Tanq held out his hand as an invitation, and this time it drew me without reserve from the black Tahoe.  He closed the door behind me as I quickly wiped away stray tears and tucked the few loose strands of hair behind my ears.  He took my arm, placing it around his, and with his approving nod he walked me towards the parked C-130.

Tanq’s steps were slow and sure.  He walked smoothly, careful to shorten his stride so I could keep up.  This was not the day to let Evie play dress-up.  The black mid-shin pencil dress and cashmere sweater were fine but the heels killed my feet and required far too much concentration to walk in.  Perhaps the distraction was her aim.

We walked around to the front of two platoons that were now waiting at parade rest.  He released my arm, about faced and in the deepest, most intimidating voice known to the human ear, he commanded, “Detachment, A..tten..tion!”.  The unison clap of a hundred men’s heels brought the detachment into perfect cover and alignment.  Tanq whipped around on his heels bringing himself to a position of attention before returning to my side.  I stood in awe of the strong contrast of his highly decorated dress blues before the sea of tan desert fatigues.  He collected a few more medals since last year’s ball, I noticed.

I was dwarfed in his presence, nearly everyone was.  Whether it was his stature or simply the man that he was, standing near him, I felt stronger; more resilient.

The groan of protesting metal drew my attention to the cargo door that now slowly fell open.  I drew in a long breath, steadying myself and fighting off the familiar burning in my eyes.  The flat grey of the C-130’s paint only made the scene that much colder, more solemn as it revealed three rows of polished steel boxes, each draped with Old Glory.  Standing centered at the end of the cargo hold, amidst them all stood six men, mostly baby-faced, dressed in sharply pressed fatigues.  Among them was David-bruised and stitched.  His face was aged, wiser and more hardened than it was just a few weeks prior.  His eyes were tired and his gaze hollow; numb.  War had clearly left it’s physical imprint, but I wondered how much of his soul had been ravaged too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s