TITLE: Dead Meat
June 19, 2002
Camp Mamba, 68 kilometers east of Kandahar, Afghanistan
Gil Becker’s sun-baked eyes watched the Navy MH-60S Knighthawk circle, then flare before setting down inside a plume of dust at the center of Camp Mamba five kilometers away. The sight of a whirlybird landing in his little corner of the war never meant anything good. The only time a chopper came in was to transport the wounded or captured to parts unknown, not deliver fresh bodies. They always came in by truck, on foot, or in Becker’s case, tucked into the fetal position in the back of a C-130 waiting for the Jumpmaster to tell him it was time to take a header into the night sky.
Becker put the chopper out of his mind. Whatever was on that chopper wasn’t his problem. It took him another hour to get back to camp, by which time the helicopter was long gone. He nodded to the other members of Task Force 5 who weren’t out and about. Taco Bob cleaning the business end of his Barrett Fifty. Herman the German on a lawn chair, trying (and failing) to get a tan. Gordy in his tent, as always, pumping iron.
Becker went into the tent he shared with Taco Bob. He dumped the rucksack on his cot and pulled out the camouflage blanket. His version of a poor man’s Ghillie suit wasn’t much more than a long piece of burlap covered in random swatches of brown, but it came in handy once in a while.