CHAPTER 22

Diesel and his men could hear the engine drown of small aircrafts throughout the day. The men took turns standing watch while the rest sleep through the day. They were going to make their way to the objective moving only at night. Sergeant Carter, the Fireteam Leader for the 3rd Squad’s first Fireteam, had started to keep track of the number of aircraft he could hear.

Sgt. Derrick Carter, call sign Spanky was just over 25 years old. He was an expert at mountain climbing. He had made the Marine Corps teams for the biathlon (cross country skiing and target shooting) and the target shooting for both pistols and rifles. He had competed and won a slot for the US Olympic team for all three events. When out of the field he could always be found with his men doing some sort of group sport or activity. His jet black hair and dark brown eyes combined with his dark tan made it appear that he was of Native American descent. He wasn’t but his wife was. They had 3 girls ages 5, 3 and 1 and with another one on the way. The platoon had started a pool on the birth of the baby. Everyone was hoping that they would finale have a boy. He tipped the scales at 180 pounds on his 5 foot and 11 inch frame.

Spanky sat under a tree listening to the drone of the 5th aircraft since he started his turn at the watch as he looked out through the forest floor for any possible enemies. He noted that he could hear an aircraft every 20 to 25 minutes. He motioned for Pfc. Ziegler to come over to his position.

“What can I do for you Spanky?” asked the Pfc.

“I would like you to climb one of these trees and see if you can spot any of these planes that are flying overhead and see if it is the same one or if it is a bunch of them and where they might be heading.”

“I am on my way.”

Pfc. Rory Ziegler, or as the men in the unit called him, Z-man. Rory made his way to the base of a tree that had to measure at least 7 feet in diameter. He started to quietly hum an Irish folksong as he began his ascent up the tree. Born and raised in Ireland until he was 15 years old when his mother remarried an American business man. They resettled to the Florida Keys. His biological father died in an auto accident. Standing at 5 foot 9 and 140 pounds, he easily shimmied up the mammoth tree.

Lcpl. John Titus whom the men gave the moniker JT, heard Z-man humming the tune and softly started to hum the same tune. JT was Z-man’s roommate in the barracks. Half the walls in the room were covered in holothic posters (The image changes as you move about it) of scantily clad woman and the other half was covered in holothic posters of Irish folksong singers and Irish landmarks such as castles and ruins. JT had started to learn Gaelic from Z-man. Shortly thereafter the rest of the Fire team, then the Squad, and now it was looking like other members of the Platoon where lining up to also learn. JT dozed off at the end of the tune.

After spending about an hour and a half up the tree he called Sgt. Carter on the radio. “Spanky, this is Z-man, come in, over.”

“This is Spanky, what do you have, over?” asked Spankey

“I have counted four different planes, they all seem to be heading in the same general direction, over” replied the Z-man.

“That good enough for government work, come on down and get some chow. Over.”

Z-man started his descent from his perch high aloft in the tree top. The view here at the top was breathtaking. When he neared the midway point of the tree the canopy thinned out quite a bit. He paused to give his surroundings a quick look. Through the thinner canopy he had a better view further out than the rest of the men on the ground. Z-man felt as if there was something that was just not quite right. He removed his scope from his rifle, using it as a monocular, he scanned the brush further out. The feeling became more intense. Z-man pressed the button on the side of the scope to up the magnification from two to five. There was definite movement; the brush and smaller tress were moving. He increased the magnification again from five to ten. Zeroing in on the movement, Rory saw a flash as something was moving in a downward arch behind the brush. The Pfc pressed his throat mic and calmly spoke “Spanky this is Z-man, come in, over.” As he scanned further back.

“This is Spanky, what do you need Z-man?” said the sergeant sounding more than a little exasperated with Z-man.

“I have movement to our north-northeast, call it 035 degrees.” Z-man pressed the range finder button on the scope and the range appeared in the lower left corner of the scope.” The scope says 510 meters.”

While Z-man was scanning for more movement he noticed that there were some intervening clear spaces in the woods. In some of the clear spots he could make out men setting up tents while others seemed to be starting small cooking fires. Other men seemed to be dragging dead and dried brush over to their fires. Z-man reported all this to Spankey.

Spankey quickly mashed the button on the radio to switch from the fireteam’s frequency to Platoon’s frequency. “We have movement to our northeast, call it 035 degrees, 510 meters from 3rd squads 1st fireteams location.”

