"5 minutes guys" The pilot yelled back to us.
"We got three of our guys that have gone black two SEAL and the other is an
Airmem Combat Controller" Captain Self said as he walked down the cabin of
the Chinook .I felt my buddy John grab my shoulder and yell "you ready kid".
The only thing I could say in this meekly voice was "Hua". That's when it
"This is Razor 1 we are taking small arms fire" the pilot said in a panic voice,
everyone else was in a panic as well as the Chinook rocked back and forth.
That's when it happen Sergeant Phillip Svitak dropped dead with a bullet in the
head. As soon as this happened all hell began; The Chinook took an RPG round
and the helicopter fell out of the sky. We were thrown around the cabin of the
helicopter like cloth in the laundry dryer, bullets holes and the beams of light
from them shot through cabin. Then nothing but blackness.
That is usually when I wake up to my small apartment room,
soaking wet in my own sweat and my heart pounding that it echoes
through the apartment. I set up and sit at the edge of the bed
and just think to myself 'why'. I look at my dog tags and stare
at the print:
I sit and stare at them for at least three hours and just watch
it dangle. The only comfort I find is in the drink, for hours I
drink my self in a coma and again slip in to that dream. Although
the dream is not even a dream, I wish it was a nightmare, but it
is no nightmare it is my memory and it's something I always have
to live with.
The war has not only a mark on me mentally but also
physically as my left hand is missing the pinky, and middle fingers. I
wish that's where it ends but I have small metal fragments in my right
leg stuck right inside the bone. The doctors said it would
permanent lose walking ability if it was next morning afterI
had drank my self to death and the phone rang, I stubbed to the living
room and answered the phone.
"Hello" I said in a very intoxicated voice
"Matthew, your drunks again aren't you. You know it was
hard for you but you need to grow the hell up Matthew" my
"Bye mom" I said
"You need help" she yelled as I hit the hang up button
But she was right. I need help because I starting to believe I suffer
from Post Tamatic Stress Disorder.
(P.T.S.D) in which my mind has gone
through a tough time and is having a tough time getting over that.
Having PTSD is like there pain that won't go away, it keeps old memories
manly the bad ones alive in my head. The friends, comrades and even some
of the enemy that I have seen killed in front of my eyes is something
that can't be erased. My fragile state of mind has cost me four
relationships, alienated my self from family, friends, and just the
outside world in general. From when I returned home to now non-stop
anxiety attacks, drug abuse, alcohol abuse everyday. I do this to my
self just to stop or forget the memories and just let go of all that is around me.
But that is when everything got worse. My friend Matt got up while everyone
was down, he got up and wondered outside when a crack from an AK-47 went off
and Private First Class Matthew A. Commons dropped. That's when Sergeant
Bradley S. Crose went to pull Commons lifeless body back in the wrecked
helicopter when an RPG round hit right next to him, killing him instantly. This
also gave John command of 2nd squad as a result.
"Matt! Matt get up! Can you hear me?" A voice echoed through out my ear
It was like a dream but not a dream, a haze of smoke and gunfire there was
nothing I could do at that moment but be in this desolation.
"On your feet man" John yelled and grabbed me by the shoulder and dragged me outside
of the wrecked Chinook.
"Is he hit?" Chris the medic asked
"No he's fine" John yelled
"Anderson is hit!" someone yelled
"He's gone" another yelled back
Speaclist Marc A. Anderson was reloading his M4 when a mortar round landed
behind him, killing him. I remember everyone was on defensive positions and
lighting everything up; this snow covered mountain was about to be our graves if
we didn't do anything fast.
"Matt. Here. Return fire man, bad guys to our eleven and one O'clock"
John said as he handed me my rifle and ran off to give orders to the rest of
the squad. The never ending gunfire scared me. I know I'm suppose to bea Us
Army Ranger but this is too much I don't want to be here anymore,please god
get me out of here.
Another night of these memories, these nightmares of the past.
Is it weird that I think about suicide? Or I want to driving my beatup
car into the ocean off Santa Monica? These thoughts gothrew my mind
on a daily bases, its like my conciseness isgiving up on me and
I'm giving into it. I sleep with a snubnose revolver under my
pillow and when I'm actually a sleepand not going into a
nightmare and I hear a sound; I jumpup and pull the revolver out
and point at it in the darkness.
