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Under Fire

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Rated R for very coarse language (prompting the swear filter to turn a gritty war story into a hilarious "ewok," "sith" and "nerfherder" filled adventure.) and for violence and gore and...

You know what? Watch Black Hawk Down. If it's in Black Hawk Down, it's here.

Uncensored Version

Private Tad Lieber, of B Company, 2nd Battalion of the 16th Infantry Regiment carefully picked his way through the mess tent that was flooded with hungry soldiers. While balancing his food tray in one hand, he nimbly made his way through the small gaps and openings that appear and disappear at random in crowds such as the one he was trapped in. Forced to resort to trapeze-like maneuvers to avoid walking into his fellow servicemen and spilling the contents of his tray on his person, Tad finally found his way out of the teeming mass, into freedom. Briefly scanning the crowd, he located his friends from B Company, sitting at a long dining bench. Dining, he thought, glancing down at the gruel stacked upon his tray, yeah, right. Slowly, the enlisted soldier made his way to his comrades in arms. He plopped himself down across from Private First Class Jeff Speares, a member of Tad?s squad. Jeff looked up from his meal.

?s***, Tad. I?m not sure whose trying to kill us more, the Iraqis, or the ewoking cooks.? Tad cracked a smile at this, as he chose to consume the apple on his tray first. Best to have the tastiest part of the meal first, before the rest of this crap spoils my appetite.

?Could be worse,? he replied after taking his first bite of the apple. Jeff looked up, bewildered.

?How do you figure??

?They could be feeding us MREs.? Jeff took on a look of mock horror. Meals Ready to Eat ranked second among the vilest things mankind had ever created, trailing behind only reality television. Re-dubbed ?Meals Rejected by Ethiopians,? by many of its consumers, MREs rate quite low on the list of a soldier?s favorite things about life on the front. Tad shuddered in remembrance of the last MRE he had consumed on a mission, Sloppy Joe Filling.

?I?m telling you, as soon as we get back to the States, the first thing I?m doing is going out to get some proper dining.? Jeff announced.

?Hate to break it to you,? Tad reminded him, ?but Kentucky Fried Chicken doesn?t count as ?proper dining.??

With a mischievous glint in his eye, Jeff replied, ?Don?t tell me that, tell Casey.? With that, he nodded his head down the table at Private Casey Smith, a black guy in 2nd platoon. Casey, hearing this, replied with a ?ewok you.?

Jeff smiled, and replied with one of his trademarked junior high comebacks. ?That?s your wife?s job, to ewok me.?

Casey, rather than grow angry, continued the juvenile argument, smiling with glee as, without missing a beat, he replied, ?Somebody has to, seeing as your wife won?t.?

Though Jeff was the joker of 1st platoon, he knew when he had been bested. ?I surrender, I surrender,? he answered, raising his hands above his head. Tad laughed at the exchange, but his joy quickly turned to horror as he took his first spoonful of?whatever lunch was that day. Pushing the bowl away, his eyes met Jeff?s.

?Remind me again, what exactly did we do to draw the cooks? ire?? He immediately regretted his decision to ask the seemingly innocent question, as Jeff began singing ?It?s a Hard-Knock Life.? The rest of the table laughed heartily. At that very moment in time, the men of 2nd battalion felt they were relatively safe and secure. This belief couldn?t be more wrong.


A mere 900 meters away or so from Tad and his friends, who were currently deployed on the outskirts of the city of Hit, in the Al-Anbar province of Iraq, two Arabic men silently prepared themselves to do what they believed to be Allah?s will. The first, his face obscured by a red and white checkered head scarf, sat impatiently in the driver?s seat of a 2000 Toyota Tundra pickup truck. The fact that he and his comrade were using an American car to aid them in attacking Americans was an irony that was not lost to either of the two. Kneeling down in the bed of the truck, the second man carefully re-checked his calculations. He nodded to himself, and looked up at the 60mm Mortar that had been set up in the bed of the truck. Lifting a 60mm shell, he dropped the shell backwards into the mortar tube and covered his ears. The shell dropped onto a firing pin, which discharged the propellant, which in turn boosted the shell back out of the tube, many times faster than it had been dropped in. The tube spat out the shell, which soared into the sky. Silently he prayed that by Allah?s swift hand, the mortar round would sail true, doing its part to expel the foreign invaders from his homeland.


By the time the US soldiers heard the high-pitched whistle of the incoming mortar round it was too late. The shell tore through the mess tent?s tarp ceiling and hurtled into the crowd of soldiers. As soon as he had heard the shriek of the mortar, Tad had ducked for cover. Unable to see what was going on from his place on the sand, he had to rely on his sense of hearing for information about his situation. This sense did not have any good news to give him. First, the shrill whistle turned into a deafening sonic boom that shook the earth beneath him. Only a split second following this explosion, were the screams and curses of a tent full of wounded soldiers, with the occasional cry of ?Medic!? finding its way through the commotion.


Finally, Tad picked his head up off the sand. Taking in the situation, the first thing he noticed was that the blast from the mortar round had kicked up a ton of sand, making visibility in the mess tent something less than spectacular. Coughing and squinting, Tad managed to spot the center of all the carnage.


The shell had managed to land directly in the lunch line. With the soldiers all clustered together eager for their food, the mortar had been able to deal out the most damage possible. Strewn about the floor, around the impact crater the mortar had left, were the bodies of dozens of men. Most struggled not to move much, lest they cause themselves any more pain. Some didn?t move at all.

How the hell did those sons of b****es get lucky enough to hit the ewoking chow line?

Next, Tad went about the task of checking himself for any injuries. He had been fortunate enough to be far away from the blast. He appeared to be okay. Only later would he notice the sharp piece of shrapnel that had lodged into the back of his leg.

Those who hadn?t been scathed by the attack were making their way out of the tent as fast as their legs would carry them. There were exceptions to this rule, however. Those exceptions were known as Combat Medics. Out of the corner of his eye, Tad spotted Specialist Four Chester Boucher, the medic regularly assigned to Tad?s platoon. Specialist Boucher paused a few moments before rushing to the aide of his comrades. Insurgents, when making mortar attacks, tended to fire off two or three shells before retreating, either on foot, or by the pickup truck from which the mortar was placed when a truck was available. Indeed, a second shell was launched at the US base, but this one sailed clear over the mess tent. Whether the second shell hit anything or not was not of Specialist Boucher?s immediate concern. Chief amongst his concerns at the moment was the health and well being of his friends. He dashed over to the bloody scene carrying a medical aid bag with him.

Chester saw himself as a warrior. Being a soldier, he was a warrior, of course. But Chester fought a far different war than the one his fellow servicemen were fighting. While, in his eyes, they were fighting little more than armed rebels, Chester waged war against death itself. In many situations, he was the one thing standing between his brothers in the unit, and an untimely demise. Sadly, Chester found himself losing more and more of this war with each passing day. Today was no different.