The reaction of the marines in the camp was dramatic. It was if someone had kicked over an ant hill. Gunny passed the information on to the squad leaders who passed it on to their fireteam leaders who in turn passed it on to the members of their fireteams. Diesel grabbed his rifle and map case and headed for Spanky’s location. Tex was on the radio trying to contact the ship and alert them as to the new development. The men were quietly roused from their sleep and hastily readied themselves. Speed and distance were the keys to the platoon’s survival.

 

Big rig picked up the head set and the boom mic. He had just gotten off the phone with his old friend Colonel Goodspeed back at the pentagon. The news was not good. It appears that the 2 men in the field with his best platoon were not the people they were supposed to be. Flash traffic on the radio had Diesel’s platoon moving due to the unexpected arrival of enemy troops about 500 meters to their north east.

“Diesel this is Big Rig, come in, over,” the colonel said into the boom mic. There was a sharp hiss of static as the call went out over the radio.

“This is Diesel, go Big Rig, over,” was Diesel’s reply through the head set.

“Diesel you will need to hold onto the two cards in question. Isolate them, but do not burn them, I repeat do not burn them, over.” said the colonel through his clenched teeth.

“Diesel copies, isolate, but do not burn them, over” said Diesel.

“That is affirmative, out.” said Big Rig. Now it was time to inform the general as to the latest news.

 

The imposters knew that something was very wrong. They looked around to see what the other men were doing and copied them. The marines were busy verifying that their weapons were loaded and on safe. Then they started to reapply cammy face paint to any exposed skin. Once the face paint was done the next step, the addition of twigs and debris to their uniforms to help breakup their silhouette began. Each fire team then started to disarm any booby traps and such that they had made. Nothing was left to show that the marines had been there.

“Gunny, get Nightstalker along with Voodoo and his fireteam here once they are ready to move out. Tex get the snipers here on the double. I have a mission for them,” said Diesel.

Gunny could anticipate what Diesel would order the men to do. They had discussed it numerous times and had done similar missions many time before. Gunny gathered the men he had called together. Gunny Riddel looked to each man; they knew what was to come. They were to split off from the rest of the platoon and make their way towards the enemy encampment from a completely divergent direction and observer them. They were not to engage the enemy, only to observer and report.

“Time to earn your paychecks boys,” said Gunny as he took a knee and spread out a map on the pine needle and broken branch covered forest floor. “This is where we are,” he continued as he pointed to a spot on the map. “This is where our unwanted neighbors have setup,” Gunny moved his finger to a new spot on the map. “Nightstalker, I want you and Voodoo’s Fire team to provide over watch for the snipers.” Gunny said looking right at Nightstalker.

“Will do Gunny,” Nightstalker replied.

“Snipers,” Gunny continued as he brought his intense eyes on the three of them. “I want to know how many men and what composition of vehicles and what they are eating. Make me a map of their camp. See if you can get any photos of the units markings and of their brass. Do not engage unless you have no choice.”

There was the sound of someone running through the brush towards the small group of men. Eyes burst forth from the brush and came to a crushing halt as he slammed into the ground, tripping over a root. Every man in the group heard the wet snap as the Lt. landed in a crumpled mess on the forest floor. Eyes stifled a string of curses that he surely want to yell. With his other hand he was reaching for his broken arm.  The pained expression on his face was clear for anyone to see and understand.

Corporal Kowalski reached out and clamped his large hand over Eyes’s mouth. Corporal Morehead call sign Bubba and Lance Corporal (Lcpl) Yurrick call sign Jake, each made a grab for the Lt’s good arm before he could do more damage to the broken arm and himself.

“Static, this is Gunny, grab your med bag and get to the cp on the double, Eyes is down. He has taking a fall and broke his arm.” The last part was to inform the rest of the platoon that they had not been fired upon.

“On my way,” Was the Corpsman’s response.

Voodoo and Gunny rolled the Wounded Eyes over as Lcpl  Bobby Johnson call sign Angel, grabbed Eyes’s head, forcing the man to look him in the eyes. Angel was speaking softly to the wounded man.

“Look at me, no, no el-tee, look me in the eyes, that’s better, you are going to be okay. Can you hear me?” Angel was saying.

Eyes slowly shook his head that he could hear Angel.

Angel softly continued speaking to the man, keeping the wounded Eyes calm.

“I know it hurts, just focus on my eyes. Static will be here soon and he’ll fix you up.” Angel looked to Gunny “He’s going in to shock Gunny”. Looking back into the eyes of the face he was cradling in his hands “You are going to be fine, just keep looking at me. That’s it. El-tee you need to stop fighting Bubba and Jake,” He said softly.

Static came thundering into the cp area, his medical bag landing with a thud on the ground beside static as he kneeled next to the wounded man. With the help of Bubba and Jake, he pried the lieutenant’s hand off the broken arm.

