IN THE COMPANY OF HEROES PROLOGUE Somalia October 3, It was a perfect day for prayer, a bright and tranquil Sunday morning. The skies and seas . Revealing never-before-told stories with the incisive thought and emotion of one who was there. "The author does not pull any punches his story, is one. Results 1 - 25 of 90 [EPUB] In the Company of Heroes by Michael J. Durant. Book file PDF easily for everyone and every device. You can download and read.
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Read eBook In The Company Of Heroes By Michael J Durant [EPUB KINDLE PDF EBOOK]. (c) - page 1 of 7 - Get Instant Access to PDF File: ec6 In. In The Company Of Heroes Michael J Durant. Scorecard Company - Eos Worldwide toolbox ruthenpress.info – eos. all rights reserved. Michael J. Durant retired from the army as a Chief Warrant Officer 4. In addition to participating in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, he saw action in the.
M1 Garand. In combat. Cut Wire. Rangers prove to be a formidable force regardless of their role in and Tank Depot.
The Browning Automatic Rifle upgrade allows them to fire more quickly and accurately. Throw Grenades. M4 Shermans.
Able to wield bazookas and the fast-firing Thompson for your units. Throw Satchel Charge Falling from the skies to surprise the enemy. Suppression Fire On the battlefield.
None Riflemen Abilities: They can build and maintain fortifications. Heavy Assault and deployed at the Tank Depot. M Springfield rifle attacks leave them vulnerable. Any infantry in close proximity to the Triage Center will slowly recover their health. Able to wield a variety of weapons. M3 Submachine gun Upgrades: Their M Springfield bolt-action rifle ensures deadly accuracy from even the Upgrades: Browning Automatic Rifle.
Building And Support troops already on the ground. Fire Up! Supply Yard Rangers are an effective assault force due to their ability to take and hold ground against Creating a Supply Yard will reduce the amount of Upkeep and Support even the most deadly of Axis forces. Airborne Role: Raiding and Containment Weapons: M1 Carbine Upgrades: M1 Carbine positions.
Throw Sticky Bombs. Tank Depot Rangers M10s. Riflemen are all about versatility. Sharpshooter the field. Antitank Support Weapons: M1 57mm Antitank gun Upgrades: None M3 Halftrack Abilities: Troop Transport While large and cumbersome.
Scouting unit crew. While outfitted with half-inch thick armor plating. Manned by a three unit crew. While it is outfitted with a M M16 Quad. Howitzer Barrage should also be used with caution.
The weapon M2 mm Howitzer proves to be one of the most valuable Allied infantry units. Its high rate of fire and long distance attack Abilities: None capabilities makes it not only useful against Axis tank units.
If all crew members are lost. If a crew unit is killed while Abilities: None manning the mortar. None target. Indirect Fire Weapons: M2 60mm mortar Allied Vehicles Upgrades: None Abilities: Mortar Barrage.
Mass Infantry Engagement Role: Long-Distance Engagement Weapons: M Browning Heavy Machine gun Weapons: M2 mm howitzer Upgrades: None Upgrades: The M2 mm howitzer. Howitzer Barrage The M Browning Heavy Machine gun is one of the most deadly weapons on the Capable of firing highly explosive rounds at enemy targets from great distances. If a crewman is killed while using the weapon.
Once all units have been lost. The addition of its Mine Drop ability only increases this Destroyer. When equipped with the Bulldozer upgrade. Bombing Run With an arsenal including eight. Smoke Upgrades: Toggle Mine Clearing. Recon and Raiding Role: Tank Killer Weapons: This weapon is most effective at clearing buildings.
Fire Smoke Canister Abilities: The P47 Thunderbolt is Upgrades: None only available as a support option for the Allied Airborne Company Commander. Strafing Run. Basic Tank Support Weapons: Coaxially mounted flamethrower Upgrades: Bulldozer P47 Thunderbolt Abilities: Toggle Bulldozer Role: The plane can absorb enemy fire from both the Weapons: M4 Sherman Role: Tank Killer Upgrades: Light Armored Skirts Upgrades: Mine Drop Abilities: In this case the weapon is a rocket array that houses 60 4.
