82nd Platoon TacSat Team : SGT Eric Link and Bob Muirer

I went to bed that night at 2300. About 0100 my team sergeant came shook me awake, saying, “Pack your shit.” Usually when we were told that, it meant we would be spending the next three weeks beating off in the woods. But from the way he said it, I knew something real was happening. I threw a ruck together, then went down to the motor pool. We loaded up our radio rig and headed up to the company HQ. (We carried three FM, one AM and one TacSat radio in our rig.)

When the supply sergeant gave me a flak jacket, and the armorer gave me real bullets, I started getting stoked. (Normally, the only time we saw any sort of ammo was once a year when we went to the range to qualify.) I was finally getting a chance to do what I’d joined the Army to do — fight.

Then we drove over to the XVIII Airborne Corps HQ to get CEOIs. When they didn’t hand us the generic training booklet for the fictional ’52nd Mechanized Division’, I knew the shit was for real. But then a bad thing happened — I was bumped from our flight. I lost my slot on the airplane to a captain from Corps.

A day or two after I got bumped off that initial flight, I bought a pizza. A couple of weeks later somebody found that same half-eaten pizza still laying on my bunk. All black, and hardened up.

Cuban armored fighting vehicle and recoilless rifles

A few hours after the Rangers jumped into Point Salines Airfield, the other guys on my team were on the ground in Grenada. I spent the next three days talking to them on the TacSat from Ft. Bragg. When one of them told me that a Cuban tank was shooting over their head, I was jealous as hell.

I got down to Grenada three days later. I went with another team from my squad. As we approached Grenada the flight crew was visibly edgy; they told us that the airfield was taking sniper and mortar fire. As the plane taxied down the Point Salines runway, the tailgate opened and we unchained our truck. Our vehicle was a two-seater, and I was the third man on the team, so I was forced to make myself small amongst the cargo piled in the bed of the truck. When the plane reached the end of the runway, the pilot whipped a quick U-turn and we hit the gas. We fully expected to fight our way off the airplane. But what should we behold, but shirtless grunts from the 82nd Airborne tanning themselves beside the runway. I didn’t know whether to be disappointed or relieved.

Grenada Main Invasion! On the Beach