How will I be in combat… how will I do? Lads who (think they) want to join the military after school try to seriously think about that question, but combat is still far away and they are still very young. They are so young and still eliminating video-game legions of ape-like giants with blood canons that turn the apes into blood balls. The computer screen becomes solid red for a few tenths of seconds and:
GAME OVER, GAME OVER!!
Combat — it can’t be all that — just grab your chest as you fall, and crunch the red movie capsule in your mouth to simulate blood ejecting from your mouth — looks so real! So thought the lad and the time ticked away with the solid *THUMP* of a prime heart; the heat of a burning heart.
A million and one things happened to steer the lad’s course away from joining the military: the electronic apprentice job offer, the hiring for store-management-grade employees, the Bucca di Bepo server… But porting an illegal substance, some of which he had on his person during his rocket race through a red intersection, finally steered his course back to the military.
“Yooz got a death wish, son?” the judge asked him puzzled, “Matt, if yooz got one, why don’t you take it to the fight in one of these damned wars we got piled up at our front porch.” And as such, the bright lad stood before the judge and accepted a military tour of duty. The fine young lad felt a twinge as his memory reproduced thoughts he had had years ago about going to war and saving the West.
Related: An ode to the courtyard bully Part I: Ballpark bash
My fear of combat was overshadowed by my gnarling fear of performing poorly in front of my brothers. And the moment finally came for fight or flight… freeze up, or move out while drawing in the situation… the wounded and overwhelmed, the departed.
A short fizzling sound rushed to my ear, ending with a formidably hearty bang with associated smoke and fireball.
It was mouse-quiet immediately after the blast. Then, after about three seconds, a crescendo of men started howling a sad roar that threatened to dispel my dream of enlisting in an Army combat unit.
Related: Curious adventures at Amsterdam airport with the Delta Force
I felt it would be best if I didn’t look at the faces of the deceased, but I went against my intentions right away when men carried back under cover the most seriously hurt soldier to work on him medically. He screamed and shrieked because of the severity of the wound he had suffered. I certainly doubted if I could bear what that mate had just taken. He very soon was chemically scram-jetted into the sleep zone, as he wasn’t worth anything to us screaming bloody murder.
The second that blast went off that took out our man and others, I now realized I raised my AR and quickly scanned the windows of all the buildings surrounding us. I had perceived a yellow-orange flash that I thought had come from an RPG-7 grenade launcher in one of the windows up in the middle of one building, but it turned out to be the reflection of a mortar’s explosion when it hit the ground.
The window “target” did not suit my fancy well enough to spend any more time on it so I worried myself with the wounded and continued to soak in all available combat data around me like a black hole. I think there were some 13 men taken down by that single blast.
Another lad I approached turned out to be pronounced “expected to die”… He lay on his face, with a wound that far outclassed a body’s ability to heal itself. I avoided gazing into the faces of the fallen, but a medic suddenly flipped him over and I was shocked like mad to see it was one of my best friends in the service.
There we were, cuddled in a raunchy pool of blood, transmission oil, and water. It ran slicker than crap through a goose. Sorry for the arrangements, brother… had I known you were going to fall stricken here, I would have fixed the place up. No friend of mine gets this treatment, Matt.
They put him on a stretcher. We were all friends of his and we confusedly pushed and shoved to be the ones to help carry his stretcher. Alas, as all four handles of the stretcher were occupied, I hobbled along.
I’m sorry I was not on my game in time to join in with the other stretcher bearers, my brother. But the load of your body was a mere feather — I promise you. I’m sorry I was not part of that detail.
There I stood feeling just absurdly worthless — like a lumberjack watching his forest burn.
So where was I at the end of this? It all amounted to me wanting to go home, be home, stay home, and just cherish home.
Brother, I’m so sorry I couldn’t save you, or treat you, lay you on your stretcher, post you in an ambulance, and drive you away… but I DO promise you that from this point on, I shall cherish the prospect of carrying your memory with me for an eternity. It will be light as a feather, you know!
Matthew Rierson died on October 6, 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia, with a dozen men cuddled with him trying all the while to get in closer to the circle where he was dying.
The medics were frantic: I could see their anguish as they tried the impossible. We cursed ourselves again and again for failing to be of any use in their attempt to slow down a death already in overdrive, its afterburners spitting profusely. Matt died before the ambulance got him. He drew in a deep breath just as we raised his stretcher.
As he exhaled, we sensed a vesper being muttered through the din, but we didn’t know its origin. A fine flimsy zephyr knitted threw our small group gathered there. We all looked and acknowledged to each other with a simple nod that we had all felt it.
By Almighty God and with Honor,
Feature Image: U.S. Army Rangers from Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, get on line to provide security and lay down suppressive fire during a day live fire exercise at Fort Hunter Liggett, CA, Jan. 25, 2014. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Ryan A. Goldsmith/Released)
Read more from Sandboxx News
- We swore a blood oath: Former CIA officer reflects on al-Zawahiri killing
- A Delta Force perspective on Russia’s paratrooper operations
- From King to Clown: Even Delta Force operators have bad days
- US special operators kill ISIS leader and 10 others in Somalia
- Star Man: The Green Beret superhero who was meant to be there
Two days ago I finally got around to reading your ghost work on Coker, ( i read your book first George awhile go) and I decided today to log in for the first time in eons to this site – and here is this article.
Idk what chapter it was, but it began with words attributed to the CW something to the effect (paraphrasing). “Fear, I didn’t have too much fear, that stuff will paralyze you, but was scared all the time.”
In the author’s here’s words: By almighty God and with honor.
Have a good day! -Andy T
I did okay.
123vip เข้าสู่ระบบ says
Great! It sounds good. Thanks for sharing..
Daniel G says
When at last you are reunited with Matt, I have no doubt, Bro-, he will know you have carried that moment every hour of every day since. Your writings, your mentorships, and the gracious manner you bestow on all who share a moment on the path…, all honor Matt, and each brother you have laid to rest in the intervening years.
I commend you.
george e. hand iv says
sincere thanks, my friend!
You know you need to balance the heartbreak and loss out with a story that celebrates his life and let’s us know him?
george e. hand iv says
” I shall cherish the prospect of carrying your memory with me for an eternity.” You have kept that promise, Geo. Your writings have kept Delta Force MSG Matthew Riersons memory alive. Thank you for sharing with your readers.
All the best to you,
george e. hand iv says
Yes, thank you, Ma’am.
Delta Force MSG Matthew Rierson forever in our memory, may he Rest In Peace.
It’s unfortunate that real life is not like a video game that you can restart it with a different outcome as much as we would all hope it was.