This story was based on a real event
First platoon topped the hill making good speed to their next check point. A small bridge lay ahead with what appeared to be a guard shack. The bridge looked weak so the lead tank radioed to only have one vehicle cross at a time. Once two tanks made it across they were immediately hit from all sides with small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades. Trench holes dug in the berms to either side of the road flew open and enemy troops began to pour lead into the two tanks. Personnel carriers with larger guns began to show themselves further down the road, lining up for a shot. The third tank caught up to its brethren and they formed a wedge.
“Gunner, Heat, Tank,” yelled the lead vehicle commander. “Up,” “On the way,” was the reply and at the same moment, all three dragons breathed fire before another word could be heard. Their 120 millimeter guns erupted with hurricane force. The BMPs were opening up their troops doors as the flames engulfed them. The three tanks began to spew coax and 50 caliber rounds into the ground troops. The enemy realized their mistakes and began to make a tactical withdrawal but they did not see their true mistake until it was too late. Two more platoons of fire breathing death had crossed the bridge and were now engaging anything that moved. Hell had erupted and the ground shook as the tank treads moved on. It took mere seconds for all of this to transpire.
“The tanks hit a speed bump up ahead.” said the Staff Sergeant, “So keep your eyes open in case there are any stragglers.” The other three men in the four door humvee acknowledged in unison, “Roger.” They topped the hill and passed the bridge. Some things were still smoking and bodies were everywhere but nothing could have survived. One Lance Corporal said to another, “I will trade you jalapeño cheese for peanut butter.” “Why?” said another. “I have blackberry jam and I want a PB and J but I ate my last peanut butter yesterday.” The Staff Sergeant scanned his area with his rifle out of the window of the passenger side front seat saying, “Gunny said the supply line will catch up to us for resupply possibly tonight. We are three days ahead of most of the support and they can’t keep up.” The convoy passed the burning soviet made transports. Black smoke billowed out of the charred hulls.
The Marines kept quiet as they came upon a turn in the road. Transport trucks were destroyed sporadically down the highway. The road opened up before them, turning into a four lane. The road seemed to go on forever into the horizon. A city must be close or a town. The enemy was not prepared for what the Corps would unleash upon them. The Marines, however, were prepared for the worst and things weren’t even close to that yet. By nightfall, the tanks had created a defensive perimeter and the weak aluminum vehicles took shelter in the center.
The troops went about their duties, fixing what was broken, patching what could not be fixed, and setting up a night watch schedule. As some went to sleep, a few kept an eager eye on the distance. Soon they would move again toward the sound of guns. As the enemy feared their arrival, the men smiled for they knew no fear. Tomorrow will bring a new day of obstacles and these men were prepared for the challenge. One day at a time, they pushed forward trusting in each other, fulfilling their purpose. One day at a time, as the world watched, they would make history without even knowing.
(All pictures provided were taken by the Author in Iraq in 2003.)