We’re waiting. I took my helmet off. It’s painted with a dull paint, it doesn’t shine or reflect light. We’re obsessed with camouflage. Everything is dull and painted: guns, knives, GPS, notepads, pencils… We’re waiting patiently, using every moment to rest. Those who can sleep anywhere, anytime are the best. Great quality for a soldier. They stay stronger and can work longer. We were brought to the landing zone by Humvees, each with two M-240 machine guns and .50 cal in a rotating turret on the roof. If we add our assault rifles, we can open fire all around us if need be.
A gentle wind blows, bringing refreshment.
Some movement among the signalmen. New info? Helis arrived? We can’t hear the characteristic sound of rotors.
Change of decision. We’re flying in a Lockheed C-130 Hercules. That means unloaded crates go back to the cars, together with backpacks and weapons. We have to be on the nearby airfield in 10 minutes. They say that the plane can’t wait. We rush over there, the drivers don’t turn the light on. We drive in complete darkness like ghosts. Only the glow of our night vision goggles.
We hear the roar of the Hercules’ engines. The ramp at the back is open. We drive up close and repack all our stuff. The plane crew hurries us, we can only see the red lights turned on. The airfield is under threat of mortar and missile fire. Blackout is in force. Planes are at the most risk when landing and taking off. Quick take off and sharp rise.
We step inside. There’s enough room for several dozen men. There’s only 10 of us and our gear. I feel appreciated. There’s been an escalation in the combat zone. They’re pulling in snipers from all bases. Plenty of work for everybody.
I sit on a tarpaulin chair on the side of the plane. The crates and remaining gear are in the middle. The crew pins it with tape. The cockpit is located up front on a small elevation. The doors are open and you can see hundreds of pilot lights inside. The ramp is closing, our cars are driving away. They say their final goodbyes and wish us good luck. We’re heading out. What will happen? Time will tell. We’re supposed to be back in one piece.
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