I was taking a break from work one day and did a quick internet search for "UH-60 Blackhawk in Iraq". I was breezing through the results when this picture hit me hard and stopped me cold. That is the only way I can describe the moment.
A Soldier had taken this photo while he was in Iraq. That is a UH-60L from Stetson Troop, 4th Squadron, 3 ACR and I believe that is the town of Haditha in the background. I see the unmistakable "Superman" logo the crew chiefs painted on all our aircraft. I know that crew chief manning the starboard weapon by his profile. It is likely that I am at the controls of the aircraft. I had not thought about that day in a very long time, but the second I saw this picture, it all came back to me in a flash. It was not necessarily pleasant.
The picture is at a high vantage point leading me to believe the Soldier is in a vehicle. If this photo is of the day I think it is, then we were recovering the bodies of two fallen Cavalry Soldiers and the aircraft they were flying after it had crashed. We had flown Navy SEAL's in to recover our friends. During the operation, we massed forces at the edge of the town and there were armored vehicles and Cav Troopers everywhere as we prepared for what was looking like a big battle as the locals gathered along the edge of the town. The crew chief appears relaxed. He is waiting to do something, but he is not taking his hand off of that weapon. That was the way it was then.
I am not sure what this writing is about to be honest with you. I think I wanted to tell you that people like me are not "Mentally Ill", and PTS is a real thing. That when I stop and look like I am thinking about something, I may be remembering something in the very core of my mind that is exercising its influence over me. I am not threat to anyone or anything at that point. I am not every Veteran, but my significant experience dealing with this issue as a profession shows me I am correct when I say most Veterans are like me.
most of the time, when something triggers a thought, I remember a weird moment and I reflect on the irony, or heroism I witnessed, or that fact that I was actually there and played a part in the drama. Nothing more than that.
If something, anything, seems out of place, I become hyper attentive. this is a survival skill that has become a super power. I cannot stop it. I work to control it. Nothing more than that.
That is not crazy. those are not the descriptions of a "disorder".
If I never thought about the whole thing, and all that happened, that would be a disorder.
Weird moments. Like my reaction to this picture. You seldom see then coming.