Most of the artillery explosions and white-hot arcs of large-caliber tracer bullets were a few kilometers behind us on the Sarajevo skyline. We had been cramped in the truck bed for hours that seemed like days, stuck in the suburbs of the city. We were miserably bound
in flak jackets, in a sandbagged truck bed and were numb to the much closer AK-47 fire.
As long as no bullets pinged through the steel of our truck, no one in our party seemed too concerned about the random rounds. All 12 of us in the truck were exhausted and wet enough that we could give a damn about who got greased as long as it wasn’t us. Then suddenly, a Serbian 12.7mm heavy machine gun opened up on us, coming at us in what seemed like football-sized orange tracers.
The hot rounds came screaming toward our soft-skinned truck and softer-skinned bodies. Silently, and instinctively, we scrambled to shove ourselves deeper into the truck bed to protect our heads and arms from the killer rounds. Moments earlier, I’d been amusing myself by dictating a play by play of the action into a tape recorder. I have been told that I record everything and that my tapes could fill dump trucks. But now we had nothing to do but count the malevolent tracers swishing overhead as the heavy machine gun roared in the background. My tape recorder was a welcome distraction.
“I figure that the gun position is about 500 meters out and the only reason we aren’t exposed is because we are hidden by that ridge of dirt,” John Jordan, a big, blustery, hot-headed Marine vet said.
He had left his Springfield Armory Super Match MIA behind in Sarajevo or we might have gone into the night looking for the Russian machine gun. Jordan let out one of his booming laughs of nervous relief that shattered our silence, “The SOB knows we are here but he can’t quite get low enough to get us. His gun is mounted in a concrete bunker and unless he takes it off the mount and moves out of the bunker, he can’t get to us.”
I glanced at the pack of trucks in the rain. Who knows what the Serb was thinking as he glared at our white United Nations truck. We seriously doubted that he knew that the 12 men in the truck were Americans and Canadians who had just smuggled in some critical items right under his very nose, or worse yet, that John Jordan, who had killed some Serbs, was in our group. At that moment, Jordan was no more popular with us than he was with the Serbs. He was the one who had gotten us into this deadly mess that had reduced us to sitting ducks at the base of Mount Igman, some 10 klicks from Sarajevo.
What the hell was I doing here, anyhow? I had long lost count of the times I had asked myself that question when caught in some hotspot with no escape hatch in sight, vowing that I was done with jumping into the heat of hostilities between some vindictive ethnic groups or hashish crazed warring tribes. Again as the tracers screamed overhead, I tried to convince myself that it was all for the sake of the readers of my adventure magazine, Soldier of Fortune, but who was I kidding? Mama Brown’s boy hadn’t changed much since those wild college days when Fidel Castro’s Cuban revolution came calling.
RKB's memoirs, I Am Soldier of Fortune, come out on 30 July! To order, go to the SOF store .