A Day in The Life of A Hero

Military Packed & Ready










(Ed. Note: This is based on a true story seen on The Evening News.  No Animals or Humans were injured or harmed in the telling of this story.)

Boredom was the only casualty that afternoon. It died at 14:53 when bullets suddenly came pouring down on us from four sides. Rockets and shrapnel that weren’t coming directly at us ricocheted off the rocky terrain like millions of billiard balls deflecting randomly off taut table rails. This was what being ambushed looked like from the inside.

Embedded with an Army patrol unit, I was three weeks into a four week assignment. There was no big story to write about, and I was okay with that. Just young men and women, far away from home and family, following orders, day after day, week after week, year after year, trying to make some dot on the map the tiniest bit better, or win hearts and minds, without becoming a casualty statistic.

Boredom died while moving through an open field – farmland probably – on our way from one village to another. The attack upon us was synchronized and it came from all sides. Without shelter in any direction, there was no place to run to.

MilitaryI fell to the ground and buried my head under my hands the best I could. As I hit the ground – maybe even before I hit the ground – I felt someone jumping on top of me.  My attacker forced my head deeper into the soft soil beneath me and covered my body with his – actually hers. Her arms and legs straddled and blanketed mine, as the incoming  pings and crackles whisked past us.

“Don’t move. Keep your head down,” she whispered calmly in my ear.

“We’re gonna die here, aren’t we?” I asked, trying not to sound too whiney about it.

“Nobody’s dying here today, sir,” the sergeant reassured me, as if Life and Death themselves were under her command.

“Can you guarantee that, soldier?”

“No sir. But I promise you this: You won’t die alone today.”

We returned fire, got some blessed and swift air support, and it was over as quickly as it began. The sergeant was off me and gone before I got my head out of the dirt. Later, I tried to find out who my guardian angel was. At first, the commanding officer refused to speak with me about it.  Eventually, he told me this:

“We are soldiers living 24/7 in a combat zone. “We’re here to keep you and our country out of harm’s way. Yesterday, you got a small taste of how that feels close up and personal. Write about it if you want, but your Sergeant wants you to know that everyone here is a hero.”

Military on DutyThis is what I learned the day Boredom died: The sergeant who risked her life to save mine remains unknown to me. But her voice now lives inside me. It will  be the voice I hear, that reassures me everything is all right, should I ever end up lost and wandering in some dark, dangerous alley, or when jumping from a burning building, or sinking ship.  And I see action heroes and super-heroes differently now. They are bored to death in their jobs, just like the rest of us, biding their time, day after day, week after week, year after year except when Death itself appears unannounced and threatens them, their buddies, or those they’ve sworn an oath to protect.