"You're requesting that I send this wounded civilian to the RCT for aid? Problem. Our tactical situation is extremely precarious here. These are the northernmost Marines' positions. And we are 30 kliks north of them. We are far behind enemy lines. We have incomplete intel as to the disposition of the Iraqi units here, here and here. We don't even know what happened to the 4,000 troops that were at this airfield six hours ago. And there's only 350 of us. What can be done? Option one: casevac by helicopter. Doesn't exist. Army, Marines are engaged. Taking casualties." Doc doesn't take his eyes off Godfather. "Last night the Iraqis stopped the Army advance. They turned back 36 Apache helicopters, shot a few down. Option two: I detach a platoon and have them drive 30 kliks -- through enemy lines -- to the shock-trauma unit here. If any of you were a casualty right now, I don't think I could casevac you. But supposing I could, I imagine there are some of you think we have to give wounded civilians every consideration we would give ourselves. That is not true. The ROE say we have to give them the same medical care they would get by local standards. The standards here are fucking zero. It's a shitty situation for us, but nobody put a gun to our heads and forced us to come here. We're all volunteers."
Are they buying it? Are they buying it? Ten full seconds go by. They don't blink, don't move, don't relax. Just look. Just look at this man. It's a long ten seconds. I timed it. They don't have to pretend, or put anything into their eyes: this isn't about guilt. This is about standing. Continuing to stand.
Godfather orders Patterson to dispatch a platoon from Alpha to take the boy to Shock-Trauma. Funny how the impossible becomes possible when men look at you that way. You could do a lot worse in life than be taught manhood by men like Nate and Brad and Bryan. A lot fucking worse.
Brad and Doc look at each other, two sides of the same coin. Brad's anger is the gas in the Iceman engine, and Doc's is the coal in the tinderbox, but they're both angry all the time, and they're both right. They stalk away. In the dark, in a warcamp that looks like anytime, Western Front, Platoon, anything, Wynn huddles the team up.
"We made a mistake today," says Nate. You can see it in his eyes: he knows how this sounds to Trombley, how it's going to hit the bumper and bounce right off. But you have to try. "Collectively and individually. We must get past this. Can't sit around and call it quits now. We have fighting ahead."