Basic Tank Support most powerful fighters of the entire war. It is outclassed by heavier Axis armor. Calliope Rocket Barrage The Calliope. Crab Mine Flail. When fired. Headquarters The most important Axis building is the Headquarters. MG42 Heavy Machine Guns. Nebelwerfer Rocket Launchers. Houses Medics who will return your casualties to the station for The Headquarters can also be upgraded to increase the variety of available deployable medical treatment and redeployment.
An Axis Bunker must be units by escalating the battle phases… upgraded in order to utilize the Aid Station. Axis Defensive Structures Defensive structures serve a vital role on the battlefield.
To build a Sturm Armory. To build a Krieg Barracks. Axis Bunker Defensive Structures provide the most basic of protections against enemy attacks and Axis bunkers are large stationary heavy structures that can be therefore should be utilized frequently. Krieg Barracks Sand Bags For heavier infantry. Pak 38 50mm Antitank Guns.
The structure Sand Bags provide your infantry with cover. Stug IV Assault Guns. Their MP44 assault rifles. Raiding And Containment to Axis forces. Panzerschreck Pioneers Abilities: Throw Bundled Grenade. Stormtroopers Role: Assault Unit: Infantry Axis Infantry Weapon: Kar98 Rifle. While not the most elite Weapons: MP40 Submachine gun of Axis troops. Usually battle-hardened veterans.
Cut Wire and mobility. Kar98 bolt-action rifle. Axis combat engineers. MG42 Light Machine Gun.
Outside of their support Company Commander. Panzerschreck Cross Holders infantry units. MP44 Assault Rifle. Medical Kit Headquarters must upgrade to Escalate to Battle phase.
These Veteran units are more adept in combat and will react accordingly when engaged by the enemy. MP40 Submachine gun Abilities: Panzerfaust Abilities: Fire Panzerfaust. While effective at close with the MP44 assault rifle. Minesweeper force to be reckoned with.
Assault Weapon: MP44 assault rifle Role: Basic Infantry Weapon: Armed the reputation of being dangerous even in the face of adversity. These light and disposable armaments are a deadly means of combating Allied armor. To build a Panzer Command. Smoke Rounds When fired. Command And Support Role: Mass Infantry Engagement Weapon: Semi-automatic Luger pistol Weapon: Maschinengewehr 42 Upgrades: Observed Fire. As a mounted weapon. Hold Fire Light and modestly mobile.
Assault Role: Indirect Fire Weapon: Nebelwerfer 41 rocket launcher Weapon: Fire Barrage Abilities: Barrage ability is particularly effective against massed troops. Since they were only armed with a semi-automatic troops.
Officers are the backbone of the Axis infantry machine. Forced Retreat Abilities: None While few in numbers. Join Reader Rewards and earn your way to a free book! Join Reader Rewards and earn points when you download this book from your favorite retailer.
Read An Excerpt. Durant and Steven Hartov Best Seller. Paperback 2 —. download the Ebook: Add to Cart Add to Cart. About In the Company of Heroes Revealing never-before-told stories with the incisive thought and emotion of one who was there.
Also by Michael J. Durant , Steven Hartov. See all books by Michael J. I looked over at my helo, at my seat collapsed there in the cockpit. It was cocked slightly to the right, probably because of the lateral spinning impact. For just a moment, the distraction opened a brief window of hope, a glimmer of the future. Then something moved on my right and I spun and fired four rounds. But while my trigger finger kept on pulling, the weapon just clicked. A wisp of pungent smoke curled from the barrel like a ghost.
My first magazine was empty, and I switched to the second. Only thirty more rounds, Durant. You better choose your targets very carefully. I looked to the left of the big tree out in front of me and I could see another Somali, crouched down and slinking toward the aircraft.
But we were not defenseless yet. I fired two rounds at him and he disappeared in a small cloud of dust. I know I hit him. I fired at some more shadowy figures, and then again.
My weapon jammed. I pulled back the cocking lever and shook it violently, then chambered another round that seemed to seat properly. The thing was stressing me out. It had fired just fine at the range, but it was clear the damn gun needed a good cleaning. Keep your goddamn weapon clean! An African voice called out from the other side of the wall.
Blam blam. I let loose. Tin rattled, and I heard the heavy patter of running. Blam blam blam. It was empty. There were two full pistol magazines there and another thirty rounds, but for some reason my brain refused to take that in. In the end, that failure in cognizance probably saved my life. Something arced through the air above me, fell through the tree branches, and bounced on the ground just to my right.
