Author's Note: An APC is an Armored Personnel Carrier. It is a vehicle used for troop transportation. A BMP is the Russian equivalent to this vehicle.
Malden is a fictional island off the Russian coast. This story is based upon the video game Operation: Flashpoint. This story uses graphic violence and extreme language to add to the theme and tone of the plot.
June 14th, 1985 – 2103 hours
It was just an average day in Malden. Enemy troop movement was incredibly slow paced. The NATO lines were expanding. We finally got a hold of Arudy, a small town where the Russians were training civilians to be militants. After a few days of fighting, however, members of Task Force Ranger demolished the Russian operation. So…I’m sitting around in an abandoned farmhouse, writing this journal by candlelight. I’ve got about two hours until I have to pull my routine combat patrol. I think I’ll get some shuteye.
June 15th, 1985 – 0800
I actually got to sleep in today! The CP (Combat Patrol) went off without a hitch, so the Captain relieved me and told me to rest up. I have a feeling something is going down soon. The upper ranks are extremely fidgety and haven’t been seen around too much. They put aside a larger house in the town and turned into an officer’s quarters, planning room, and briefing room. They’ve been quiet for too long…I’m going to ask the Lieutenant what is up.
June 15th, 1985 – 1200
Well, it was official…the brass has a mission for us. Here’s what went down:
I asked Lieutenant Patrick what was going on. He said that I would find out soon enough. Sure enough, he was right. Fifteen minutes after chow, I was called in with the other Platoon Sergeants to the briefing room. Captain Smith looked at us with hard eyes, his hands on his hips. He nodded approvingly, and began the briefing.
“Now I know all you well enough…you know something is going down.” He stared at the replies on our faces. We all nodded. “Alright that’s what I thought.”
“A few miles down the road is a town called Vigny. About half a mile away from that town, is a town called La Pessagne. Now Vigny is a harbor town…many of the citizens there are fisherman, boat makers, or just have an occupation dealing with ships or the harbor. Intelligence obviously overlooked and underestimated the Russian presence in this town. We all thought that Arudy was the main stage in the civilian militia training.” He shook his head with a deep sigh. “We were very wrong.”
“Vigny is extremely infamous for harboring and training terrorists. We were just too fuckin’ stupid to realize it, and now, here we are…spitting distance away from largest civilian militia in the state of Malden. Makes you shudder, don’t it?”
I actually did shudder as the Captain paused to light up a clove cigarette. We had all heard the horror stories of the civilian militia. They were ruthless, and fought extremely well and hard. It was probably because they were fighting for their land and family, unlike the Russians who were just fighting because they were told too. Their action mimicked those of the Japanese in World War II, nearly 40 years ago. We were not looking forward to fighting these animals.
“It’ll only be a matter of time before they stage an attack on us. That is why we have to move first. We have to hit hard, hit fast, and attack with all of our strength. We haven’t come this fucking far to be pushed out by those little piss ant wannabe soldiers!” All of those words came out in a harsh fury. The Captain’s face was red, and he wagged his finger at us like it was a pistol.
“If this mission turns out to be a failure, we will have lost this entire fucking town, including Vigny and La Pessagne. Their pocket of resistance will grow stronger, their morale will sky rocket, and they will gather more troops for their puny fucking cause! There are no more Marines in Malden that can relieve us! It’s just them and us for about 10 square miles! We have no naval support, we have no aerial support, and we have shit to nothing for armor! Now this is not your fault at all…but this is what we have to work with! Three platoons, which will break up into 3 attack squads, the rest will stay behind, and four APC’s**! That’s shit! I can’t even believe Echo Black wants us to attack with this shit! We might as well throw rocks at the sons of bitches!”
The Captain was really angry now. Echo Black, the headquarters on Malden, had obviously dropped this bomb on the Captain very recently. We knew what it was like to be under a lot of stress, but we had never seen the Captain so stressed out before. He finally took a breather, and relaxed.
I looked up and nodded.
“You will lead Alpha Squad. Sergeant Martin, Bravo Squad, and Sergeant Straghten, Charlie Squad. The rest of the men will stay behind for support…not reinforcements. They are your buffer zone if you fail and have to pull back. These men are not going to replace any of your fallen, so remember that. In the need that your Squad’s have to pull back, we will be here to provide suppressing fire, and extra vehicles to assist in the extraction. From there, we will head right back to La Trinite. No stopping here.”
I couldn’t believe it. La Trinite was about 10 miles away from here. If we failed this mission, we’d have to pull into a full retreat, leaving about 6 square miles for the enemy to get a hold of.
“We’ll demolish this town with satchel charges as we retreat. The scorched earth policy is the only thing that will work for us if we fail this mission. I am counting on all of you to not fail this mission. It will be an embarrassment to our Corps, our country, and me. Your Lieutenant’s will brief you all individually. Get out of here.”
We all stood up quickly and scurried out. Silence had taken hold of our tongues. We all felt a knot in our throats and butterflies in our stomachs. This was going to be the most serious mission we had ever done on this island.
The Russians wanted to take Malden. They invaded about seven months ago. I believe they want the island back to use it as a strategic point in placing nuclear weapons. Malden broke away from the USSR in 1982, and created its own sovereign state. I guess the Russians didn’t like that, and five years later, at the height of this “Cold War”, took it back. Or at least attempted to. NATO stepped in, and sent us here. So here is where we are.
From here…the journal ends. Misplaced? Most likely. Stolen? Doubtfully. However…the story lives on. Sergeant Scott led his squad, and the mission commenced with or without the journal. Here is how the tale proceeds…
Scott ended up returning to his abandoned farmhouse with a heavy heart. He collapsed upon a bail of hay and covered his face with his helmet. A nudge on his shoulder woke him up, three hours later. Scott looked up to see his Lieutenant sitting beside him. Scott sat up, and rubbed his eyes.
