It was a very hot summer afternoon. We were training in the woods of Fort Jackson. I had joined the army recently and was currently in Basic Training. As a squad leader I was assigned command over a four man team. My team and I were selected for a special operations training mission. Our training mission was to ambush and destroy the enemy’s mounted patrol.
I selected some basic supplies a M249 saw machine gun, plenty of Ammo, two simulated IEDS (improvised explosives device), and of course some MREs (meals ready to eat). We were dropped off as a team in a secluded, abandoned village by a dirt road in the middle of the woods. We had plenty of time to prepare the ambush. We set up the two simulated IEDs one at the entrance of the village and another one further out. I set up our ambush positions as unconventionally as possible. We waited in a concealed location for the enemy motor vehicle to come.
We heard the enemy’s vehicle approaching. BOOM! The first simulated IED went off. Then another BOOM! My two man team on the other side of the road started putting down as much fire with their M249 SAW automatic machine gun down on the disable patrol vehicle. The enemy dismounted and formed an iron wall formation to put as much fire as possible on the two ambushing troops. My comrades were getting shot at while I waited in the shadows my other comrade made his move attacking from the rear. I joined him in his attack we both assaulted together the position placing our mission first.
I had trust in my men’s ability, so we rushed up together as comrades in the heat of battle. The sensation of hearing the sounds of the blank rounds fired towards me was a thriller of a feeling. Beep! My comrade was hit and was on the ground (This is what happens when you get hit by the blank laser rounds). I was pinned down now and I had no idea what was going on with my other two gunners. Analyzing the situation I was in deep trouble. “I will never leave a fallen comrade” I said to myself as I rushed out and pulled my fallen comrade to safety. I blew the retreat whistle and retreated back to the rally point I set up.
At the rally point we quickly reformed our battle formation and presumed the attack. I kept residing the warrior’s ethos specifically the saying “We will never accept defeat” and “we will never quit”. We were being pressured by the enemy on our flanks. But we valiantly fought on to the last man. In the end the mission was made to be a training exercise for the people we were fighting against. So we were bound to lose.
But I felt the warrior ethos coercing through my veins, and this saying came to mind in the heat of battle “I will always place the mission first, I will never accept defeat, I will never quit, and I will never leave a fallen comrade”. These are the values that I believe in and follow every day, and as a leader in combat. These values are strong, Army strong. HOOOAH!
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.