I panicked and began to flail the now useless MP-5 in circles around my head, contorting and twisting like a man with a tarantula on his neck as I tried to sweep the horrible thing away from me. I thought I felt the weapon clang off of something, and I turned and covered my face with my arms as it exploded with a concussive bang off to the right, covering me with dust and hammering at my eardrums.
My spirit, which only minutes before had been buoyed up by the arrival of Randy and Gary, now spiraled down into the ground just like my helicopter.
I was dripping sweat, in pain, half paralyzed, and out of ammo. The stench of spilled jet fuel and gunsmoke and rotting garbage and sweat would be the only escorts to my death. I was alone. It was turning into the frigging Alamo. At that point I am sure he realized how desperate our situation had become. No one was coming for us—not anytime soon, anyway.
The unfortunate truth was that we were only a small part of a much bigger and bloodier picture. Only minutes before, Gary and Randy had jumped from a hovering helicopter to rescue us. They had fought their way through a maze of paths and shanties, driving off seemingly countless Somali gunmen.
They had already done more than any two men could be expected to do. They had put their own lives on the line to try to help their fellow American soldiers. Gary Gordon died on the other side of that helicopter. He died before I even learned his name. I will never forget him. Randy Shughart came back around the cockpit, striding toward me and showing little more than professional concern in his expression. He was focused on our critical shortage of ammo, and he looked at my now useless MP He handed me the smaller weapon, and for some reason it felt much better in my grip than my own MP He held up a PRC survival radio.
There was gunfire echoing from the far side of the aircraft, but in hesitant ones and twos. We had to be. But maybe the communications were bad because of our location and the distances involved? Could we be cut off? Wild thoughts began to race around in my brain. The gravity of our situation began to really dawn on me, and I simmered with anger and frustration. How far away is that damn reaction force? There are hundreds of American troops in this damn city!
What the hell are they doing?! If I had, my pounding heart might have simply succumbed with terror. Yet no U. Other elements had been pinned down en route by relentless fire while, just like me, they waited with their injured and their dead for relief. But the vehicles in the ground convoy were being beat up so badly that they had to turn around and go back to the compound. The lightly armored Humvees and Five-Tons were riddled with bullets and RPG shrapnel, hauling dead and gravely wounded Rangers, their cargo bays slick with blood.
They would have to regroup, rearm, muster more personnel, and come back out. It would be hours before any kind of help could make it to our site. A Little Bird was flying high over our position.
The voice sounded familiar. I was sure it was one of the Little Bird pilots named Chris. Now, that was encouraging. All we had to do was hold out a little bit longer. We needed help, but help was on the way. We just gotta keep them from overrunning us. We gotta hang in here just a little while more. He squinted at the radio, stuffed it into his combat harness, hefted his weapon, and moved off around the nose of the helicopter.
He left without saying another word. I would never see him again. Once more, I was alone. As far as I could tell, there was only one man among us still on his feet, and he had walked off to make his last stand. Directly to my right front, another Somali was trying to climb over the wall. They seemed to be coming from everywhere now, a veritable plague of killers.
I aimed the CAR and pulled the trigger, and the burst of automatic fire took me by surprise. I looked at the weapon in my hand and thought, This is what we need, not that MP-5 piece of crap.
The small German weapon might be fine for urban antiterror work, but this American piece was a robust field tool. My confidence came back. I fired a few more rounds at a flashing figure to my front.
And then the CAR ran dry. Desperately, I looked all around, shocked to be out of ammo. Just meters away from me there were six thousand rounds of 7. But I had no way to fire any of it. Those miniguns would have been so damn effective, but they required aircraft power to operate.
We had to have AC electrical power. We might as well have had six thousand rocks. Ammo, ammo everywhere, and not a round to fire. Suddenly, it grew very, very quiet. Up until this point there had been quite a bit of gunfire, ebbing and flowing in volume, some from us and some from them. But for some reason it all stopped for a few moments. I could hear my own lungs, rasping at the air like sandpaper on plywood.
Maybe the reaction force is coming on and driving them away. I had no idea if this might be true, but the fantasy was encouraging. There were a few good 9mm rounds lying around me, but I never thought to reload the empty MP-5 mags, and my pistol never entered my mind.
I no longer had any control of the situation. All I could do now was wait for that reaction force. They should be able to make it in time. My body jerked and I clenched my fists as a huge volume of gunfire suddenly shattered the silence. It came from the far side of the chopper and it rolled in like a hurricane of the worst sounds that Satan could conjure.
