Taliban off until reinforcements arrive. Sergeant Peters radioed in for assistance, but it will be a while.
Private Brians: Okay, we need to keep returning fire to keep the Taliban from reaching our location. If they get any closer, they will be able to kill us all.
As we reloaded our guns, I realized what I had done. I had done something that most never would. But before I could dream anymore, more gunfire erupted. So we returned fire. Private Brians and I took turns doing bursts of several shots each at a time. The Taliban had moved in several yards more from where we had first spotted them. They had twelve men left, several of them lying dead in the sand, two had rolled down a dune. The fighting continued like this for what seemed forever. But finally our reinforcements did arrive. We could hear them approaching by the sound of rotaries. Soon an Apache helicopter flew overhead and straight toward the insurgents.
RRRRRRR TTTTTTTTT AAAAAAAAA TTTTTTTTTT RRRRRR AAAAAAAAA TTTTT AAAA!!!!!!!
The Apache’s machineguns chewed the insurgents to pieces. A few of them tried to run but seconds later were also gunned down. It was now over.
It was then I remembered those I love. It was then that I had time to remember Maria and I cried that I could have died and been without her.
I think back now to this day. It was the first time I saw combat. Sergeant Yates and Private Daniels survived and were honorable discharged. Private Brians and Scott remain in service. And so did Sergeant Peters, he spent a couple of months in the hospital but was finally able to return to service. Combat taught me that I was a soldier and had what it takes, I just needed to show everyone else that. I gained the respect of my peers and also that of Sergeant Peters. After what happened, I was all that Peters would talk about. We get along great now and instead of him cussing me out and calling me a homosexual. Now he calls me his friend, his hero.
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