Tad decided to give Chester an ally in this war for today. While most of the unit was rushing to their defensive positions in the unlikely event that this was a full-scale raid, Tad rushed to the aid of his fallen brothers. His commanding officer would no doubt chew him out for not getting to his position with the rest of the unit. But if he could help save these men from an undeserved death, it was worth it.

Chester had already begun treating the first soldier when Tad made his way to him.

?Anything I can do?? Tad asked. Chester looked up from his patient with a facial expression that resembled that of a man who had just seen a ghost.

?Too much,? Chester replied, regarding the massive carnage surrounding them. Then he frowned. ?Or maybe not enough.?


It was two hours before Tad finally emerged from the First Aid tent. Shaking his head, he tried with very limited success to clear it. He began walking away from the tent, a task made more difficult by a slight limp he had gained as a result of the shrapnel wound in his leg. Once the serious cases had been dealt with, a medic had helped Tad with his minor injury, removing the sharp piece of metal, cleaning the wound and then slapping a bandage on it. He would have applied something to prevent the wound from getting infected, but after the treatment of the soldiers injured in the mortar blast, medical supplies were getting scarce, and the medics wanted to save those supplies for more serious cases. Wandering about the camp, Tad found Jeff lying around, leaning on his flak jacket and equipment as he read a tattered Tom Clancy novel. Tad plopped down next to him. Leaning his back into the coarse sand, he closed his eyes.

?Remind me to never volunteer for anything ever again,? he said. In that afternoon, Tad has seen horrific things he?d never dreamed of before. And he knew that those very things would now haunt his dreams forever. Tad had always had the utmost respect for Chester. Who wouldn?t, if your life could rest in his hands at any given moment? But now, after seeing the things that Chester had to deal with day in and day out?

?So what are the statistics?? Jeff asked, worried, despite the blunt way he put it. Tad sighed and frowned.

?Ten dead. Two or three more are alive, but probably won?t make it past next morning.?

?ewok. A whole squad??



?There?s more.?

?You?re s***ting me.?

?No,? Tad took a deep breath. ?About two dozen wounded, half of which are in critical condition. If they make it, they?re still never gonna be the same again.?



Jeff paused. ?War is hell.?

?You can say that again.? Tad tried to settle down onto the sand, using his helmet as the most uncomfortable pillow in history. Closing his eyes, he just tried to find a few moments? peace in the war-torn world in which he inhabited. But thoughts of those soldiers, those friends of his, who had been slaughtered by those animals, angered him. Enraged him.

?Those pig ewoking cock sucking father ewokers!? he shouted in anger. Jeff turned to his seething friend.

Smiling, he replied, ?I don?t think so, hombre.?

Tad?s rage turned into puzzlement. ?What??

?I said I don?t think so. They wouldn?t be pig ewokers. b******s won?t have pork, remember??

Tad?s face grew red. While many soldiers ended up adopting black humor as a way to cope with the hells of war, and Jeff was a particularly adept black comedian, Tad wasn?t in the mood for any of it. He stood up and pulled Jeff up by the shirt collar to face him. With their faces mere inches apart, the spittle produced by Tad?s venomous words flew into Jeff?s face with the velocity of a major league fastball.

?Listen, s***head. I just had to deal with those assholes? handiwork for the past three hours. I saw friends die in that goddamned First Aid tent. Men I knew. I?m not in the mood for your s*** right now.? With that, Tad unceremoniously dropped Jeff to the ground. ?Asshole,? he muttered under his breath, but loud enough for Jeff to hear, and stormed off.

Jeff sat in the sand for a few minutes, contemplating the recent events that had lead to him being dumped into the very sand upon which he sat. He went back to lie down, nodding as he did so.

?Pig ewoking cock sucking father ewokers is right.?

Edited by Chickenman

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It was two weeks later and the men of B Company, 2nd Battalion of the 16th Infantry Regiment were settling down in the battalion?s briefing tent. As First Lieutenant Zach Walker entered, he noticed that the other soldiers in his company were not huddled together in large groups, chatting, as they would normally do while waiting for a briefing to go underway. In the wake of the mortar disaster, soldiers were hesitant to huddle together in groups. This anxiousness would disappear in a week or so, when the unfortunate incident became but a memory. A painful memory, to be sure, but a memory nonetheless. Zach also noticed about a dozen or so Iraqi Army Soldiers clustered together in one corner of the tent. Curious, he wondered what they were doing in the briefing tent. Shrugging, he continued on without giving them a second thought. Searching the tent, Zach found his fellow platoon leaders in a corner of the massive tent. He made his way towards them. Second Lieutenant Dan Bowden, platoon leader of 3rd platoon, noticed him first and waved him over. Zach greeted them, and asked, ?Any idea what this is about??

?No clue,? replied First Lieutenant Greg Chase.

?It?s not a patrol, that?s for sure,? chipped in Dan, ?Captain Richards usually just tells where to go for those.?

Zach and Greg voiced their agreement. ?Which means,? Zach determined, ?that whatever this is, fur is probably going to fly.?

?Good,? replied Dan, ?I?m itching to make those insurgent b******s pay.?

Greg shook his head. ?Aggression leads to the Dark Side, young Jedi,? he replied, in his best Yoda imitation.

It wasn?t a very good one. Dan rolled his eyes as Zach waved his hand in front of Greg?s face, like a character from the Star Wars movies. ?You will shut the ewok up,? he commanded. Greg made a face.

The exchange was ended by the appearance of their company leader, Captain Nathan Richards, through the tent?s entrance. ?Be seated,? he ordered as he made his way to the podium fixed to the front of the tent. Without hesitation, the entire company moved to the metal folding chairs that had been set up facing the podium. Zack took a seat next to Greg and Dan. He noticed the Iraqis sit down as well. As Captain Richards was still making his way to the podium, Zach leaned over to Greg.

?Any idea why those IRA soldiers are here?? he asked, referring to the Iraqi Regular Army members.

?I was about to ask you,? replied Greg.

Meanwhile, Richards reached the podium and set down a manila folder. Clearing his throat, he began.

?Well, gentleman, first some good news. The last of the replacements have arrived, and our battalion is once again at full fighting strength.? He paused, opening up the manila folder. ?And now that the battalion is combat ready, they?ve decided to give us a mission. Seems it?s time to get some payback on those sons of b****es.?

There were a couple of hoots and hollers from a handful of men, but a glare from Richards silenced them. He removed some overhead papers from the folder and turned to the overhead projector to his left. He placed an overhead paper on the projector. The soldiers turned their collective head to the wall behind Richards, as it was now occupied by a partial map of Hit.

