Last Night Another Soldier

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Authors: Andy McNab
from underneath the helis, one of them bounced off my helmet with a metallic thud.

Chapter Seventeen
    As the Apaches did the business in the maize fields, Si and me got Toki up and limping, then we dragged Flash halfway down the ditch.
    As soon as we were in cover, Toki got straight on the radio to MacKenzie to give him our exact location and to report on the state of our casualty. The blood on Toki’s face had already dried in the sun and there was a nasty cut on his lip. He was definitely going to be battered and bruised for a good few weeks to come, but at least there was no major damage done.
    Flash was another story. We’d managed to stretch him out on a slight shelf just above the waterline. Si and me had cut off his combats, and just about stopped the bleeding in his leg, but he had a big, fat hole ripped out of the middle of his thigh.
    Si had pumped him full of morphine, but it didn’t sound like it was working that well. He wasn’t screaming, but he wasn’t exactly talking much either. We stayed close, even though there wasn’t much more we could do. We just tried to chat to him a bit, so at least he knew his mateswere with him as we waited for MERT to arrive.
    Flash’s face screwed up in pain. ‘I can’t feel my leg.’
    ‘You’re alive, mate, that’s all that matters.’ I really meant it.
    Toki came off the radio. ‘MacKenzie says just two more minutes and MERT will be here to lift us all out.’
    I felt a surge of happiness rush through me. ‘Hear that, Flash. MERT will be here in two. You got us going back there, you know. Thought you were a gonner.’
    ‘So did I.’ He managed to grimace. ‘I blacked out when I got zapped. Next thing I knew, Toki was there.’
    ‘Just making sure you were properly dead,’ Toki smiled and his lip bled some more. Si and me burst out laughing like it was the funniest thing we’d ever heard. I don’t know why. It wasn’t much of a joke. I looked around at all three of them, brimming with happiness. ‘We made it! We all made it!’ I pumped my arm in the air. ‘ Yessssss .’
    Si beamed back at me. ‘Happy days!’
    Just then, the faint sound of the MERT Chinook filled the air. I looked up to find the dot in the sky but couldn’t see it yet. It didn’t matter, it would be here soon.
    I put my hand on Flash’s arm. ‘Hey, Flash, the doctors are nearly here, mate. You’ll be in hospital with that gammy leg of yours within the hour.’
    ‘Briggsy!’ Toki barely took his eyes off the sky as he threw me a smoke grenade. ‘Mark us up so the heli doesn’t land on top of us. Give it some blue a good twenty metres from the ditch. You know what those RAF are like.’
    I leapt to my feet like I’d just been asked to pick up my winnings on the lottery. ‘Okey-dokey, Toki!’ I giggled as I caught the baked-bean-cansized grenade.
    Funny how things turn around. You think you haven’t got it in you, then you find out you have. When the Tali started dragging Toki and Flash back into in the maize, it was my time to prove I had what it took. I did my job, good style. Si did too. For me, that was a big relief.
    Even bigger was that I was still alive to think about it. I didn’t feel good or bad about killing. It was just them or me really. But I know one thing for sure, back there by the maize was the first time I felt like a real soldier.
    I scrambled up the bank and ran into the open ground. I could now see the Chinook clearly, about six or seven hundred metres away. I pulled the pin, threw the grenade and a thickcloud of blue smoke filled the air. The Chinook slowly turned and headed towards us. Happy, happy days!
    Under the cover of smoke, Toki climbed up the bank to meet me. He cupped his hands to his mouth to shout above the sound of the rotor blades.
    ‘Hey, Briggsy! I was right, wasn’t I? You did good back there.’
    I grinned as I walked towards him, enjoying the praise. ‘Looking at the way you were mincing about with those Talis,’ I shouted from

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