Monday, January 09, 2006

Back Into the Goo

Marines have started to call being out in the field close to the fight the "goo". Jarheads stuck inside the wire in support activities are chided by those outside as "leaf eaters"; the guys out in the "goo" being "meat eaters". Well, I'm sharpening my canines and packing up my gear for a trip out to the sticky parts. Later tonight the dark figure of an embark Marine, with a blue chem stick in hand and night vision goggles, will lead myself and a few others into the back of a darkened helicopter "turning and burning" on the camp's makeshift airstrip. The helo's crewchief will quickly take note of the final destination penned with an indelible marker on the back of our left hands, and point us to our seats. We'll carefully move up the back ramp slick from hydraulic fluid and engine oil, drop our packs, insure our rifles are muzzle down and strap ourselves in. The air in the cabin will be dense with engine exhaust, the seats and rough non-skid deck vibrating beneath us, and our ears, despite hearing protection, will be overwhelmed by the high frequency whine of the engines and transmission. There is a dull sense of implosion from the fumes, weight of your gear, and the pressure created by foam plugs pushed deep into ear canals. Reaching into an invisible recess the crewchief throws the toggle switch that triggers the back ramp to raise up and signal our imminent departure. The two aircrew (crewchief and first mechanic), their passenger and stowage duties complete, segue seamlessly into their inflight role of door gunners with choreographed precision. They coil up their intercom's long cord with nonchalanced grace, stand over respective .50 calibre machine guns, and chamber the inital round with a forceful double pull of the charging handle. The interior of the bird goes completely dark, the crewchief turns towards us one last time, the eerie chartreuse glow of his NVGs pointed momentarily in our direction. The roar of the engines and the fwapping of the rotor blades rises suddenly as the aircraft shudders into the air. Ascending into the night you hope you've picked a seat that's not directly in the path of the icy air that floods into the cabin from the open gun positions. Next stop.....Ramadi.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Love those Marines for doin' what they do. Love you for doin' what you do! Otherwise how would we know?
Prayers are winging up for you and those you're with. Wish there was a better way to say it.
Keep safe, M D Fay!
Mary

Carol said...

Mike,

Your description of loading onto the helo and taking off practically propelled me into sensory overload. I'm both frightened and awed by your insightful account. Each time I drop by here I learn something new. I'm grateful for that. Your words continue to conjure up such vivid images in my mind.

Praying for you and your fellow Marines. Do stay safe out there.

Carol

David M said...

Good Luck Mister Fay. We still do address WO's as Mister don't we?

chtrbx said...

This is my first visit, but I will be coming back!

Maggie45 said...

Not only are you able to draw striking pictures with your hands, but you also have a huge gift for allowing us to "see" through your words. I felt like I was boarding with you. I pray for your safety. The world has a wonderful gift in you. Thank you.

Beth* A. said...

Ramadi. RAMADI. That's were 2 of my Marine friends spent the majority of last year. (Snake Pit and Blue Diamond) Rte. Michigan, here you come! Methinks that well-honed incisors will come in EXTREMELY handy. (And, as one of my friends said, 'cat-like reflexes' and a good pair of NVGs!)

Land on your feet, WO-1 MD Fay!

I knew the dark, and the glow of the blue chemlight stick, and saw the indelible markings, and felt the biting rush of cold air and the 'fwapping'(ex-cell-ent word) of the rotor blades, as if.....

Capt B said...

Hey, missed ya 3/7, stop by and I have a stoag for ya if you want it. Capt B

Anonymous said...

I can almost smell the kerosene and feel the grit in my teeth.

dyzgoneby said...

Didn't want to lurk around here and not say hi.

Stay safe. Gotta love the Marines!

Semper Gratus,

Anonymous said...

Mike, thinking of you led me to this today. I'd not seen it before. What a wonderful and inspiring account of your experience. I'm glad to see you are well.
Love,
Lisa

Edward said...

May heaven smile upon you and your fellow Marines in Ramadi, and bring you success and then safely home.

Mom said...

My son is with the 3/7 in Ramadi, Hurricane Point. I look forward to seeing more of your posts.

Anonymous said...

I'm in tears reading this. Thanks for doing what you do.

Anonymous said...

Your talents are astounding! You have a rich future in the arts.

I hope you will consider publishing a book of your writings and photos in the future.

You bring the expereince of the solider .... the fear, danger, atmoshphere and mood ... to those of us who will NEVER know the depth of sacrifice a solider makes for his country. Thank you!

Stay safe!

Linda
Canada

Roy Lofquist said...

I rode in the back of a C-130 once. The next time I was given the choice I opted for a 12 hour hop in parachute harness with oxygen mask. At least I had a big brain bucket that shut out the noise.