Far from home, trained to commit violence on a second's notice, and protecting ready to give their lives to maintain our current way of life, soldiers face a brutal task every single day.
Of course, some days are especially brutal.
It only takes a second of mindlessness, a hardware malfunction, or some miscommunication for things to become very dangerous, very quickly in a warzone.
And that's not even taking into account the enemy's active attempts to kill.
Thus, many soldiers have been faced with truly terrifying moments where death felt only moments away.
Some Redditors who've served gathered to share their close calls. Luckily, they made it out of the situation with their physical safety intact.
VentSauxe asked, "Soldiers, what's the scariest thing that ever happened to you?"
Many people talked about the horrors of flying in the air.
Helicopters, a very common piece of warfare and regular patrolling, are far from flawless machines.
"In 2006, I was riding a Chinook from Balad to Kuwait. It was dead of night and we were landing for refueling. Well, somehow, some way, the pilot lost control of the aircraft for a few hundred feet as we were descending. He recovered before we crashed, obviously."
"I was on my way home, since I'd already been in theater a year, and got shot at more times than I could count. There was a moment, about 100 years long, that I thought I was going to die in a helicopter crash in southern Iraq. It was unpleasant."
"The worst part was the look on the face of the crew chief, a guy who'd spent a lot of time in the air and knew what was what. The best part was hearing the veteran warrant officer scream at the captain who was flying when we finally got to Kuwait."
As If They New
"Was on a helicopter for a reenlistment, the flight was supposed to be about 3 hours long, after about an hour they decided to cancel the rest of the flight so they could use the helicopter for training."
"Upon return they did a quick inspection to see the tail rotor disconnect was almost completely sheared. Had we have been on the flight any longer, that aircraft would've gone in a downward spiral and would've ruined a lot of peoples' day."
Hell of a Pilot
"I've posted this before but the scariest moment I had was when I was flying in to an airbase one deployment. We were in a 'friendly' country but there are usually people that don't like us wherever we go."
"On final decent, the aircraft went pitch black and started juking back and forth. The crew chief came running back shouting to close all windows and extinguish any lights. It was then that I noticed the tracer fire going past the wing in the darkness. I would have put $100 on that being my last night on earth, but we made it down."
"Once the pilot saw the tracers from ground go past the nose, he immediately took evasive action, which saved us all. I assume it was small arms fire, but still, aircraft do not general respond well to bullets."
Others discussed the horrifying nature of explosive mortar fire. Sometimes on purpose, sometimes on accident, these moments were terrifying no matter what the backstory was.
A Back Spasm Chain Reaction
"So back about almost 5 years ago. Our battalion was doing a training exercise out in 29 palms ITX. (Those who've been there know what it's about). So there's an exercise on machine gun hill where gunners and mortar men practice support by fire. Couple of rotations of groups later. One of our guys has a back spasm and ends up falling down the hill a short distance. Get a call for evac due to the injury and our corpsman jumps in the medical truck."
"Mind you at this time, the mortar teams is mid fire mission with live ammo."
"So our corpsman tells the driver (who we found out later didn't know the route to the due to not being briefed) started towards the hill. The driver starts driving to the hill where the mortars are dropping. A few of us are watching this and start to question whether they were going the right way or not."
"About 5 seconds after saying that a mortar drops pretty damn close to the truck and me and about 5-6 of us got up and started running to the mortar position screaming cease fire over and over again."
"Good news is nobody got hurt on the truck but it was decorated with some new pieces of shrapnel. I swear. All our hearts were in our throats after that. Never had I covered 200-300 meters so quickly in my life."
"Mortar richocet 30 feet away from me. Flew past and never detonated." -- exec-order66
"I don't know the whole story, but something similar is the reason I'm alive today. Grandfather had that happen to him (think it might've been closer) in '45 somewhere between the Netherlands and Hamburg." -- ImNotAWhaleBiologist
"Haha similar sh** happened to me except it legit slid up against the building I was in...and I was directly on the other side.
"Sad thing is - and I'm sure you know the feeling...when I found that out later it phased me zero by that point. Weird the sh** we can get used to." -- HotStool
"Was doing some refresh training with some new guys on pretty standard call for fire missions with white phosphorus from 81mm mortars one day. We knew that our target range wasn't far from another range where some engineers were doing C4 training. Had my guy call in a mission and observed two rounds hit, and while looking for the third round noticed it landed way off target right into the next door range."
"Called cease fire on the radio and that a rouge rounded had landed on possible friendlies, heard the mortar line (about 100 meters away) start screaming orders, sent a runner for the FSO, and then called range control. Had a truck barreling out to the range to see what got hit."
"Was pretty concerned we may have hit someone, or at least scared the sh** out of some guys. Turns out the engineers left the range 30 minutes prior and it was empty. Was wondering whose a** was getting smoked and found out later one of the mortarmen left an extra c-charge on the round. He got NJP'ed and everyone got some extra training. Good day."
The Worst Zone to Be In
"120mm Mortar round landed about 30 feet from me at a checkpoint near Balad."
"It was a training round and didn't explode."
"If it would have, I was well within the 'nothing survives' radius."
Other times, some rather bizarre situations arose that, despite their somewhat strange elements, were just as horrifying.
"Not me, but my cousin, who I wish like hell was still with me... He used to talk to me sometimes about his time in the service. I guess it was like therapy for him."
"It was early on in his long career. He was in an apc of some sort, and their column or whatever you call it was stopped during a massive dust storm. He said they were stuck in it for what felt like ages, and he eventually had to pee."
"He gets outside, goggles on, unable to see his own hand in front of his face, had to figure out how to piss in the middle of a dust storm... He ends up getting turned around, and spent the next 15 minutes trying to find his way back to the stopped vehicles."
"He said it was one of the scariest things that he'd experienced, worrying that he was going to stumble onto some bad dudes and end up bagged and held hostage."
A Terrible Split Second Nonetheless
"I had it really good compared to most. I acknowledge that 100%. However, I was in Djibouti, visiting an ATM...(stay with me, cushy a** job in the DJ I know) I turn around and a little kid is pointing a gun at me! It took a second to realize it was a toy."
"For half a second I hoped my mama was sure I loved her with all my soul. I did some deployments, didn't do hard time. But that moment has stayed with me all the years since as a reminder to be aware of every single thing around me."
"Had a round ricochet off some cinderblocks next to me which then caught me in the front of my helmet. I don't know if it was the force of the round or my reaction but I spun face-first into the little wall I was behind."
"That cut me a bit so now I'm thinking I got shot in the fu**ing face. Took me a while to calm down from that. For a brief second there I thought my 18 year old a** was gonna die on some unnamed street in what was/is Fallujah, Iraq."
Stories like these go far in reminding us of the human element of all that's going on across the world. Concrete, specific anecdotes like this remind us that nothing can be taken for granted.
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