My first time in the field I was with Company B, First Platoon in SGT Ortega’s Second Squad. I didn’t know what to pack or what to expect, and I was a bundle of nerves. I packed my rucksack with plenty of ammo, water and food, maybe too much of everything if that was possible. My ruck was heavy – real heavy. I remember getting on the chopper and lifting off, it was a beautiful view but that didn’t help my nerves any. My mind was going at a hundred miles per hour but nothing seem to be registering or make any sense. It was about a half hour or more before we started our descent and the faster we descended the faster my mind went. I could see and hear the other guys talking but it was like I was deaf and blind; nothing was registering at all.
Then it was time to dismount the chopper and because it wasn’t landing, we had to jump, first one guy then the next and then my turn. I hadn’t been paying any attention, all I knew is that it was a long ways down to the ground. Someone said, “Jump” so I did, straight out the door and flat on my back. I hit so hard that it knocked the wind right out of me.
So here I am laying In the middle of the landing zone and I couldn’t breath and couldn’t move, all I could hear were the guys yelling “Get out of the LZ, get out of the LZ!” Yeah, right! I was like a statue. They had to come and drag me out!
I finally got my wind and my senses back and everyone had a good laugh at my stupidity and they even let me (the new guy) walk point. Gee, how nice of them. Anyway the lessons leaned were “Pay attention” and “Don’t jump with your rucksack on, throw it out first before you jump.”