“Bubba, I need you to expose his forearm,” said Static as he opened his medical bag. Static pulled out a serrate containing a powerful painkiller and jabbed it into the  lieutenant’s forearm. After using the serrate he pinned the serrate to man’s collar. Next he pulled out a small bottle and needle. He quickly read the label on the bottle verifying it was what he wanted. Filling the syringe with anti-inflammatories to the proper amount, he then cleared it of any air bubbles and injected that also into the same arm. As Static was doing the injections he was telling Pfc George Ambrose call sign Sci-fi to take a set of splints from his medical bag. Static also instructed Nightstalker to dig out a sling.

“Okay Eyes, I am going to set your arm now. You might feel a little pressure as I do this. Are you ready?” static asked Eyes.

Eyes just shook his head.

With deft movements Static had set the broken arm. Even with the painkillers Eyes passed out. Static held out one of his hands towards Sci-fi who handed Static the splints. After securing the splints in place to immobilize the arm Static reached for the sling from Nightstalker.

Donovan and Tex along with SSgt. Troy Simmons, call sign Trojan, came running up to the group.

Donovan looked from Static to Eyes and back again. “Talk to me Static, how bad is it?” he asked.

“Diesel, eyes has a broken right arm, but the brake is clean. It is not the worst brake I have seen. We don’t need to call in a dust off for him. Gunny I need you to open one of the white envelopes labeled calisumplus and mix it into his water. Angel get me a another serrate of Wyfore and inject it in to his other arm and then pin the serrate to his collar.”

“Okay Static.” Angel searched for the serrate and made the injection then pinned the used serrate to the collar of Eyes. “Done,” said Angel when he finished the task.

The serrates started to work on the wounded man almost immediately. They were powerful pain killers and muscle relaxants. Eyes went as limp as a wet noodle.

Diesel looked to the men of the fireteam and the snipers. “Here are your new orders. I want you to recon the enemy force and coordinate with Tex here. We’ll call in an air strike to obliterate the enemy force. We need to know where every vehicle is and what type it is. I want to call down an air strike that will cover their entire area. any questions?” he asked the assembled men.

Cpl Magnus Jorgenson call sign Viking spoke up. “What radio freq do we use and how are we to ensure that the air strike won’t get us?”

“Tex will assign the radio freq and I won’t call it in until you start your return  trip. I want you to skirt the outer edge of their perimeter and get gps reading so we can form a boarder for the air strike. We need to know if there is any heavy armor and what is their troop strength,” said Diesel.

Viking seemed to except this. Lcpl Alan Cooper call sign Moose, looked to the map. “I believe we can make our approach on this route and take up positions here, here and here,” Moose said pointing to the map. “Once we get the gps reading we pull back to here and wait. After that we rush back to where you and the rest of the platoon are. What about Tweedel Dee and Tweedel Dumb?” he asked looking to Diesel.

“I’ll be call Big Rig and find out what we are to do with them?” said Diesel. Tex was already working his magic.

The snipers and first squad’s first Fire team left 2 minutes later. Diesel was on the radio again with the Big Rig.

Pressing the transmit switch on the hand set of the radio Diesel heard the snap hiss of static as the radio synced up. “Sherwood Forest this is Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest, this is Robin Hood, come in, over,” Diesel said.

 

After talking to Big Rig, there was a flight of 3 gunships, the AVAP-15, The Antipersonnel and Anti-vehicle aircraft. Each aircraft was capable of putting a 30 mm round down one every two square inches on a 300 foot by 300 foot square. These were not ordinary steel jacketed rounds. These were a mixture of high explosive armor piercing rounds and tracer incendiary rounds. The navy was also sending 6 older tomahawk cruise missiles retrofitted with 2576 sub munitions. Each sub-munition was a shaped charge capable of destroying 3 inch thick armor plate. The shaped charge when detonated would send molten metal straight down. Any troops caught in the open would be shredded by the deadly hail of the fragments from the casing of the sub-munition.

Diesel spoke with Big Rig about the situation concerning the imposters and a possible dust off for them. Their solution was to leave the imposters in the field. If someone had managed to get to men into this mission there was no telling what else they could do.

The rest of the platoon was to moving forward by leap frogging by squads towards the objective. The main portion of the platoon had been on the move for more than an hour before the snipers reported that they were now in position. Two more hours passed before the snipers reported in their findings and started to pull back. The photos and gps co-ordinance were sent to the ship. The snipers and the men in support of them wasted no time moving out. Once they were clear of the projected blast area they called Diesel. Diesel wasted no time in calling the ship to start the airstrike.

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