It is midnight when I meet Sgt. Kennery Foster on a New Orleans street. Sweat has beaded on his face, nearly covering it.
It's not the threat of violence that makes this soldier uncomfortable; it's the city's unrelenting, muggy heat. After all, it takes a lot to scare Sgt. Foster, a Louisiana National Guardsman who recently did a yearlong tour in Iraq.
We're in the city's fifth district, and just a few minutes into our pleasantries there's an unmistakable "Pop, pop, pop, pop..." I don't know how many shots were fired, but there were a lot.
Foster and two other soldiers exchange glances, wait, listen, then go on with the discussion.
"That was gunfire," I said.
Foster says he and other troops here have developed a "sixth sense." No screaming, no calls cracking over the radio. They call in a helicopter with infared capabilities and begin looking for the bad guy.
It's no secret New Orleans is once again developing a nasty crime problem.
It all came to a head 10 or so days ago, when five teens were brutally murdered sitting in an SUV in a sketchy area of the city at four in the morning. This prompted Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco to dispatch 300 Louisiana National Guard troops to the city at the request of Mayor Ray Nagin.
Sgt. Foster is from Lafayette, not terribly far from the Crescent City, and he professes to love Louisiana and the city of New Orleans.
While we are out for a few hours in the wee hours of the morning, people hanging out of windows of cars going to and from a late night club are thanking the sergeant for being here.
The truth is that Sgt. Foster is surprised the city needs military muscle nearly 10 months after Hurricane Katrina.
A year in Iraq, a few months with his family, and he's back on patrol. It's not Iraq, but it's not a cakewalk either, as a short burst of gunfire proved on his third night on patrol, a night when his "sixth sense" was put to the test in the battle to take back the nighttime streets of New Orleans.