“Its almost eight o’clock,” Lieutenant Laurent grinned. “You feeling rested?”
Scott nodded and pulled his helmet off, running his fingers through his hair.
“Yea,” he sighed. “So you’re here for the briefing, I’m guessing?”
Laurent nodded, and took off his helmet as well. “I thought I would make it casual. So here’s the story…”
“You’re insertion begins about 500 yards south of La Passagne, via an APC. You and your squad will disembark, and clear out the town. It shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s just a platoon of guards. From there, you will move on to Vigny with the support of Bravo squad. We don’t care about your method of clearing out the town…whether you lay back and suppress fire while Bravo moves in, or vice versa. Everyone in the town has to be annihilated…men and women alike. They all want us killed, so don’t take any pity on them. If you want to go back home to see your family…you’ll do the right thing. When you think you’re ready to clear the town, radio in Charlie Squad. They will support you with mortars and grenade launchers, then they’ll move in, under my command, to help clear the town. Any questions?”
“So…Charlie Squad is the only squad with an officer?”
“That’s right. I volunteered to lead them. I convinced Captain Smith they’d need an officer on the field. But in reality, I didn’t want to miss out on the action.” Laurent smiled, and patted Scott’s back. They both shared a chuckle. “I have no problem trusting you on this one, Scott. You’ve proved yourself many times in the past.”
“When are we heading out?” Scott asked quickly.
“Tomorrow morning. Meet out at the parade field for 0600.”
Scott nodded. He knew he would be up earlier. He had combat anxiety already. The Lieutenant nodded, and walked out of the farmhouse, placing his helmet back on and disappearing into the darkness. Scott looked down at his hands. They were shaking. He shook his head, and began to clean his rifle, trying to get his mind off the up and coming battle.
Scott’s body rumbled in the back of the APC. It was incredibly annoying, and he was pissed. His knuckles were white as he clenched his M16, grinding his teeth together. Corporal Douglas took a glance at Scott and chuckled.
“You alright there, Sarge?” Douglas smirked.
“Shut your mouth, Douglas,” Scott snarled. “I hate these fucking things.”
“ETA…three minutes,” a voice crackled over the intercom. It was the APC driver. “Load up boys.”
Sergeant Scott called gave out the order to lock and load. The back of the APC suddenly roared with the pops, snaps, and clicks of loading weapons, snapping web gear, and attached ammunitions. Scott fiddled with his communications system, and double-checked to make sure his squadron was online. They were all set and ready to go.
“Papa Bear this Alpha Squadron, we are online,” Scott radioed to the Head Quarters.
“Received and understood Alpha,” the radio replied. “Proceed with your mission. Good luck.”
There were nine men in Scott’s squad. Radio communication was essential to the team. All the men became numbers…like in all wars. Scott was number one; the second highest-ranking man was number two, and so on and so forth.
A sudden silence broke over the squad. The only noise was the ambiance of the rumble of the APC’s engine rolling towards the insertion point. Faces looked at each other, searching for signs of fear. For many of the men, this would be their first time seeing combat. For others, it was a routine mission, and their training would soon kick in, becoming more than an instinct.
Suddenly, the APC lurched to a halt. Many of the Marines in the back fell to the floor. It was as if the driver had seen a deer cross right in front of his path and slammed on the brakes. The machine gunner of the APC let out a small chuckle, and the driver turned around with an evil grin.
“Sorry about that, gentlemen.” He said with a small laugh.
None of the men from the squad thought it was too funny. Five of them had to peel themselves off the floor, making sure nothing fell off of them that was critical to the mission.
“This is your stop,” the driver said with a thumbs up. “We’ll see you around.”
The last two men on the benches in the APC looked to Sergeant Scott. Scott nodded and gave them a thumbs up. The two men, both Privates, stood and began to quickly turn a wheel on either side of the back door. The electronic device that usually would open the door was broken. They had to do it manually.
“Alright listen up,” Scott shouted. “Once we exit, follow my lead. We hit La Passagne hard and fast. Kill everything you see. There’s light troop movement so it shouldn’t be a big deal. Stay sharp, keep cover, and remember your training. After this goes down, we’ll reassemble and move on to Vigny. Oohrah?”
“Oohrah!” all of the Marines shouted in unison
“Good,” Scott took a deep breath. “Then let’s do this.”
“Alpha squad is en route to first waypoint!” Scott keyed over his headset. He was making his way through lightwoods, his squad close behind. It was very silent, besides the rumble of the APC’s engines and clanking sounds of weapons and gear.
“Bravo is en route to first waypoint.” Came a reply over the headset.
“Charlie is awaiting orders.”
It was a go. There was no turning back now. Scott could see the small town of La Passagne. His footsteps were heavy on the ground, and his breath was even heavier. He finally cleared the woods and came up to a parked car. He took a quick glance behind him. All of his men were there. He pushed forward.
“Contact!” Scott shouted. An enemy civilian looked towards the shout, and fumbled for his sidearm, seeing the Marine leveling the assault rifle with his chest. Two 5.56 rounds blasted into the man’s chest. He dropped, and Scott moved on. It was the first kill of the mission. It would not be the last.
Corporal Douglas, the anti-tank trooper in Alpha squad, and second in command, began to give out orders. Scott, now crouched beside a small house, and peeked around the corner. Alpha was spread out, but tight. Scott and Douglas hoped to keep it that way. The snaps of M16’s firing broke the silence of the battle.
“Winfield, Baker, Victor!” Scott called over his headset. “Start clearing out buildings. Start with the one with the green truck parked on the side.”
“This is Baker taking command of the room raid,” Baker replied over his headset. “We are moving on.”
“The rest of you, provide cover and stay tight,” Scott commanded. “Keep on your feet.”
