Sergeant Ronald Eckerdt opened backpack. Inside the box was a green shirt. He cried.
He had awakened briefly after the explosion. He was wrapped in a green blanket, lying in the desert sunshine, but he was cold. There was an IV line dripping into his arm. On the sand next to him was a blood covered green t-shirt and fatigue blouse. He assumed it was his. A medic came by, checked his IV. Eckerdt started to ask about his men, and everything went dark.
Next thing he knew, everything was vibrating. He also realized he could not move. Then he recognized the distinct "whoop" of helicopter blades.
I'm on a medevac, his brain said through a fog. This is not good.
Sergeant Eckerdt opened his eyes and looked at the green roof of the helicopter. He turned his head left. That HURT. He found himself staring into the cockpit and knew immediately he was on a Blackhawk. He turned right. That HURT. There was a space next to him with a medic in it. On the other side of the medic were three black bags, stuffed full.
"Hey, Sarge," the medic shouted over the sound of the rotors, moving his face into Eckerdt's vision. "You’re going to be ok. On the way to the hospital. Just relax."
He felt a hand pat his shoulder. Thinking of the body bags, he started to ask about his men again. But, his mind quickly began drifting. He looked back at the olive green ceiling, felt the vibration of the helicopter, and everything went dark again.
He smelled rain, then he heard thunder. That did not make sense. He knew the weather for the entire area of operations. There was no rain expected. Suddenly, he realized he was very cold. He knew that meant he was probably in shock. He fought through the remaining fog, and opened his eyes. The metal spars of the aircraft fuselage confused him.
"Hi, Sergeant," a female voice said next to him. "Welcome to Ramstein, Germany."
He turned his head, and groaned. A very sweet looking lady with brown hair, and a name tag that said“Nelson," was leaning over him. He didn't recognize the insignia. That bothered him. He knew he was supposed to know.
"Try not to move, Sergeant," she said quickly. "Your spine and neck are good, but you took quite a blow to the head. Just relax, we'll get you off loaded and moved to Landstuhl in no time."
She patted his shoulder, and moved on. He felt the fog drifting over him again as his litter was detached from the rack. As he went down the loading ramp, he looked across the tarmac. The grass along the runway and taxiways was green. So was the ambulance. Then everything faded out again.
He drifted back to consciousness in a bed. He could feel the clean of the sheets. He could hear the air flowing through the air conditioner vents. He opened his eyes. A tall man in a lab coat stood at the end of his bed, writing on a clip board.
"Good morning, Sergeant Eckerdt," he said, looking up with a soft smile. "I am Dr. Lincoln."
Ronald started flexing fingers and toes. The doctor smiled again.
"You are going to be OK, Sergeant," he said softly. "All original parts are still attached. There are some stitches here and there assisting, and a plate in the back of your skull. But, we'll talk about that later."
"My men," he finally whispered hoarsely. "What happened to my men?"
"I don't know, Sergeant," he said slowly. "They give us the info on you, not what happened. But, I'll do my best to find out for you, though." Eckerdt nodded.
"Meanwhile, in typical military efficiency, your gear is in transit somewhere," the doctor went on a bit more cheerfully. Eckerdt smiled. "I'm sure you've heard about the Soldier Angel program. Well, you've just become one of their recipients." Lincoln set a green backpack next to Eckerdt. "I'll check on you again in a little bit."
Eckerdt had heard of Soldier Angels. Few service men in war theaters hadn't heard of them. The group made sure wounded soldiers fresh out of combat had something to wear, a tooth brush, and so on. But he never imagined he would be in need of their services. He stared at the green backpack.
The green reminded him of his men, whereabouts and status unknown. He sniffed, wiped his nose, and unzipped the top.
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