[Civil Affairs] CP2 Platoon Drill - 26/02/2017
PFC Leon Laird
29th Infantry Division
There we were, the last stand.
Chased back miles to our final destination, this was where it would end. You can only postpone the inevitable for so long. There were only two squads remaining of the many who had perished. Eleven soldiers, ordinary men from average lives, against what seemed like a never-ending onslaught.
We were stationed in a small army base on top of an open hill. A thick fog distorted the horizon and everyone’s vision. It was a cold morning, but the time of day felt irrelevant; no one had slept for days. The only thing we could do was dream about survival. In moments like that, when you’re certain something is so implausible, you lose every aspect and shred of hope. They knew where we were, much better even than we did. We didn't know from which direction they would strike, or even when, but as we glanced at each other in the bitter frost, we knew we couldn't give in so easily. We weren't going out like this.
With a sudden burst of ambition, I heaved my M249 as the two squads prepared their final defence. My squad leader stationed me monitoring the southeast. Open fields stretched out for miles, with only a few trees obstructing my wide view. All we could do was wait. Eleven men stood in silent anxiety watching the distant horizon for something, anything. The man on the .50cal looked and searched through the forest a few hundred meters away, the squad leaders stood still as they made sure their squads were covering their assigned directions as the wind howled without a single sound to accompany it.
All without a whisper, it hit. A loud explosion echoed through the blistering breeze as fast as the human mind can process. I was clueless as to what had happened. A grenade? A mortar shell? How could anything have gotten so close without us spotting it? It couldn't have been a mortar, I would've heard the sinister whistle before it struck. The world started feeling numb. I had barely noticed the wounds on my limbs. It was a miracle I was alive but I’d probably burned out all my luck. “TANK SOUTH!” I began hearing from close by. It’d been spotted. Everyone was fine, everyone was alive, but not before the second one hit. A devastating blow from another shell killed two men in its rampage. Two brothers. PFC Leon and PFC Cooper’s remains laid singed among the terrain, a reminder of how fast our lives could end. We braced ourselves for a third strike, rushing inside the perimeter for a glimmer of defense, but there was nothing. The tank had disappeared.
After some time, I took the first steps back out to inspect the invisible horizon, but the tank was nowhere to be seen. It was a mystery, but not one we had any time to investigate, nor one we would be disappointed about. I returned to my post, along with the rest of the squad, and set up on a nearby rock. Pvt van Rooij began operating the large .50cal and PFC Milo, our leader, made sure we were all where we should be, taking to his own lookout in the process. I continued monitoring the southeast, looking for any possible infantry or for any signs of the tank. The fog grew thicker around the boundless horizon; an attack was coming any instant. At that moment, they appeared. In their daring green uniforms, they began moving through the forest from the southwest. Dozens appeared, and then many more.
“Enemy infantry! Southwest in the forest bearing 225!” echoed Van Rooij’s startled voice through the radio. They were only a few hundred metres away and advancing quickly. I planted my LMG on a nearby tower of dirt and began aiming at the approaching threat.
They were much too far away to hit accurately, but not so far as to not be worried. Some soldiers began to break off from their group as they tried to take a different approach, but they didn’t make it far. Realizing I was running out of ammo, I remembered that Leon had some on him. He had offered to carry some for me, knowing I would run out. I just wish he‘d be handing it to me instead of me taking it off his lifeless body. I wanted to preserve what I had left so I moved back to the southeast, leaving Van Rooij to continue watching the forest once there was no longer so much of a threat. Cpl Santa, our neighboring squad’s leader, came through on the radio; they had already suffered numerous casualties, PFC Vonk and PFC Jones. We were down to seven men, and victory didn't seem at all close, but we were still here.
“Enemies directly west!” yelled Van Rooij suddenly, “They’re danger clo--”.
He was cut off before the end of his sentence. Milo and I knew we were the last two left of our squad. Racing to the western side of the base, I could see them no more than 100 metres out. I opened up fire on them as fast as lightning, watching them fall like rain. I couldn’t be sure they were the last ones, but that would soon become the least of my worries.
“Tank! Inside the base!” yelled Milo, running out towards me. I turned instantly as the tank reappeared, storming through the base, rolling directly towards us. We dove like wind out of the way of its tracks before it stopped beside us. We could only lay there as the gun on the tank slowly revolved to face us.
We took our last breaths, but death had other plans.
The tank exploded before it could fire. In the wake, PFC Gates emerged from beyond the smoke, gripping his AT launcher, with a fresh stream of exhaust emanating from within its barrel. The remaining threat was eliminated, the rest were retreating.
Against all odds, we had won.
Written & Formatted by PFC Laird.
Edited by PFC Svenson.