'I Prayed the Insurgents Were Bad Shots'

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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

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