Flying bullets plucked shorn metal and glass into the air and kicked up clots of dirt all around me, and it was like being on the wrong end of the firing range at Fort Bragg while an entire company of infantry let loose at you.
The Somalis had plainly changed their tactics. The regular soldiers of the Somali National Alliance had arrived and taken over, organizing a coordinated assault. It went on and on for maybe an entire minute, a short span of time that stretched into an agonizing eternity.
It was only a matter of time before he went down. And when Randy finally fell, the shooting stopped. The last volleys of gunfire echoed off into the sparse trees. When the dust cleared, the Somalis would count twenty-five of their own killed at our crash site. In those last moments of his life, Randy had done some pretty damn fine shooting. Then the most terrifying minutes of my entire life began. I doubt there is a more horrific thing one could experience.
I still lie in bed at night and feel that flood of suffocating anxiety. Time seemed to stand absolutely still. My skin crawled and every vein in my body throbbed with terror. What did they really do to those Nigerians? I could barely breathe. How much pain can a man endure before his mind shuts down and retreats into the sanctuary of unconsciousness? I knew they were going to kill me. Death was on its way.
I could hear it. It was like some multilimbed Hydra, stomping toward me, thundering the ground and furiously tossing away shards of metal and wood as it drew near. It was the sound of approaching death, just overwhelmingly terrifying, and I knew that as soon as they came around the nose of that helicopter and saw me, they were going to chop me to pieces.
We had heard eyewitness accounts of them playing soccer with the skulls of their enemies. There was a large survival knife in the chest pocket of my vest, and I could have plunged it into my heart and ended it right there, but somehow I never even considered that.
My life was surely lost, but I would not be the one to take it. A fully loaded M-9 pistol was strapped to my broken thigh and within easy reach, but for some reason my brain still refused to recognize its existence. Maybe one small part of my psyche reasoned that if I was holding a threatening gun in my hand, any thin hope of being taken alive would be lost. That enraged mob would riddle me with a thousand bullets.
I was no longer a soldier fighting with my comrades against a common enemy. I was merely a man alone, facing a horrifying death. I did not know for certain that everyone else was dead, but I could do nothing to help them now. But for Ray and Tommy and Bill, and those two incredibly courageous Delta men whose names I did not yet even know, it would be one week too late.
I could think of no other course of action. In seconds, the Somalis would come for me. Not an organized military enemy, but a mob of enraged civilians and militia with only one thing on their minds: A few clouds drifted by overhead.
There were no helicopters in sight. I heard the rising victorious cries as the Somalis swarmed around Super SixFour, the poundings of hundreds of fists against her battered hide, a rattle like a swarm of feeding locusts.
I did not sob. I did not pray. No tears coursed down my cheeks. For me, in that one frozen moment in time, all that I could do was wait for their arrival. My Joey will never know his father. The first Somali came around the nose of the aircraft.
My eye caught the movement, and I raised my head up and looked at him. I tried to stay perfectly still, but I had startled him. He and his cohorts must have thought that they had killed us all. The man took a step or two backward, then realized that I was not a threat, and the crowd surged forward, descending on me like vultures on a cadaver.
There may have been a hundred of them, or even a thousand. I could not tell. The sky above became a blur of screaming heads and flying fists and feet, punching and kicking at me.
How do I make it through the next five minutes? There was nothing I could do for the other men now; I had to focus on my own survival. I decided to act as passively as I could.
The situation was volatile as nitroglycerine. Only minutes before, I had been trying to kill them and they had been doing the same, and now I would just have to endure their unbridled fury. They seemed to divide quickly into two groups, one bent on tearing me apart and the other intent on stripping me of anything of value.
I saw flashes of incongruous clothing, men wearing T-shirts with Nike and Adidas logos, women wrapped in dresses with prints nearly as loud as their screams. Someone kicked me hard, while two more started to claw at my flight gear and clothing.
I opened the clasps for them, as well as the carabiners that held my extraction harness together, and then I was lying there in only my brown T-shirt and desert flight trousers and boots as they waved my vest high overhead and shouted victoriously while others swarmed in to try to capture the prize. I was carrying no personal effects, no wallet or good-luck charms. I cannot remember how many times they struck me or clubbed me.
