“Cardy and Josh looked into the horizon over the compound wall, and I heard the whir of helicopter blades battering wind, then saw three dots in the sky closing in fast.

“There’s your freedom bird, Burgess,” Cardy said, smiling.

Doc and three Marines got me onto a litter and carried me out of the compound. As the helicopters lowered, their engines blasted away any other sounds, flattened grass, and sent dirt flying in all directions. One bird touched down while the two larger gunships hovered high above, circling our position.

The escorts, AH64 Apaches, looked like coiled bundles of metal muscle, rockets and cannons cocked on either side. Smoke wafted over me, and on the other side I finally saw the inside of the evac bird. They jostled me onto the litter in the helicopter, and I couldn’t hear anything but the high whine of the engine. My ears rang, and my lower back tensed with sharp, needle-like pain.

There were two airmen inside, it seemed, along with an Army pilot. The one closest to me held up a needle and syringe, raised his eyebrows, and pointed at my hip. He injected me with the contents of the syringe, and I went up, high in the air, leaving the ‘Stan below me, at least for a while. We sailed on, and I drifted home high, light and heavy all at once.”
– Jonathan Burgess, Apache Co 1st Bn 5th Marines, Nawa 2009
This account of combat was documented by Battles and Beers (TM) Every soldier has a story, and every story deserves to be told.