It was a dark, brisk night. The sky was the color of a tequila shot being poured into a depressed solo cup. So basically the sky was red. Two gentlemen, wearing suits, walked into the RedRider Bar and Grill in, Rockford, Illinois. I had already been seated. RedRider gave military discounts to our current troops and veterans of any war. Maybe that's the reason these gentlemen took a couple of steps onto the old wooden floor before sitting down at the stained bar top three seats from myself. I guess I haven't really explained who I am. My name is James Lewis. I'm a local star of a television show.
“What can I get y’all?” the waiter said to them in a swift soothing voice.
“Can I get a Bud Light” one gentleman said.
“Yup, what do you want hon?”
“Give me a Millers” said the shorter man wearing a navy blue suit.
“I can do that, anything else?”
“Nope, that’s all” the short man said while smiling.
“Alright I’ll have them in a sec’ guys”
“Thanks,” the short gentleman said.
The door swung open. A man in a Wounded Warrior's shirt rolled in.
“Respect” the short man said.
“Bro, what the hell are you talking about?” The taller man said.
“Him, right there” using his stubby index finger to point in the direction of a young man rolling through the bar and grill.
“I’m lucky to walk right now” the shorter man said.
“Wait? Explain if you want to.” the taller man whispered. “You don't have to though.”
“Operation Bluebird. March 14, 2003. Our mission was to extract an IED located under a 100 foot wooden bridge. Our platoon was in charge of security around our objective. Lieutenant Web saw a truck approach the bridge. An order for the truck drive to stop was immediately initiated. Time stopped just after gunshots rang out as the truck sped off.
I saw his eyes drop abruptly through the thick alpine trees. He hit the wet mountainous terrain. I moved myself five feet forward to the moss covered Douglas fir ahead of me. I drew my gun. The shivers were riding my spine as I crept forward to support our fallen Lieutenant. I felt a small vibration on my waist. It was my assigned radio. I could hear the faint voice of my Platoon Commander, more shots fired from an unknown direction, he rang out.
What do I do? Would my wife and kids back in Illinois understand? I felt my waist vibrate once more.
“RedRider, our interceptors heard taliban radio chat identifying your position. Move back to the vehicles asap! That's an order!”
Looking between the two alpine trees in front of me I could see my fallen Lieutenant.
“Red Rider move!” The radio let out.
Nine months ago I left my family to protect my country. I was taught no man was left behind. Disregarding the vibrations letting out by my platoon commander, I raised my gun and proceeded forward. I could see the fear in the lieutenant's eyes.
My radio went silent, something was out of place. I reached the lieutenant and proceeded with the marines standard medical procedures. There was a faint radio command before I had finished packaging up the lieutenant. From the east I heard multiple gunshots. I had little time. I attempted to stand up on the wet mountain terrain. As I rose to carry the wounded I collapsed. I looked down at my leg. One of those distant gunshots have penetrated through my flesh. The pain started to fly in, like the Japanese on Pearl Harbor. My radio busted through the silence.
“Medic! Medic! Medic!”
Five minutes had gone by since the shot pierced through my leg. These five minutes were the longest five I have ever experienced. What was my wife going to do without me? That's all I thought about in that lengthy five minutes.
These thoughts were broken when I heard hope. This hope came in the sounds of a medivac helicopter. I was going to see my wife and kids. I looked over to see the lieutenant's eyes lock to mine. Our thoughts connected.”
We were going to make it out alive.