Currently, Scott was only on the squad’s network channel. If he wanted to, he could switch to the main net and hear all of the radio chatter from the different teams, but he decided that would be a bit confusing at this time and wanted to keep things simple.
The house raiding team gathered at the target house, and burst inside like a well-oiled machine. Shots came from the house. Glass shattered. Men screamed in terror. The rest of the squad provided an over watch of the small team inside the building. There was little movement outside of the buildings.
The team finally exited the building. All three men were there, unwounded and safe. They moved on to the second building. Three more buildings remained in this small village. Bravo squad was taking care of the other side of the town, Scott presumed.
As the team assembled outside of the next house, a loud blast rang out. One of the men, Victor, a more experienced infantryman, dropped as a puff of blood exploded from his chest. Baker, the most experienced Marine in the team, pushed Winfield away from the door where the shotgun blast had torn through and hit Victor. Baker then hurled a grenade through the window into the building, and dove to the ground. Winfield followed his leader’s movements. The grenade exploded, shattering all of the front windows, raining glass down upon Winfield and Baker, and sending the front door flying off its hinges. Baker and Winfield communicated, and Baker entered the house as Winfield came to the aid of his fallen comrade.
Scott watched silently, restraining from having tunnel vision on the wounded Marine. The men of the rest of the squad held their breath as they awaited Winfield to come over the radio with Victor’s status.
“I need a Corpsman over here.” Winfield called out over the radio, very calmly for a green trooper.
Petty Officer Randall, the Corpsman of the platoon, rushed over to the fallen Marine, and checked him out. As soon as Randall relieved Winfield, Winfield came to the aid of Baker inside the house.
“What the hell is going on, Baker?!” Scott hissed over the headset. “We’ve got a whole squad sitting outside of this village. Are we sitting ducks!? You are my inside man, God damn it! Now you tell me what is going on!”
A few more snaps of M16 fire came from the house Baker and Winfield were inside.
“I’m sorry sir,” Baker was breathing heavy over the headset. “Victor doesn’t look like he’s going to make it. There was a man behind the door. We didn’t see…”
“I don’t want your apologies,” Scott cut him off. “Finish your job. Evans is coming in to replace Victor.”
Corporal Evans, the machine gunner, looked up from his position at Scott.
“Sergeant?” Evans was confused. His weapon was not proficient for very close combat.
“Take Victor’s rifle. Leave your machine gun with me,” Scott replied sharply.
Evans did not hesitate. He ran over to his Sergeant, left the Machine gun there, and ran to Victor to snatch his M16. Evans and Randall then dragged Victor’s body out of the open so that Randall could attempt to aid Victor. Baker and Winfield exited the house, and moved on to the next.
“Alpha, this is Bravo!” Came a shout over the radio. It sounded very anxious. “You’ve got armored units headed your way from the North-west. They just passed us by. They didn’t even fucking see us! We’re nearly done clearing out this end of town. A lot of resistance. Three men down already. We’ll help if we can, but we’re not sure when we can get there. Out.”
Scott’s eyes went wide, as he looked over to Douglas.
“Douglas get the men inside these buildings!” Scott ordered.
Douglas reacted immediately and ordered the men into the buildings and to await further orders.
“Baker, return to formation. Armored units are coming in. Evans, come get your weapon.” Scott commanded over the radio.
Baker looked to Winfield with a very shocked look on his face. Armored units weren’t a part of the plan. But it was too late to complain now. The Marines would have to improvise. In an organized hurry, the Marines were hidden among buildings and foliage. The anti-tank soldiers and Sergeant Scott concealed themselves in a small, elevated hill looking above the portion of the town. From this vantage point, they could see three armored units rolling towards the Marines. One T-72 tank, and two BMP troop carriers.
“When I give the command, Douglas, you and Donahue open up on that T-72. You aim for the turret. Donahue, aim for the hull.” Scott talked softly to the two men beside him. “And then take off down the hill and back to the town. Don’t stop. Only take cover if you’re fired upon.”
“Baker, once that T-72 is out of operation, wait for the BMP’s to get their bearing. Stay quiet. They’ll probably open fire up here on us. Once they open their hatches and the men start coming out, start lobbing grenades on them. Cook ‘em so that they don’t have much time to react. I’m counting on you.” Scott radioed his orders to Baker, who was currently in charge in the town itself.
Donahue, Scott, and Douglas watched and waited. The T-72’s turret groaned as it turned to face the town. It was obviously looking for the Marines. Douglas and Donahue primed their AT-4, anti-tank missile launchers. They stayed prone, but would have to get on one knee to fire the weapon. This would be very daring, but it was the only way to take out the tanks.
The T-72 suddenly came to a halt, the turret slowly scanning the town. The BMP’s kept rolling, and turned onto the main road. One of the BMP’s stopped beside a house. The other BMP parked itself in the middle of the road. The machine gun on the turret of the BMP came alive, and began to scan down the road. Scott figured it was watching to see if any reinforcements or stragglers would come up the road.
This was not good for business. If Douglas and Donahue managed to blast off the T-72, on their way back to the town, they would be torn apart by the BMP’s machine gun. Oh, and how tempting it was to punch a hole in the side of the BMP’s hull with the missile. It would vaporize absolutely everyone inside. Scott had to think about his men…and he knew what he had to do.
“Douglas…you’re a better shot. Try to pop the turret off of that T-72. Donahue, aim for the side of that BMP that’s watching the road. It’ll be like hitting the broad side of a barn.” Scott spoke quickly, but clearly.
“Baker, once that BMP goes up, pop smoke behind the BMP that’s in the middle of the road.” Scott radioed to Baker.
“Copy.” Came the reply.
“Do it.” Scott nodded to Donahue and Douglas.
