A military adventure that puts you at the scene of some of the most intense covert action--from an Air Force combat crewmember who's experienced what it's like to fall from heaven armed for hell...
The War Angel
As a member of the Air Force's elite pararescue team, Senior Master Sergeant Jason Johnson has been dropped into some of the hottest spots in the world. But this time the mission Johnson has been assigned is the last one he wants to accept. He will be dropped alone into an Afghan war zone and will assume the identity of a rogue drug lord. Once in place, he'll have to lead a convoy of super opium and weapons across a brutal landscape--straight into the arms of some of the world's most infamous terrorists. It's a trap, of course, but who is the bait and who is the victim? Miles inside enemy territory, marked as an international criminal, Johnson is fighting not only for survival but to avenge a past score--and hoping to stay alive for just one more shot at taking his target down for good.
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September 29, 2003
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Excerpt from The War Angel by Michael Salazar
0900 TUESDAY / 11 SEPTEMBER 2001
750 RAMP / PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE / FLORIDA
Jason Johnson stood at the ramp edge of an HC-130 aircraft giving his PJ team last-minute instructions for a water jump at the Judy drop zone on the Banana River.
"You won't believe it!" cried Rolo Perez, the aircraft crew chief, as he came running toward the plane. "Your flight's canceled. Every flight in America's been canceled! Come on!" he yelled, skidding to a stop. "It's on all the TV channels. You won't believe it. I don't fuckin' believe it! Hurry! Run!"
Clueless, everyone jumped off the plane and raced toward the closest television.
Jason shot through the door of the Thirty-ninth Rescue Squadron and into the ops center. "What's going on?"
Everybody was gathered in front of the television hanging on the far wall, all eyes were glued to the unfolding horror.
The North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York was burning. Everyone gasped when suddenly a second jet appeared on the screen and plowed into the South Tower.
Jason's jaw dropped; mouth open wide, he was speechless. It wasn't real. It was more like watching a movie. This couldn't be happening. It wasn't real.
Opinions instantly formed, and the hateful words voiced.
"Let's nuke the camel jockeys and turn their desert into a glass parking lot!"
He'd heard all the nasty words before, during Operation Desert Storm. Feeling helpless that there was nothing he could do at the moment, Jason turned from the horror and walked from the ops section and out to the back deck of the squadron.
It was a beautiful sunny Florida day. The sky was blue and a cool breeze blew offshore. But just a three-hour plane flight away hateful murder was happening.
Sirens sounded everywhere. Security police, their red lights flashing, were securing Patrick Air Force Base. Threat Condition Delta was declared: A terrorist act was under way. Every American military installation around the world was going into lockdown. He couldn't remember when that had ever happened.
"They hit the Pentagon!" a voice cried out over the intercom.
"No! Oh my God." Sorrow pierced Jason's heart. The fuckers had struck at the nation's true might: her military brains. And there wasn't a goddamned thing he could do about it! Bewildered, he sat. Confused and lost. It suddenly occurred to him that there was only one place on the base that he could go to for strength. He'd gone there in the past, and he needed to go there more than ever.
Standing in front of the Patrick Air Force Base's memorial for the five airmen murdered by terrorists on June 25, 1996, Jason closed his eyes and remembered the night that he was at the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. At the time he had already been deployed there with the Seventy-first Air Rescue Squadron for more than thirty days.
He couldn't sleep, so he got out of bed and went to work out at the base gym.
In luck, no one was on the Gravitron, his favorite machine, so he had it all to himself. He'd been on it for about twenty minutes and was working up a good sweat. As he was hanging from the machine, first the lights flickered, then there was a low, violent rumble. Before he could blink, a concussion like a giant wave blasted him off the machine and threw him across the room. Instinctively tucking himself into a ball, he rolled, doing somersaults in the air, and crashed into the mirrored wall on the other side of the room.
Glass flew everywhere. He lay there, stunned, for what seemed like forever before he came to his senses. Cut and bleeding from the mirror splinters, he felt nothing as he sprinted toward his building. At first he didn't believe it was possible, seeing massive amounts of smoke but no flames, then he looked to where his room would've been.
He fought to bring out the wounded and the dead, cursing the terrorists who did it and the base commanders, who had known for years that the building was exposed and vulnerable to an attack but had done nothing to protect it.
Everyone from the surrounding buildings worked with the firefighters to put out some of the smaller fires, then helped wherever they could.
It was a night that he'd never forget, no matter how hard he tried. Torn and mangled bodies, some victims so burned and bloody that Matt Winkler, a veteran combat rescue pilot, told Jason that he couldn't tell who was who.
People, comrades and friends, were wounded or dead. He'd even invited Justin Woods to work out with him, but Woody wanted to sleep. He was gone.
Using all his powers as a medical technician, he lost track of time while he tried to help the wounded. The next day he assisted with the grisly and gloomy task of gathering the remains of the dead. He swore revenge that it would never happen again.
Now it was happening all over again and more innocents had been murdered. From Beirut to now, terrorists had made their cowardly strikes against good and decent people. He'd felt the pain for too damn long.