This is a work of fiction based on the experiences of its author, Robbie Rea, a qualified sniper, who served in the U.S. Marines for four years before joining special forces and training as a medic. He fought in the Middle East as a Green Beret. His forthcoming completed memoir is called “Next Mission”.
Guest Post by Robbie Rea
I walked in the park with my grandkids and smiled as I watched them run ahead and hide behind a tree. They thought I couldn’t see them and I played along until they ran up behind me and yelled, “Argh!” Playing along, I jump and then fell over like I was so scared that I passed out. All four of them climbed on top of me saying, “We got you papa! We got you!”
As I lay there wrestling with the little ones, I see Lisa smiling down at me. The sun shines behind her head illuminating the blonde hair around her beautiful face. She looks like an angel.
Suddenly everything went black as I felt my left wrist vibrating.
As I clicked the button on the side of the watch to stop the vibration, all of my senses fed my brain information so I could figure out where I was. My nose was the first sense to alert me of the familiar musty smell of dirty clothes, body odor and farts in the sleeping bag. My ears then picked up the sounds of snoring and other breathing sound of people sleeping. My skin simultaneously felt the sleeping bag that surrounded me and the tight stretched canvas cot that I lay on. Now I knew that I was back in Afghanistan. That forsaken area of combat that I often compared to hell.
I had been dreaming, and I want nothing more than to go back to my dream and stay there.
Once dressed, I make my way to the team room to prepare for battle. I check all my gear and make sure nothing will cause me problems during today’s mission. It was 3 a.m.local time.
As I checked the gear and got ready I thought of my family back home in Clarksville, TN. Comparing what I was doing now in contrast to preparing my kids lunches while they ate breakfast and then get their backpacks with homework into the car so I could drive them to school. On the rare occasions that I was home I’d insist on driving them to school instead of having them take the bus as usual. This allowed me to spend more quality time with them that I learned to appreciate more after each deployment.
The next step is to sound proof everything metal with black electrical tape so anything metal won’t touch anything else and make a clicking or clanging sound.
When all of the gear is prepared, the team puts everything on and then jumps up and down to make sure that nothing will make enough sound for anyone to hear if they are less than 30 feet away.
The last step in preparation was to take a ziplock bag and cut it down the sides so I could slip it over the receiver of my rifle. I would then tape up the sides to seal the metal parts to keep them safe from the sand and dust. As I did this and remembered putting sandwiches for my kids in the same ziplock bags, I wondered if it was time to transition so I could be home more often.
Then I remember why I am here. To prevent the bad people of the world from ever making it to my home and spreading their evil ways and robbing us of our freedom.
The sound of the intercom snap me back to reality as it announced our helicopter ride would be ready in five minutes.
My team on this day consists of myself and only three others for security.
As we made our way to the helicopter landing pad we checked each other’s gear one last time.
As we approach the helicopter, we heard the loud whining sound of the blades and felt the downdraft of hot air pushing against us.
As the Blackhawk lifted into the desert air the adrenaline kicked in and I took a deep breath to try to remain calm. Now is the time to slowly push back any thoughts or feelings from home. I had to numb myself to any human feelings and become the cold deadly warrior that was needed to get the job done.
The helicopter dropped us at our checkpoint and we began the 12 mile hike to our attack point. With every step that took me closer to our target, I mentally hardened myself more and more knowing that what I was about to do could have no feeling and no remorse. Only the calculated and well-trained deadly movements of a warrior was needed at this point.
As we approached our final destination, one of the security men stayed behind to protect us from any attack coming from that direction as the three of us proceeded forward just over the hilltop in front of us.
As we came to the peak of the hilltop, we lowered our bodies to crawl the rest of the way. Crawling, the sand worked its way into my clothes and body. The sun was just starting to creep up and the sky began to slowly change from black to purple.
Reaching my final point, I prepared for my task. Every movement from here on would be very slow and deliberate so if anyone below was looking, they would not pick up any movement.
It took about 40 minutes to prepare the hide site and now I slowly slid the sniper rifle from its case. Once in place, I positioned myself behind the .50 caliber rifle, flipped the sight covers off, and looked down range towards the target area.
The convoy quickly moved down the dirt road to the compound 2,000 meters away. The small military contingent positioned themselves so they would be ready when the general arrived. Their positioning confirmed that I was in the correct spot to make the shot.
As the convoy got closer and I knew that I was about to end someone’s life, I began to think about him as a human being. Was he a father? A brother? A husband? A son? Would his family mourn him? How many people would be at his funeral? I didn’t know this man, but I knew what my orders were. The picture of his face was burned into my memory as I’d studied his picture for hours.
Just before the vehicle came to a halt, the general emerged from his tent in full dress uniform. He walked toward the black Range Rover and waited for the door to open. I also waited with the crosshairs of my sights resting on the general’s chest.
The door to the vehicle opened and a man in robes exited. The general approached the man and gave him and hug and kiss on each cheek.
As my finger squeezed the trigger I thought momentarily of my children and grandchildren and of Lisa. There was a brief moment of hesitation and then the flooding thoughts of 9/11, the twin towers, Americans dead and naked being dragged through the streets.
The bullet was on its way. I waited to see the red mist as the round went through the Arab benefactor and the general he was providing money and weapons to kill Americans.
I saw their lifeless bodies spilt in half and drop to the ground. Then the sound of the large sniper rifle reached the target and everyone there dropped to the ground.
I was always amazed at how people react when a sniper bullet hits its target and they all freeze in disbelief to what they see but then they always react when the sound of what happened registers to them.
Everything up to this point was in slow motion and everything from this point forward would be as fast as I could move.
Years of training took over as I put the rifle back into its case and quickly broke down the hide position. Then I quickly crawled up and over the hilltop and after getting safely over the other side, my two flanking security guards and I broke into a full out run.
Our rear security was already on the radio confirming our ride home.
We ran for 2 miles nonstop until we reached our extraction point and boarded the Blackhawk.
On the ride back to base, I heard the others telling the crew what had just happened. They were all laughing and high fiving each other. I sat there thinking about my grandkids and Lisa playing in the park knowing that they were still safe at home because two more terrorists were now out of business.
Only then did a smile slowly slip across my face.
Lloyd Lofthouse, the host of this blog, who is not the author of this guest post, is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, journalist and award winning author. If you enjoyed reading Robbie’s short story, keep an eye out for his revealing and shocking memoir, Next Mission. The book is scheduled for release later this year.
Lloyd’s second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
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