?This, as you can all guess, is a map of Hit.? Even if they all could guess, Richards felt a need to remind them. Over the course of the war, Hit, located in the Sunni Triangle, had been relatively ignored. Though considered to be the main route traveled by non-Iraqi rebels on their way from Syria, it did not fit into the rotation structure of American units in Al-Anbar province. Because of this, Hit, though a volatile city, was one patrolled only by single battalions on short-term deployments to the area. The 2nd of the 16th was relatively new to the city and thus, many in the unit did not know the lay of the land. In fact, some had decided, that since they were only deployed there temporarily, it would be unnecessary to digest all the local information that they?d only need to forget for their next deployment.

?Notice these two warehouses, one to the northwest, and one to the southeast of this map,? he said, indicating the aforementioned structures, ?these are our targets, designated as Waypoint Golf, and Waypoint Hotel. Intel believes that Golf is being used as a garage where they are customizing trucks into technicals,?

Zach frowned. Technical was simply a word for a pickup truck with a recoilless rifle, mortar, or, most commonly, a heavy machine gun mounted in the bed. Relatively cheap, very fast, and able to deal out a decent amount of damage, they had become staples among many third world country militant groups. Quick and deadly, they had killed many American soldiers, both in Iraq, and abroad.

?We believe Hotel is a weapons cache. Obviously, any chance we get to disarm these insurgent b******s is a chance we?re going to jump at.? Richards turned to the men of his command. ?Platoons Two and Three will be deploying by Humvee to Waypoint Golf. Your mission is this: Get to your target. Neutralize any hostiles in the area. After determining that the warehouse is indeed being used by the Insurgency, you will demolish the place with explosives. Following this, you will get the hell out of there by Humvee, back to base. Platoon One will attack Hotel, again via Humvee. Your mission roughly the same as Platoon Two and Three?s. See if there are indeed weapons there. If there are, blow the place up.? Zach nodded. As platoon leader of Platoon One, that mission fell under his responsibility. ?We believe Hotel is more lightly defended than Golf, which is why we?re only sending one platoon. However, as a precaution, we?re temporarily assigning Hashim Talal?s squad of Iraqi Regular Army soldiers to your command, Lieutenant Walker.?

Zach nodded his understanding, and when Captain Richards continued, he twisted in his seat to get a better look at the squad of Iraqis he had noticed earlier. They sat clustered together in their own row near the back. Each one sat up straight, hanging on every word that Richards spoke. He frowned. Any time that one of his subordinates complained about wanting to go home, Zach had noted that at least they got to go home when their tour was over. The poor b******s in the Iraqi Regular Army were stuck here. Shrugging, he returned his focus to the briefing. Captain Richards was wrapping up the briefing.

?You boys deploy at 2030 tomorrow evening. Get a good night?s sleep fellas, and good luck.? With that, Richards replaced all his papers into the manila folder, and left without saying a word. Dozens of conversations sprang up at once between the enlisted men of B Company as they exited the briefing tent. As for their platoon leaders, they were making their way through the camp, conversing quietly.

?s*** man, I?m not in the mood for another mission.? Dan said glumly. Greg took on a face of mock worry.

?s***, Zach, Dan doesn?t feel like going on a mission. There?s no way we can go through with it now. Abort mission! Repeat, abort mission!?

Zach chuckled while Dan made a sour face. ?ewok you.?

Greg laughed. ?I?m heading for the mess tent, you hombres coming??

?Sure? Dan replied looking to his other companion, ?Zach??

?No, you guys go ahead.?

Greg and Dan shrugged. ?Suit yourself,? said Greg as the pair continued on their way.

The sun was beginning to set. Zach made his way to the edge of the fence surrounding the camp. Standing there, he watched the sunset, contemplating. He had lost a man in the last mission. Private John Kelly had stepped on a land mine during a patrol through Hit?s streets. He was killed instantly. He had been the first man to die under Zach?s command. He had no doubt it wouldn?t be his last. Kelly had been his subordinate, his responsibility. Hell, Kelly had been his friend.

What if more friends died during this mission? What if he failed them again?

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The five Humvees attached to B Company slowly made their way through the streets of Hit. Each crammed with a squad of nine soldiers and a driver; the Humvee was the main light truck of the United States military. Seven of the troops sat in the cargo bed, waiting to get to the mission objective. Another soldier manned an M2 Machine Gun mounted atop the Humvee. Lastly, the squad leader of the men in the Humvee rode in the passenger seat next to the driver.

Each soldier fumbled with his weapon, or nervously took a swig from his canteen. Each was sweating profusely while their mouths, in contrast, were dry as can be. Though they were professional warriors, nothing could stop the fear festering deep inside every one of them. A soldier going into combat for the first time tends to be edgy, but also believes, to one degree or another, that he is invincible. That he can?t be hit by a bullet, or artillery shell, or shrapnel from a fragmentation grenade. That it can happen to the next guy, but not him. It couldn?t. After his first taste of combat, this shroud that a young infantryman wraps about himself plunges to the floor, revealing the naked truth of war: That anyone can be next.

Each soldier in the column grew more and more anxious as each second brought him closer to confrontation. They undid and redid buckles, gulped down water from their canteens, and shifted in their seats. All actions were little more than fidgeting; focusing on something else instead of the danger they were about to be thrust into. Every fifteen minutes or so, someone would try to start a conversation, or break the tension with a joke. These jokes might gain a few laughs, but immediately after it, the soldiers would fall silent.

Iraqi civilians made their way to and fro on either side of the road that the column of Humvees occupied. Some sheepishly smiled to the soldiers, the only people who could ever possibly stabilize Iraq. Others tried to ignore the soldiers and their machines of war outright, not wanting any trouble. Still others looked up from the sidewalk, and stared at the Humvees and their occupants with hate-filled eyes. After all, it had been those soldiers who had brought these troubles to their homeland. However, all took notice of the soldiers.

The Humvees continued to meander along their route. Leading the way were the nine members of Second Squad, lead by Staff Sergeant Luis Delgado. Their Humvee?s M2 was aimed forward in anticipation of any oncoming threat.

Following Second Squad was a group of men known as the Platoon Headquarters Section. These men included First Lieutenant Zach Walker, platoon leader of First Platoon and his executive officer, Sergeant First Class Aaron Mahr. Also along for the ride were Specialist Brad Francis and Specialist Chester Boucher. Brad was the platoon?s radio telephone operator, or RTO. As the man charged with toting around the platoon radio, Brad?s job mostly consisted of tagging along with Zach at all times until needed. When needed, he operated the radio for his commanding officer. Chester was arguably the most important member of the platoon. Sure, the platoon leader gave orders and made sure all mission objectives were met, but Chester was the combat medic attached to the platoon. In times of crisis, it was often the combat medic who navigated the fine line between life and death. His first aid and trauma care training often, all too often, made that difference. Their M2 was aimed to the left, prepared to engage any enemy trying to attack the column from that flank.

Following the Platoon Headquarters Section was Staff Sergeant Costa?s Third Platoon. Their M2 faced the otherwise unprotected right flank.

