“Into every fellowship, a duo of rivals must fall.”
It’s a matter of fact, one that I have stated in writing and spoken about it in person (live) during a number of podcasts: the reason I left the Green Berets (GB) and headed to Delta is that I was wary of going to war with my GB team such as it was in the 1980s when there was no war, no mission, and no honorable duty to speak of.
To say that I ran from the Green Berets is just half of it; I was also chasing after those who left my then-duty assignment with 30 other men. I was the last in a glut of candidates who left heading for the Delta Force at flank speed. I admire the others to no end, and can name them all: From assignment Scuba School, Key West Florida they are: Sam Booth Foster (KIA), Daniel Kelly, David Payne, Kevin Walker, Scott Steele, Sean Mello
Delta was just about everything I ever thought I wanted out of the Army, notwithstanding the pair that cropped up every other blue moon… to my dismay. There were rivals in them Delta Force ranks, just a couple, but they were true rivals who for some mysterious reason just hated each other’s guts, and let each other know every chance they got.
I will name the two guys Mic and Mac for the rest of the story and, man, did they hate each other’s guts.
So, my impression that I was hanging with a group of top-notch fighters who were too mature to ever carry on like a couple of punks went out the window. There were young egos at play in those ranks, which was something I had left the Green Berets to avoid. I was an apparent fool for believing I was leaving that all behind by jailbreaking myself away from group.
I wasn’t even assigned to the same squadron as Mic and Mac, the dueling dudes. Yet, at times there came a mission too large for a single squadron, so two squadrons would couple up to form a more formidable force.
As it came to be, we were once combined with Mic and Mac’s squadron. The task involved something unusual, as we were, for the first time, to make a high-altitude jump from a civilian airliner, a B-727 with a ventral gantry, or the D. B. Cooper stairs as we called them. There abound a moderate measure of pucker factor, as none of us had made that sort of exit before, and with no rehearsal to boot.
“Just watch that last step, brothers… ain’t nothin but a thang, and just another day in the life of the After-Charlie Force.”
“So you’ve made a ventral exit then?”
“Welllll… no… but how much different can it be from a ramp jump?”
He was right, and we put the fear to bed — or at least turned it into some exciting anticipation.
At our departure airfield, we were afforded a chance to walk the ventral gantry and get familiar with it. (It is a hard policy driven by doctrine that all combat missions receive a rehearsal of actions on the objective.)
Some men bitched; some complained; some bitched AND complained… but ultimately the majority of the men mentally drove down the path to the objective, with the bitchers not far behind. Those were the same guys who during the After Action Review (AAR) would be bouncing all over the room:
“Man, that was great! That was so great — let’s do that ventral jump again as soon as possible!!”
Prior to our drop from the airliner, which now carried only paratroops, was the heavy drop of our heavy-gun truck, long-range, all-terrain, HUMMER combat warhorses.
When the actual jump was executed I craned my neck high and to a side to get a view of the first man descending the gantry. He poised momentarily on the bottom rung of the steps to gather in a pleasing eyeful of the grandeur displayed before him… then he fell forward in a dive, just as smooth as greased butter on a polished mirror.
On the float down, I brought my night vision into operation and could immediately see the dark figures of our combat vehicles nestled on the ground still rigged to their parachutes and other jump accouterments. They were flexing hard in the rigging straps and just dying to bust out to carve up the desert floor.
Shortly after the movement began, Mic and Mac could clearly be heard quibbling about the route from the lead vehicle which was responsible for the accuracy of the movement to the objective. Among the men in the Squadron Headquarter, it was made clear that Mic and Mac were soon to be separated indefinitely.
It may have been because those two were pissing and moaning about each other during the whole trek, that Mac, who was at the helm, lost concentration and rolled the whole vehicle hard off its left side, ejecting Mic and the other men hard off of the gun truck. The rest of the squadron immediately rallied around the stricken truck and took accountability.
“Sir, everyone accounted for but the driver — SGT Mac.”
“He couldn’t have been thrown far — fan out and find him. He’s probably hurt if he was thrown any distance and is not communicating.”
It was at that moment that we began to hear a faint and feeble voice: “guys… hey guys… over here; help me if you please… guys!”
And it was Mac, still seatbelted to the vehicle, buried to his nose in sand, and not articulating well. Men grabbed shovels and the sand flew. Mic stood at the rim of the great hole that was forming; his hands casually on his hips. Mac was falling deeper into his demise. It turned out he had a tremendous gash on his thigh and was bleeding vigorously… he began to quietly and respectfully address an entity who was not there.
“That’s enough!!” Mic roared as he jumped down into the hole with Mac and crew. He pushed men aside, picked up a shovel, and commenced to dig; a great dust storm burgeoned forth and rode the prevailing wind.
“Mic… is that you?” Mac harkened in a voice whose penetration harkened back to nothing at all.
“GDR it’s me… you and me, we got places to go and things to do. I’ve gotcha! Where did you learn to drive?? I’m getting you out of here right now!”
Mac had stopped conversing at a point, likely falling into shock. Mic had tossed his shovel aside and was scooping enormous consignments of sand with his huge excavator paws.
“Hang in there, Mac… hang in there just a few seconds longer and I got you!” Mic encouraged him in earnest.
At the end of the sand flurry, Mic emerged from the sand hole with Mac over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry. Mac had, after all, truly suffered a tremendous blood loss in the incident. A medic was shoving Ringers D5W as fast as he could with a large-bore hypodermic in his vein, contemplating a second one. At a near distance, the sound of an incoming helicopter was already called in anticipation that Mac’s state was of the dyer sort.
On the first morning back at the compound I passed Mic and Mac headed to the chow hall. Mac was full up on crutches and Mic was waiting on him hand and foot, opening doors for him and bringing him food.
There was no place in the Unit for petty rivalries, rubs, or beefs. And in the end, there really were none, none after all.
By Almighty God and with Honor,