Donahue and Douglas simultaneously got on one knee, took aim at their targets, and fired. The sound was deafening, but Scott felt it added to the rush. In the blink of an eye, Donahue’s rocket collided with the side of the BMP. It went up in a huge ball of fire, sending hunks of metal into the air. It was as if a little boy threw a large rock into the middle of a lake. The steel rained down beside the crippled, and blown apart BMP.
The T-72’s turret popped off like the head of a zit. It flew 20 feet into the air before it came crashing down to meet with Mother Earth. The driver, a human torch, crawled out of the front of tank and collapsed onto the grass. He rolled around for a few seconds before ultimately suffocating. A second explosion came from the tank, from the rear fuel barrels. It lurched the tank forward, and peppered the buildings with shrapnel.
Seconds later, a billow of smoke erupted behind the lone BMP. The driver, in a panic, backed up through the smoke, and turned to attempt to drive away. However, his path was blocked by the other burning BMP. The vehicle crashed into the skeleton of his comrades burning BMP, so the driver quickly lurched his transport forward. In another panic, the rear hatch dropped, and two soldiers rushed out, obviously two higher-ranking men.
As soon as their boots hit the street, a three round burst tore through the chest of one of them, and a frag grenade blew the other’s legs off. The BMP grew silent. Donahue, Scott, and Douglas rushed down to the town to support their men. When they finally reached the town, the three Marines saw that the street was littered with the bodies of Russian soldiers. The APC’s engine was idling with a loud rumble.
“Turn that thing off,” Douglas ordered to one of the men.
Winfield, visibly shaken, crawled inside of the BMP and killed the engine. He sat inside of the troop carrier, breathing deeply. Douglas frowned, and stepped inside the vehicle, sitting next to the shaken Marine. Neither of them exchanged words or glances, but Douglas put an arm around Winfield, and patted his back.
“Form up,” Scott shouted in the midst of the silence. “We’re moving on to Vigny.”
Bravo Squad’s platoon leader, Sergeant Martin, was now facing Hell. Out of forty-three men, now only twenty-nine remained. Alpha Squad had it easy, and had invaded the section of town where the enemy wasn’t as heavily concentrated. Bravo Squad had stepped on the bee’s nest of the entire area. Seventy-eight militiamen were lying in wait as the Marines rolled up to the front door of their ambush. Within five minutes of the first firefight, three Marines lay dead, and five lay wounded.
The Marines finally managed to get a chokehold on the town, as six men from the platoon flanked the main stronghold in the town. This shocked the militiamen as the Marines raided with unbelievable speed and strength. Martin saw the opportunity to attack, and led a full charge against the stronghold, a run down office building in the center of the town.
Now Martin sat alone in the bullet-riddled kitchen of the stronghold, clutching his rifle, his helmet in his lap. Martin’s radioman, Corporal Don Bradley suddenly burst into the room.
“Sergeant?” Bradley looked shocked to see Martin sitting down in the middle of the war zone. He sensed something was wrong when he saw Martin’s earpiece was out of his ear, dangling in front of his chest. “We’ve been receiving a lot of communication from Echo Black. Alpha is awaiting orders. They’ve taken their section of Vigny. I told them we’re holding fast, but they wanted to speak with you personally.”
Martin nodded, and placed his earpiece into his ear. He grew annoyed as Bradley stood there, staring, and he motioned him to leave. Martin sighed, pulling out his radio and turned on to the Main Net.
“This is Bravo reporting in, over.” Martin spoke with a quiet demeanor and waited the chewing out from his superior officers.
“Martin what the fuck is wrong with you!? You were never ordered to maintain radio silence!” It was Lieutenant Clancy, Martin’s Commanding Officer.
“Sir, we have taken La Passagne, over.” Martin ignored the angry remarks from his CO.
“Good,” This seemed to cool Clancy down a bit. “Then you’re to meet up with Alpha and take Vigny.”
“Negative, sir. We cannot do that,” Martin spoke with a monotonous tone.
“…Are you fucking with me right now, son?” Clancy hissed silently after a few moments of silence.
“Sir, my men are down to twenty-nine. We cannot move forward and take Vigny,” Martin sighed.
“You have to be fucking kidding. We have Charlie on support, and Alpha has only lost one man!”
“Sir, I cannot take these men forward,” Martin spoke softly.
“Fine. You won’t take them, because I fucking will. I’ll see you in fifteen minutes. Out.” And that was that. Martin stared down at his radio and pulled out his earpiece.
Scott sat inside of a dilapidated building, the injured man Victor, and Corpsman Randall at his side. He chewed idly on a cigar, hearing the silence of the radio. This made him worry, and he stood up to look out the window.
“We’re sitting ducks,” Corpsman Randall mumbled.
“You’re telling me,” Scott whispered to himself as he looked out at his men, positioned in safe locations. They looked nervous, anxious to see what was coming next. Scott couldn’t take this anymore and switched the net channel.
“Echo Black, this is Alpha. What is going on here?” Scott growled into the radio.
“Alpha, hang tight. Lieutenant Clancy is on his way to relieve Sergeant Martin and lead Bravo into Vigny.” Came the reply of the young radio operator at Head Quarters.
“Bullshit,” Scott replied harshly. “We’re not sitting around and letting the enemy come to us. We’re going into Vigny. Tell Lieutenant Clancy that we will meet him there.”
A few moments of silence passed, as if the radio operator didn’t know what to say to this renegade Sergeant.
“You are to proceed with your mission,” finally came the reply. “Leave the wounded behind. Members of Bravo will provide security for the wounded until Vigny can be taken. Maintain radio contact. Out.”
Scott nodded, pleased with the answer he had gotten. He motioned to Randall to get his gear together.
“We’re moving on. Leave Victor. Orders.” Scott told Randall.
