No time for indecision. With elevator and rudder deflection impossible, he was unable to slow airspeed below 240 knots. They were just inches off the ground at 100 knots faster than normal approach speed. The only communication he could send off was a screaming “Mayday! Mayday!”
It was a textbook ditching. It could have been a piece of cake, but just before the aircraft came to rest after kicking up gigantic clouds of Afghan terrain, the right wing tip collided with a large rock. This violently whipped the Hornet into a three-quarter spin and sent it careening sideways off a ridge and down an embankment. It finally came to rest, partially buried in loose sand and rocks.
“Seismo! You okay back there?” Cody crawled out of the cockpit. Then he felt the excruciating pain in his leg and foot again. “Ugggh. I didn’t feel a thing while I was landing. Funny how adrenaline works.” He groaned as he looked up at Harry.
Cody shed his helmet and then bent down to check his burns. Portions of the boot seemed fried to his skin. His movements became agonizing as he lifted himself towards Harry, who seemed frozen to his ejection seat.
“Seismo! We gotta take cover! They’re gonna be all over us here in a few minutes.” Cody grimaced. “Seismo?”
Cody helped him out of the cockpit, but as soon as Harry’s boots touched the ground he collapsed. The other two Hornets flew low over the downed jet. The noise was deafening as Cody saluted. Lima One rocked wings. Then both aircraft flew straight up into the blinding sunlight and began to circle overhead.
Cody heard steps behind him. He reached for his sidearm and then turned around to see five heavily armed Taliban fighters standing within ten feet. These devils had just seen their comrades burned alive by American infidels from the sky. His throat tightened, and he shuddered. He had fifteen rounds in his Beretta, but he was no Wyatt Earp. He dropped his weapon and threw his hands into the air. Am I gonna die, or are they still interested in prisoners?
The SEAL team would be able to track his location, wouldn’t they? Cody rolled his eyes left and right, hoping to see his comrades approaching. Would they come or were they pinned down?
Harry began to move around, moaning and trying to raise himself off the sand. Two more Taliban arrived, along with five young boys who appeared to be under the age of ten.
They placed a handgun in the palm of the smallest child and shouted something to him. He walked forward tentatively and pointed the gun at Harry’s head. The boy’s entire body was shaking. Two of the Taliban shouted at him again.
Cody looked into the eyes of this child and shook his head “no,” pleading with him silently. The child hesitated and then, with a resolute expression, pulled the trigger.
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