“That’s the question. I have no idea. My team was in a transport helicopter out of Turkey and… I was so focused on what we had to do, what I had to do, that the where wasn’t important. I was rehearsing in my mind what I would do when the pilot came on the headsets to tell us the electric systems were malfunctioning. We strapped in and waited for him to land.
“If you talk to people who have been through this kind of thing, you never expect that something bad is going to happen. You just do what’s next – strap in and wait.”
Mike rubbed his forehead and looked up. Alex Hargreaves nodded and he continued.
“Then WHAM, everything fell apart. The Army says the helicopter crashed against an object the pilot didn’t see. I’ll tell you, it felt like a small bomb went off. I dropped forward to avoid… fire, metal, body parts, objects… I don’t know… stuff coming at me.
“I don’t remember landing. I may have passed out. I injured my head,” Mike pointed to a thin scar just under his hair line. “I woke up strapped to my seat. We started with twelve men and four pilots. Ten of us survived the crash.
“I grew up here… in Colorado. I spent most of my youth in the mountains camping or skiing. We landed in the mountains. I wasn’t in charge of the group, but I was the only one who knew what to do.”
“From growing up in the mountains?” the interviewer asked.
“Exactly. Under my direction, we bandaged people, built fires and looked over our supplies. We separated out the dead men. We were situated just as night fall came. I…” Mike’s eyes filled. “We lost a couple men that night.”
Valerie slipped her hand into his. He looked into her smile and love filled eyes then gave a soft smile.
“We were perched on this rocky ledge. We couldn’t stay there. No way. We only had the water and food we scavenged from the wreckage. We decided to split up. We built a shelter for the men who couldn’t travel and gave them most of our food and water.”
“Why didn’t the Army come for you?” the interviewer asked.
“We think of the world as easily accessible. But the Army wasn’t sure where we went down. They sent someone for us immediately but it was eight hours to where we started then another twelve to where we refueled then…”
“We’ve talked to a couple of the men who were left behind,” the interviewer said. “They said the Army arrived three days after you left.”
“Three days,” Mike said. “The guys had food and water for a day, maybe two.”
“But they survived. Every one of them said they survived because of you. You made a fire from a stick?”
“Well, yeah, that’s what you’re supposed to do. You settle in and wait.” Mike shrugged.
“The Army searched for you,” the interviewer said. “They never found you. What happened?”
The retelling of Celia’s Puppies, Denver Cereal Volume 2, continues tomorrow…
This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.