Written by Phyxius00, a U.S. Army Veteran
Phyxius lost his friend, Specialist Regalado, in combat during his Iraq tour.
It is November 2009, three months after his unit’s arrival in August. It is a goddamn cold winter in the desert in Mosul. The sweat on their eyebrows freezes. That’s how cold it is. They are on a routine convoy mission around the town, making peace with the local Iraqi people. It is mid-afternoon around 1pm, so it isn’t too bad, considering it is usually fucking cold more than half the time. He sees the kids running alongside the convoy, shouting and asking for all kinds of stuff–candy, pens, patches, food etc. They get off their trucks to hang out with the kids and talk to the villagers while their captain conducted business with the sheik of the village or to the layman “The Mayor” of the town. They stay for an hour or two. Regalado and Phyxius are bullshitting making the little boys fight for a snickers bar. Yeah, they are assholes like that.
After the whole ordeal, they are ordered to get into their trucks and now they head back to the F.O.B. or forward operating base. They are about 25 minutes on their way back. They all are having a good time talking shit to each other, having a few laughs when all of a sudden, BOOM!!!. There is an explosion from an R.P.G (rocket propelled grenade), which hit the truck behind the one Phyxius is in. Everyone is ordered to get out and get ready for a fight. It is probably one of the most frightening experiences he has ever encountered in his life, and he has lived in a pretty fucked up neighborhood growing up. He is used to the late night murder sprees, the helicopters shining down his neighborhood in South Central, the gang-controlled streets, muggings, random shooting from god knows where.
This is a totally different feeling altogether, the sound of snapping bullets flying passed his head, the loud blast of explosives striking the ground, the concussion.
Phyxius is shouting for his fellow soldiers, trying to figure out what to do in that fucked up, unexpected situation. He sees Death looking straight in his eyes. The taste of fear in the air.
As all this is happening everyone takes point behind the Humvees trying to find a spot for protection. The turret gunners are shooting towards his right as he gets out of the truck. Regalado and Phyxius meet in the opposite side of the Humvee, trying to figure out where the fuck the attack was coming from. After taking a few moments to regulate their senses from the abrupt stop and explosion, they realize that some of the guys were too scared. They stand like a deer in headlights. Phyxius is one of them.
THE SHIT HITS THE FAN.
They switched their M4’s to semi-automatics and began firing. It’s true what he was taught; the training does kick in and it becomes second nature. Regalado and Phyxius continue firing, picking off their targets. He shouted, “Reloading!” as the snapping of Ak-47 rounds are whizzing past their heads. Phyxius is covering fire, compensating for Regalado’s reload time. As he comes out to continue the fight, Phyxius sees him get knocked back, hitting the ground as if getting dropped kicked like a wrestler during his match. Phyxius shouts, “MAN DOWN!!!” He checks on his combat brother to see where he is hit. His eyes are still open and blinking, but to Phyxius’ surprise, he has a hole straight through his head. Phyxius isn’t comprehending what just happened. The adrenaline is rushing through his veins and he has to continue doing his job, knowing his mate is now gone.
Survival instincts is already at full throttle. Phyxius’ next reaction is being on the alert. The battle is still raging. His buddy, Rob, the medic, checks on Regalado and screams at Phyxius that he is gone. No Shit.
He hears the obvious, but does not react. Just survive.
The 20 minutes feel like hours, and time stood still.
When it was over, they all hop back into their trucks and haul ass out of this hell hole.
It is too surreal.
My Friend, Flash Forward
A few days passed. Phyxius still couldn’t process what had just happened. It feels like a living fucking nightmare come true. There are a few wounded and only one dead, Regalado. It just had to be his friend. In his arms. He is still in shock. He goes about living like this has never even happened.
Finally it came. The hit. Everything rushed in. It happened while he was sleeping. It crept into his dreams and in it, he was reliving the fight. One of the most fucked up memories Phyxius will carry for the rest of his life.