Something was wrong! The whine of the engine made that abundantly clear. “Now what?” the words rushed out of his mouth. Then the sputter followed causing his vehicle to lurch back and forth as if some invisible force was intermittently mashing his brakes while he was trying to drive.
“No, no, not now, not here!” he exclaimed in a panicked voice. God, what are you doing to me now? The thought rose up in his mind like a tidal wave causing him to pound his hands on the steering wheel of his Humvee.
This couldn’t be happening, it was his last day in country, but it had thus far been a day marked by one disaster after another.
For starters, the convoy he was supposed to be leaving with from Forward Base Charlie was informed they would have no machine gun escort. He could wait another week or two, before an adequately armed convoy was available, but anything could happen in those precious few weeks he thought. So against that inner voice for patience, he risked it.
Travelling through Kandahar Province in Afghanistan without an adequate escort was risky at best, but deadly at worst, and now, here he was alone in the middle of the desert in a broken down Humvee. A half mile back his small convoy of mostly transport vehicles had been ambushed and his was the only vehicle to have made it through unscratched, or so he thought.
What next, along with a hundred other questions raced through his mind? Lately, he felt like an expert at making the wrong decisions. Go back and help! An answer came back to him, but he quickly dismissed it as a crazy notion. He could be there in a few short minutes by foot, but fear gripped his heart as the undiminishing sound of gunfire was echoing out of the canyon he had just passed through.
He could hide and wait for a rescue platoon, if someone had gotten off a radio message. After all, he had done everything the manual had taught him regarding escaping an ambush site and now consolidating on the far side was all he had left to do regarding his duty, but no one else was coming and his convey was still obviously pinned down and fighting.
“God, this isn’t fair,” he protested. “What if I die? It’s my last day, people are waiting for me back home.” The battle raged back and forth in his head as he struggled with his options.
What about them? You are my child, but how about Shefield, and Clark? …what about Jones? The next appeal entered his consciousness. This wasn’t fair he thought, as he grabbed his weapon and checked the magazine before getting out of the vehicle.
He looked at the horizon, toward freedom, someplace away from here, anywhere but here. Then the unmistakable thump, thump of mortar fire captured his attention back toward the east and his convoy who were still very much in harms way. Then behind him to the hills which could provide him cover and concealment until rescue.
With tears in his eyes, he collapsed to his knees, weapon draped across his thighs. “What do you want me to do Lord?” He prayed aloud looking up to the heavens. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” The scripture penetrated his heart and a sense of peace settled his frantic thoughts and trembling hands.
Knowing that precious time was slipping away, he got up, and ran toward the battle. He recognized he had debated long enough and that his life as a Christian was expendable for those he knew back at the convoy were unprepared to meet God.
In what seemed like only a few seconds he was climbing the hills to gain a tactical advantage over his convoy’s attackers. Edging his way over the rise, he was confronted with a beautiful sight unfolding as the rescue platoon had already arrived and were actively engaged in dispatching the enemy. The Taliban were in full flight and the convoy was safe.
As the dust settled, and the shooting died down he rejoined the convoy to tend to the wounded. Miraculously, everyone had survived.
Back at his vehicle, it was discover not ten feet in front of him was a roadside bomb, or IED as they were commonly referred to. Had he gone another few feet, it would surely have ended his life.
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