soldier

Where Have You Gone Mary?

Men in plane

 

The screech of tires made me turn and look what danger was coming at us. Mary and I were walking to Wally’s Store for a hot coffee and a pastry. This had been our routine every Thursday. The road we take is a shortcut from our trailer at the park. It is just a goat trail but on occasions vehicles take this road to get to the main road, Federal Road. Some people come back here to buy and sell drugs so we always make sure to go before dark. Mary turned her head too, screaming. There was a loud thumping sound and I saw Mary flying through the air.

Standing at full attention. The Commanding Officer was very intimidating. The squad and I were being instructed on our mission. We were going to war in a foreign country and the jet was leaving in five minutes. I had a few minutes to reflect on life. I was moving on since the death of Mary. She was my rock and I was hers. I was sitting here, looking around of where I was and where I was going. Richie, my friend since boot camp was sitting next to me. I could tell he was thinking about his family just like I was. I really was thinking about what life would of been like with Mary. I certainly had thought about her being my wife. The future of our relationship, children, everything people think about was going through my head and I was having a hard time mentally. I didn’t want to cry in front of my best buddy Richie but tears started to flow. The men and I were loaded into the plane. We were all facing each other, all sitting in jump seats. The men and I were starting to put on our game face, the hunt was on.

Jut back from my morning jog, I’m thirty-eight years old. Where has time gone? There is a lot on my mind lately and I am having a lot of stress at work. I took a quick shower and came downstairs for a coffee. I have to work in ten minutes so I’m going to suck down this coffee real fast. I’m out the door and a few minutes late for work. I can shorten this time if I take the shortcut down the road which is a cross-cut and comes out on Federal Road. I push the pedal down to move things along . I might just make it to work on time. Something flashed, I pushed the brakes on the Jeep real hard. I heard a thumping sound, bodies in front, flying debris.

Sitting in jail, newspaper in hand. I flip the pages to the obituary’s. The first page is showing a young lady. I start reading. Life taken suddenly, unexpected death. I look for her name, Mary.

 

D.H.Bilodeau 2015

Backyard Soldiers

sway

 

I was awaiting the arrival of my new six-horsepower weed-whacker from Bomen’s Store when I heard the coffee pot percolation complete. Oh, the smell of a fresh brewed coffee. I was pouring the coffee when I heard a vehicle come up the driveway. Oh, great my weed-whacker is here. I finished pouring my coffee when out the back window I saw a man dressed in camouflage and carrying a M16 rifle. I jumped back when I saw him point the gun toward the house and then started shooting. The glass in my kitchen window shattered into a million pieces and shards cut through my left arm, slicing layers of skin. I rolled around and was able to crawl to the other side of the house. Army men were surrounding the house and my dog Kogen was barking like crazy, unaware of the impending array of ammo coming toward us. I knew my wife was upstairs getting herself ready for work, I hollered up to her. Martha, are you alright? No answer, I hollered again with the same results. I needed to get upstairs to check on her but also this is where I kept the gun closet and my special MK-115 Carbine/Grenade Launcher. The bullets were making a mess of the house and the noise was beyond the 85 decibels that the ear can handle. I was trying to plug my ears but stay protected somewhat too. I was at the bottom of the stairs and I hollered up again to Martha, Honey, Are you ok ? Answer Me, Martha!  She crawled to the top landing, injured from the bullets flying through the house. Blood was coming out of her mouth, probably a chest wound.  She was holding something metallic, It was my MK-115 Carbine, she pushed it down over the top edge of the stairs. The gun sliding all the way down and into my hands. I was feeling very secure right now and checked to see if there was ammo inside the weapon. There was a full gun clip and also two grenades. I looked back up the stairs to thank Martha, I could tell she was no longer with us. Oh, no my dear Martha. The bullets are still flying through the house when I got close to a window and launched a grenade out the back window. I crawled out to the front of the house and launched my second grenade. The smoke cleared and I listened for sounds, there was none. I opened the front door and standing in front of it was a soldier, he was pointing his gun at me and mine was pointing at him. We both shot and I felt something penetrate my left arm. I fell to the ground within a seconds. The soldier fell to the ground also, I looked into his eyes, he was dead. I stood outside for quite some time in shock from all that had happened. I stood motionless, needing to find an answer to why these men were at my house. I had to check on Martha, I walked to the top of the stairs and there she was. She opened her eyes and smiled at me. You cannot get rid of me that quick, she replied. I thought you were dead, no honey I will be ok, but get me out of this broken down house. We stumbled around trying to get out of the house, the two of us, arm and arm, alive.

