Dear Doc/Dear Winston, 02.22.13

Dear Doc,

“Contact! Contact!”

“Fucking where?!!”

“Contact left, 150 meters, second window of the building with the green sign. Two guys on the rooftop, two! See them there! They are right there!”

“Tiger Mike, this is Charlie 402: we are under contact, taking small arms fire.”

“This is Tiger 4-1 requesting QRF [Quick Reaction Force]. Over”

“Roger, Tiger 4-1, this is Tiger Mike. QRF is in route. Over”

“Tiger 4-1, this is Long Knife 7. We are approximately five miles from your location.”

“Roger, Long Knife 7. This is Tiger 4-1. We are requesting close air support. Over.”

Fucking drop ramp! Let’s go get these mother fuckers!

“MILLER, take Point Alpha Team, let’s go!”

“Roger, Sergeant . . . Fuck, fuck, fuck: dud stack on the door right side of the building! We are going to frag and then clear.”

As the sound of AK-47’s rattle off into the air, bullets sound like bees whispering in your ear.

Blood pumping through my body, fat cells burning, turning into sugar. The adventure is taking over my brain, and the only thing on my mind as the ramp drops is: get to the fucking wall beside that building!

Boots smacking the ground, gear bouncing all around, sweat pouring down my face. My lungs feel like they are breathing in exhaust from a car. My legs and arms tremble as I dash for the wall.

Winston [Miller]


Dear Winston,

I read you, and I am dumbstruck by the power of the brain to relive, to drop kick the body and soul back weeks, months, even years, smack dab into the middle of the past, all while announcing with the greatest of certainty that no, your frontal lobe is wrong: you are there!

One thing I’ve noticed as a civilian: I cannot project, cannot imagine myself in your place without having an intense sense of self-doubt. How could I know what to do? How could I focus, know where to focus, know when to lose focus? I would have been gunning for that wall in a panic.

Yet for you and your brothers, it was different, wasn’t it? You’d trained for this. You were all-focus, all the way. The adrenaline tsunami of the moment was not flooding you, as it would have me, but rather was conveying you forward; not drowning you, but transporting you down a solid-walled aqueduct toward your goal, sort of a “luge meets water park” kind of moment.

Adrenaline can feel so good, can’t it, even in the midst of terror? So many find that truth to be the epitome of human barbarism. Yet it’s just plain, old biology, isn’t it? You hadn’t been living for that moment, not in the least. But you had been preparing for it. You chose to serve: those whom you loved, your rural community, your nation. When one chooses that, one has to be ready for the luge.

And even if you know that the finish line is Hell—what a ride.


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