But it was many, many times.
A snarling face bent in and a man ripped the green badge loose from my neck cord. That badge gave me access to the Task Force Ranger compound, and taped to the back of it was my military identification card. You die Somalia! There was nothing on that green badge but a number. I wondered how many of these were now hanging around the necks of our enemies. They barely tore the laces open before bracing their feet in the dirt and twisting and pulling. I watched them tear my left boot off. I closed my eyes when they went for the right.
The pain of my broken femur shot up through my shattered spine like a high-voltage electrocution.
I looked up as a man raised something high above his head. For a second the sun haloed around the object, and then he swung it down on me like a club. It smashed into my face, breaking my right eye socket and cheekbone.
But the truth is long overdue. That object was not a weapon. It was soft and very heavy. It was the severed arm of one of my comrades.
I did not cry out or try to defend myself. Someone fired a shot in the air. I was lying there barefoot now, with only my T-shirt and flight trousers remaining. In those climatic conditions of heat and humidity, our medics had recommended not wearing underwear, and when the Somalis opened my trousers to drag them off and saw that I was naked, they inexplicably stopped.
It was an absolutely surrealistic moment as someone slowly zipped my fly back up, and the last vestiges of my filthy uniform were left in place. Their choice to honor modesty, while mutilating and desecrating the dead and the defenseless, utterly dumbfounded me. Someone threw a handful of dirt into my eyes and my mouth. The grit blinded me, and I choked and sputtered it from my throat. Someone else wrapped a filthy rag around my head. I felt many hands clutching at my legs and my shoulders, and then they hoisted me high up into the air.
My crushed vertebrae ground hard against each other, and as they stretched me out like a prisoner on the rack, my broken femur cleaved into the back of my leg, the sharp bone puncturing right out through my skin.
I left my body. I do not remember fainting, but the flood of agony triggered a response that would only be explained to me much later by a survival psychologist. I looked down on myself and the surging horde, watching it all in perfect detail, that sea of howling, triumphant inhumanity and those thousands of hands passing me aloft like a bloody sacrifice to their unholy gods. For those brief moments, the pain was swept away.
And then, so was I. The delusion lasted for only seconds, but it was refuge, a brief retreat to a peaceful corner of my soul. My small, serene town of Berlin nestled there in the cleavage of rolling green mountains, where the bittersweet smoke from the paper mills drifted through the towering pines. In the autumn we hunted deer and birds and rabbits, not for trophies, but for the dinner table. In the winter we skied and rode snowmobiles and played hockey until our faces were apple red and our lips bright blue.
In the spring we fished in crystal-clear streams and rivers, swollen with ice-cold runoffs from the northern peaks. My only nightmares were of fumbling the deciding pass in a high school football game, or of having my hero, hockey legend Bobby Orr, chastise me for missing an easy goal.
It was the heart of summer in , when all of us were free at last from math and English and chemistry, and the Vietnam War was no longer on the nightly news. The water below was glassy and cold, and the happy howls of kids echoed through the trees as they leaped from a cliff into deep eddies below. I heard a soft voice, my eyelids fluttered open, and there was Laurie, my high school girlfriend. She was striding toward me up the hill in her frayed blue jeans, tight tank top, chestnut hair, and glossy tanned skin.
Her smile was wide and snow white, and I felt my chest flutter with the promise of romantic adventure as I raised my hand and she reached out for me. Then suddenly her smile turned into a vicious snarl, her fingers grabbed for my crotch, and she screamed and squeezed with all her might.
I was violently snapped back to reality, being carried aloft on the thundering wave of a mosh pit from hell. The fingers snatching at my genitals belonged to an enraged Somali woman, and her shrieks made my blood run cold as she leaped into the air and dove right onto me, trying to tear my testicles from my body. Someone wrenched her off me, though not before she tried to castrate me again, and I heard her wails as she was left behind in the dust, without her trophy.
I was grateful that I still had my flight trousers on, but I was also pessimistic as a fat, caged turkey on the last Wednesday of November. All around me people were chanting and screaming, their sandals and sneakers pounding the dust and the slings of their rifles rattling.
It was a bizarre, unearthly sensation. I was nothing more than a bloody trophy, being displayed with far less dignity than the slaughtered deer I had hunted as a boy. I did not utter a word, and I tried very hard not to groan or cry out with the incredible pain. I did not want to remind these people that I was still their living, breathing nemesis, a creature of loathing who could be made to suffer further for their losses.
