My chest and face hit the mud at the same time, the impact so hard that water was pressed out of my uniform blouse and sprayed up into a fine mist around me. My helmet and liner landed a good five feet away, but I didn’t care, as I fought to take any air at all into my blown-out lungs. If I had been hit then the bullet might well be a terminal blow. A double lung shot with a high velocity bullet was an almost instantly fatal. I’d witnessed the awful damage personally several times. A bullet passing through both lungs left no chance that one of them would ever be re-inflated or repaired in time.

Air sucked back into my lungs in one long inhalation. I breathed again before I could think to do anything. Nguyen’s face appeared out of the dim light and through the misting mess of my water-filled muddy impact.

“Nguyen,” I squeaked out, looking around for the Gunny. I knew it had to have been the Gunny who took me down. How he’d figured out I was about to make a run for it across the open flats I had no idea, as I hadn’t even taken my first step before he hit me.