Mission Complete

The air is cold and humid, this early in the morning. We crawl forward inching forward ever so slowly. I can feel the cold of the ground piercing through my uniform into my chest and my legs. The dew has made our suits wet, and some of the fleshing from my suit is stuck to my cheek. I want to pull it away because it’s annoying, but that would be too much movement. As we get closer to the chosen position I can see more of the terrain opening out in front of me. The trees frame a perfect picture of the area down below. I move slowly bringing my weapon up in front of me, I don’t use a bi-pod; it makes too much noise and can get snagged on terrain too easily. I place a rolled up rag made from an old brown bath towel as a rest for the rifle. Slowly I remove the cover from the optics on my weapon keeping my movements to a minimum. My spotter is already peering through his scope taking notes of the terrain, distance, and wind effects. I pull the rifle up into my shoulder placing my left hand under the stock gripping my suit at the right shoulder. Finally succumbing, I venture the movement to lightly brush away the material sticking to my cheek. Looking through my scope I see a strongly magnified view of the area below. “Target, green opal, 850, adjust 6 up” My spotter whispers to me identifying a target for me to orient and configure my optics. “Wind half effect 8 o’clock” I carefully make the adjustments to the knobs on my scope. “Raptor, Talon, set, over” my spotter signals on the radio that we are in position and set for our engagement. “Talon, Raptor, roger, target moving into your sector, eta 3 mikes, over” I start scanning the target area for potential counter snipers, or exfill routes the target could attempt. “one mike” my spotter updates me, only he has an earpiece on for the radio communications. I begin controlling my breathing and settle back on the target area. There is a small black car driving towards the site. I can see it so small with my left eye open, I focus on my right eye and see it magnified in my optics. The car comes to a stop and a door opens. Settling the cross-hairs of my rifle on the open door I wait to get a final update from my spotter. “Target, black Honda open door, 875, adjust one half up” I make the final adjustment to the scope. “Wind stable half effect 8 o’clock” I watch a person climb out of the front passenger seat. The person is not my target, I keep my cross hairs on him while I try to identify any weapons or communications devices he may have.  I can see the driver door open and another man gets out of the car. I move my cross-hairs onto him. “Target” I say to the spotter. “Rog, driver, target identified” my spotter confirms my target. “Raptor, Talon, target identified, standing by, over” my spotter calls to higher command awaiting the order to engage. “Talon, Raptor, engage, over” “Raptor, Talon, roger, over”. I slow my breathing tracking my target as he walks around the car stretching, I am watching him for patterns to his movement, how quickly he moves, how far his chest moves each step he takes. I have my left hand back against my right shoulder supporting the rifle. I disengage the safety of the rifle and slowly place my finger in the trigger guard. Taking a breath in I slowly start exhaling still tracking my target, now keeping my cross-hairs where he will be 1 second later. My exhale complete, I close my mouth holding my breath with my lungs empty. I slowly squeeze back on the trigger. There is a thundering sound as the rifle fires, the noise doesn’t bother me too much, the round will be on the target before the sound, and it’s only a single shot. They will know a general direction, but not where the shot came from. While the report of the rifle can still be heard rolling away from us the target collapses to the ground in a heap. The passenger who had been talking to him drops down to hide behind the car, even though it’s not necessary. I have engaged my target, I will not be firing another round. To do so would give our exact position away. “Hit” my spotter says to me even though I know I hit dead on. “Raptor, Talon, I have positive confirmation, over” my spotter informs higher that we have a successful mission. “Talon, Raptor, roger, Charlie Mike, exfil foxtrot, over” higher lets him know they have marked the mission stage as a success and we are to continue the mission plan for exfil.  Slowly I lean the rifle down and replace the covers on my optics. My spotter doing the same with his spotting scope. We bow our heads down slightly to ensure anyone with optics looking for us can’t see the familiar outline of a human face. Slowly and with precision, we ensure we don’t leave anything behind as we back away. I make certain not to cycle the rifle, leaving the spent cartridge in the chamber. No need to risk leaving the brass behind to identify our position or our presence. We slowly crawl backwards slowly reaching back far enough we can crouch and move out quicker. Once we are far enough away from the opening in the trees we were at we begin to move quickly clearing the area. After about 20 minutes we are far away from our position and we stop to confirm our map location and heading. It’s 19 kilometers to our extraction point. We remove our ghillie suits rolling them up and securing them to our assault packs. I extract the spent casing from my rifle and place it in my pack. My spotter checks his M4 out of habit and I chamber the next round into my rifle.  We move at a steady quick pace towards our extraction point. Not talking, trying to be careful to make as little noise as possible. We finally reach our extraction point, as we approach I remove the covers from my scope, reset it to the default settings, and start scanning the area for anyone that may be nearby. “Raptor, Talon, At LZ foxtrot, standing by, over” my spotter calls for our extraction. “Talon, Raptor, roger, push to 3-3-6 and contact Midnight 3 for extraction, over”, command gives us the frequency and call sign for our extraction birds. “Raptor, Talon, roger copy 3-3-6 call sign Midnight 3, over” “That’s a roj Talon. Good job, nothing further, Raptor out”. My spotter dials in the new frequency on the radio, “Midnight 3, this is Talon, radio check over” “Talon, this is Midnight 3, I have you Lima Charlie, confirm LZ and disposition, over” the pilot of the Blackhawk replies asking for which of our extraction points we are at, and whether we have contact with an enemy or not. “Midnight, this is Talon, we’re at LZ foxtrot, negative contact, recommend an east to west approach for a right side entry, over” my spotter is telling the pilot which way would be best to approach the landing site and which side we will approach from. “Roger that Talon, we are in bound, one UH-60, and 2 AH-64’s for support, eta 10 mikes, send signal type over” “Signal will be smoke, over” “Roger, copy smoke, We’ll call for signal as we approach” the pilot lets us know to stay put and signal him when they are close enough to see it. “Roger. Talon standing by out” My spotter confirms on the radio and resumes scanning the area with me for enemy personnel. About 8 minutes later we can hear the helicopters approaching, my spotter takes a green smoke and pulls the pin still holding the spoon down. “Talon, this is Midnight, signal when ready over” I do a quick check on my spotter and he does a quick check on me to make sure we didn’t leave anything behind. Once I am sure we have all of our gear. “Roger sending now” my spotter says while throwing the smoke grenade into the clearing. “Talon, this is Midnight, spotted Green, over” the pilot let’s us know he sees the green smoke billowing up. “Affirm, green smoke” my spotter calls back, confirming our signal. We can see the 2 Apache gunships as small silhouettes high above as a Blackhawk comes into view settling down in a combat landing on top of our smoke signal. The right side door slides open and a crew chief flashes a green led light in our direction. Keeping our heads low we rush from the trees where we were waiting towards the helicopter, removing our boonie caps as we enter the clearing, the rotor wash is blowing dust and debris up around us making it hard to see. As we climb into the bird the crew chief gives us thumbs up. I make sure my spotter and I are secure and give the chief thumbs up. We lift off immediately and I am shocked at how quickly we climb and bank out of the area. 

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