For explanation of the story, see previous two posts.
I had crawled back to the safety of the ditch under a withering hail of gunfire. I could sense that the ODA guys were relieved to have me nearby again. Once again the team looked to me for guidance. I knew I had to make a decision to get these guys back to safety.
"We gotta get out of here." I shouted over the din of the gunfire.
"We already decided to E&E while you were out there pulling your stupid stunt." The ODA team chief growled at me. "If it wasn't for your stupidity we would have been out of here already."
"I'm trying to save your lives" I retorted. "I've been in 18 ambushes and I think I know whats going on. You've come along way sir, but I don't think your quite ready for this hot of a situation."
"Whatever, we don't have time for your shit." Yelled the team chief as he and his team dashed off down the dry creek bed in order to escape the ambush. I followed soon after, but not before I layed claymore mines along our route to destroy the enemy that followed us.
Twelve hours later we found ourselves pinned down again outside of a village near the Iranian border. It was the last obstacle on our way to freedom. The only thing was, a battalion of Iranian Special troops was hunkered down in the village, raining down their fire on us. Again, it was on me to pull the operation out of the fire, I didn't care what I had to do, I just wanted to get these guys home safe.
"Give me that radio" I demanded to the commo sergeant, "I'm calling in CAS."
"This is a SATCOM unit, it can't talk to air." Replied the inept SF sergeant.
"Oh yeah, watch this." I picked up the antenna array and pointed it at the nearest airplane I could see.
"You're cleared hot to engage targets in the village. Expend all ordnance, its gonna be danger close." Without responding the F-15 streaked in and dropped two 500 lb. bombs. The shock wave rocked me back, the feeling of the overpressure reminded me of the 18 IED attacks I had survived already on this tour.
"Get some." I shouted into the hand set. Over the next 4 hours I called in everything the air force and navy could throw our way. F-15, F-16, F-18, B-1, B-2, B-17, and even a flight of JU-87 Stukas that were pulled out of mothballs. The most amazing moment was when I ordered a KC-135 to dump its fuel over the village followed by a napalm strike to ignite it. The village went up in a mushroom cloud. Then there was silence.
Smoke drifted over our position from the burning remains of the village. It stank of burning flesh and I knew right there that I would have flashbacks for years. My hands shook, I was in awe of the destruction I had wrought.
"Did you see that shit! I f#$ked them up!" I cheered. "Yeehaw."
I saw saw the commo sgt hunched over his radio, handset to his ear, shaking his head in disgust at me.
"That radio isn't even on, shitbird. That was me calling in that air."
The team chief turned to his guys. "Did you see this moron jumping around shouting at a dead radio." He laughed.
"Yeah, what a retard." A wave of laughter swept over the desolate plane. I knew I had earned their respect, even if they showed it in such a weird way.
With the threat destroyed, we pulled on our packs and marched our way back to the relative safety of the Afghan side of the border. COL Fury was waiting there for us and he shook our hands one by one as we crossed border. As I stepped across, COL Fury grasped my hand in his iron grip, "You are truly a great American hero. I know we can't celebrate the story of your success because of the sensitivity of this operation but, rest assured, your fellow countrymen would be proud of your tenacity, and strength."
Suddenly the pain and weariness of the last few days wore off. I took off my hat and stood there gazing off to the setting sun, relieved to be back among the living.