Bright orange flame pierced the dark
Of night – the sound of machine-gun
Fire and RPG’s whistling overhead as
I tried to call Charlie three-two; the
Stryker directly in front of me that
Was hit. There was no answer other
Than the sound of our return fire as
We suppressed the stretch of town
That was dark except for the twinkle
Of muzzle flashes from every rooftop.
We tried to speed through the ambush
But adrift Charlie three-two began to
List a little to the right, off the road and
Then came to a halt; we are now stopped
In the kill-zone. The entire convoy spat
Lead at the buildings and rooftops.
Having no comms from the Stryker I
Ordered the medic out with dismounts
To cover his advance. The medic was in the
Rear of the convoy so I dispatched my
Own dismount to secure three-two and
Provide covering fire; the convoy still engaged.
The Engineer Battalion we had in tow
Had no night vision and therefore drove
With their headlights on; and as I lowered
The ramp for Kirk to dismount, we locked
Eyes and we both knew what we had to do.
He ran down the back of the ramp and into
White light of the Engineers behind me;
Bullets began to kick dust spots in the
Road around his feet as Kirk weaved left
Then paused and spun right – like a football
Player in the big game, dodging the incoming
Fire in an odd dance of which he was the lone
Participant; scared I’m sure but fearless so
He could make it to our wounded men.
And all this occurring in mere seconds, my
Finger still on the switch raising the ramp as
He bobbed and weaved; the tightest pit in
My stomach because I yearned to be on
The ground with him, the man who has my
Back when I dismount – cast into the
Metallic wind on that cold night, illuminated
By his own, making the Hajji’s job easier
And as the ramp slammed shut and Kirk
Zig-zagged his way into the darkness I
Realize the true meaning of leadership –
To knowingly want to be right beside the man
You are sending into harms way, yet have the
Discipline to stay right where you are;
Hands on your rifle but keeping one free for
Cradling the radio mic. Directing battle.
Nothing they teach you in courses or class can
Compare to the lesson learned when you
Stay right where you are, while the men you
Love with every ounce of your soul run into
A sea of fire at your command.