The dark Iraqi streets looked deserted, but they heard movement all around them. Captain Perry motioned Mike forward. “Sergeant Hightower, take a couple of guys with you and cover the side exit.”
Mike nodded. He gestured toward Ramirez and Mason, and they silently followed him around the side of the building where they took their positions behind an old burnt-out wreck. Mike had just finished adjusting his night vision goggles when an explosion erupted behind them. The reverberations from it hadn’t died away before another shell detonated in front of them. The bright flash of light temporarily blinded Mike.
“Fall back!” he heard Perry scream from somewhere on his right.
Mike staggered, tripped, and fell. The men beside him each grabbed an arm and hauled him to his feet. “Move your feet, Hightower,” Ramirez snarled.
They had gone about ten yards when gunfire opened up behind them. Ramirez screamed, and Mike felt him go down. He tripped again but managed to hang on to his gun. “Shoot, Mike! Hostiles at ten o’clock!” Mason yelled.
Mike fired, but he must not have hit anything because seconds later a hot, boring pain almost tore offhis shoulder. Blindly he fired into the dark, and moments later, his leg took fire.
Shots came from the street. Captain Perry yelled, “Hightower, Mason, hold your fire.”
Moments later Perry knelt beside Mike. “Where are you hit?”
“Shoulder and leg.”
“Sit tight. We’ll get a medic as quick as we can.”
“What about Ramirez?”
“Sorry, he’s gone.”
As his anger built, Mike forgot about the pain in his shoulder and leg. Ramirez had been his friend. These people didn't appreciate a thing that the United States was trying to do for them.