Charlie 12 Victor, p.1
Charlie 12 Victor
A Sierra Warriors Adventure
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Charlie 12 Victor
A Sierra Warriors Adventure
Copyright © 2011 by Boyd Neisler
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, real events, locations or organizations is purely coincidental.
A glossary is located at the end of this story defining a few slang expressions that may not be familiar to the reader.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Other Works by this Author
About the Author
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Charlie 12 Victor
A Sierra Warriors Adventure
Faint puffs of vapor could be seen in the crisp autumn air coming from the bunched soldier’s breath. “OK, listen up!" Lieutenant ‘LT’ John Hines was saying. "Sergeant Ashe will be in charge of a squad size routine patrol this morning just to let the locals know we are still in the neighborhood. No Tango’s have been reported, but that sure don’t mean they took off for the winter. As it stands, we’ll stop at this village.” He said pointing to a location on the map. “Doc will conduct tail-gate medicine, take care of the sick-call, and treat any injuries that he can. Most of the villagers want to trust us, but they also know that when we leave, the Tango’s come back to reassert themselves and retaliate against them. Sergeant Ashe, you got the first vehicle. Any questions? Move out in three zero mikes.
Four Humvees would make up the patrol. Sergeant First Class Ashe pulled his squad together to conduct last minute PCIs and give his convoy brief. “Let’s make this a real safe trip. Drivers, check your vehicles, anyone that runs out of gas will have a long walk home. Gunners, lube the Mk-19, the 240’s and the Ma Deuce, make sure you have a full load of ammo. I don’t anticipate anything, but I don’t want to be the one bringing a knife to a gunfight. Shotgun riders, keep your eyes open for IED’s, that of course goes for you drivers and gunners, and watch for any odd behaviors from the locals. Make sure you’ve got your snivel gear and grab two MRE’s per man and a case of water in each truck; just in case we’re out overnight. I don’t plan on it, but you never know. OK, saddle up, let go!”
The men nodded with determined affirmation and began conducting their pre-convoy rituals. Each man has their own individual responsibility; checking personal gear, radios, weapons; ensuring supplies are adequate; and that the equipment is secure from being thrown around the vehicle. In the final minutes before rolling out, each man conducts one last ritual of a personal nature. Some men motivate themselves by viewing each mission as a personal test of manhood and courage; some look fondly at pictures of loved ones vowing to reunite one day, soon; and some men silently pray for either a safe return or a quick death. In every case, each man makes peace with himself with the full understanding that this convoy may be his last but with a grim perseverance, they will still go forward to do their duty without hesitation.
SFC Ashe walked around as his soldiers were preparing for the movement; he took great pride in his men as he noted the resolve in their faces. “These are hardened vets,” he thought to himself “I’ve got no slackers and no cowards; every man will do his part.” The only doubt that managed to creep into his mind is the one that every good leader confronts “Did I do my part in preparing these men for what’s ahead?”
At 34, Sergeant First Class Clifford R. Ashe had 15 years of military service. He was the old man of his platoon. By comparison, his platoon leader LT Hines was 25. Recently, he had given thought of seeking employment other than Army. Deep down he knew anything else would be unfulfilling and boring to say the least. His wife, Lois and his six year old Bonnie, would be happier with him home, but he knew after a few months they would all be miserable. His last home tour of one year really stretched their patience with each other. Whatever employment he sought, it would have to provide breaks in their family life. He never for a moment regretted married life. It was one thing that truly gave purpose to his life. He dearly loved his wife and daughter, but he also loved his men, the camaraderie. He loved getting new men into the unit and with proper rigorous training; he could see them gain confidence in themselves, becoming real soldiers. He would never tire of the good-natured kidding and squad rivalry that existed. This was what he was seeing today.
Once everyone was finished and loaded into their respective vehicles, Sergeant Ashe took his place in the lead truck. He put on his headset and unconsciously moved the microphone closer to his mouth and in a confident tone of one who’s done this hundreds of times before, he simply stated to the group “Let’s roll”.
Overhead came the occasional whup - whup of a helicopter’s blade, beating the air into submission, they could be heard as they darted around in the crystalline blue sky. From their lofty perches, they had a bird’s eye view of the small military convoy of Humvees creating a faint plumb of dust on the hard rocky unimproved road.
The morning passed quickly for the convoy, as they passed patches of farmland, now turning brown. The patrol passed small hamlets with a quick stop in each to tend to the people’s needs as best they could. Looking at his map, Sergeant Ashe told his driver. “Up ahead, about three klicks it shows an abandoned settlement, we’ll stop there for lunch.”
