I had just reached the camp of the unit I would be embedded with at remote Forward Operating Base Ramrod in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province.
As soon as I got off the military aircraft that took me there, I saw a helicopter with a red cross sign painted on it. I approached a crew doing a routine check on their aircraft and, after introducing myself, they explained the details of my embed and gave me some instructions. They pointed me to a section in the chopper where they said I should keep my body armor and helmet, which I have to put on when we flew.
Early morning on the second day of my embed with the “Dustoff” medical evacuation team of Task Force Shadow from 101st Airborne Division of the 101st Aviation Brigade, the sound of “Medevac! Medevac!” echoed on the two-way radio issued to me earlier.
Barely awake, I rushed out of the tent and saw everyone in a hurry. Remembering the briefing I had on the first day with the unit, I realized the urgency of the radio message. The Medevac team was rushing to the Black Hawk helicopter, including a female pilot who dashed from the container van shower room straight to the aircraft with water still dripping from her hair.
I was in a panic, worried that I wouldn’t make it, as I hurriedly put on socks and tied the strings of my boots while recalling instructions from my briefing. In five minutes, or a maximum of seven, we had to be flying. I ran inside the tent to grab my cameras and gear and then sprinted to the chopper. Sure enough, as soon as I was done putting on my flak jacket and helmet, we were up in the air.