Blog 34 by Xtreme Ministries’ Interim Pastor Jordan Fulton
Am I There Yet?: The Question
One of the questions every man must answer in his life is ‘Do I have what it takes?’ There are a variety of applications for this soul-piercing question, such as: Will I be a loving husband and father? If I was getting mugged would I be able to beat down the attacker? Can I make it through grad school? Can I accomplish all of God’s plans for my life? Will I be a person my kids will look up to when I am older? Do I have what it takes?
I was faced with this very question a week ago Monday in my first firefight. I had heard of gunners (my job) hiding down in the trucks when the rounds start zinging at the truck, too afraid to stay up and fire back. I have read of the body’s biological response to the physical stress of combat which can cause you to urinate (or even defecate) yourself, and there is nothing you can do about it. Others responses include refusing to fire, or firing over the heads of the enemy where there is no chance of eliminating the threat. I was anxious to see how I would respond and answer that question for myself.
We were out on patrol when over the radio came a call that two MATVs (military vehicles) started taking effective fire. Our vehicles (4) responded by immediately heading in their direction, my blood pressure beginning to rise. Then the calls got worse: “Our vehicle is disabled, hurry up!” “We just lost the use of our gun, we are sitting ducks! Where are you guys!” “The other vehicle is disabled now… you need to get here NOW!”
By this time I could see their vehicles were about a 1800 meters away. I was flooded with a wave of emotions and thoughts. At first, anger. ‘How dare they try and kill our guys. Don’t worry guys, your brothers in arms are on their way! I thought as we drove closer and closer on the winding, bumpy dirt road. Then a heavy reality check of this is a firefight… I could die. Oh man, this is it. I am going to die on my daughter’s 5th birthday. All my girls are going to have to grow up without a dad. And my soul-mate, my wife, how could she bear the weight of losing her husband in combat? Tears instantly came bursting forth as we were about 900 meters from the fight. Then a wave of peace came over me reminding me of what God told me before I left for Afghanistan, ‘It’s not your time.’ Invigorated deep in my soul, and gaining my composure, I chambered the shiny 7.62 rounds in my 240B. ‘Let’s do this!’ I thought while sighting in the enemy’s elevated position and placing my finger on the trigger… waiting to give it a good squeeze.
For the next four hours we engaged the enemy while trying to retrieve our dead-lined vehicles and the soldiers inside. We were in a horseshoe ambush, taking contact on three sides from elevated positions. Pretty much the worst possible scenario. I had several close calls, having RPG rounds whizzing by both the front and the back of the vehicle, narrowly missing each time. AK-47 rounds hit the glass in my turret right by my head on the left side, and I had rounds ricochet off my 240 about 12 inches from my face! I fired back until I was black on ammo (all gone), expending over 1800 rounds! Then I shot 12 40mm rounds from my 320 (grenade launcher). When they were gone, I was handed a 249 SAW from someone in the truck and kept returning fire until the enemy wasn’t returning fire any more.
Amazingly, no one from our group, even the dismounts who got out of the vehicle to help get the soldiers from the downed vehicles to safety, received any injuries and no one was killed. The enemy’s death toll was as high as 30 from that 4 hours (about 150 from the entire offensive).
When the adrenaline rush came down and I was able to assess what had happened and how I performed under fire, I felt a confident strength deep inside that had not been there before. I had not wilted, lost heart, or given into fear when the pressure mounted. I was able to find an answer for the question. Some answers only come in the face of combat.
“Blessed by the Lord my strength who trains my hands for war and my fingers to fight.”-Ps 144:1
I’m someone who married an amazing woman. She gave me three beautiful daughters that I am crazy about. I have held a variety of jobs that include paperboy, skatepark supervisor, Dunkin Donuts worker, construction worker, mason, personal trainer, self-defense instructor, pastor, and soldier. I press on to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus laid hold of me. I am not there yet, on this journey of life, nor will I be there anytime soon. So, I try and take in what I can along the way. I am what I am by the grace of God. No apologies.