Randall frowned, and gripped Victor’s arm.
“Stay strong, brother.” Randall pulled his helmet over his head, snatched his rifle, and headed out of the building.
Sergeant Scott had always viewed war with certain distaste, but also with a certain feel of necessity. Wars have stopped slavery, Nazism, tyranny, and now, war will stop communism.
Scott led the march towards Vigny. The sleeves on his battle utility jacket were rolled up to his elbow, and only three of the bottom buttons were buttoned on the jacket. His brown shirt under the jacket was now darkened with sweat, and his dog tags idled under the shirt. The strap to his helmet was undone, and his biceps bulged as he gripped his M16 rifle tightly. His sea green eyes scanned the light woods as they traveled. Douglas was at his side, and he whispered.
“How far, Sarge?”
“Hmm,” Scott predicted to himself. “Maybe a mile and a half. Maybe.”
As long as mankind exists, there will be war. That’s how Sergeant Jack Scott saw life. He didn’t care what anyone else thought, because he knew he was logical. There will never be peace as long as humanity reigns on Earth.
Lieutenant Marc Laurent peered down at Vigny with binoculars, carefully concealed above the town on a small hill. He sighed deeply, inhaling the fresh sea air. The town looked completely dead. He wanted to radio to Alpha squad and tell them to be careful of an ambush, but Charlie was ordered to maintain radio silence until fighting broke out. Charlie’s location could not be compromised.
“What do you say, sir?” one the mortar men asked.
“I say that Alpha is going to be a world of shit before they even touch the town,” Laurent grumbled. They were going to sit up on the hill and watch their friends die. That was the thing Laurent was not looking forward to the most.
“Well, where do you think the enemy is, sir?” asked the Marine, crouching beside the sitting Lieutenant.
Laurent moved his magnified vision away from the town, towards the tree lines. There, he saw them. Four concealed machine gun nests, all manned with heavy machine guns that would tear down the incoming platoon within minutes. He also saw two men lugging huge backpacks. He quickly zoomed into these suspicious soldiers, and saw them to be flamethrowers. Laurent chocked and pulled the binoculars away in disbelief.
“Sir? What is it?”
“Look toward the tree line,” Laurent handed the man the binoculars.
“My God…” The Marine said in disbelief.
“They’re going to walk right into it,” Laurent mumbled to himself. This was going to be a massacre. And Bravo was still left behind. Alpha’s hope of having reinforcements was shadowed by the fact that Bravo’s Platoon Sergeant didn’t believe in himself, or his Marines. Laurent suddenly stood up.
“Fire up those heavy weapons,” he ordered to the Marine.
“But sir we have strict orders to remain under-“
“Do it you son of a bitch!” Laurent snapped. “If you want those men to go back to their families!”
Scott could see the end of the tree line and the town was beginning to come into view. He tried hard not to get tunnel vision, and began to look for movement. He saw nothing.
“Spread out,” he whispered, almost to himself, and gave a hand signal.
The platoon slowly inched out, when suddenly there was an ever so familiar, soft eruption. Scott instantly dropped to one knee. The rest of the platoon did the same. Silence filled the air.
Douglas did a quick crouching run over to Scott and crouched next to him.
“Mortars,” Douglas whispered. “Do you think they have us zeroed?”
“Not unless their timing is really good,” Scott answered in a soft whisper.
Suddenly, an explosion went off about 500 yards in front of them. Scott slapped his helmet on tighter to his head, as if he was a turtle trying to escape into the safe hiding under the helmet. He squinted his eyes, and saw the explosion had nailed the end of the tree line. He quirked a brow.
If they have us zeroed, he thought, they’ve got really bad aim.
Suddenly, there was movement at the tree line. Four men rushed out from a fighting hole. There were ambient shouts and the men disappeared into another hole. Another distant eruption sounded.
Scott was absolutely bewildered. Were the enemies mortar teams really that inaccurate? Another explosion rocked the Earth, about twenty feet away from the previous explosion. Scott squinted again, shaking his head, trying to make sense of it all.
“Charlie is compromised!” came a shout over the radio. “I repeat, Charlie is compromised!”
In one breath of air, it all struck Scott as to what was happening. Charlie had seen an enemy emplacement, and opened fire, despite the fact they weren’t supposed to.
“Well,” Scott said. “That was awfully nice of them.”
Lieutenant Clancy arrived at La Passagne a bit earlier than expected. Eleven minutes after his initial radio contact with Bravo. He stormed into the room that Martin was still sitting in, staring at the Sergeant with a disgusted look.
“Take these four men and gather the dead and wounded. Friendly and enemy alike,” Clancy ordered, four Marines standing behind him near the doorway.
Clancy then rushed out of the room, but stopped at the doorway, looking back to Martin.
“You make me sick,” he hissed. He then barged out of the room and into the street.
Two APC’s rolled into the street and began loading up the men who would be going off to Vigny. The other two APC’s would stay behind for reinforcements, if need be, and evacuating the dead and wounded. Clancy hurried the Marines onto the APC’s, telling them that their stealth was compromised and they had to move fast. Clancy prayed that Alpha would hold on until they arrived.
And Alpha was certainly holding on. They were sitting in the middle of the woods, watching the enemy get the living crap bombed out of them. The Platoon chuckled quietly a couple times as silhouettes of men would rush out of machine gun nests and fighting holes, dash across the tree line, and disappear into another fighting hole.
“What do you say we do, Sergeant?” Douglas asked. A whine from a rocket pierced the still air and crashed into the ground where the enemy lay hidden, splintering trees and sending fragments of bodies and dirt into the sky.
“Well,” Scott pondered. “I guess we’ll sit here until they’re all bombed out. No use in rushing into that mess.”
