By this point in the event, our squad was starting to run ragged. We were doing well in the regard that many of the details (prepping kit, mission planning, mission briefs, being ready for a mission on time, etc) were becoming easy but poorly in the regard that our discipline was beginning to degrade. We had lost yet another man, reducing our squad to a mere 6 souls.
To say WARPAC was on the offensive was an understatement. They had pushed north into the airport and were aggressively paroling it. US Second squad had set up an observation post watching them but it didn’t seem to phase the patrols. They walked up and down the main road that runs north and south along the west edge of the airport. They were in plain view and we gathered that they were there to be seen. They had figured out our avenues of entering the AO and plainly wanted us to know it.
Our squad’s mission was to use the roads we had checked on day 1 to skirt around to the west of the WARPAC blockade at the airport. We were then to infiltrate deep into East Germany and set ambushes between Neuhausen Spree and Cotbus. When we arrived at the observation post to the northeast of the airport, we met with US second squad and gathered what information they had. We watched a full enemy squad marching straight north towards the area we planned to use to get around them. This could end badly.
Knowing that we had to run silent and deep if we were going to avoid the enemy patrol, we moved into the woods and made our way towards the roads we had previously scouted. There was a crossroads that we had termed “Corn” (7082, 5118) as it was easy to find on the map and determine one’s position in relation to it in an otherwise confusing array of small hills and valleys. As we made our way towards Corn, we expected that the enemy patrol was very close. We split into two elements and moved on Corn from two sides – at least that was what we meant to do. Apparently our Bravo Team leader didn’t understand the plan and he kept walking right past Corn with half of our squad in tow. Our squad leader dispatched me to chase them down and bring them back to the now cleared crossroads. We joined back up and proceeded down the road.
We were all exhausted but I could tell that some of us were just ready to quit or simply unable to keep it together. Maybe I was one of them, maybe I wasn’t but I do remember realizing in that moment that if we were engaged decisively we were simply screwed.
As we started down the hill on R31 near grid 708, 509 we suddenly heard voices. Our squad leader pushed us into the woods to the east and we slowly moved into the woods covered in dry leaves (also known as the crunchberry forest). Every step we made sounded like a thousand squirrels playing in the leaves. Moving one tiny motion at a time, often balancing on one foot to set the other down softly, we crept towards the top edge of the ravine.
Suddenly the radio cracked to life. The TOC wanted us to return to West Germany. We advised that we were in West Germany and we were given a set of coordinates to move to. The only problem was that these were in the airport! We reported a soft contact (enemy seen or heard but no shots fired) at our grid coordinate and proceeded to move back through the leaves towards Corn.
Once at Corn, we took a quick breather and confirmed our orders. Yes, we were supposed to move into the airport. We started slowly down the hill on line, expecting to make contact at any moment. We moved into the creek bed at the bottom of the hill and started to move out of the woods into the open. Suddenly we heard a vehicle. We all dove back into the creek bed and prepared for the worst. Much to our confusion, our CO Swayze came flying down the hill from second squad’s observation post and straight up into the airport! We broke cover and ran full speed after it. We knew he was insane but this was on another level! About half way up the hill we saw the mutt’s dead flag go up. It had been taken out and we weren’t able to get there in time to warn it. We continued up the hill, expecting to contact a WARPAC patrol at any moment. Strangely, that moment never came. We cleared the buildings one by one and pushed up until we could see the northern edge of Cotbus. WARPAC troops were swarming on the other side of the border.
We called in this information and requested immediate reinforcements. It was starting to get dark and we had not been issued any night vision, nor did we have warm clothes or food to wait out the night. We were told to sit tight and defend our position. We cursed the TOC and sat tight. It appeared we were on the cusp of a coordinated WARPAC attack and there were only 6 of us to hold the entire airport.
We pulled back to the control tower and our squad leader put me in the top of it. This gave me a commanding view of the area and better radio comms. The plus side was I could hang my radio off some pegs on the wall but the down side was I was now both my squad’s eyes and ears so I had to be twice as alert.
As the sun faded we turned from angry, to slightly irritated to just plain tired. My saving grace was that the radio net was alive with information. US second squad had been recalled to base and the Canadians were moving to our position. However, no ETA was given and the light was all but gone.
An eternity later, a staggered column of black dots moved up the road towards our little outpost. I thought my eyesight was failing me, unless the Canadians had multiplied this was a different unit! I squatted down behind the wall of my tower and prepared for a fight. The column came to a halt a few meters from our position and our squad leader went out to meet them. It turns out that the Canadians had picked up the British/West German squad and they had moved en masse to link up with us.
After a quick chat, the combined unit made it’s way closer to the East German border. Another half hour of standing watch and our unit was given the order to return to base. We quickly and quietly bounded our way back to camp, hoping to make it home without further contact. Back at base, we were given a rest cycle. Tomorrow would be the last day of the game and we all expected a large scale battle pitting all of WARPAC against all of NATO. We topped off our kits, performed a few personal care type tasks and crashed.
Photos by Hoober, Mercy and Lopez