My Army experience wasn't all bad. Like I loved everyone in
my platoon, there were best friends I would ever have. We
were Rangers to the end and to some it was that way. John
Mercer the guy in my nightmares is actually my best friend
and brother in law. My sister and he dated when they were
seniors in high school, I was a freshman at the time and
that was when life was 'good'. I partied and did so much
that I forgot that my education would take me farther, so
when senior came I barely passed and didn't fill out
applications anywhere so college was out of the question.
At this point in my life my sister was married and John had
gone to the Army and was a Ranger already. So since I screw
up my Senior year, my parents said it was to the military
for me they said it would "Build Character". So it was off
to Fort Jackson for Basic Training and as soon as you knew
I it graduated then was off to Fort Benning to RangerSchool.
Then I graduated at the top of my class. This is where I
met up with John again. He was with 3rd Battalion at the
time but then transferred to 1st Battalion with me and for
the time it was good. It was fun Private Torres would bring
glow sticks and at night we would have ourselves a little
rave with the best techno punk in 1st Battalion Corporal
Keller doing techno with his mouth. But that is when we
were deployed to I Afghanistan for 8 months, this was
A week has gone by and no dreamsor any thing of the sort
but I also got a job at the local warehouse for Target as a
Stock/Inventory Manager. So things have been looking goodfor me
and seeming to be a lot better. But still feel mypast creeping
up on me. John came by today and we talkedabout what happened
and what happened to me, to actuallytalk about it was actually
quite nice. Like letting a biglie out and you feel
so clean. But when we were talking itreminded me of the pain we
faced ay Takur Ghar and the more we talked the more I remembered.
"Alright I want 2nd squad to flank the right side of mountain!" Captain Self
yelled over the gunfire.
"You heard the Captain" John yelled as he gathered his squad to flank the
We ran up the right side of the hill, I noticed that it has been quite silent and we
gathered at the base of a rock formation.
"Okay, everyone the peak of the mountain is just ahead of us where going
call in the 'Medivac' and this will be our new base of operations. Hua?"John
"Hua" everyone replied
As we advanced it became a little eerie as things just didn't feel right like
something in that cold air was wrong and unsettling.
"Ay Parker that rock formation look wired to you" James asked
"Little bit" I replied to him as I fought the thin oxygen in the air.
Just at that second that 'Rock Formation' was actually the entrance to a
Al-Qaeda bunker. Unleashing a hail storm of bullets, we only had seconds to find
cover. Lewis and Paul were both it in their legs and they dropped fast
as they yelled in pain. Mike our medic as having a hard time getting to
them as every time he moved a burst of gunfire would hit his cover, it was
starting to look bad.
"Matt, James, Daven! Move up well cover y'all!" John yelled as he firedhis
rifle. We ran to the closes cover we could find and dove for cover, we were all
rather scared but we all had to take action.
"Okay Matt lay down some fire on the right side of the place as Daven moves up
got it" James said
I just nodded my head and pointed my rifle at the rocks where we were receiving
the gunfire from and took aim. That's when I lost all feeling everything was cold
and I could breath too well. A figure stood up with a rifle in hand and I pulled the
trigger. Dropping the figure fast and then I saw a JDAM(Joint Direct Attack
Munition) hit in the 'danger close' range and I dropped back down from the force
of the explosion. When the smoked cleared all hell broke loose as the AQ and Taliban
fired back and there was a frenzy of gun fire. At this moment I was numb to the world as I
selected my targets and pulled the trigger of my M4. That is when another airstrike hit the
them and all was quiet .When I got up shock off the shakes I had and met up with John
and five others an we scouted the entrance of the bunker when we noticed a
helmet with a bullet hole in it. The inside of the helmet was blood outlining it, we
all figured the worst and that he they have been dead for sometime. We searched
the entrance of the AQ's cave were we identified the bodies of our SEAL Petty
Officer 1st Class Neil C. Roberts and Airmen TSgt John A. Chapman.
