**Girl on the Blog**
Home for Thanksgiving
He meticulously checked his team's weapons, just as he always did. Two of the seven were pissed off but cleaning their M-4 carbines nonetheless. He wasn't considered the most poplular, but he was thorough. He then checked the vehicles. Three up-armored hummers riddled with pock marks from IED shrapnel. At his displeasure, two more soldiers scrambled to find a fuel can to top off their vehicle.
Gottdamned complacency was setting in, he thought to himself, a knot forming in his stomach, he spat on the desert floor just before walking to the CP for an update while his team squared away the deficiencies he had found. "Get your shit together gottdammit, I'll be back in five and you'd better be tight," he had barked. They were good kids. Kids, he thought, he was only a few years older than them himself at 26.
He stepped into the CP for the brief from the S2. This was their third convoy this week and their 113th since arriving in country some 8 months ago. Three of the seven had been with him from the start. They had lost two to IEDs, one fatal and one bad enough to buy a ticket home. Another of the original seven went and got himself promoted and now had his own team. They often passed each other on the road heading in opposite directions. The fourth left on emergency leave and never came back.
He sat in his seat, staring out the window as the trees went by at a rapid pace. "Mom," he asked, "when are we gonna get there?"
"In just a few minutes honey," she answered stealing a glance in the rearview mirror. "Are you excited to pick up your sister from school?"
"Yeah mom, cause I wanna go buy the Turkey for dad for when he comes home for Tanksgiving," the four year old with sandy blonde hair and bright blue eyes strapped into his car seat matter-of-factly answered.
She smiled, almost unable to contain herself. She too was excited.
He smiled at the sight of his team standing at rigid attention in front of their hummers, weapons at the position of present arms as he approached. OK smart asses, let's get to the brief. He shared with his team the intel he got from the 2. He went over procedures for contact as he always did, the more seasoned members his team rolling their eyes as they always did. "Let's go," he quietly yet firmly said. They climbed into their chariots under the roar of two CH47 Chinook helicopters passing overhead.
She was frustrated with the traffic trying to get on base. The gate guard was checking every driver's ID causing the line of cars to move at a snail's pace.
Traffic was unusally light on the road. From the lead vehicle he keyed the mic, "keep your eyes peeled for anything suspicious, my spidey sense is up today."
"And why should today be different from any other day spidey?" came over the radio in a tinny encrypted voice, followed by a few chuckles. He looked at his driver who was beaming from ear to ear. "You leaving tomorrow on R&R sarge?" the driver asked without taking his eyes off of the road ahead.
"Yeah," he said wiping the sweat dripping down from beneath his kevlar helmet.
She tipped the commissary bagger two bucks she really couldn't afford, buckeld the kids into their seats, and slid behind the wheel of their SUV, her skirt hiking up exposing her shapely left thigh. A thigh that longed for his touch. A thigh she missed feeling his hand on as he fell asleep next to her. A thigh she covered pulling her skirt back over while closing the heavy door.
The explosion lifted the right rear of his vehicle into the air, flipping the hummer onto its left side.
The crash slammed her head into the steering wheel. An old red pick-up truck had slammed into the SUV's rear as she was backing out of the parking spot. She immediately checked on the kids thanking God they were alright, albeit crying loudly. She took a second to collect her thoughts noticing blood trickling down her cheek.
He immediately checked on his driver cursing his death but not pausing a second, struggling to free himself from the half-overturned vehicle as bullets struck the now exposed underbelly. He could taste the salt of his own blood as he began kicking out the windshield. Squeezing through the frame where the windshield had once been, he rolled onto the ground keeping the hood of the truck to his right for cover, his M-4 in hand he immediately started returning fire. His heart and mind were in a horse race as he fought the enemy and the urge to get up and run to his trail vehicles to check on his soldiers.
He yelled, "mommy! mommy! mommy! what happened?" She wiped the blood from her forehead and unbuckled he and his sister, leading them from the SUV to the shade of a nearby tree, comforting her scared children with words of reassurance, "It's OK babies, just a little accident."
He low crawled from his upturned hummer to the second vechicle where both occupants had dismounted and taken up defensive positions fiercely engaging the enemy with all they had. He cut off a scream as the burn of a 7.62mm AK47 round struck his left thigh. "You guys alright?" he yelled over the report of automatic weapons fire. He was answered with a quick pair of nods. "Cover me!" he yelled and stood up to run to vehicle number three.
He held tightly to his mom, not understanding what had happened. His 7-year old sister attempted to comfort her little brother with words and a hug.
He fell to the ground partly from the pain in his thigh, and partly from the explosion of vehicle number three as a rocket propelled grenade slammed into it killing three of his men. His heart broke just before a bullet struck his right shoulder shattering the bones within. "Sarge!" he heard from behind him as another explosion sand-blasted his face. Rolling to his right, he winced in pain, desperately trying to pull the trigger. He barely felt yet another hot round hit his left foot as he faded out of consciousness.
She layed in bed with their daughter on her left, their son on her right, all wearing one of daddy's flannel shirts, each pretending he was hugging them with arms of the shirt. She kept their minds off of the events of earlier with planning daddy's welcome home Thanksgiving dinner just a few days away. Her heart warmly swelled as their children giggled and smiled and anticipated trading in their flannel shirts for real hugs. As did she.
His eyes closed, drifting off to dream world. His sister had already fallen alseep. She was dozing herself as David Letterman came to an end when the ring of the doorbell startled her. She nervously walked down the steps wrapped in his flannel shirt and peered out of the peep hole in the locked door. Her legs buckled and she fell to the floor at the sight of an Army officer and a Chaplain standing outside under the porch light dressed in their green class 'A' uniforms adorned with medals and such.
The Army officer and Chaplain awash in the porch light could hear her wailing through the door, "but he was supposed to be home for Thanksgiving in just three days."
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Sgt Hook out