The soldiers covered their faces as ash and debris rained upon them. Coarse billows of smoke now rose from the crater where only moments ago had stood a crude desert hut.
Private Riley Oakes gasped, panting, incredulous. He spotted half a charred corpse lying facedown in the ruins. Could it be? Riley’s fingers, still clutching the grenade launcher, trembled anxiously.
In a moment the ringing of his ears gave way to rousing shouts. Mark slapped him on the back, high fives all around. Grins a mile wide. Riley lowered the weapon and, meekly, broke into a smile. From somewhere a bottle of champagne was produced and the boys toasted a job well done.
Far away, families wept tears of joy. Beaming mothers informed their children that the daddies they had never met would be home soon. The war on terror had been won, at last.
How could we know that still another terrorist remained? Did we really think we got them all? Riley Oakes knew but dared not suggest that winning, truly winning, would always be impossible.