"Assassin 1-Actual this is Assassin 1-1. You copy" John said into the radio
'This is Assassin 1-Actual go ahead 1-1" Captain Self said over the radio
"We got our boys sir. There dead" John said with a bit of depression in his voice
"Understood 1-1. The AQ are falling back and Night Stalkers from Gardez are
heading this way for Evac" Captain Self replied
"Anyone else hurt sir" John asked
"Senior Airman Cunningham is bleeding out. Doc Mitchell said he not going to
make it….you boys get back down here. Assassin 1-Actucal out" Captain Self replied
John and I talked about this for hours about Takur Ghar but the
thing isonce he left I stopped feeling better and started to
fall into depression again. The minute he walked out I got a
panic attack and ran for my pills, I forgot I was all out
medication so I resorted to my substance abuse. For hours
was vodka and shooting up, I felt disgusted with myself but
I felt more relaxed but this was wrong. That is when I started
crying and thrashing around I destroyed half of my
apartment; nothing was left untouched. The bed was thrown
on the wall, the tables broken and broken bottles
everywhere. There I was slouched in my chair in front of the
Television with gun in hand. I pressed it against my forehead.
Just then my mind shot back to Gardez a couple of days after the
battle on Takur Ghar's mountains.
Just days after we left Takur Ghar that is when my life really changed, short
range patrols around the city of Gardez was mainly what we did after the
operation. In a Humvee with my buddies just doing a normal routine patrol
around the city.
"Yo Matt bro. Did I ever tell you how my brother almost broke out of jail" Mike the
Medic said to me
"Your such a liar man" The Driver said
"I agree with the kid. Mike you are lying to us big time" James said
We all started to laugh and when a loud sound bang blew out my ears and my vision becomes hazy and I become disorientated. My door flys open with a John pulling me out of the Humvee, he pulls me in to a small ditch and calls out for help as two others radio in what just happen. Our Humvee had hit an IED (Improvised explosive device) the whole front of the vehicle had literally vanished. As I layed there I saw where I was sitting and where Mike the medic was sitting, his seat was fully engulfed in flames with a charred arm hanging out of the flames. They couldn't the drivers or Jame's bodies. I put my head against the hot sand and took a deep breath, that is when I noticed my left hand was missing my pink and middle finger, all I could do was stare at it. I cocked the hammer back on my revolver and thought about everything that I had gone through and how it would be a waste if I ended my life and how the guys who died would be disappointed in me. I took the barrel of the gun from my temple and put it on safety and dropped the revolver, and sat there in my chair and turn on the TV. CNN was on and they were taking about the on going operations in Afghanistan. I just thought to myself was it all worth it and was this a give or a curse I am force to live with?
Background : The Battle of Takur Ghar from March 4-March 5, 2002 was part of Operation Anaconda in March 1–18, 2002. Takur Ghar was a mountain in Shah-i-Kot Valley in which the nine Americans lost there lives. After a Navy SEAL and Air Forces Combat Controller went missing in Takur Ghar a QRF (Quick Response Force) of the 75th Rangers of 1st Battalion were to retrieve them. Enrote to Takur Ghar the CH-47 Chinook took heavy small-arm fire causing the death of the side gunner from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. At the same time an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) hit the helicopter. The surviving Rangers had to fight there way all day to overwhelming numbers of al-Qaeda and Taliban force. Three Rangers were killed in the process. Eventually the Rangers found the bodies of the SEAL and Airmen. Air Forces Pararescue men Senior Airman Jason D. Cunningham of Camarillo California was wounded while helping other wounded Rangers but they were denied evacuation as a result Cunningham bled out and died on the spot. American officals believe that over thousand AQ and Taliban fighters were at Takur Ghar, and an estimated 200 fighters were killed .
Petty Officer 1st Class Neil C. Roberts, born 1970, Woodland, California
TSgt John A. Chapman, born 1966, Waco, Texas
Senior Airman Jason D. Cunningham, born 1976, Camarillo, California
PFC Matthew A. Commons, born 1981, Boulder City, Nevada
SGT Bradley S. Crose, born 1980, Orange Park, Florida
SPC Marc A. Anderson, born 1972, Brandon, Florida
SGT Phillip "Spytech" Svitak, born 1971, Neosho, Missouri