In tow of the Third Squad was the squad of Iraqis attached to Lieutenant Walker?s command, temporarily christened Fourth Squad. They spoke and joked a bit more comfortably than their American counterparts. They could feel a bit more secure than the Americans could. After all, they were in their home country, as opposed to the Americans, who were at least six thousand long miles from their home. Each and every member of the squad was of the Shi?a faith of Islam. This, of course, did not mean that no Sunnis or Kurds were members of the Iraqi Regular Army. However, there was indeed a noticeable lack of Sunni soldiers. This lack of Sunnis in the Army was fast becoming a problem; as the Army might not be seem legitimate in the eyes of civilian Sunnis. Not to mention the fact that a great number of insurgents were Sunnis, and such a split between religious sects could lead to full blown civil war. Their M2 was aimed to the left.

Bringing up the rear were the men of First Squad, led by Sergeant Carlos Batista. Their M2 faced back down the road, prepared to engage any enemy attempting to attack from behind.

Slowly but surely, the platoon made its way to a destination in which blood would soon be spilled.


?I don?t trust them,? said Private Eric Burns, shaking his head. He glanced to the other members of Third Squad. ?Not one bit.?

?Who?? asked Specialist Dennis Taylor, the squad?s marksman.

?The Iraqis.? Eric replied, glancing back worriedly at the Humvee trailing behind them, the one carrying the squad of Iraqi soldiers.

?Why not?? asked Tad, following Eric?s gaze to the Humvee behind them.

?Dude, you?ve heard the reports. The Iraqi Army has been heavily infiltrated by insurgents. How do we know that there isn?t an insurgent in that squad that?s ready to shoot us all in the back at the worst possible moment? How do we know that whole squad isn?t made up of insurgents??

Dennis shrugged. ?If you ask me, I?m more worried about any insurgents we encounter at the warehouse, rather than those guys back there.?

?Yeah,? Eric replied, making a face, ?that?s what they?re counting on.?

?s***,? said Private Robert Rodman, the squad?s machine gunner, gesturing with his M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, ?any of those s***s pulls anything funny, I?m mowing them the ewok down.?

Jeff smiled. ?Good to know we can trust our allies.? He shifted in his seat, getting into a more comfortable position. ?Wake me up when the mission?s over.?


Zach was getting pretty anxious about insurgents as well. However, he wasn?t worried about them in his platoon. Rather, his eyes were darting back and forth, from window, to alleyway, to any spot that an insurgent could be hiding behind. They could be anywhere in the largely insurgent controlled city of Hit. Zach frowned. If anything went wrong on this mission, it was his fault. If so many as one man died, it would be his failure. Zach wasn?t sure if he was ready to face this again.

This thinking wasn?t getting him anywhere. Taking a deep breath, he tried to reverse his thoughts. Calm down Zach. Your men have received some of the best training of any army in the world. They know what they?re doing. Things are going to work out. Just get the job done, and get out of here.

He nodded, leaning back in his seat and beginning to relax. Slowly the tension that he had held within him since leaving their base was beginning to ebb, slowly disappearing.

But, the relaxation disappeared as well, as Zach watched, in horror, as Second Squad?s Humvee burst into flames before his very eyes.


The small convoy had just pulled up to their objective when Second Squad had happened upon an improvised explosive device, or IED. Basically cobbled together bombs, IEDs had proven to be the most lethal tactic that insurgents utilized. Often, the detonation of an IED began an ambush. This was such a case. Even as the men of First Platoon were recovering from the surprise of the explosion, small arms fired poured towards them from across the street.

?Bail!? yelled Sergeant Costa to his men, throwing open the passenger side door to his Humvee as he did so. Jeff, who had actually managed to get some sleep on the way to their objective, was wide-awake now, and was among the first of his squad to scramble out of the humvee, replying, ?Don?t have to tell me twice.?

The ambush was coming from the driver?s side of all of the humvees, so the soldiers of First Platoon took cover on the passenger side, wedged between their Humvees and the warehouse, which, for all they knew, had insurgents in it as well. Tad risked a glance over at Second Squad. Their Humvee was still on fire, and while most of the squad had made it out of the flaming wreck alive, Tad could see that there were still men inside. Not men, he thought sadly, bodies. Tad shook his head. ewoking war.


Zach and the Platoon Headquarters Section had managed to make it out of their Humvee safely, and now crouched outside their Humvee as Zach tried to figure out what to do next. ?Give me some suppressing fire!? he ordered to his platoon. Immediately, his men fired erratically in the direction of their enemy. They weren?t trying to hit anything; they were just hoping that their random fire would force their enemy to get their heads down, in fear of the indiscriminate spray of hot lead. Zach was hoping this could get him more time to figure out what to do next, as being fired upon by an unseen enemy was hardly ideal. Machinegun fire whizzed by overhead, striking the brick building before him. Think asshole, think! They couldn?t hop back in their Humvees and drive away, the burning hulk that used to be Second Squad?s Humvee was blocking them. They couldn?t stay where they were, they?d eventually be overrun by ragheads. From Zach?s point of view, the only plan that made sense was to abandon the Humvees and seek refuge in the warehouse, defending it until they could be rescued. He just hoped there weren?t any insurgents inside of there.

?Retreat to the warehouse!? he ordered to Third Squad. They had just gotten up to make the run to safety when he glanced back to First Squad, bringing up the rear of the convoy. The men had just made it safely out of their Humvee when a rocket propelled grenade, or RPG, was fired in their direction. The grenade drilled through the thin armor of the Humvee. Zach watched in horror as the grenade detonated, showering the men of First Squad with fire and shrapnel.

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Tad swore under his breath but continued his run to the warehouse. The rest of Third Squad followed him. Bullets raining down on him, Tad quickened his pace. Reaching the door to the warehouse, Tad kicked it open and aimed his M16 inside, eyes scanning the room for hostiles. Nothing. He continued inside, motioning the rest of Third Squad inside. Sergeant Costa glanced around the warehouse and turned to his men.

?Jeff, Eric! Make sure the area?s secure, everyone else, provide some covering fire for the rest of the platoon!? Tad nodded and poked the barrel of his M16 out a window; firing indiscriminately at the general area their attackers were located. He watched as an RPG slammed into the Humvee he had just evacuated. Hell of a way to start off the mission, he thought, firing off a few more rounds.


?Give me some more suppressing fire!? Zach ordered. ?Fourth Squad, get the wounded inside! Go go go!? The Iraqi squad broke up into two teams, one team going to the aid of the First Squad, the other going to the aid of Second Squad. Platoon Headquarters tried to keep the insurgents occupied with their haphazard fire, the unwounded from First and Second Squads joining in. With all the wounded safely inside, Fourth Squad retreated as well, providing covering fire from inside.

