“Soldiers fight for freedom.” This matter of fact statement has been said of the men and women that have fought and died in nearly every conflict and war since the beginning of time. It is one that few will deviate from for fear of retaliation from others, who believe it is unpatriotic to believe otherwise. There are those, however, who, being guided by their conscious or morals, are willing to say otherwise. “These soldiers fought and died for ‘big oil’”, or maybe “they are killing each other over a piece of land.” The list goes on and on about the different ideas that people have to justify or even vilify the destruction that comes with war. In truth, all of those statements are wrong. FLAT. OUT. WRONG. The story that follows embodies exactly why ALL those statements are just utterly wrong.
Dusk approached as the men of Delta Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion finished planning for their mission. Some would say that they were preparing, but that wasn’t the case. All the men, from the lowest to highest rank had been preparing for war since they entered the Regiment. Some had seen nine or ten deployments by this time in their career. They were prepared for anything that would come their way. The Rangers put the finishing touches on their plans for the killing or capture of a high value target: a known explosives facilitator.
The sounds of Taylor Swift cut through the air to the entrance of one Ready Room, a place the Rangers kept their gear prepped for no notice missions. The sound from the next Ready room was different, as some kind of Death Metal broke through the normal sounds of the Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan. This was just one way that these Rangers were different from one another, and was just one piece of evidence that showed the differing backgrounds that they had. Some came from money, while others did not. Some had bachelor’s or master’s degrees, while some joined the military straight out of high school. The one thing that they all had in common was that they were there to fight.
The moonlight was abnormally bright, as the Rangers started loading into their transportation for the mission. This time it was Strykers, which are armored personnel carriers, meant to withstand small arms fire and explosives to a point. The normal transport was helicopters, which could have been another indication that the night would take some horrid turns.
The Rangers joked, told stories and went over the plan, as the Strykers barreled down the small Afghan roads to their target. Some recalled girlfriends or wives waiting on them back home. Others told stories of their brothers or sisters, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers. They talked about their hopes and dreams for the future.
“Five Clicks,” the call came over the Radio. The laughter stopped, the switch was flipped, and training took over. Night vision was flipped down, and the lights went off. The Rangers tactically exited the vehicles to the sound of women wailing, the smell of smoke in the air, and fire lighting the distance. They knew that the Rangers were there.
The wailing grew louder, the smoke thicker and the fire brighter as the Rangers approached the target building. The Rangers began the callout procedure, a technique based on new Rules of Engagement which required the Rangers, through an interpreter, to give the target individual a chance to come out unharmed. The call came out through a bullhorn several times, until finally the women and children started to respond. They moved sheepishly towards the Rangers, hysterically crying the entire time, acting as if something was holding them back. Then, gun fire erupted, showering the women and children in bullets and dirt. Their husbands and fathers turned their weapons on them for obeying the commands of the Rangers.
The platoon of Rangers returned fire, unsure at first where the shots were coming from. One Ranger rushed to get in front of the women and children, between them and the threat, and another charged up to help him. Ranger number one herded the women and children to a safer area, while Ranger number two moved up, trying to stop the combatants. Both Rangers took multiple bullets, with the armor piercing rounds ripping through their body armor as if it was not there. Ranger number one fell in front of the stair well leading to the combatants, having saved the women and children from his same fate. Ranger number two fell in the middle of the compound, trying to stop his Ranger Brother from meeting his end. A brief silence fell on the compound except for the crying of the women…
The rage of the remaining Rangers swept over the compound, infuriated by the deaths of their brothers. The compound became truly silent, even the wailing of the women ceased. All were in mourning for the events that had occurred. The mission was over. The Rangers involved in this story did not fight for anyone’s freedom. Nor did they fight for oil, big corporations, or anything of the like. They fought for what they believed. Whether that was to stop another chance of a 9/11 type event reaching America’s shores, to take the fight of their country’s foe to them, so that the Rangers’ families and other families would not have to live in fear, or for several other reasons that burned into the Rangers’ minds and shaped their ideals. Those are the things that may have gotten the Rangers to the fight, but on that night those Rangers weren’t fighting for any of that. The reason that those Rangers fought, and some of them died, was for those to their left and right, their brothers in arms and to defend life, no matter the race, religion, or nationality. Rangers Lead The Way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Blake Fuhriman served for four years as an Army Ranger in 3rd Ranger Battalion. He deployed on multiple occasions in the fight on terror. After getting injured parachuting, he got out and has continued working with the military community as a SERE instructor for the last several years. Writing has become a new passion of his, as Blake’s career in the military and as a Contractor have given him many stories to tell. Blake and his wife Alissa, were both featured on Good Morning America after surviving nearly a week trapped in the Bighorn mountains of Wyoming. Currently, he lives in Montana, where he enjoys his passions of hunting, fishing, and everything outdoors.