Retire Mechanical engineer. Student at California State university Channel Island studiyingAbout Me

July 26, 2015

A Soldier's Story

A Soldier's Story by Behcet Kaya

I was on a mission.

Taking off from Incirlik Airbase in Turkey, I was flying into northern Iraq to seek my target. Twenty-five minutes into my flight the left engine caught fire.

Down below, I could see civilians, mostly women and children.

I tried to take evasive action and head away from the crowd below, but here wasn't time. In a split second I made my decision.

I reached for the ejector button. The next thing I remember was lying face down on the banks of Tigris River. My ribs hurt so badly I couldn't move. I looked at my watch but it wasn't on my wrist. I had a feeling that I'd been lying there for quite awhile.

Morning came. The air became chillier and the cold pierced through my body. In its last dull hue, the death of night, rather than the birth of day, glimmered faintly in the sky.

The surrounding objects, which had looked dim and terrible in the darkness, grew more and more defined and gradually resolved into familiar shapes. Then the rain came down thick and fast, pattering noisily among the leafless bushes. I lay stretched out, helpless, and fell unconscious on that clay earth.

I was awakened by my own low cry of pain, uttering curses for my God-forsaken condition. Although it must have been mid-morning, dark clouds had moved in, making the morning seem like night. My left arm hung heavy and useless at my side. My left shoulder was saturated with blood. I was so weak I could scarcely raise myself into a sitting posture.

When I finally had done so, I felt faint and attempted to look around for help. Trembling in every joint from cold and exhaustion, I made an effort to stand upright, shuddering from head to toe. I fell prostrate on the ground, realizing my legs were still entangled in my parachute.

I managed to free myself, but the remainder of the billowing cloth was soaked at the edges, and heavy with dirt.  I realized I was lying in a ditch and that was why no one had seen me.

After a short return to the stupor in which I had been long plunged, I was urged by a creeping sickness in my heart. I knew if I lay here much longer I would surely die. Again, I struggled to my feet and attempted to take a step. My head felt dizzy and I staggered to and fro like a drunken man.

But I made an effort to keep up and, with my head drooping languidly on my chest, went stumbling onward, I know not where.

And then, hosts of bewildering and confused ideas came crowding into my head. I seemed to be walking with enemy soldiers. They spoke in tongues, French, but not French. They were angrily disputing their situation. At least that's how it sounded in my ears.

When I finally caught my own attention, as it were, by making some violent effort to save myself from falling, I found that I was talking to them. Then, I was alone with my interrogator, who I believe must have been a colonel. He asked me about all the missions I had flown and where the targets were.

I passed through the shadowy soldiers, and then felt another interrogator grasp my wrist and handcuff me.

Suddenly, I shuddered at the rat-tat-tat sounds of machine guns, loud shouts and cries rising into the air. Glaring lights shone in my eyes, as some unseen hand bore me away. Through all these rapid visions there ran an undefined, uneasy consciousness of pain, which wearied and tormented me incessantly.

Thus I staggered on almost mechanically, between the greenery and the tall, thorny bushes. I walked this uneven ground, sometimes plunging into open holes, until I reached a dirt road. Here the rain began to fall so heavily that it roused me.

I looked about and saw that, at not so great a distance, there seemed to be some sort of structure; possibly a house. I thought perhaps I could reach it; perhaps whoever was there might take pity on me. But, if they didn't, it would be better to die near human beings than in the lonely open fields.

Summoning up my strength for one last trial, I bent in faltering steps toward it. As I neared the structure, I saw armored vehicles parked in front. Above the building a large flag with three distinct colors billowed in the breeze. An overwhelming fear came over me when I realized this was a military outpost.

For an instant, I forgot the agony of my wounds, and thought only of flight. But what flight? I was so weak from loss of blood, I could scarcely stand. I pushed back against the bushes, afraid to make any movement. I waited for a while, gathering what little strength I had left and began staggering away from whatever was housed in the structure.

I don't recall how far I went, but I remember coming to a thick bushy tree, taller than me. I took cover under it and passed out. I barely remember soldiers lifting me up onto a stretcher and the roaring sound of the helicopter as I was taken away.

When I finally awoke, I found myself in a hospital in Kuwait and safe at last. Special Forces had done their work.