From atop the Humvee, the gunner yelled out. “Man running in the weeds at 10 O’clock, 50 meters out. Ashe was in the act of turning to the left to assess the new situation when a simultaneous flash of white blinded his eyes, a deafening crack of thunder filled his ears, and he felt a jarring as the earth erupted underneath him. Driving his body first into the ceiling of the truck and then slamming it down hard in the seat as if the Humvee was lifted up by a giant hand and dropped on its right side. The resulting blast of nails, screws and ball bearings contained within the IED, hit the gunner, punching through his body amour and shredding the flesh of his torso into pieces before he had a chance to drop out of the cupola. Glass from the exploding driver’s window caught the driver in the face, tearing a portion of his jaw out and sending slivers of glass into his cheeks and eyes, severely wounding him. Boyle, the gunner in the second vehicle was peppered with shards of metal in the upper arms and chest. The distance between the two vehicles was the only thing that saved him from worse damage. Ashe, covered by splattered blood of his comrades and dazed by the brutal blast, forced himself to focus even though he was surrounded by cries of immeasurable pain and confusion. He instinctively grabbed his rifle and began working his way out of the vehicle ready to confront the expected enemy attack.
Overhead one of the helicopters witnessed the ground explosion. “I see a tango running in the field.” The pilot was saying as he pointed the bird toward the visual target. “Put a hurtin’ on this sumbitch” came a reply through the headset. Making a pass, the Super Cobra jockey pressed a button and the minigun began to spew its' contents of death. A hose of fiery bullets seemed to walk toward the fleeing individual and as it caught him, he seemed to disappear into a red cloud of vapor from their effect.
While the first helicopter confirmed the threat had been adequately neutralized, and then began to scout for potential accomplices, the other was radioing the command post. “We need a MEDEVAC.” The pilot said quickly relaying the coordinates to the base.
The lead vehicle, teetering on its right side was the scene of contorted metal and bloody carnage. The
The Medic was on site before the men had been removed from the interior. As the driver was lifted out and placed behind the vehicle, Doc hastily surveyed the extent of his facial wounds and quickly applied a gauze wrap and a field dressing from his aid bag.. As he was securing the bandages, Sergeant Ashe unceremoniously sat on the ground beside him. Coughing from the heavy fumes of cordite and dust, he managed to say, “Doc, take a look at Jones, he caught the worse of the blast.”
The men lifted the lifeless body of the gunner from the Humvee, placing him on the ground, the unmoving body stared into the clear blue sky. Doc promptly pressed his fingers to his bloody neck, checking for a pulse but after a few moments, he slowly pulled his hand away, looked at Ashe and shook his head. “Sorry Sergeant. There’s nothing I can do. He’s gone”. With that, he reached over the dead man, pulling his eyelids down, closing his eyes. Turning his attention to Ashe, he pulled another dressing from his kit and handed it to Ashe to place over his torn cheek. Seeing a rip in the Sergeants pants leg, he cut away the material, exposing a long deep gash that was starting to bleed profusely. A hasty tourniquet managed to stop the bleeding and another gauze covered the ripped flesh.
Looking around, Doc saw Boyle had blood on his uniform and ran over to him. “Let’s see what we got.” He said cutting away the bloody material. “Not to bad. Light duty for a couple of weeks.” With bandages in place, he told him. “Take a seat next to the Sarge.”
Ashe’s team leader approached Doc. “We got a MEDEVAC on the way, the Blackhawks called it in”. He said looking at the still circling helicopters.
In the distance, they could hear another helicopter coming toward them. Ashe looked at Boyle and said. “Bill," referring the dead gunner, “and I was talking last night. He made a statement I thought was strange at the time.” Ashe went on with a sob in his voice. "He told me, when he got it, he hoped it would be fast. He did not want to be a cripple in a wheelchair the rest of his life. He had no one except a drunken uncle back home. No one to mourn him. He said, 'When I get it! Not if I get it but when I get it! Did he know something?" Ashe looked around, tears streaked the blood and dirt on his cheeks. With a slight shudder of his shoulders, he looked around. "Boyle, we got to Charlie Mike. Bill would want that." Specialist William 'Bill' McLaughlin was the first man in the company to die on this tour.
The next day in a mud hut not far from the IED attack
“You can see the effects of a well placed explosive device. This one device, killed one American, severely wounded two others and destroyed one of their vehicles.” Kadir, the bomb maker was saying. To his side an Imam was watching the small group of mostly foreign-born men look at photos of a recent IED emplacement. “Had Mustaf paid closer attention to my teaching,” Kadir continued. “He would be here today. As it is, he has been martyred by the enemies of Allah and is now in paradise, alas, there were insufficient amounts of him found to have a proper Muslim burial.”
One young man was looking out the small window, seemingly more interested in a female not far away, was jolted back to attention by the Imam viciously hitting him across the back with a long walking stick. “Pay attention, Allah only gives a believer one chance to prove himself.” The Imam shouted.
Quivering with fear the young man replied. “Yes mighty Imam, a thousand pardons for my momentary inattention, it will not happen again.”
“It had better be the last time. Now I need two volunteers who wish to seek martyrdom.” He said looking at the five men. Four hands immediately rose in the air. Only the young man whom he chastised moments before hesitated. “Select the two warriors you wish, Kadir.” Hiding an evil smile behind his long grey beard, he thought to himself, while looking at the hesitant one. “I have a special appointment for you young warrior.”