Scott was most shocked at the fact that the enemy never opened fire. By now, he thought it must have been apparent where the fire was coming from. It didn’t really matter now, though. He was just glad Charlie broke the rules to save their lives.
Douglas’ ears perked as he heard an unfamiliar noise. He looked to his right to see two APC’s speeding down the dirt road on the Eastern outskirts of the woods. His heart sank and he tapped Scott on the shoulder. Scott looked to the APC’s and frowned.
“They must think we’re pinned down in the town,” Scott expressed with concern. His heart began to race and he scrambled for his radio.
“Bravo! Hold fast! Hold fast!” Scott shouted over the radio.
But it was too late. The enemy machine guns opened up on the APC’s. The APC’s fired back, reaching the outskirts of the town. The doors to the APC’s dropped, and Clancy was the first man out, looking around as bullets sped by him like an angry swarm of locusts. He put his hands on his hips, looking towards the town.
“Damn it!” Clancy shouted, completely calm in the midst of the firefight. “Where the hell is Alpha!?”
“Sir!” The Marines were beginning to disembark from the APC. This young Marine was holding the radio in his hand. “Alpha says they’re not in the to-“
The young Marine’s words were cut short as three bullets ripped through his chest. Blood exploded from the exit wounds, and he violently shook as his body collapsed to the ground. Not another sound escaped from his lips. Clancy frowned, and grabbed the radio out of the dead Marines’ hands. He seemed more aggravated by the fact the young man hadn’t even finished his sentence.
“Go ahead Alpha,” Clancy said calmly as the Marines around him began to fire back at the enemy in the tree line.
Mortars exploded around Bravo now as enemy mortars zeroed in on them. They were sitting in between two enemy positions: the enemy in the town, and the enemy at hidden in the tree line. Clancy began to realize he had more than fucked up on this one.
“Sir,” Alpha’s radio operator was frantic. “You must move into the town. We will hold the outskirts.”
“Damn it son!” Clancy shouted into the radio. “We do not have that kind of manpower!”
“Sir, Charlie will reinforce your teams. You must move! Alpha cannot advance if you stay in your current location.”
Clancy sighed, and looked up just in time to see a mortar go off in between two men, blowing one of the men’s legs out from under his torso, and sending the other man face into the dirt, launching his arms into the air. He looked down, and sighed again into the radio.
“I suppose you’re right,” Clancy said into the radio. “We’re moving.”
“Mother of God, what are they doing!?” Laurent screamed as he watched Bravo step in the middle of the hornet’s nest. “We’ve got to get in there now!"
Laurent ordered three men to stay behind and standby at the mortars, but hold their fire until now. Charlie team then charged down the hill into the firefight to support Bravo.
Alpha waited. The mortars had stopped. They could advance.
“Fix bayonets!” Scott ordered.
An eerie silence came over the platoon as they attached the nine-inch long bayonets onto the end of their rifles. Scott checked to make sure everyone was good to go, and nodded to Douglas. The two men stood, and took off at a quick jog towards the tree line. Scott watched and waited to see if any enemy soldiers were moving around.
As they inched closer, they could see enemy bodies littered around the area, and the roar of the machine guns grew louder. The platoon was quickly closing in with the enemy defenses, and they were determined to plow right through it.
A shaken enemy soldier suddenly appeared a few feet in front of Scott, emerging from a fighting hole. Scott blinked to make sure what he saw was real. It was more than real. The soldier cocked his head as he saw the men advancing, and stood there in awe. A loud war cry emerged from the Marines, and Scott charged full force into the man, thrusting his bayonet into his sternum, lifting him up off the ground. A look of horror painted the enemy soldiers face, as his body lifelessly slammed into the dirt. He barely felt the three more stabs from Scott’s bayonet plunge into his belly. He lay dying, hopelessly trying to breathe, his fingers clawing at the dirt. Just another statistic.
Bravo was grateful as Alpha charged the enemy machine gun nests at the trees, halting the fire from their rear. Still, however, Bravo was still feeling the sting of the mortars and rifle fire from their forward position in the town. They impatiently waited for Charlie to arrive, watching them burst out of their concealed locations and down the hill towards them.
“Come on, come on!” Clancy stamped his foot onto the dirt, waiting for Charlie to arrive.
Clancy impatiently stormed into the APC closest to him, and scrambled as many men as he could into it. He ordered the other APC to stand fast and wait for Charlie. Clancy was going in. As soon as the APC was nearly full, the hatches were closed and the APC took off towards the town.
About seven men sat inside the APC, breathing heavily. A couple of them were wounded. Clancy nodded to them, winking, as if to tell them they’d be all right. One of them smiled and gave Clancy a thumbs up.
Suddenly the smile was wiped off the man’s face as a mortar exploded behind him outside of the APC. The man’s body was lurched forward onto Clancy’s lap, his back torn open and burned. Clancy looked up to see a huge hole in the side of the APC, just as the vehicle lost control and did two full barrel rolls on the ground.
The men inside the vehicle were tossed about like laundry inside of a washer machine. The APC landed on its treads, somehow, and Clancy shook his head to brush the shock away.
Everyone else inside the APC was either dead or unconscious, except Clancy and the driver. The driver hopped down from his seat, and looked at the carnage inside. The walls were painted with blood, and a huge hole decorated the side of the APC. The driver shook his head in disbelief, and Clancy stood up.
“Keep moving!” He shouted to the driver.
“Aye, sir!” The driver jumped back in his seat and took off at a much slower speed, because the vehicle was now badly damaged.
The APC Clancy commanded continued rumbling towards an enemy occupied building. The Russians watched in shock as the APC kept moving. They had just seen a mortar slam next to it, do two complete barrel rolls, land upright, and keep coming. They stared in disbelief.
