Building on our earlier success, we were sent on another similar mission. We were to infiltrate East Germany and set multiple ambushes in the areas of Neuhaussen Spree, Pegasus Bridge and Cotbus. As we were preparing to roll out, there was much yelling and we sprinted to two mutts and flew out of base. Apparently, the joint British/West German section had reported contact a few minutes prior and had not been heard from since. We were dropped around grid 702, 513 and immediately linked up with the West Germans. They were good to go so we moved back on mission.
Due to our accelerated departure, we ended up in the field roughly 30 minutes early. This is significant because we were scheduled to change SOI cards about 20 minutes after our original step off time. This meant that I had two SOI cards with me on the mission as I would have to communicate before and after the change. I had prepped most of my transmissions with the new SOI as I only had one scheduled transmission before the change. What this effectively means is that all my radio transmissions were written down in Spanish while the whole radio net was speaking French!
As we walked off on our patrol, I fumbled around with my notebook and SOI card attempting to formulate a message advising the TOC that we were OK and were headed to our mission objectives as planned. In the middle of all this were two other units talking with the TOC, so I had to jockey for free air time to send my messages. Just as I was able to get my traffic through, my squad leader turned around and asked me to send in a 9 line (request for medical assistance) to evacuate one of our squad members as she was not feeling well. Now picture this. I’m walking down the road, attempting to stay in my place of a bounding overwatch (one fireteam moves while the other covers). In my hands are my M16, map, notebook and SOI card. Mentally, I’m trying to watch my sector, search the map for a good pick up point for our casualty and keep an ear to the radio traffic to have some sort of understanding what’s going across the AO.
Suddenly it all flies out the window. I hit the dirt and send my “contact wait out” transmission. I look to my left and see two of my guys are down. Looking up the hill, I see nothing but hear sporadic small arms fire. I think, good at least they suck at springing an ambush! The TOC sends back a perfectly coded message to which I reply “Send it in the clear! I’m in contact!” I don’t remember what they sent back, perhaps I didn’t even hear them.
My squad leader calls for someone to get up front, so I send Beik, the one rifleman I had with me. Now, I’m the last man in the file so I’m watching my right and trying to figure out how the heck I’m going to get up the cliff that stands between me and the guys shooting at me. I look to my left again and notice that my Squad leader and I are the only ones left alive. I quickly jump 20 feet or so to my right and bury both SOI cards, my notebook and my map. All my communication from here on out will have to be in the clear.
Diving back into my position, I look towards the bad guys and see a helmet! A few shots in that direction and it pops back down. I look back to my squad leader and he motions for us to fall back. We bound back up the valley as fast as humanly possible while running on fist sized rocks. Once we made it a few hundred meters, we collapsed into a makeshift defensive perimeter and I made contact with the TOC.
Attempting to give away as little as possible (as I’m now transmitting in the clear), I send our position to give the QRF a point to find our bodies. I could have sworn that they took 4 hours to get there and that there were 400 enemy troops in that valley kicking rocks over and snapping twigs, but when they finally arrived and I drug myself out of my hidey hole everything was quiet again. The two of us trekked back with the same British/West German unit that we had been scrambled to help earlier!
Upon our arrival back at base everything was chaos. Every unit was deployed in the field to some extent and there would be no rest anytime soon. My squad leader was assigned radio duty and I as the TOC runner. We set to work, trying to stay out of the way. We crammed down the best MREs we’d have all week (seriously, I got Skittles) and I focused on refitting our kits between runner duties. We were quickly debriefed and swung right back into our duty cycle when the time came. Another mission was “complete”.
Photos by Eightball, Hoober and Mercy.