San Luis, R C
Military pilot Cuahtemoc “Cua” Cardenas struggled to keep his eyes open. He’d been flying helicopter sorties over the burning bunker for hours. He zoomed over the crater dropping down from 150 meters to 110 meters.
When he’d first glanced at the radiometer, he couldn’t believe the reading. The machine registered 500 roentgen. Even in his fatigued state, his flight over the radioactive fire made his heart pound with excitement.
The helicopter hung over the blaze. He opened the helicopter door, letting the heat blast up at him. A mighty torrent of radioactive gas rose up and forced him to slam the door closed.
Although he’d been issued a respirator, his eyes still burned. Lucky that a thick sheet of lead underneath his seat protected him and his helicopter.
Cua pushed the emergency button on his console and shouted, "Bombs away!" He watched tons of sand and clay fly through the air toward their target.
His friend, Antonio, had not been so fortunate. He'd flown the first sortie, before they'd realized the danger. Without a respirator or lead protector, he’d landing, huffing and puffing, barely able to breathe.
"What's wrong, pal?" Cua had asked grabbing onto his friend. Antonio just stared ahead, dazed. His knees buckled a minute later and he collapsed into Cua’s arms.
Antonio could not even speak and his eyes looked so horrible as if he’d been through hell. "I’m taking you to the doctor, amigo." Cua carried his buddy to his truck and drove at breakneck speed.