If I behaved like a corpse, maybe it would quell their urge to turn me into one. The entourage rushed onward, and it seemed to me that even more babbling voices and stampeding feet joined the procession. The stench of smoldering rubber and burning wood seeped into my nostrils and an image leaped into my mind of a huge iron pot of boiling stew, with my own severed head floating amid steaming hunks of camel meat. The worst trait a combat chopper pilot can have is a vivid imagination.
Just go with the flow. As if I had a choice in the matter. I had no clue as to how far or in which direction we were moving, but I knew that each breath could be my last. And I savored every one of them, while gunfire hammered in the distance and the simple act of sucking air made the sweat run in rivulets from my armpits. The grim reality that every pilot has to deny in order to focus and fly into combat had happened to me—I was shot down and badly wounded, an American in the clutches of an infuriated enemy, a hated symbol of Caucasian Western power, fallen from the sky into a swarm of African tribal rage.
I was a man in a land of no futures, without a hint of what might happen next, and I could not prepare myself for any coming event. Then all at once I was sailing through the air. My body smacked down onto a hot iron slab, my head bounced hard, and I bit my lip and writhed as the pain thundered through my spine.
A coarse canvas tarp was tossed over me, smothering the dim light that filtered through my blindfold, then the engine gunned and the truck rumbled off through the wild streets of the Mog. It was a ride not unlike many I had taken before in gypsy cabs and other modes of transportation, throughout the world in cities where there are no rules—where the horn and cussing are as important as the steering wheel, where the vehicle never moves more than a few feet without having to negotiate some kind of obstacle, where the driver starts and stops constantly and the trip is a vibrating stagger from one pothole to the next.
But now my vertebrae were crushed, my leg broken, and my face smashed. Within minutes the vehicle skidded to a stop, the pack descended on me again, and I swallowed my groans and made myself go limp as they dragged me from the flatbed onto their bouncing shoulders. The immediate reappearance of the crowd was surreal. Had they been running alongside the damn truck the whole time? Or had the entire city become an endless wave of clutching hands, just waiting to pass me from one victorious riot to the next as news of my capture was shouted from rooftop to rooftop?
They were sprinting with me now, every pounding step of theirs a thunderbolt through my torn nerve endings. But suddenly those hundreds of voices dropped to just a dozen.
Because I was blinded by that rag, my other senses seemed to become acute, my hearing sopping up every hint of change in tone or environment.
We were entering a closed space, a room of some sort. Oh shit, here it comes again. I braced myself and gritted my teeth as they swung me into the air, like overzealous parents tossing a child into a pile of autumn leaves, and I smacked down onto an unforgiving, hardpan floor.
Lightning exploded behind my eyes, and the neural current surged through my body from my feet to my forehead. I was breathless, twisting on the floor, trying like hell not to wail. I wondered if a man could die from the shock of pain alone, and I begged my brain to take me up and away from my battered shell again. Take me back to New Hampshire.
Take me anywhere but here! No such luck. A dozen hands searched every pocket of my trousers, checking every wrinkle of my sweat-soaked T-shirt, groping for some overlooked item of value.
Hot breath hissed in my face, threatening me with death in that phrase that had become their litany: The Somalis were known to chew the narcotic leaves of a tree called khat, which gave them a feeling of euphoria and made them utterly fearless in combat. The harsh voices around me seemed to be arguing in their warbling, African babble, and I gathered they really had no idea what to do with me.
Then more pairs of feet stomped into the room and new voices entered the picture, their tones even louder, more overbearing and strident. The situation was clearly still as volatile as the spilled fuel from Super Six-Four. Some years later, American intelligence officers would tell me that at that moment a rival and more powerful clan took possession of me.
You guys just sort this out. For a brief moment, I wondered about my men—Tommy, Bill, Ray, and those two courageous Delta operators. Had any of them survived the onslaught at the crash site? It could be. There was so much confusion and gunfire, maybe some of the guys got away.
Could any of them have possibly escaped this mass fury that seemed to engulf the entire city? But those thoughts left me as the rag was tightened more firmly around my head, the Somalis yanked me up into the air, squeezed me through the door, and we were on the run again. I landed on the floor of the flatbed. We rumbled off on another bronco-bucking ride through the labyrinth of streets.
