From that moment on, I felt no fear. It didn’t matter if I lived or died. I still believed none of us would survive. I just prayed, “God, don’t let another one of my soldiers die.”
As we loaded up our vehicle to go back into the city, one of my men, Brad Thomas, came to me. He said, “Sergeant, I can’t go out there. I’ve got a wife and family back home. I can’t go. I know I’ll die.”
I said, “Brad I know you’re scared. I’m scared. We’re all afraid. In fact if you’re not afraid there’s something psychologically wrong. But, Brad, don’t think of yourself as a coward because you’re scared. The difference between a hero and a coward is not fear but what you do with the fear. I won’t make you go, but I need you.”
I left him along and got into my vehicle. In the rear view mirror, I watched Brad pick up his weapon. He got back into his vehicle fully expecting to die. He was willing to give his life for the mission. I felt my heart swell with pride as I drove out the gate.
We drove out of our base a second time. The Somalis were setting up road blocks and burning tires at every intersection. They fired their weapons and grenade launchers not ten feet away. Miraculously, none of my men were killed.
Soon we met a group of Rangers whose vehicles were badly shot up. Several had been killed, others wounded. Their vehicles were non-operational, so we loaded them on ours and took them back to the base.
I thought, "We’re safe, we’ve gotten everybody out. We’re okay!"