It’s mid-March – 1971, about 30 days and a “wakeup” left. I’d just survived my last fire fight (I didn’t know that at the time . . .). We’d had sappers on base for a very long night. Runway tower looked like Swiss cheese, a couple A1’s were burnt hulks, Garza and I were beginning to scramble to wire in a mobile comm console to let the controllers bring down the aircraft that had launched, our radio shed had its roof gone . . . . there were a couple long, thick black bags alongside the terminal . . . . friends that had entered that agelessness of soldiers that were so easily designated KIA . . . .
The “end was near”, Christmas 1970 had seen a huge airlift of troops headed “back to the world” well before their DEROS date. We’d pulled the plug on an ALCE unit I had been attached to. Our presence was contracting, becoming fewer . . . . weaker. We were focused on going home . . . . not dealing with threats that remained. We were lazy, complacent, in-attentive.
Yet, the enemy remained, pressed their advantage and claimed a few more souls for their cause. We’d been attacked many times before. We’d forgotten . . . .
Of course it will happen again . . . .
And so will another Aurora. Later this evening. Later in the week. Next month. Next year. It will happen. While evil does take a break now and then, it is never dormant. Like the local VC, it will find a time to once again press its advantage and claim innocent souls. It is, after all, what evil does.
Once our aircraft were recovered, the VC that sought to hide on base were hunted and killed. After a meal, some sleep . . . . individual areas gathered for the AAR – After Action Reports. It was a time to evaluate security (I’d tell you how badly ARVN security sucked – but to what end), evaluate our OWN security, evaluate targets and ways to harden them, evaluate communications and what needed to happen over the next days and weeks. It provided us time to evaluate our own performance – how did we respond, where were we lax, what mistakes did we make. We reviewed our enemy, his determination, his skill – it reminded us that being “short” was no guarantee of not going home in a box.
After Action Reports . . . . an opportunity to learn from failure.
Make no mistake – Aurora WAS a failure. A failure to even recognize the existence of true evil. A failure of a local government to allow citizens to defend themselves. A failure of a company to comprehend the possibility of evil committed against their guests as they were trapped in their little warren of seats and closed doors.
If you were a patron that night – what would you do different?? Remember, you have ALL THE TIME YOU NEED NOW to prepare for the next time . . . .
Take your damn gun!!! Yes, I know it was a “No Carry” facility, yet if I read the Colorado law right, they must ask you to leave. There is only a problem if you refuse to leave.
Regardless of this single facility – one more time – take your damn gun with you each and every day.
Capacity counts. You meet a fellow with body armor – it will take you a few rounds to realize that, probably while you may be knocking him back – and you notice he’s still on his feet. A 5-shot revolver doesn’t give you much opportunity to “learn while doing”. Capacity counts.
Sit on the outside. I have sat on the outside site since I rolled over 50 (you older fellows will understand why). Sit with your gun-side out. Watch more than just the movie. Where are the exits? Anyone really seem off the wall? Watch folks as they enter the theater (or restaurant or grocery store or Wal-Mart) and see if any of them feel off to you.
Don’t sit way in the back. The farther you are from the exits, the longer your fight. Most theaters I go to are simply kill boxes. You enter from the bottom; walk up risers – with no exit available except down the risers again. Fighting down half a riser is better than from the very back row. Same in restaurants – face the door, gun-side open, close to an exit if at all possible; resist the labyrinth restaurants (the Rain Forest Café in the Mall of America flashes to mind).
Who is your first responsibility? As calculating as it sounds, if it’s a choice between my granddaughter and the wonderful stranger sitting next to me – family takes priority. Three young men sacrificed themselves covering their dates – I’m proud of them.
Take Responsibility. You are responsible for your survival – no one else. If your choice is to cower between seats and die – or jump the attacker and die – what do you want to be remembered for? Help is not coming. It is your responsibility to fight evil, not bend a knee to it.
Stay focused. Easy to say, a real bitch to do. Even guys in full body armor are vulnerable. Even guys armed with an AR, shotgun and pistol are vulnerable. Even guys in gas masks and helmets are vulnerable. But, you cannot take advantage of their vulnerabilities if you lose your head. Again, easy to say, a bitch to do.
So how the hell is a shooter in body armor, helmet and gas mask – shooting an AR or pistol or shotgun – vulnerable??
Vision: I’ve spent more hours in a gas mask than I care to count. Visibility – even in the new versions – sucks. This provides you an advantage to get outside his field of vision. Pay attention, see how much of their face is covered, stay in a blind spot until you can escape or kill him.
Use the noise. Shots fired in an enclosed area effect everyone – including the shooter. Again, take advantage of the noise to move, close and kill him.
All Body Armor has points of vulnerability. The throat, underarms, rear thighs, pelvis, feet, through the glass in the gas mask. Even a full on engagement against a chest plate will surly get the shooters attention and allow you to press your attack.
There are many weapons. Always carry your knife. Find a fire extinguisher. A loose chair. A glass of liquid thrown against his mask. Teeth. Knees. If your choice is to cower and die or attack and die – how do you want to be remembered?
Kill Him. If you engage an evil like this, make sure one of you leaves in a bag. A threat down and armed is a threat. A threat dead and armed is dead. There is no middle ground.
Honestly, this whole thing has chewed on me today. Old memories. A need to do something. An anger at the foolishness of politicians who hold out the carrot of security while surrendering all our safety to a little plastic sign. The pain the families are feeling. The pride in those who remembered where their duty truly lay.
We have survived an attack. 12 were left behind, three died heroes defending their loved ones – the majority walked away. Don’t waste their lives. Learn from this. Plan your defense. Look for evil. Stand between evil and those who need protection.
Because . . . . it will happen again.