?First Squad! Second Squad! Get outta here!? They fired off a few rounds and retreated. The only ones left were the men of the Platoon Headquarters Section, except for Chester, who had retreated with the wounded. ?Allright boys, let?s get the ewok outta here!? Zach took off, eager to reach the relative safety of the warehouse. He ran as fast as his two legs could possibly carry him. He was the first one through the door, followed closely by Aaron. Zach turned to see Brad, the RTO, far behind. The heavy load he had to carry slowed him down considerably.

?Come on! Get in here!? Zach screamed. But Brad was running as fast as he could. Zach could only watch, helpless, as Brad was hit, and toppled to the ground. ?s***!? Zach cursed. But Brad was cursing much more.

?Holy ewok! Get this off of me! s***! It ewoking burns! HELP!? It took Zach a split second to realize the radio had been hit, not Brad. And now it must have been burning right into Brad?s back.

?s***!? screamed Zach, as, without thinking, he charged towards his fallen comrade. Zach sprayed some bullets towards the insurgents, and made a head first dive that would have made Pete Rose proud. He landed next to the still screaming Brad, and immediately set to work ripping the burning radio off of his friend?s back. Bullets kicked up sand all around Zach, and he momentarily gave his heroic actions a second thought. He shook his head and continued on his task, determined to save his friend. A bullet struck Zach?s Kevlar helmet, knocking it clean off. Zach gulped, but finally freed his friend from the deadly radio. He discarded it to the side and helped Brad to his feet. Together, they both took off to the door, ducking inside.

The soldiers and the insurgents continued to trade fire. Zach glanced out a window, regarding the wreckage that had only minutes before been fully operational military vehicles. Upon closer inspection, Zach noticed something that chilled him to the bone. Some of his men were still out there, lying down in the sand, clearly wounded. Zach grabbed Chester by the uniform.

?Boucher! There?s still guys out there!? Chester looked up at his platoon commander, with a look of regret.

?Sir?they?re dead.? He looked away. Zach face took on a look of sorrow. ?I did everything I could sir?I?m sorry.? Zach nodded, and turned back to the window. He heard screams.

?Boucher! We?ve still got someone alive out there!? he turned back to the window. He pointed to the screaming, and slowly moving body of Private Sam Reynolds, of Second Platoon.

Chester shook his head. ?He?s dead sir. Or as good as dead. He got a chunk of shrapnel lodged in his liver. He can?t live without it. There?s nothing I can do.? Zach grimaced. He was no medic, but he knew that getting wounded in the liver was just about he most painful way to go.

Sam continued to scream. He screamed and screamed and screamed. And then he stopped screaming. Forever.


The insurgents eventually pulled back, allowing First Platoon some time to rest. By now, night had fallen, and the soldiers were getting hunger pains. Reluctantly, they got out their MREs, and ate silently, thoughtfully. A few, such as Jeff, tried to lighten the mood by joking around. It helped put the soldiers minds at ease, if only for a little while.

Zach called his first sergeant and squad leaders to a meeting.

?Well guys, what are the casualties??

Staff Sergeant Luis Delgado, Squad Leader of Second Squad, spoke up first. ?My Humvee had?five casualties, sir.? Luis looked away for a moment. Zach nodded silently.


Sergeant Carlos Batista, squad leader of First Squad spoke up. ?One casualty, sir.?

Zach again nodded sadly. ?Anyone else??

Scott Costa, leader of Third Squad, and Hashim Talal, leader of Fourth Squad, both shook their heads.

s***, six men. Dead. Gone. Six families I have to inform that they will never see their husbands and sons ever again. Six men I?ve let down. ewok.

Pushing these thoughts away, Zach began. ?Allright guys. Here?s the situation: We?re surrounded in enemy controlled territory. Our only modes of transportation are totaled, so there?s no way to get out of here. Our radio is destroyed beyond repair, as are the radios in the Humvees, so we have no communication with our unit. We?re dangerously low on ammo. It?s night, so we may not be rescued until next morning. In short: We?re pretty much up s*** Creek.

I have a feeling our insurgent friends are gonna hit us again. Tonight. We?ve got to defend this warehouse with everything we?ve got. Any ideas??

Luis spoke up. ?You said we?re low on ammo. Can?t we use the weapons here in this warehouse?? Zach exchanged a look with Scott.

?Third Squad searched the entire warehouse. Both floors, and the basement. There are no weapons in this building. Nothing is in any of these crates. They were either moved, or were never here to begin with.? Zach answered.

?s***,? replied a downcast Luis.

?So we?re pretty much ewoked, huh Lieutenant?? asked Carlos.

?By all intents and purposes, yeah. We?re ewoked,? replied Zach with a grim smile.

?So what are we gonna do, boss?? asked Luis.

?Looks like the only thing we can do is hunker down and prepare to defend this place. Our unit will come looking for us, sooner or later.?

?Hopefully sooner,? Hashim commented.

?Yeah. Any ideas on how to set up our defense??

?Machine gunners and marksmen should be positioned on the second floor, I think,? Hashim replied. ?I believe the wounded who can still fight, fight, and the ones who are too seriously injured, should be moved to the basement with your medic.?

Zach nodded. ?Sounds good. Anyone else??

?We should scrounge whatever we can from the Humvees? wreckage and the KIA. Weapons, ammo, equipment, whatever.? Scott chimed in.

Zach grimaced at the thought of scrounging up the equipment of his fallen comrades, but nodded.

?We should be prepared for an attack from any side. We should have all the men spread out in all four directions, with two extra at each entrance.? Luis suggested.

Zach nodded. ?More or less the plan I was going to go with anyway.? He smiled. ?Very well, make it so.? He dismissed his men. When all had left except for Aaron Mahr, his First Sergeant, Zach turned to him.

?Tonight?s gonna be interesting,? he announced.

Aaron smiled. ?You better survive this, sir. You still owe me fifty bucks.?

?Great to know I?ve got you watching out for me, Aaron.?

?Yes sir.?


?ewoking rag-heads.? Eric muttered.

?Yeah,? agreed Robert, cradling his M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, ?I can?t wait until I run into those b******s again. Me and the SAW here are gonna make Swiss cheese out of ?em.?

?I wasn?t talking about the insurgents, man. I was talking about the s***heads that have been attached to our platoon.?

Jeff looked up from his MRE, thankful to be given an excuse to interrupt his consumption of it. With a glint in his eye, he innocently asked, ?Well what are they Eric? Rag-heads, or s*** heads? Make up your mind.?

?ewok you, Jeff.?

?What do you have against the Iraqi Army guys?? Tad asked.

?I told you,? Eric replied, ?reports indicate that the IRA is heavily infiltrated by insurgents. Consider this: An ambush was set up, as if they knew we were coming. Who could have tipped them off? Hmm??

?Anyone could have tipped them off, Eric.?

