He opened up on the insurgent position and I ran as fast as my 56-year-old legs would take me, which wasn't very fast. It was, however, fast enough to keep ahead of the bullets fired at me by the Taliban gunmen. I heard the thuds of their rounds falling directly behind me. Good marksmen would have quickly adjusted. They were not good marksmen.
The most difficult run of my life ended behind a holly tree. Specialist Powell, whose covering fire saved my life, followed behind me. We moved on and a minute later encountered Carlos and the other soldiers. All of us were alive and exhilaration led to laughter.
A bullet had sliced through Sgt. Heeter's radio antenna.
"That was close", he said.
It certainly was.
Mike Boettcher is an award-winning investigative journalist currently embedded with U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan. He is also a professor at the University of Oklahoma. His students host a website called Afghan101, covering the wars from the home front.
Images courtesy of Carlos Boettcher