When people feel comfortable enough after finding out you're a war vet. the one question they always ask is,"Were you scared?" The first mission or two- yes. You have been bombarded with information. You're waiting to leave the base. There are 3 trucks behind you with 11 of your friends, maybe a dog and his handler and an interpreter. You're leading the way. A convoy comes in dragging blown up vehicles or a patrol comes flying past with one or more vehicles full of bullet holes, shattered windshields, shredded tires smoking.
They've called ahead for gate clearance to get their wounded to the hospital. Gunners look down at you vacantly as they blow by you.
Initially you're told to wait- the mission may be cancelled due to the activity beyond the wire. Then a FRAGO comes down telling you to be ready to go clear the route of what caused all the violence to the inbound convoy or patrol in the first place.
You butt starts ripping at the seat. Your mouth goes dry and your stomach knots up. You glance over at your driver and his eyes are rolling in fear.
Then you get a grip. Your inner voice says,"You better get a hold of yourself- or you will get killed. I'm sick of you- straighten up. Things are out of your control. It's going to be alright. One step at a time."
You look over at your driver and as cheerfully and boldly as you can say,"Hey man- you good? You locked and loaded? Yeah sarge, I'm good. Weapon on safe? Yeah, uh- no sarge." he says as he clicks the selector over to safe.
You're doing your job- one step at a time.
Take a deep breath and key up the mike and say," Cobra elements this Cobra 32- status over."One by one you hear the voices of your friends, your brothers saying,"This is Cobra 33 ready to move- out. Cobra 34 ready to roll..."
As the truck gathers momentum you relax. The HUMVEE has a familiar whine and the auto transmision has a hard bang to it when it shifts. The whir of the turret as your gunner moves the .50 cal. around is also reassurring. You're on an internal radio and talking to base on another and having the gunner check out suspicious stuff. "Hey man, stay away from that trash pile." you yell to the driver, "It might be explodey- besides it's on my side!" you tell him laughing.
You think then to yourself, I could get used to this.