Eric ignored Tad. ?And then, we arrive at our objective, and everything is gone. Someone must have told them that we were coming-?

?Eric,? Dennis interrupted, ?The insurgents were shooting at those guys too.?

?Yeah, and how many of them got killed? None. Tell you what: If one of those s***s starts acting strange,? he gestured with his M16, ?he?s getting a 5.56 in the ewoking skull.?

No one spoke for a few moments. Jeff broke the silence when he suddenly coughed and looked inside his MRE in disgust/curiosity.

?There is no way this is Pork. No ewoking way. Pork was never meant to taste this disgusting. They grew this in a laboratory somewhere. This s*** is voodoo.? Everyone laughed.

Tad chimed in, feigning worry. ?This is the guy we trust to use the grenade launcher?? Jeff was the squad?s grenadier. Everyone laughed even harder, except for Jeff, who wore a sour expression and glared at Jeff, before joining in the laughter himself.


The squad of Iraqis wasn?t so different from the Americans. They also enjoyed a good joke, especially at the expense of their MREs. Nineteen-year-old Saad Nadir held up his MRE in mock disgust.

?BBQ Pork Rib?? he asked. ?They?re joking, right?? His comrades laughed. ?You?d figure after three years in this country, the Americans would learn that pork is forbidden to us.?

?They?re Americans,? replied Numair Adel, ?the only thing they know how to do is blow things up.? Saad laughed, and found an Arabic speaking American to trade MREs with.

?That?s not fair, all we know how to do is blow ourselves up,? protested Saad, poking fun at his fanatic Arab brethren. Everyone laughed.


The men of First Platoon began turning the warehouse into a fortress. The marksmen and machine gunners moved to the second (and highest) floor. This provided the marksmen, equipped with sniper rifles, with a greater line of sight that could be used to pick off targets. It also provided the machine gunners with more range, from which they could rain hot lead from above. Meanwhile, most of the rifleman and grenadiers positioned themselves on the first floor. They were charged with taking out any enemies that the machine gunners and marksmen missed. The riflemen all carried the M16A4 assault rifle. The grenadiers also carried M16A4s, but had an M203 40 mm grenade launcher attached to the underside of the barrel. Brad, who no longer could use his radio, had been temporarily reassigned as a rifleman. Chester was stationed in the basement, caring for the wounded. As a combat medic, he could fight, but doing so would sacrifice his protection under the Geneva Conventions. Then again, the insurgents hadn?t exactly shown a high regard for the Geneva Conventions in the past. Still, Chester believed he could do more good with the wounded, and gave all of his ammo save one magazine to his comrades in the platoon. The last magazine he kept for his own protection. If something did go wrong, which was quite a likely scenario; at least he had thirty rounds to protect himself with. Granted, that wasn?t many, but it was something.

With nothing to do but wait, the men of First Platoon spent their time carving loopholes into the walls and bracing themselves for the upcoming assault. Loopholes were small holes, just large enough to aim through, that afforded soldiers both a great deal of protection, and an opening to fire through. Placed low to the ground and usually in innocuous positions, making them difficult for an enemy to spot, and even more difficult to get a bullet through to get a hit. First Platoon was not going down without a fight.


Specialist Dennis Taylor peered down the scope of his Barrett M-107 sniper rifle. Unlike most everyone else in the Platoon, he was not wearing night visions goggles, NVGs. Rather; he was using a special ?night sight? as his rifle?s scope. The green hue gave him a clear view of Hit?s streets at night. Dennis and the other marksmen of the platoon were on high alert; even higher than the rest of the platoon, for they would probably be the first to notice any oncoming attack. Slowly, ever so slowly, he swept his weapon back and forth, gazing down the sight as he did so. He was looking for something out of place, movement, anything. Back and forth, he scanned his field of vision. Back and forth?bingo. Around 800 meters away, a man dressed in desert camo and a ski mask was slowly making his way in the direction of the warehouse. In his hands, he clutched an AK-47. The clothes he was wearing was all the proof Dennis needed to know that the man was an insurgent. His finger tightened on the trigger, as he hovered his crosshairs over the insurgent?s forehead. The b****** would never know what hit him. Dennis pulled the trigger. Bang. The target dropped. Dennis called to the rest of the platoon. ?Tango down!?

The message was relayed until it reached the ears of Zach. Zach nodded solemnly to himself.

?And so it begins.?

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The bang from Dennis? rifle pierced through the still night air. It echoed through the darkness that had enveloped Hit. The sound told the insurgents that their cover was blown, and the time for stealth was over. Now it was time to go on the offensive. They charged, from all sides of the warehouse, firing their AK-47s as they went. Some ducked inside buildings across the street from the Americans. Some dodged behind cars or other obstacles to give them a safe place to shoot from. Still others rushed towards the warehouse itself, hoping to get inside and smash the American?s defense. The members of that last group were mercilessly cut down by machinegun fire.

One insurgent was lucky enough to escape that onslaught only to wander into Tad?s aim. Tad squeezed his trigger. The M16, which has been set to burst mode, belched out three 5.56 x 45 mm rounds that tore through the insurgent?s torso. He went down. Tad didn?t give him a second thought, and shifted his attention to a parked car across the street and to his right, behind which three insurgents had taken cover. Tad noticed one of the insurgent?s legs was jutting out from behind the car. Tad aimed and fired at the leg. The insurgent went down with a howl falling to the ground, his back facing Tad. Tad mercilessly pulled his trigger once again, firing three more rounds. Two cut through the insurgent?s flesh and into his right lung. The third pierced his spine. Tad turned to the car once again, and noticed that from his angle, he could see another insurgent?s head behind a window of the car. Tad fired once more, and the bullet tore through two sets of windows before finally lodging in the insurgent?s skull, right underneath the left eye.

AK-47s weren?t the only weapons at the insurgents? disposal. Quite a few had brought RPGs as well. They continuously fired these explosive rounds into the walls of the warehouse, hoping to smash them down.

Dennis picked off one of the insurgents carrying an RPG. As a marksman, he was charged with taking out targets with higher priority, since he was so much more precise with his shooting. And any enemy that is firing explosives at you is pretty high on the priority ladder.

Robert was poured more and more bullets into any insurgent he came across. With every sixth round, Robert fired a tracer round, a round tipped with white phosphorus. Such rounds burn brightly in flight, so that the soldier firing the round can see where he?s hitting. Unfortunately, a tracer works both ways, as an enemy can see where a soldier is firing from as well. A watching insurgent figured out where Robert was lying prone, and fired a few rounds through his loophole. The first two met Robert?s shoulder. A third grazed his neck. He screamed bloody murder. His scream was cut off a split second later, when the fourth round caught him in the forehead. He was dead instantly.


