For those who aren’t aware, Operation Eastwind runs on an 18 hour day rather than a 24 hour day. Each 18 hours you get 6 hours of rest, 6 hours of QRF duty and a 6 hour mission. Of course, it never really turns out that way but that’s how it’s written down. Because of this 18 hour “day”, the 9 day game really turns into a 10-12 “day” game and it means you’re never really awake the same hours 2 days in a row. And yes, it definitely takes some getting used to!
With that in mind, our next mission took place in the wee hours of the morning. According to the sun data we received during our briefing, the sun would be up ~30 minutes after we were to leave camp. This put sunrise just after we entered the AO so we didn’t bother bringing night vision. We’d learn later that whomever provided this information forgot to adjust for daylight savings…so we performed our mission in complete darkness.
Our mission was to follow up on a reconnaissance which stated there was a US ambulance on a bridge which might contain dead American soldiers and medical supplies. We were to get eyes on the ambulance and determine whether it was derivable, had anything inside, or was of any other worth to our cause. Don’t forget, nuclear war had just broken out so our company had no infrastructure to back us up. Medical supplies or auto parts would definitely come in handy in the long run!
Incidentally, this bridge was right next to the location we’d taken visual contact earlier that day (grid 696, 508). Even so, my plan was to drive to a point ~100 meters west of that location, sneak in, observe the bridge and hightail it out of there. My assumption was that the guys who had been dispatched to that location would be in bed by now, and my hope was that the speed of our advance, and therefore short amount of time we’d be near the objective combined with the quietness of the Mutts would keep us safe.
This would be a joint mission with our squad and the West Germans. Both squads were small on numbers so we’d essentially make up a full squad for the mission. The Germans would act as a vanguard force during several points in the mission, walking ahead of the vehicles to locate possible ambushes before we drove into them.
We stepped off mostly on time and proceeded as planned. We neared grid 701, 505 and dismounted for a thorough foot patrol of the area. This location had been a NATO patrol base in the past and we wanted to make sure there weren’t any listening or observation posts (LP/OPs) in the remaining fighting positions.
Once clear, we mounted up in the vehicles again, and with our German vanguard proceeded down highway 27 towards our objective. Roughly 400m down the road we were ambushed from both sides, and everyone in the lead vehicle was killed. Whilst bleeding out, we did have the enjoyment of watching our ambushers frag themselves, but eventually the darkness overcame us and we returned to base to start our respawn countdown (at Eastwind this is 2 hours).
The remainder of our unit requested that they return to base as well, and we bedded down for our rest period. Right about that time when you’re so close to sleep you can taste it, our Operations Officer, Mercy threw open the tent flap and proclaimed “Hey guys, something you might want to discuss in your AAR…NODs.” I was too far gone to remind her we’d thought it was going to be light the whole time! Just like that, she was gone and we were asleep.
Thanks to Arbee for the use of his photos!