Lieutenant Laurent had watched the entire event unfold in front of him. He couldn’t believe it. The APC was heading at nearly full speed towards a house, and showed no signs of stopping. Laurent watched with wide eyes as the vehicle crashed through the home, and finally stopped, the end of the vehicle sticking out of the house. Laurent shook his head, began firing at enemy in the town. What a crazy guy that Lieutenant Clancy is, Laurent thought to himself.
Clancy managed to peel himself off the floor of the APC, the crash knocking him down, and also knocking his senses out of him. He grabbed the closest rifle he could see, and hopped out of the hole in the side of the APC. There he saw two enemy soldiers trying to scramble out of the home. He leveled his rifle and snapped off two shots into each of their backs.
Clancy eased around a corner, peering down a hallway. He saw a militiaman struggling with a machine gun in a window. Clancy popped off two rounds into the man’s side. He then slinked down the hallway, seeing a closed door to the left of him. Thinking fast, he threw himself into the door, knocking down the Russian soldier that was hiding behind it, but in the process, losing grip of his rifle. The enemy soldier collapsed onto a bed, and looked up at the man before him.
Clancy towered at 6’3”, weighing in to close to 275 pounds of solid muscle. His piercing blue eyes stared at the soldier on the bed. The soldier thought they were going to do as in the movies. Have a twenty-minute fist fight, and one of them would eventually die in the epic battle.
The Russian grinned, and sat up on the bed. In a sudden instant, Clancy whipped out his sidearm. With this, the Russian’s grin slowly faded. Clancy gently eased on the trigger, spraying the bed sheets with his enemy’s blood. He then shot the man again in the chest. Just for good measure.
Laurent watched as the Marines of Alpha viciously tore apart the enemy defenses at the tree line. The Marines slowly advanced along side the APC that crawled steadily towards the town.
“You,” Laurent patted a Corporal on the back and pointed towards a house a few hundred yards away. “Take that house, and bring five men with you. Clear it out, and give me a signal when you’re done.”
“Yes, sir!” The Marine shouted enthusiastically, and gathered his best fighting men. Laurent continued firing on an enemy position. The enemy mortars had stopped firing on them as they got closer to the town, but the machine guns just seemed to make up for it. Laurent was left in command with about thirty Marines, huddled around a moving APC. He didn’t like the position that he was in.
The small squad took off towards the house. A trail of bullets kicked up dirt behind them. The Marines stopped at the target house, knocking out a window and rolling in a grenade. After the blast went off, the Marines stacked up and went into the house at full force.
Laurent’s ears perked up as he heard a mortar explosion. He looked behind towards the tree line, and saw that Alpha was beginning to get shelled by the enemy.
“No!” Laurent shouted. This was not good, especially for his men in the middle of the firefight. “Damn it! Move! Faster! Go!”
Laurent slapped the sides of the APC, trying to motivate it to drive faster. The enemy had made some quick calculations. They must have figured that their soldiers at the tree line were already dead, or going to be. So, they decided to open fire on the Marines at that position. The Marines couldn’t fall back, because they would easily be zeroed. And it would be more difficult for them to push forward, because they would be revealed in the open, and held up by the advancing Charlie/Bravo units.
Laurent ran towards the front of the APC, knocking hard on it with the butt of his rifle. A hatch suddenly flew open, and a crewmember stuck his head out.
“What the hell is going on?” The Marine shouted.
“Haul some ass! You’re holding up the advancing force!” Laurent yelled over the echoes of battle.
“I thought we were the advancing force!” the crewmember shouted back.
“Don’t fuck with me! Move this piece of scrap metal or I’ll have your ass!” Laurent shouted, slamming down the hatch on the Marine.
The APC suddenly jolted forward, and the Marines began to run along with it. The M60 atop the APC began to chatter viciously now. Enemy heavy machine guns seemed to appear from all directions within the town. They were drawing closer to the center of the town, and this seemed to motivate the enemy to defend it at all costs. Laurent’s eyes shifted to where he sent the small squad of men, and saw a canister of thick smoke explode next to the home.
“Charlie team, move!” Laurent shouted. “Set up those machine guns!”
The surviving members of Charlie, all five of them, took off towards the home. The machine gunner, a bulky man, was trailing behind. He was suffering from heavy combat fatigue, and wasn’t looking all that well. Laurent worried, but yanked out his radio.
“Send some fucking mortars down here. And try not to hit us!” He radioed up to the men on the hill.
Alpha was continuing to get bombarded. Laurent knew he had to keep his Marine’s moving or there would be nothing left of Alpha to advance and take the town.
Laurent looked up to see how Charlie was doing, and saw his men were dragging the machine gun. He was on his stomach, and Laurent couldn’t tell if he was dead or not. A round suddenly struck the man in the side of the chest, sending up an explosion of red and pink from the opposite side of his chest. Laurent screamed, and charged towards the team.
“Move! Move! God damn it keep going!” Laurent shouted to the surviving members. They looked in shock as their leader rushed through the volley of gunfire, but shrugged and kept moving towards the target house.
Laurent dove next to the machine gunner and gathered his weapon, grumbling the whole time about how inconvenient it was. Laurent then turned the body of the man over, and saw that his chest was soaked with blood, and his eyes were rolled into the back of his head. Laurent shook his head, said a blessing, and called for a Corpsman before charging to meet up with the rest of his men inside the building.
Scott looked around to make sure his men were keeping tight. Another explosion rattled the Earth below him, sending two of his men flying, and trees crashing down upon their position. Dirt rained down upon Scott’s helmet as he stood amidst the chaos.
“Douglas!” Scott shouted, and Douglas looked up from finishing off an enemy soldier. “Prepare to move!”
Douglas replied with a nod.
“Sergeant?” Scott felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around to see what was wrong.