Brad watched as one insurgent poked his head above a window in a building across the street. The insurgent fired off a couple rounds in the direction of the warehouse. Brad aimed and fired, catching the insurgent in the chin just as he was ducking down. ?Got him!? he yelled in a self-congratulatory manner. He returned back to the task at hand, searching for any more insurgents that showed themselves. He couldn?t find any; they were all doing a good job at hiding. s***, it?s like trench warfare here. Two opposing forces attacking each other from fixed positions, neither one of them gaining anything. He shook his head. Then he paused. Wait?trench? Yes! Why the ewok didn?t I think of that any earlier? He got up from his prone position.

?I?ll be right back.? He alerted the soldier in the loophole next to his, as he took off to find Lieutenant Walker.

?Where the ewok are you going?? the soldier called back, but Brad was already gone. The soldier returned back to his loophole. ?ewoking coward,? he muttered as he fired off a couple more rounds.


We can?t keep this up forever, thought Zach, firing a few rounds in an alleyway where a couple of insurgents were hiding. They all missed. Aiming more precisely this time, he hovered his crosshairs over an insurgent?s torso, and pulled the trigger. All three rounds caught the b****** in the stomach. He went down screaming. Zach smiled for a split second. He paused as a body landed to his right. He turned to see Brad lying next to him, a look on his face that Zach couldn?t quite place.

?What is it, Specialist?? he asked, returning his attention to the enemy.

?Sir, where?s the radio??

Zach didn?t look up, and instead fired off a few more rounds. ?It?s destroyed, remember??

?Not important, sir. Where is it??

Zach frowned in confusion as he gunned down another insurgent. ?Outside near the Humvees. I tossed it on the ground after I pried it off of you.? He indicated the radio?s general direction by motioning with his weapon. ?Why do you need it??

?Sir, I think if we?re lucky, the right parts should still be intact to make a trench radio and transmitter.?

?Trench radio??

?Yes sir. An easy to make, cobbled together radio. I should be able to contact the base with it.?

Zach looked up. ?And you can make that with the crap in the destroyed radio.?

?I should be able to sir.?

Zach stood up. ?Why the ewok didn?t you come up with this any sooner??

Brad smiled. ?Well sir, because I?m an idiot.?

Zach shook his head. ?Yeah, but you?re the idiot that?s gonna get us out of this mess.?

Brad smiled and made his way to the door. ?Cover me, sir.?

?You bet your life, I will.?

?I kind of am, sir.?

Zach smiled, and roared his next command. ?Suppressing Fire! Give me some suppressing fire!?

Immediately, the men on that wall of the warehouse were laying down some suppressing fire, and Brad had slipped out the door.


Bullets flashed by Brad, aimed at him by the insurgents who had refused to duck for cover. His head whipped this way and that, searching?searching...there! The radio lay in the sand, upside down. Brad scooped it up into his arms, cradling it like he was saving a baby, rather than a broken down piece of equipment. Turning, he sprinted for the warehouse entrance. Running?running?and he tripped. The radio went sailing through the air, and Brad?s face met the sandy earth. s***!

Time slowed to a crawl, and Brad picked up his head. Zach was in the entrance, desperately waving him forward, pausing only to fire in the direction of the insurgents. The bullets kicking up sand next to him woke Brad up. In a split second, Brad was up to his feet and sprinting for the entrance, slowing down only to pick up the radio on the run. He made it into the entrance and didn?t stop. He barreled up the stairs and didn?t stop until he had reached a safe corner on the second floor. Catching his breath, he got to work.


Tad was having trouble hitting his current targets. Hiding in an alley between two buildings, they would have been easy kills, had they not overturned a car that now blocked a clear view of the alley. There were somewhere from five to nine insurgents right there, and he couldn?t get them. ewok. Then an idea struck him. He reached over and grabbed one of his M67 fragmentation grenades. He crawled to the nearest window. Pulling the pin, and releasing the safety lever, and leapt up, aimed, and threw his grenade over the car, and into the alley. It went off with an explosion, hurtling sharp fragments at anyone who survived the initial explosion. Tad?s triumphant laugh was cut off when a bullet caught his shoulder, and he toppled to the floor.


Delicately constructing a working piece of technology in the middle of a battle is not a simple task. Brad was coming to appreciate this fact as he worked on his radio/transmitter. Gunfire filled his ears; gunpowder filled his nostrils, and the fear of being killed in battle filled every fiber of his body.

Reaching into the damaged radio, he noted with relief that the damage to the radio wasn?t too extensive. He might be able to pull this off yet. Finally, he had scrounged up all the pieces he needed. He saw that he could actually do this. Thanking God, he got to work.


Dennis gazed down his scope. There, hiding behind a large pile of rubble, were three insurgents, each carrying an RPG. He hovered his crosshairs over the head of one of them, and pulled the trigger. He went down. Dennis turned to the next one. Again, he pulled the trigger. But then his eyes grew large, as he watched in horror. The bullet he had just fired was a tracer! The final insurgent turned towards Dennis, crouching in a firing position. Dennis fired at the insurgent, but all he heard was a click. s***! The magazine?s empty. Ejecting the spent cartridge, his hand flailed for another one. Seizing one in his hand, he brought it to his weapon, but it was too late. The insurgent fired the RPG. The RPG hit the wall just to the left of Dennis? loophole, spewing shrapnel in his direction. The shrapnel cut deep into Dennis? face. Dennis exhaled one last breath, and then his body went slack.


Tad crawled back to his loophole, in pain. Pulling his weapon back to his injured shoulder, he aimed again. An insurgent poked his head out of a doorway, and Tad pulled his trigger. The butt of his M16 rammed back into his shoulder three times in quick succession, causing him excruciating pain. Biting it back, Tad reloaded, aimed, and fired again.


Brad looked upon his hodge-podge contraption with satisfaction. Testing it for a signal, he received one. He grinned. Getting up, he ran down to the ground floor as fast as his feet would carry him. He came upon Zach?s loophole.

?Lieutenant, I did it!? he announced.

Zach got up. ?Let?s go. The two ran up the stairs to the radio. Brad got there first, and handed Zach the transmitter.

?There you go sir.?

Zach looked at it, confused. ?Brad, I have no idea how to work this thing.? He handed it back to Brad. ?You do it.?

Brad nodded, and activated the transmitter, and spoke, calmly and clearly, into the makeshift mouthpiece.

?Calling any United States military personnel in the area. Repeat: Calling any United States military personnel in the area. Please respond, over.? He paused, listening. Nothing. Changing the frequency, he tried again. ?Calling any United States military personnel in the area. Repeat: Calling any United States military personnel in the area. Please respond, over.? He changed frequencies again, glancing up at his CO as he did so. Zach?s face wore a touch of disappointment, and maybe a little fear. Brad tried again. ?Calling any United States military personnel in the area. Repeat: Calling any United States military personnel in the area. Please respond, over.? He waited a few more moments.

