It was a dark, cold evening, and the noise of the Apache helicopters was deafening. The 15 Marines crowded in the small, smelly space had a look on their face that equaled the dread in my gut. We were Marines on an Army helicopter. Please God, I hope they can fly.
As I tried to orient myself, craning my neck in a desperate search for lights which would somehow equal civilization, our helicopter stopped in its forward motion and entered a holding pattern.
There, suspended over what was to be a black abyss, the fear was shared. Although there were no words and very few courageous enough to risk eye-to-eye contact, you could feel the vibration, the anticipation.
Finally, after what seemed an eternity, we shot forward at a 45 degree angle. Then we found civilization, or should I say they found us. As the red streaks flew past our helicopter, I finally entered reality. There was no guarantee of safe return. My life, seeing my boys become men, was in the grasp of one bigger than me.