After about an hour of fitful dozing I awoke to our CO Aswayze kicking my Squad leader awake just a few meters from my makeshift sleeping position. Another mission was afoot and it was much sooner than we had hoped. A few minutes later it was my Squad Leader kicking me awake, telling me that I had to be completely packed and ready to move out in 5 minutes.
Out of bed, I set to cramming my sleeping bag, pad and tarp back into their respective nooks and crannies in my ruck. The PRC-77 in an assault pack gets clipped on top, and PASGAT vest with ALICE LBE and helmet go back on. Donning the ruck, I trudge over to the waiting trucks and take up a security position, trying to listen for my team or squad leaders’ voices among all the yelling. “Get over here now!” “Get that truck started!” “Why the F%$@ are you standing there? Pick that trash up! Get packed, we’re MOVING OUT!” Dropping my ruck, I run back over to my foxhole to pick up some empty sand bags that we had left there – never know when those may become useful. Trash is picked up, no kit lying around, ok good. Run back over to my ruck. Now the rucks are going back on the truck? Ok, I unclip the assault pack, hand my ruck off and put the radio back on. It’s lighter than the ruck but I still grumble to myself about the weight as I put it on.
By this time, I have a love/hate relationship with the PRC-77 radio and it’s spare batteries. I’ve carried them in a poorly padded assault pack with crappy shoulder straps for 6 days at this point and it’s getting pretty old. On the flip side, I’m used to the weight and almost feel like I can fly when I don’t have it on even with a full patrol load! More so in it’s favor, it’s the only radio that I’ve ever used that was this effective. I’ve been able to contact units in the field that I could have never dreamed of picking up with my modern hand held radios. Maybe it’s the 5 foot antenna, maybe it’s the training I’ve had on how to use it. All I know is that it just works.
“Do you want to ride or walk?” Our CO’s question yanks me back into reality. We climb into the same M880 that transported us 12 or so hours before and start soutwest down into a large valley. Our new mission is to take Neuhoussen Spree by force. The CO has wagered that the WARPAC forces will have pulled back most of it’s units in preparation for a large scale night attack on our patrol base so now is the best time to make a sweeping assault across the AO.
All of a sudden the truck dies.
And there was much cursing.
“Get up on that hill and get us in touch with the CO!” Off I go, rifle at the ready, assaulting a very large hill with two teammates to get our CO on the radio. Our truck has ran out of gas at the worst possible moment and whomever it is checked out to has neglected to keep extra gas in it. Again, the Canadians have spearheaded the assault and are in Neuhoussen Spree. We were set to reinforce them followed by US second squad and the Brit/West German squad. We are all being ferried by a handful of mutts and M880s to allow the slower, louder deuces to stay in the rear. If we don’t get this truck back in the fight, a good portion of our company will be forced to walk the remaining Kilometer to Nauhausen Spree rather than drive them. This would seriously dampen our mobility and make us easy targets for a WARPAC counteroffensive.
About 2/3 of the way up the hill I’m able to get in contact. Our CO has a gas can and will be en route at top speed. we trot back downhill and almost immediately we can hear a vehicle coming down the road along our direction of travel. Guns up! It’s the other M880 carrying the Brit/West German squad. Relief and irritation fill my mind. I’m glad we haven’t been found by a WARPAC vehicle patrol but at the same time I’m irritated that our squad has failed to arrive at the objective on time and now we’ll be the mop up crew.
Another vehicle is approaching, it’s our CO. After some more cursing and “how could you be so stupid” questions aimed at our driver we’re off again. The dirt road we’re driving down follows the east side of a small valley almost due south. The floor of the valley is covered in 1-3 foot tall grass and a small creek runs down the west side. Steep hills covered in thick brush and trees flank either side, providing infinite locations for a WARPAC reconnaissance unit to track our every movement or simply ambush our truck from cover.
The Dodge’s diesel engine roars and it skids and shudders up the rutted hill leading into the southwest end of Neuhoussen Spree. I’m watching the left or 9 o clock side of the truck, splitting my attention between listening for radio traffic over the noise and watching my sector. As we skid to a stop just outside town, an East German border guard leans out from behind a tree not 50 feet to my direct front and lays into the trigger of his AK-47. Rounds pepper my chest and the side of the truck, “killing” me before I can even get my M16 on target. My squad mates bail out, jumping (falling) over the side trying to get cover and return fire at the same time. They hit the soldier that shot me but a second gets away, never to be seen again. We learned later that all of us should have been dead as per the rules if a vehicle is hit by bursts of fire in it’s crew compartment all occupants are dead. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation and adrenaline had precluded this detail from our memories in the heat of the moment.
So there I am, lying in the middle of the road, bleeding out. My squad pushes up around me and sets a security perimeter. It’s not a big deal, I think. Someone will just untie my medic rope and I’ll be good to go. No luck, it fell off sometime over the course of the event. Crap! They have no choice to call in a 9-line for medical evacuation and hope that they get there before I bleed out.
Well, It’s time for the walk of shame. I pull myself up off the ground (it was actually really comfortable down there), adjust my assault pack and start off towards camp with my dead rag on my head. Upon arrival, I check in with the command staff and am told I’ll be alive in two hours.
I’ve been “dead” in many a BB war but this was probably the most productive death I’ve had. I changed my clothes, topped off my kit with ammo and water, hydrated and organized my bunk.
Meanwhile, the rest of the company swept from Neuhoussen Spree, straight north along the main roads through Pegasus bridge, Cotbus and finally the airport without further contact. They then loaded up in the deuces and returned to base. The major points of the AO were now clear of WARPAC forces.
We were all surprised with rest duty as there would be no units going out that night except for one, our two man sniper squad. I don’t remember if we had a QRF for them but I don’t believe it was us. I slept like a slab of granite.
Photos by Eightball, Hoober and Mercy.