A horrified look washed over Scott’s face as he turned to see one of his Marines, horribly disfigured in the face. His top was bare, the jacket and shirt burned or blown away from a mortar blast. His helmet was cracked in half, and his eyes were barely opened. It looked as if a mixture of mud and blood splattered onto his face, hunks of shrapnel still sticking into his body.
“Son…” Scott swallowed hard and took him by the shoulders into the machine gun nest he was in. “How do you feel?”
“Not too good, Sergeant,” The man replied with a calm demeanor. “Do you think I’m going to make it?”
“Of course,” Scott replied without hesitation. “Of course you’re going to make it.”
Scott shouted for a Corpsman, but couldn’t see Randall anywhere. He told the injured Marine to stay put, and Scott took off to find Randall. The enemy was decimated, but now the mortars were beginning to decimate the Marines. Scott glanced ahead to the field, and saw that Laurent was moving his men quickly into the town. Good, Scott thought. Now we can get the hell out of here.
“Randall!” Scott grabbed the Corpsman who was attending to his own wounds.
“Yes Sarge?” The Corpsman was proficient under stress and was always ready to do his job.
“Got a kid over in that machine gun nest,” Scott pointed to the young Marine, still standing in the machine gun nest, oblivious to what was going on around him. “He’s real fucked up.”
“I’m on it, Sarge.” And with that, Randall took off. Scott sighed, and shook his head. It wasn’t over yet.
Scott was preparing to order his men to move out, when he looked up to see Randall’s progress. He was nearly near the machine gun nest, when a mortar landed smack dab in the middle of the nest. Right on top of the young, wounded Marine. Scott watched as Randall stumbled backwards and fell to the ground. He blinked, as if he couldn’t believe it. The nest was decimated. Nothing was left. Not even the young Marine.
He looked away, as if not believing it would change anything.
Laurent was finally done helping Charlie set up the machine gun under heavy fire from the enemy. He saw as the APC blasted its way through a group of militiamen in the middle of the street, tearing through their mortal flesh like they didn’t even exist.
“Get Alpha in here!” Laurent shouted to his radioman.
A grenade explosion at the foot of the house rattled the windows. Laurent swore under his breath, and opened fire at the idiot who tossed the frag, sending him to his grave.
“Kill everything that isn’t a Marine,” Laurent ordered to the machine gunner.
“Gladly,” the machine gunner replied with a hiss and a grin.
The machine gunner opened up on the houses that hid the enemy soldiers. Windows exploded, plaster and blood sprayed the walls inside the homes, and the Marines cheered at the sight and sound of one of their own grunts doing his job, and doing it well. A mortar clapped into the side of an enemy home, sending bodies sprawling out the door and onto the street, only to be gunned down by the advancing mechanized units. Blood drooled down the streets and into the sewers. The smell of gunpowder replaced the smell of the fresh, sea air.
“We’ve got the call,” Douglas shouted to Scott. But in mid-sentence, a mortar went off and drowned out Douglas’ words.
“What!?” Scott shouted.
“They’re ready for us!” Douglas replied.
“Its about damn time!” Scott yelled and stood, ordering his men to rush the homes.
Douglas had always been a faster runner than Scott. He ran briskly, with the speed of a gazelle, despite the fact he had a half-full combat pack weighing him down. Scott smiled at his friend’s enthusiasm, and held the smile as his friend dropped and Scott had to hop over his body. There was no doubt he was dead. A bullet smacked right into his mouth. Scott watched as his head jerked back and the rest of his body crumpled to the dirt.
Several more Marines were gunned down during the charge, but they just kept coming. Scott looked back at his friend, just to make sure he was dead. Ironically, he saw Douglas died with, what looked like, a thumbs up, as if he was saying, “Hey, I’m alright.” Scott smirked, and kept going forward, because there was no going back.
The battle ended thirty minutes later. Alpha created a security zone around the town with Charlie, as Bravo swept through the homes and eradicated the rest of the enemy presence. A few of the men told Laurent they wanted to put him up for the Bronze Star, for he what he did with the machine gunner. Laurent laughed, as if they weren’t serious. He noticed they were, and then told them he was just doing his job, and he knew his Marine would have done the same for him.
Scott sat quietly on his gear after the battle. His hands and arms were dirtied with dried blood. He yearned for a nice, hot shower. He hoped he could get one sometime soon. The battle had been costly to him. Both in numbers, and in friends. His men weren’t just Marines, or infantrymen, or troops. They were his friends, and brothers. Scott felt that this was always what separated the Marine Corps from all other branches; the esprit de corps, Spirit of the Corps. All Marines would fight for each other. Dying wasn’t exactly part of the deal, but if it had to be done, well, so be it. Scott knew that each Marine beside him would follow him to Hell and back. And he knew he’d do the same. He sat alone on his gear, speaking to no one, and watching the waves crash on the rocks below.
Clancy was somber afterwards, walking around to make sure that his men were safe, and to see if they needed anything. Some of the men laughed at his actions in the APC, and the Lieutenant just replied with a grin, and told them they shouldn’t mention that to their superiors. After making his rounds to check on his men, he sat beside Scott and watched the waves crash onto the beach.
Petty Officer Randall got a concussion from the mortar explosion, and had a hard time remembering many things. After seeing countless numbers of wounded men, however, Randall rushed over to one of them and began to treat them with First Aid, almost with instinct.
“I never knew I could do this!” Randall shouted. “But it sure is neat!”
A few days later, Randall’s memory came back to him and he was awarded the Bronze Star. He hid it in his medical bag, and denies he was ever awarded it.
Sergeant Martin was demoted, and sent off to his original unit as a logistics man. What he failed to do haunted him, and he vowed to himself to make up for it. In a battle in Everon, Martin jumped on a grenade, sacrificing his own life to save his Marines and an innocent family they were evacuating. He was awarded the Medal of Honor.