Bilodeau,D.H. 2014

 

An Intruder Within the Ranks

InvasionThere was an imposter within our battalion. It seemed like every move we made out in the jungle while out on patrol we were ambushed. It was like someone knew every move we were making. I was a sniper in our little squad and we came with three squads to this remote area. Our instructions were to capture the leader of this region so he could be tried for war crimes.

I had thoughts about maybe someone in this group being a trader and really didn’t want to say anything. The reason I suspected someone at first was because every night when it came down to, our time ,he was never around. The other men in our squad would hang together but he always seemed to disappear for about forty-five minutes then return like nothing ever changed.

Our commanding officer had his own tent and was set-up about forty meters from everyone else. I decided it was time to let the C.O. in on what I was thinking. Sir, I saluted him, Can I have a word with you? At ease soldier, he commanded me. Sir? I have been having questioning thoughts in my head about something. It seems like every time we go on a patrol we are attacked almost like clockwork. I feel someone in our group is contacting someone. I sense it is someone in my squad. Private! Those are strong accusations. Sir, I do not want anyone in our squad to be killed because I didn’t do something about it. I feel it is, Private Rickard, and I want to spy on him, to gather more evidence against ,if this is confirmed with you, C.O.

I was granted permission and the next time we came back from a patrol I was going to set my plan in action. I was going to follow private Rickard and find out what really was going on.

We had just returned from a patrol and was relaxing when I see private Rickard slip out off to my far right. There was a mango tree at the edge of our camp so I decided to hide behind it. I could see that he was moving further into the jungle. I kept following him and what I found totally made my mouth drop. Rickard was laying on the ground and cuddling a native woman from the Sameon Tribe. This had to be where the information was being passed about our daily recon runs. I decided to watch a little longer when I see the woman reach out and grab a walkie talkie and report something in her native tongue. What came next took me by total surprise. She reached out from the bushes and pulled out a large knife and stabbed Rickard into his heart. I could see the life coming out of Rickard in a hurry. I took out my service revolver and turned on the silencer, I took aim. The bullet hit her square between the eyes and she dropped. I could see Rickard was hanging on, barely, I came up to him. Rickard! I need to asked you a question. Have you been passing information to the Sameon Tribe? He nodded yes,then he passed right there. I came back to my commanding officer and reported what just happened.

Time went on and the ambushes were still very consistent, like nothing had changed. Someone else was working for the Sameon group and I was going to find out whom. I watched everyone with careful eyes and reported in my journal anything out of the ordinary. If I could find some inconsistencies then maybe I would follow this person around a bit more closely. I watched everyone for about three weeks and really didn’t find anything that was not normal in our operations. The one person that I hadn’t been able to watch was our commanding officer. Why didn’t I think of this earlier? I was going to figure a way to watch the C.O., Maybe this was the missing link.

I laid in the bushes next to the C.O’s. tent and was listening to his conversations with other officers by satellite phone. All of the sudden, I could hear a man speaking in Sameon dialect. It was my commanding officer. I was no expert in language and couldn’t understand what he was saying, but I could smell a rat. How was I going to take care of this rat without putting myself in jeopardy. I decided to relay this information to other members in my squad. You guy’s are my best buddies and you would do anything for any other member correct? They all responded positively. You guys, I believe our commanding officer is a rat. I overheard a confirmation via satellite phone and he was speaking in Sameon. I know he is telling the other side of our whereabout’s every night. He is going to get us all killed. The plan I have includes all of you guys to assist me in the capture of our C.O.

The look on everyone’s eyes told me that they meant business. I told everyone to have their weapons locked and loaded. We all met behind and off to the side of the C.O. tent. I was going to storm into the tent at gun point and command the C.O. to raise his hands. I ran in fast and pointed my weapon at him. The laser site was lined up between his eyes. In a moment of me commanding him, he kicked something from within his desk. I looked down real quick and spotted a grenade. I dove out the front door at the same time it exploded.

