I guess I should have been more vigilent, more aware, but I just didn't see the damn bullet coming until I saw my best buddy slump over in his seat.
We were patrolling an area east of Fallujah, in Iraq, which has been embroiled in civil war ever since 2003. We had originally went to war to overthrow Saddam Hussein, who had been dictating the country for years; now we were fighting a never ending battle of terror, between insurgents and us. The insurgents want nothing but to kill as many Infidels (us, the Americans); we want nothing more than to restore hope and give freedom to the people of Iraq.
The worst thing about this whole deal is this: the enemy is using their own people (i.e., the most helpless -- the elderly, the handicapped, women, children --) as bombs. They strap explosive devices to these poor people's bodies, and they have them walk into a building or a crowded marketplace and have them blow themselves up, thinking nothing of how many lives they are going to take. Police, teachers, children, elderly, the disabled, young, old, rich, poor: the enemy doesn't take that into account; they are ready to take ANYBODY with them.
Anyway, my buddy, several others, and myself were patrolling near the city of Fallujah, trying to keep our minds focused on the task at hand, trying to watch out for bombs or gunfire, and to keep ourselves hidden as much as possible from the enemy. We had no clue where they were; this was what made our job so damned dangerous.
All of a sudden, I heard this whistling sound. Then I saw my buddy slump over in his seat of the Humvee jeep we were sitting in. I thought he was just kidding around; then I saw the nice, neat bullet hole in the back of his shirt and knew immediately he had been shot. I immediately let out a string of expletives that would have made the pope blush in shame, and went to help my buddy.
I told Joe, one of my other Humvee mates, to drive us to the nearest hospital so Tim could get help. I knew it was bad: I could see the life slipping away from his body; no doubt, by this time, he was rapidly going into shock, possibly even dying. There was no telling where the bullet could have hit him or what damage it could have done.
All the way to the hospital, I begged Tim not to die on me; we had too much to do, and I needed him. He was an excellent mechanic; he could fix anything he put his hands on. He also had a wry sense of humor and was popular with the rest of us. He was only a kid (19 years old); he was everybody's kid brother. Now his life was slipping away, and there was nothing that could be done except get him to the hospital as quickly as possible and hope to God that his life could be spared.
*End of part one; to be continued.*