Wounded soldiers make a long trip from the pain and disorientation of a battlefield to the pain and disorientation of a homecoming.
CENTERLINE tells the arresting story of the last leg of that journey through the eyes of patients, crew, and medical caregivers making the trip home from military hospitals just before Christmas at the height of the surge in Iraq. “Everybody who goes to war gets shot,” one soldier says. “Some in the body. Some in the head. Some in the heart.”
Air Evac 1492 is the collective Air Force call sign for the flight. But each person on board has an individual story of hopes, dreams, fears, and regrets as the aircraft wings its human cargo through bad weather, flashbacks, and in flight emergencies. Those strapped in their seats and rushing toward an uncertain future include:
• A legless Army ranger, struggling to pay the debt he owes to one who saved his life.
• An aspiring writer, who “drove a wrecker like Hemingway drove an ambulance,” and now faces a future without an arm.
• A scout who can face his own pain but not that of his children when they see his broken body.
• A hyperprofessional flight nurse trying to heal others despite her own loss.
• A pilot who has sacrificed family for duty, now trying to prepare a new copilot before she deploys to combat for the first time.
The compelling technical description of flying, combat, and medical care in flight drives the story through a rollercoaster ride of emotions as thirty-one “souls on board” travel through pain, loss, a killer storm, and the demons of the past to make it home for Christmas. Some travelers will fall short of the runway. And some will find the beacon that leads them home—back to the centerline.