I tried to keep track of the turns and distances, but it was impossible. The driver braked and veered sharply, as if he were trying to lose someone. How goddamn long is this going to go on? I wondered in frustration, unable to track the passage of time. There was just no way to know. Yet after a while, even through the thickness of my blindfold, I began to discern that the light was finally fading.
The Sabbath sun was making its descent at last, and this godforsaken day was coming to an end. If I ever make it out of this alive, Sundays will never be the same. I was stunned by my own transition—from a healthy, self-assured, eager young warrior of that morning, to a battered, wounded, shit-scared cripple by the late afternoon.
Some of us were certainly dead. Some of us were surely lost. But I was still alive, and very soon now, it would be night. My comrades in the skies above had electronic eyes, while our enemies would be left to grope in darkness. I thought to myself. Now we have the advantage. The odds have been tilted in our favor. We own the night! But it would be years before I would realize just how desperate the situation had become for all of Task Force Ranger, and that the plight which I was in that day was inconsequential compared to that of the remainder of the force, pinned down and surrounded in that very same city.
There was gunfire in the distance, but it was like the muffled soundtrack of a war movie coming from an outdoor drive-in. We were certainly still inside the city, but that was all I could be sure of. Night had fallen as it does in Africa, a blackness so thick you can almost feel it. The wind had died down, yet I could still smell the sea.
Dogs howled from somewhere, but I knew they were wild and on the move—there were no house pets in Mogadishu. My second wild ride of the day was over. It was time to face the next unknown challenge. The engine idled while I waited for the pack to descend on me, yet the crowd of wild rioters failed to appear. Instead, a smaller group of murmuring men roughly lifted me up, the pain sloshed through me, and I balled my fists and gnashed my teeth as I was carted from the flatbed.
My captors were squeezing me through another doorway. I held my breath for the inevitable impact as they grunted under my weight, crossed some kind of a room, and threw me against a wall. Sweet Jeessus. I slowly exhaled into the pain, willing it to recede as I let my body slide down flat and settled onto a floor as hard as marble. The door slammed, someone tore the rag from my head, and I blinked and squinted into darkness.
All around me were shiny, shadowed faces and glinting gun barrels. The Somalis were gesticulating wildly and snapping at each other. I sensed an urge to end it all right there and dispense with this half-dead American and the problems my presence was sure to bring.
I flicked my eyes from one furious face to another, wondering how much I might be worth to them. A truckload of grain? A whole hangar full? As a kid I had always been something of a jokester, but now I knew that I was just half delirious and my snide side was rearing its ugly head.
Wisely, I decided not to say a word, because they might just all spin on me and let loose with those AKs. Keep your mouth shut, Durant. It only gets you in trouble. Still arguing, the Somalis walked out of the room and left me alone for a few moments.
I tried to straighten my broken leg, feeling the dampness of blood and syrupy fluids stiffening on my flight trousers. It was obvious that the bone had broken through the skin. Running was definitely not an option, and even a combat crawl was a fantasy. I cleared some of the dirt from my eyes and spat it from my mouth. My face felt like a mask of crusted blood and sweat-caked dust. I was filthy, all busted up, and in very bad shape.
I swept my eyes through the darkness. What can I do to get out of here? The gunfire in the distance was growing steadily in volume, and I tried to imagine what might be going on out there. If the mission had been successful, all of Task Force Ranger would have been long gone by now. But I knew that some of my friends had been shot down before me, and maybe some more after my own crash. No one would be left behind, and I concluded that was why the battle raged on.
Get them out, boys, I urged silently. Get us all the hell out of here. Of course, I had no idea at the time what that effort really entailed. The exfil convoy was all shot up, regrouping now and gathering additional support to go back out into that melee and recover the wounded and stranded Rangers and Delta operators.
The best friends I had were still out there, all of them flying the toughest combat missions of their army careers. They had a number of critically wounded and they were nearly out of water, IV bags, and ammo. My good friend Stan Wood and his crew had their helicopter, Super SixSix, loaded up with supplies and took off from the airfield for the battle zone. Stan knew he would probably be shot down, but he figured that if he crashed in the right place, at least the customers would be able to recover the goods.
The Rangers tossed infrared chem lights into the road. While a couple of D-boys in the back pushed the resupply packs out the doors, the Somalis opened up on Stan from everywhere.