Fear at 250 feet- Part 1

A Special Agent Emily Dahill Story-4

Baghdad, The Green Zone

Late afternoon sun beat down on Sergeant Emily Dahill, along with two fellow MP’s, as they impatiently waited for the helicopter to be preflighted. She frowned when she glanced at the thermometer- 110 degrees. And that damn thing was in the shade.

Finish this prisoner transfer and tomorrow, for her, back to the States and Fort Leonard Wood for school to follow her dream-CID Special Agent. She bit back a smile not wanting to make her new trainees jealous. Even though they knew, she was leaving the boiler plate of the world.

She and two other MP’s had been ordered to transfer a high profile and dangerous Al-Qaida leader from Tuz back to Baghdad. She’d chuckled, she thought to herself, when her commanding officer had said ‘dangerous’. Oops. His iron stare stopped her laughter almost before it started.

“But Sir,” she snickered, “Aren’t they all dangerous?” Everyone burst out in laughter. Lieutenant could only nod in agreement, even though his shoulders were saying, laughing, something else.

When the laughter died down he continued, “After you pick up the prisoner, the copter pilot has been instructed to fly nap of the earth back here.”

Emily looked up at him, surprised. “Why? if I might ask.”

He let out a frustrated sigh. “How about because I’m the Lieutenant and you’re the Sergeant.”

She tried and failed to suppress a snort. “Works for me,” she said with an exaggerated shrug. “By the way, what’s the name of this guy we’re transporting?”

“Abd-Al-Aziz,” the Lieutenant said, knowing he was probably slaughtering the name.

Emily walked over to the wall map and pinpointed their destination. Tuz. She glanced over her shoulder to the Lieutenant. “Looks to be about two and a half hours round trip, including time on the ground.”

“Yeah. Guess that’s about right.” He looked over at Emily, who gave him a nod. “And, Emily, don’t forget when you get back to finish packing and get your movement orders.” The room was suddenly filled, first with a deathly silence, the mumbling, everyone wondering why she had to pack.

She held up a hand to quell the Lieutenant, then rose. “Yeah folks. I got accepted into school. My plane leaves first thing in the morning for home via Germany.”

No sooner had she finished then she was surrounded by her friends, all clapping her on the back and wishing her well.

To be heard over the noise, the Lieutenant let out an ear splitting whistle. “Okay you guys, let’s settle down. Plenty of time to celebrate later, but first let’s get this guy back safe and sound. Dahill, Ackerman, Cutter your ride is on the tarmac waiting.”

Emily flashed a knowing smile the Lieutenant’s way. He nodded his understanding.

The three named soldiers headed for the door, but were halted by two words rendered by their Lieutenant, “good luck”.

As if on a silent command, as a unit, they turned back and gave a thumbs up to the assembled throng-of eight.

Once outside, Ackerman and Cutter started for the tarmac, leaving Emily easily trailing behind. She knew exactly why the Lieutenant had assigned them to her. She, the most experienced of any in the platoon, was going to give them OJT. Hopefully, not the hard way.

“Okay guys, hold up. I think we’re missing something.”

They both came to a halt and turned back. Quizzical expressions on the faces showed they didn’t have a clue what she was talking about.

“Sorry Sarge, but I don’t think we are,” Cutter stated. “We’ve got everything we need.” He looked at Ackerman for backup to his statement.

She shook her head slowly in disbelief. “Yeah, for in the compound.”

“But this is all we need,” Ackerman reiterated as his hand settled on his sidearm.

“Fine, but where’s your extra water. It’s hot, hotter out there than here and we don’t know what, if any shade there’ll be. What about your M-4’s. You don’t have them either. Sidearm’s are fine here but not where we’re going. Same for MRE’s. The mission is scheduled for two and a half hours but what if things don’t go as planned, which most of the time they never do. What are you going to do.”

“But we don’t expect-”, Ackerman started to say, but her up held hand stifled him.

“’Expect the unexpected.’ That’s my axiom.” She paused to let the words sink in. “Now, let’s get ready and we better hustle.”

All three ducked into their respective huts. A minute later the three were once again on their way. Emily satisfied that -one she’d leave them smarter than when they came and two glad they’d learned a valuable lesson followed on their six.

The flight started out uneventful until about twenty minutes from Tuz when they started taking ground fire. A few well placed bursts from the M240H machine guns quelled any further resistance.

Wondering how the two newbie’s were doing after their first taste of real live fire she glanced across at them. She thought about laughing but when she saw they were having their own problems she refrained. Both had turned white from fear. If she didn’t know better at least one, Cutter from his behavior, was trying to control his muscles from shaking him apart. A reassuring smile didn’t much help. “You never get use to it. When you do it’s time to pack it in.” She had to yell over the roar of the twin turbines.

Cutter gave a weak smile acknowledging her words.

Even behind the smile Emily knew he’d rather be on the ground, then again so would she.

There was just something about the vulnerability of helicopters that scared her. If the choice had been hers they would have used Stryker’s instead, but one-it wasn’t up to her, two-this was the safest and fastest way to get the prisoner back to base. So they were led to believe.

As they started to make their descent onto Tuz and FOB Bernstein the Black Hawk started taking fire. This time more concentrated and directed. Most of the incoming fire missed but a few, too many rounds pierced the copters skin. One narrowly missing Ackerman. The door gunners were able to lay down suppressing fire while the pilot called in the coordinates to the FOB.

The three MP’s watched, worried, as several minutes later as a Bradley M2A3 exited the base at high speed, headed toward where the gunfire was originating from.

As the pilot flared in to land a mortar round exploded close by. The skids had barely touched earth when everyone exited the now unflyable copter at a dead run. Bullets from the insurgents pockmarked the ground around them as they made for safety.

The story will be continued in two weeks, so don’t forget to come back as see if Emily and her team can make it back to The Green Zone safely.

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2 Responses to Fear at 250 feet- Part 1

  1. Lindsay,
    I’m having a fun time reading this each week. Keep them coming!

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