We lined the platoon up on the airfield at dusk
Turned on the four-ways on all the trucks
And when the time came, I said ‘move out’.
Nobody talked. The radio was silent
We drove down the taxiway onto the road
Ten miles per hour is as fast as we went
Towards the helipad near headquarters
Where I could see a crowd gathering
It seemed to take forever to get there
But we dreaded our arrival, as if
Somehow if we didn’t reach our destination
None of this would be real
But it was very real and we arrived
As we knew we would, where a detail
Had formed, and the crowd stood by
As we came to a halt and dropped-ramp
And as ceremoniously as we could muster
For being sweaty and still dirty from the day
We carried the litter from the belly of the truck
Those long fifty paces to the helicopter.
There had to be sixty people there, but
I don’t remember hearing a sound
And we slid the litter into the bird
The body bag of our fallen friend.
The crew chief unwrapped a flag
And we helped drape it over the litter
As the troopers lined up single file.
“Take care of him” I said; the chief nodded
We said our goodbyes and I touched
What I figured was his leg, but all
I felt was the cold, stiff green plastic
And walking away, whispered ‘Godspeed’.