The Fireball just rolled through………. An essay by William Marshall

I was closing the back double doors and securing them with the 2×4.  We had just put the students on a well deserved 20 minute break.  I imagine that we were about to throw the football as hard as we could at each other, Burnout style.  I don’t remember a sound, just a fireball.  It rolled through my vision, I felt the heat.  It was a flash.  I thought that our building was on fire.  I was wrong.

I flung the doors open and tried to run out, as I did, students began running in.  They were trying to escape the flames that were just on the other side of the cabled area, by the mock doors.  That’s when I began to realize that we were actually in a safe place for the moment, and there were Soldiers on fire, doing the fire walk, they had aviation fuel all over them, just 30 yards away.

John Hines was a medic and he immediately grabbed our first aid supplies and ran towards the injured.  I helped him gather what I could and followed after him.  When I crossed the cable into the war zone, the first Soldier I saw had a hunk of metal sticking out of his chest.  He was laid on his back, eyes open but lifeless.

Somebody had gotten some plywood out of the Dirty Herc and we began to load up injured into the 5 tons that were there.  JJ Little jumped into one of the them and started it up.  We were loading injured into the back of it.  Some on plywood boards, some we just heaved up and helped in.  I remember trying to move a row of ALICE packs out of the way so that JJ could drive the truck.  He just ran all over them, he yelled at me, F the ALICE packs, move…….

Dakin had sprung into action, he was setting up a LZ for the medivac out by the Green Ramp gate.  20mm rounds were still cooking off from the F16 that was just a mangled wreck by the big oak tree. Some dune buggy things showed up about that time.  Seems they had come from the Delta compound down the street.

When I try to think of my actions that day, its just all a blur.  Just trying to help.  I burned the crap out of my right hand helping put a Soldier on a board and then on a truck.  His boots melted in my hand when I grabbed him.

I cried, all the way home, I cried.  Worst day of my life.  The fireball just rolled through.

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