The middle portion of the week consisted of several rotations of SAT, sleep and mission. They were not always in that order and sleep always seemed to be the shortest rotation!
At one point we were sent on a very early morning mission. We were to infiltrate deep into East Germany, looking for contact and retreat back into West Germany when and if contact was made. We would then hold the airfield just inside West Germany until the conclusion of our mission time.
As planned, we infiltrated via a small ravine and made contact almost exactly where we had planned to on the north edge of Neuhaussen Spree. The enemy fled before we could get shots on target, and we moved quickly back into West Germany with vehicles running around on all sides.
We held the airfield for roughly 3 hours, sending two patrols up to the East/West German border to look into East Germany. 30 minutes prior to our scheduled return time we formed up on the road between our two positions and began to move toward home. “CONTACT!” Two Russian soldiers came sprinting out of the tree line and we all scrambled to get to cover and return fire. I ate dirt and explained our new situation to the TOC via radio. Meanwhile, my squad established a base of fire, killing the two enemy in the open and pushing back at least two more into the woods. This allowed us to move up, medic and capture the two Russians with relative safety. We quickly consolidated and moved out with orders to return to base as soon as possible coming down from higher. We did just that, and returned exhausted but relieved.
Another of our missions was similar to the one above. Our route would be similar to the mission above, with us infiltrating East Germany via a ravine on the east end of the AO. We would then set ambushes near major intersections north of Neuhaussen Spree. We would then fall back through the airport, clearing it of any Listening or Observation Posts (LP/OPs). The only catch was, we would be doing it at night while a major storm was blowing in. The temperature was expected to drop into the 20s and precipitation was expected.
We set out in our usual formation of Alpha fire team in front, our squad leader in the middle and Bravo fire team bringing up the rear. We knew the route, but many things looked different due to the darkness. At this point the weather was still calm, so we did our best to move slowly and keep very quiet. As we made our way towards our first ambush point we made several listening halts, attempting to hear enemy units in the area that might compromise our position. One of these halts took longer than usual, and eventually I saw our squad leader working his way down the line, whispering to each of us. His news was not the happy kind. We had lost contact with our point man and the man directly behind him.
At this point, the wind was beginning to kick up. This did give us some measure of noise cover but it also isolated us from everything outside our position. We waited for a few minutes, hoping our men would realize they had left us and return to our last known location. One member thought he heard voices to our south (our direction of travel) but we were unable to confirm it at that time. Our squad leader, Spice then decided that we should push on to our Objective Rally Point – hopefully our men would be waiting for us there.
We continued to move south, and popped out of the ravine near our ORP location. However, we did not recognize where we were and stopped to check. We found a less than terrible place to halt and pulled out the map. Judging by some lights we could see in the distance and what we could discern by the terrain features around us, we were just north and east of our ORP. I moved to a nearby structure to confirm this. I was able to see Pegasus bridge from the structure and thus confirm our position. At this time, we thought it prudent to advise the TOC that we had lost two of our members. I found a hole, crawled in it, covered myself up, and with my tiny red headlamp began encoding a message. The TOC, no doubt realizing we were late for our next check in, radioed asking for a situation report. I attempted to communicate that we had lost 2 of our patrol with the limited SOI pro-words I could use.
The response came back for use to move a certain heading for 200 meters. This was almost the exact route we had taken in. This baffled us, because we had not given the TOC our location. We discussed whether or not it could be the enemy on our channel, and sent another request for orders. This time we were given the grid coordinate of our first En route Rally Point (ERP). We took this as the TOC telling us to scrub our mission. I had mixed feelings about this, the temperature was steadily dropping and the wind steadily getting stronger so a warm, dry tent was very appealing but I hated the thought that we were leaving two of our own in the field.
We proceeded back to our ERP on our route of enfil, moving very cautiously in case the enemy had in fact found our channel and transmitted orders to us. While our approach route was great for concealment it was also a wonderful place to be ambushed. It had very steep sides so there was no escape. At this time the weather was steadfastly getting worse and a dense fog had rolled into the AO. Reaching our ERP, I advised the TOC that we had arrived and was given the order to return to base. They also advised that they knew where our other two soldiers were. We all breathed a collective sigh of relief and hoofed it back to base.
Upon our return, we learned that our squad mates had made it a couple hundred feet and crossed a road. When they turned around, two human shapes were walking towards them. When they got within touching distance, they looked each other up and down and realized that these were East Germans! The German soldiers safety killed them, retied their medic ropes and captured them. They were interrogated and made it back to our base well before we did.
Photos by Eightball, Hoober and Mercy.