He was just about to change the frequency once again, when a voice crackled over the radio?s handset. ?Roger, this is Apache base, who is this? Over??

Brad smiled with delight upon hearing the name of their base. He spoke into the transmitter once again.

?This is Specialist Bradley Francis, of First Platoon, B Company, 16th Infantry, over.?

?First Platoon? Christ, where the hell are you guys, over??

?We made it to our destination when we got ambushed by some insurgents. We?ve been holed up in the warehouse since then. They?re attacking again, and we need to be evacuated, now. Over.?

?Hold on, First Platoon, I?ll be right with you.?

There was a pause for a couple of minutes. Zach and Brad listened intently.

?First Platoon, do you copy, over??

?Roger, we?re here, over.?

?We?re dispatching some Black Hawks to your location. Get your men on the roof for evac, over.?

?Roger, over and out.? Brad turned to Zach. ?We?re saved.? But Zach was already making his way downstairs, yelling orders this way and that.


Zach came upon Sergeant Batista of First Squad, first.

?Sergeant, get your men downstairs and help get the wounded up to roof, we?ve got choppers coming to get us.?

Batista grinned. ?Sir, yes sir!? He rallied his men to him, and went about his assigned task.

Zach made his way over to Sergeant Delgado next.

?Sergeant, we?ve just got to hold this building for a little while longer. We?re getting evacuated.?

Delgado smiled as Batista had. ?Yes sir!?

Next, Zach headed for Costa, of Third Squad.

?Costa, get your men ready, we?re getting evacuated in just a bit!?

Sergeant Costa didn?t respond.

?Costa? Did you hear me??


Worried, Zach bent down and rolled Costa over. He had taken a bullet to the face. There was a hole where Costa?s nose should have been.



An insurgent holed up in one of the building across from the warehouse bent down and picked up a Russian-produced RGN fragmentation grenade. He pulled the lever of it, arming it.

?Cover me!? he whispered to his brothers. They immediately gave him suppressing fire, as he took off, running toward a warehouse window. Within a meter of the window, he tossed the grenade through it, and dived to the wall underneath the window. It went off with a loud bang. The explosion hurtled sharp pieces of shrapnel at the American soldiers inside. Four soldiers were killed instantly, and six others were wounded badly as a result. Not done, the insurgent picked up his AK-47, and ducked into the warehouse. He was cut down by fire from Saad Nadir?s own AK before he could cause any more trouble, but the insurgent had done enough damage already. In addition, after the grenade had gone off, the defenses on that side had weakened. Insurgents began fighting their way to the entrance of the warehouse.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the warehouse, an insurgent successfully blasted open one of the walls with an RPG round. Insurgents began pouring forth through the hole. First Platoon?s defenses had been breached.


Attacked from two sides, First Platoon had but one direction to go. Up. In a fighting retreat, the men of First Platoon backed up the stairs, firing their weapons and tossing grenades as they went. More and more insurgents went down, but more and more kept coming.

The last man up the stairs was Eric Burns. He poured as much fire as he could into the insurgent swarm. However, his magazine emptied quicker than he had predicted. Eric fumbled around for his last cartridge, but realized with horror, that he had just used his last one. He screamed as bullet fire tore into his leg, both of his arms, and his shoulder. He went down.


Kevin McLogan had never attempted a night rescue before. The pilot of an MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, he had flown a number of missions during his career, a significant percentage of them rescue missions. However, night is a dangerous time to be flying, particularly for a chopper. In fact, only one unit in the entire United States military, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, routinely practices night missions. They were a special ops unit created just for those types of missions. Kevin and the rest of the crew were NVGs to see, which made it awkward to fly. Then again, the soldiers he was rescuing weren?t exactly in the most comfortable position, either. There were Americans in trouble down there, and god damn it, Kevin and his fellow Black Hawk pilots were going to bring them back, at all costs.

Glancing to the left and right, Kevin checked to see that the other four Black Hawks keeping pace with him. Each could carry eleven passengers and was armed with an M134 minigun machinegun. A quick look to his instruments told him that he was approaching the objective. Glancing towards the ground, he saw a mass of men running for the warehouse.

?Allright guys,? he ordered to his minigunners, ?our guys are in the building, so feel free to shoot at anything else.? Almost immediately, the minigunners set to work, firing at the insurgents down below. An RPG flashed by uncomfortably close. Kevin and the pilots of the other Black Hawks made one full pass, littering the insurgents with minigun fire before Kevin turned and landed neatly atop the roof of the warehouse.


Saad Nadir, a member of the Iraqi squad that Eric so distrusted, was the next to the last up the stairs. He watched as Eric went down. He momentarily thought about leaving the poor soldier, but decided against it. He hurled his final grenade into the multitude of insurgents, clearing many away from the stairs. He charged down the stairs, firing his AK as he went. He came face to face with an insurgent. Saad smashed the insurgent?s head with the butt of his AK. Scooping Eric up in a fireman?s carry, Saad made his way back up the stairs. When he reached the top, someone tossed a grenade onto the stairs themselves, blasting them to pieces and rendering them unusable by the insurgents.

Hmm. Maybe these towel heads aren?t so bad after all, thought Eric, a second before he passed out.


The wounded were safely loaded aboard the first Black Hawk. It took off, heading to base, and the next came to pick up the next batch of battle weary survivors. The insurgents retreated, seeing that they had lost that night, and that it was a better tactic to leave and live to fight another day than prolong the engagement. As the next chopper came in, Zach was given a moment to enjoy the first peace and quiet he had been able to get since the start of the mission. Zach strode to the edge of the warehouse?s roof, gazing out upon the streets of Hit. Men had died today. Good men. Lots of good men. Zach shook his head. God ewoking damn it.

?Mind if I join you sir??

Zach turned and found himself facing Private Tad Lieber.


Tad walked next to his platoon leader, joining him in his gazing. ?It?s finally over.? Tad stated.

?Yeah.? No it?s not. When I get to base, I have to alert the families of those guys. I have to tell them that their children, their husbands, they?re dead. Gone forever. And then after that, I have to go back to commanding this platoon, leading more men to their deaths. It?s not over. It?s nowhere near over.


?Yeah, Tad??


?Thanks? For what??

?Sir, we never would have gotten out of that, if it wasn?t for you. You saved our asses today, a hundred times over.?

Zach smiled. ?I think you should be thanking Brad. He?s the one who really came through for us.?

Tad nodded. ?True, but we?d have been dead long before that, had it not been for you.? He turned to his platoon leader. ?Besides sir, you?re the one who saved Brad?s ass earlier, at the beginning of this crap,? he smiled, ?So thanks.?

Zach thought for a moment. It?s true. I may have lost a dozen or so men, but those deaths weren?t my fault. And, I helped save two-dozen more from similar deaths. Maybe I didn?t screw up.

?Come on, Tad. I think our chopper?s waiting.?

The End.

Edited by Chickenman

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