The last I remember was seeing the grin on the commanding officer’s face. A look of distrust, not one of a killer of his own men.  He was smiling, like he was happy.

It was later found out that our C.O. had made a connection with the Sameon group and lots of money, in American ,was going to be transferred into his account in the U.S.

So always watch your back and make sure to be vigilant in your surroundings. What seems like normal operation may be a cover up of something that will get you in the end. Hoorah!

©Bilodeau,D.H. 2014

MY PTSD

afghanistan_rect

 

Sgt. Richard McCurry was leading his men down a street in Anbar, Afghanistan. He had briefed his men before they walked down the street and informed them to watch all the roof tops. The Taliban would stage up on roof tops and shoot down on the soldiers as they walk down the streets. This was just another day for the soldiers and they moved slowly down the one street watching every corner. I was the third man in this group with Sgt. McCurry walking directly behind me. I had been assigned to WHA- Watch His Ass- This was an important assignment because not only that you had to watch for the enemy, you had to keep your leader safe.

We kept moving forward when all of a sudden gunfire rang out, my heart about exploded with total fear. I looked down the street and lying face down was our point man Jermaine. He was a soldier out of Jacksonville, Florida and was an outstanding athlete in high school. His goal was to sign up for the football draft when he got out of the Army. My worst fear was that Jermaine was not alive. We walked up to him with bullets flying in all directions. It took a few minutes to get up to him and I think I shot a few Taliban along the way. I rolled Jermaine over and he had a smile on his face. He blinked his eyes and said it was a good thing he had his Easter peeps in his pocket. I told him I don’t understand. The bullet hit the package and deflected the bullet. I told him to get up quick and start shooting. We needed to get out of this hot area as soon as possible. Jermaine got up real fast and brought his M16 to firing position and started firing. He took one step forward and another shot rang out and Jermaine fell to the ground again. I walked up to him and there was bleeding coming from his mouth and he was not moving. I could see the color being removed from his face. Jermaine had passed right in front of me. All his hopes and dreams were stopped right at this moment on the streets of Afghanistan. I stood there for a few seconds to reflect what I had just been witness too. I thought to myself, and asked a question. Why am I in this place?  I didn’t have time to answer because out of the corner of my eye I could see a Taliban on the roof top ready to shoot. He was aiming his weapon directly at my Sargent. I brought my M16 up real quick and with rapid fire I took down that enemy.

Our group finally made it to the end of the street and there was a tall cement wall that we all got behind for protection and to access the situation. Sargent McCurry told us that we had to go back down that street and retrieve Jermaine. We never leave another soldier behind. Back down the street and again the shooting started. We shot at them and they shot at us but we retrieved Jermaine and dragged him down the street and behind the wall. Our radio man called for a helicopter to come and bring him back to our base. They brought a Chinook helicopter which brought our whole troop back to base. Sargent McCurry had all of us pay our respects to this soldier we lost today. This is what he said to us. You all fought hard today and you win some and lose some. I just want you to remember this young man today and know that he fought for his country. He gave the ultimate sacrifice and to know that in any situation that I hope you will give that same to save others. We all bowed our head in prayer for Jermaine.

Life moved on and I was in a lot of other firefights but I will never forget this one day we lost Jermaine. It has now been 10 years since I have been back to civilian life. I am having trouble sleeping and every noise I hear outside reminds me of a firefight. I cannot drive down the highway without thinking it is an ambush. How can I forget all this and go back to normal life?  They never told me that my mind would be damaged like this. I have talked with other vets from other wars on how to relieve these horrid memories. They all told me you will never forget. You just have to move on and realize what you have done for this country.

This story is a fictional story, I do not want to have this bring back bad memories for our soldiers, but do want to realize that PTSD is very real. You cannot go through traumatic situations like war and not have some kind of PTSD. Please reach out for help, Like the old soldier replied, you never forget what you have seen. It is the help that redirects some of these thoughts and gives you second chance of life. You do not need to deal with this alone.

©Bilodeau,D.H. 2014