Fourth Casualty

The C-130 was our ride out of the jungle after eight days of harassing drug traffickers. It sat with its tail-gate down and both port-side hatches open and steps extended, when it started taking small arms fire.

It suddenly became a “load and go” situation and the two Marines squads would have to evacuate the landing zone while defending each other. Within minutes we were aboard and the craft was taxiing. 

Leaned out of the craft, trying to get the forward hatch secured, I saw a rocket-propelled grenade race by the plane. The rocket came so close, its smoky-trail was cut by the C-130’s rudder. 

A second RPG, screamed out of the jungle and slammed into the aircraft. It blew me out the door and landed on my back.

The bad guys immediately started shooting at me. So I took off running after the C-130.

On fire, the plane turned and dropped into a ditch that paralleled the dirt airstrip. Marines poured out of every exit and we eventually rallied in the jungle.

Our ride ended up burning to the ground. And we’d have to wait for another lift out of the jungle.

We had three minor injuries, but no deaths from the attack. However, years later I realized I was a casualty of the attack too.

I had fractured two vertebra, falling out of the plane.

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