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“Echo company listen up,” I said addressing all seven of my soldiers in the room. “Today at 1300 we’ll be sweeping houses on patrol looking for high value targets. We’ll be on our own until 1600 so every one stay sharp, we’re not in Iowa any more, this is Iraq. Hoah?”
“HOAH!” They replied in unified pride.
“Everyone load up in the hummers, we’re out of here in fifteen minutes. Check your weapons and ammunition, its going to be a h*** of a day,” I warned them.
Street stopped to talk to me like he did before every assignment we went on. He was next in command to me and extremely cautious and leery of every mission. He is a great Sergeant Major, but not a risk taker; he always sticks to the plan. I take his opinions into consideration, but I still do things my way. ”Mason, your not going to do anything crazy like last time right?” he asked hoping his last lecture would have had some affect on me.
“No promises,” I said laughing as I walked away.
He grabbed my arm. “Mason!” he yelled. Then almost in a whisper said, ”You almost got Hansen killed last time. Remember? When you took off running through that house and he ran after you to cover your a**?”
I cut him off. “I told him to hold! He chose to go in against orders. Hansen only got grazed. Besides you know we couldn’t just sit there, we had to move to the next room before we got pinned down. I did what I had to do to get us out of there alive!”
“Did you just get grazed?” he cautiously added.
He stood there speechless as I walked to the lead hummer with my “Soldiers Mask.” My wife is the one who named the face; the emotionless, blank, straight and blink-less face that I wear when something’s on my mind. The one I wear when I’m hiding my thoughts, like a soldier’s poker face.
After I jumped in the passenger’s seat of the lead hummer, he jumped in the second hummer. When I got in O’Conner took off to our assignment location, down town Bagdad. O’Conner alway drove the lead hummer, he used to race figure-8 cars back in Iowa so it can’t be much different. He likes to get things done one way or another, that’s why I chose him to be on Team One with me. “How’s the arm?” O’Conner asked.
“Not bad feels like a bicep that had a 7.62x39mm AK-47 round go through it two days ago,” I replied laughing.
The other two men in Team One where jackson, and Erickson.