“I never thought I’d say this, but I miss voter fraud.”
Iraq Desert—April 2009
THE BLACKHAWK MH-X HOVERED virtually unheard two hundred feet above and one mile south of its objective. The green images seen through night vision goggles by its Navy pilots made the objective appear like a glowing Christmas tree in the drab desert terrain.
In the back of the Blackhawk, a heavily armed combined squad of Navy Special Ops and SEAL Team 3 members sat placidly while they inhaled Jet A fuel fumes that mixed with the intoxicating aroma of spent gun powder. The unmistakable odor of human sweat also wafted through the back of the chopper. The pungent, nervous kind.
All eight stared straight ahead and awaited word from the pilots to initiate their well-rehearsed and meticulously planned operation. As the chopper hummed through the pre-dawn darkness, there were no thoughts of home or family in the minds of the squad. All thoughts were on the mission. Anything else would be a dereliction of duty, and duty mattered.
The yellow-pink glow in the eastern sky foretold of sunrise only minutes away. If weeks of reconnaissance proved accurate and schedules kept, the captives within the objective would be taken outside by their six guards just after dawn to use the crude bathroom facilities dug into the dirt. The two men would then be doused with cold well water from wooden buckets that would serve as their weekly shower.
Near the back of the chopper, one of the SEALs chewed several pieces of Juicy Fruit gum, the man next to him moved his leg up and down like a piston, a third had a tight grin on his face in anticipation of what was to come.
The team’s goal was straightforward; rescue the two American congressmen who had survived an IED attack on their convoy before those same legislators were publicly executed by their relatively unknown but particularly vicious Islamic captors.
The congressmen had been on a fact-finding mission in Iraq to determine the “truth” about America’s continued involvement in the never-ending war and a requested increase in financial resources to further the effort. Among the many truths they discovered was that Iraq was a dangerous place to be. The men had been taken hostage weeks earlier and held for ransom by a splinter group made up of a dangerous melding of Syrian, Iraqi, and Afghani forces. By policy, America would not pay a ransom.
Undeterred, the group had eagerly, with production quality rivaling a professionally produced McDonald’s TV commercial, posted videos of the capture of the two congressmen and promised they would be placed in metal cages, have gasoline poured on them, and then lit to be burned alive in HD living color for all the world to see.
The sight and sound of the infidels being consumed in flames would serve as important propaganda fodder for the group in their world-wide recruiting efforts. The event would also serve notice to other American forces, politicians, and journalists as to what their fate would be if captured by the radicals. The online video event was scheduled to be broadcast within the next twenty-four hours.
Seven minutes after sunrise, a grainy satellite image of the two captured Americans and six guards in the Islamic compound appeared on the computer screen on the Blackhawk’s control panel. The chopper crew removed their night vision goggles and now relied on what they could see in real time on their screens and out their windows.
The two naked congressmen had their hands and ankles tied with nylon bands as they shuffled through the dirt to the toilet holes under the control of six armed guards. They were twenty yards outside a group of block buildings that served as a holding location.
“We have a visual,” the pilot said. “We’re moving in. Descending to thirty feet. A.O., you hang back in case things go to shit.”
“Roger that,” A.O. replied.
As the chopper descended, the rest of the team prepared to exit using braided ropes that were tossed out the sliding doors of the Blackhawk. “Go,” the pilot said.
Within eight seconds, the team of seven had exited the chopper and sprinted toward the largest of the buildings that was enclosed behind a ten-foot-high chain link fence topped with razor wire. The plan called for the good guys to surround the perimeter of the buildings in groups of three and four and use wire cutters to silently gain access to the complex.
Once inside, they would surprise and then eliminate the Islamic guards as they ate their breakfast. After the guards were neutralized, the good guys would find and extricate the congressmen, board the chopper, and return to base before seven a.m. It was a simple and logical plan prepared by the best military minds on the planet.
The plan went to s**t…
Copyright © 2020 Mark Donahue. All Rights Reserved.