Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Excerpt from "Burnt Yellow and Red"

For several weeks the Americans, along with the help of their brothers of the Northern Alliance had been pushing them back, destroying every attempt they made to defend against the insurgency that had so quickly transformed itself into a formidable conventional force and it was now threatening to take over the sacred capital of Afghanistan, Kabul.

The Taliban commander had been busily organizing his defensive positions in the last pass through the mountains, along the road leading into Kabul from the North. This was it, if he couldn’t stop the Americans here, the capital would surely fall into enemy hands and his faith in the beloved Prophet Mohamed and in Allah would be shaken.

“How could Allah allow this to happen,” he asked himself as he watched the Northern Alliance race across the valley floor below on horseback, heading directly towards his position.

He had moved his artillery pieces, Russian artillery and tanks along with what he had left of his infantry units into the Kabul side of the pass. He hoped to block the Americans and their insurgent force that had been defeating his every effort to stop them since the beginning. They had been defeating him at every turn since the success of the glorious attacks against the United States had taken place a little over a month ago.

Many of his men had been killed or captured and now, their backs were against the wall as the onslaught of American air power had not only confounded his every effort but also had destroyed most of his Army. Still, he continued to fight. Still he continued to defend his beloved capital. He would hold on until the last man was killed if it should come to that.

Watching the action unfold through binoculars he noticed a reflection off to one side of the valley floor. Focusing in on it, he saw that there was an American soldier looking through a large, yet oddly shaped set of binoculars directly at him and his position. Quickly the Taliban Commander picked up his hand held radio and called for an artillery strike on that very location.

The gun crews busied themselves, locking rounds in the breach of ten large Russian Artillery pieces. The battery commander held a whistle in his mouth with his left hand, his right hand raised high into the air. As the last gun was readied, he blew his whistle and dropped his hand. Each of the guns fired simultaneously and then began to reload. After that, they all fired at will, six more rounds for each gun; seventy rounds all together were fired at the position that had been identified by the Taliban Commander. The first round had yet to hit the ground when the last round had been fired and then a few seconds later, the gun crews started cheering as they heard the first of the rounds start to explode off in the distance, fifteen miles away.

Mike watched from a mountain top vantage point on the opposite side of the valley, as his team accompanied their Afghani counterparts down into the valley below that had been cleared that night during the early morning hours using close air support. Plumes of smoke were still rising from the burning tanks and vehicles that had been abandoned by the Taliban as they had retreated from the valley.

He heard the sound of the artillery being fired and called on his hand held radio for everybody to take cover and then he watched in horror as the position taken by his TAC-P, Kyle Black was engulfed with the explosions and dust created by the rounds as they started to impact all around his friend.

The Teams Medic, Sanchez, in complete disregard for his own safety immediately started for Kyle’s Position in the dual cab Toyota pick-up that he was using as a medical vehicle. He raced towards Kyle’s position as Mike directed the teams Junior Weapons Sergeant to get his mortars into action against the ridge line to their front. It didn’t take long for the teams’ Jr. Weapons Sergeant, to respond and soon the mortars started falling on the Taliban positions along the ridge line, forcing the Taliban commander to move.

Twenty Afghani soldiers, members of Kyle’s security element that had survived the barrage rushed to where he was and recovered the airmen who had been severely wounded but was still conscience. Three of them picked him up and moved him about two hundred yards back as the Teams’ Medic and now Mike the Team Sergeant raced towards them in separate Toyota trucks.

Kyle’s Afghani brothers found a piece of low ground and carried him to it, taking what protection they could find from the Artillery barrage that continued with its impacts only a few hundred yards away.

Kyle knew he had been hurt badly as they laid him down, gently in a patch of green grass that had been grazed to the nub by sheep. There was a tree with no leaves nearby and he could hear water trickling through the aqueduct that ran the length of the wadi, down to a watering hole he had passed earlier that morning. His body was numb and he could still smell the dust and smoke from the barrage but he couldn’t feel a thing as he drifted off to sleep.

To Kyle the world wrapped itself in a prism of brilliant colors, burnt yellow and red as he slipped into a deep, comfortable sleep, feeling no pain, feeling no fear. Completely unaware of reality he dreamed vividly and found himself watching as his life passed before his very eyes.

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