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Curries' private war

Crossroads

Myers woke Currie before the sun had risen. Peters and the Italian lieutenant had been killed three Germans had escaped. Currie began to boil, to seethe. I have a patrol ready to go out and find them. “No! Stand Down God Damn it, Stand Down. I want Jones and Kovac here; I’m going to go get them.” Currie began to dig into his duffel; he pulled out ghillie suit and four boxes of match grade 30 cal ammo. Myers had never seen Currie like this before; he was a man possessed. “Get the other jeep Kovac, pull it up here.” Jones get your stuff together we are going to track those murdering bastards down.”

“Yes sir,” Jones muttered.

Currie unrolled the Ghillie suit a tattered stringed burlap looking multi colored cloth coveralls. Currie took off his web gear putting the 45 in his pocket, the boxes of shells in his other pockets. He pulled the leather case that held his rifle out of the jeep uncased it, wiped it down with a rag; he opened the bolt and checked the weapon. He pulled a roll of the same cloth the suit was made of from his pocket, and carefully wrapped the rifle he wrapped it from muzzle to the butt-plate of the stock leaving only the receiver and butt-plate exposed. He opened the bolt and pushed five match grade 168-grain 30 cal shells into the magazine. He closed the bolt chambering a round.

“Let’s go,” he said, to Kovac as he picked up his helmet and two canteens, “where did they go Jones?”

“They headed west, out the back probably 4 to 5 hours ago,” Jones said.

“Let’s see your map,” he said to Kovac. Kovac slowed the jeep down and stopped at the edge of a ravine. Jones jumped out to look around, “they’re headed south from here down the wadi Captain.”

Currie looked at the map, this wadi runs a good 10 miles south from here, “I want you to turn around go out a good ½ mile and parallel the wadi. I want you to cut off the end of the wadi. If you cut their trail, round them up and come get me, if not wait for me there. I will be along in a while.”

Currie got out of the jeep put his helmet on, tucked the two canteens into the back pouch of the suit, he pulled the hood up over his helmet. He crossed the wadi, climbed the rise on the west side, and disappeared behind it. Jones climbed back in the jeep.

“What do you think Top?” Jones said,

Kovac shook his head, “It’s his game now my son. I think we need to do as we were told.”

Kovac and Currie backtracked and headed south.

Currie trotted down the backside of the rise crawling to the top, every 100 to 200 yards to survey the wadi. He continued heading south; he crossed the ridge twice and checked the wadi for tracks the tracks were still there.

Currie covered about five miles when he rose to check the wadi; he caught a glimpse of movement south of him. He sighted through his scope; he had caught up with them. Currie crawled down the slope continuing down the backside of the ridge. He covered 300 yards quickly, and then crawled to the crest of the ridge. Currie sighted his quarry again, he aimed the rifle thumbing off the safety, slowly squeezing the trigger, the Springfield barked.

The rifle the German soldier carried suddenly shook violently, the stock under the receiver and bolt exploded driving splinters of wood into his hands; the rifle was ruined. The German soldier threw the weapon down screaming in pain holding his hand. The three soldiers took cover. Currie dropped down and advanced closing the distance to 500 yards.

Currie crawled up the rise to look, he saw the three men running down the wadi. He aimed the Springfield, targeting a rock jutting out into the ravine about 50 yards in front of the men; about the time they reached the rock, Currie fired; the bullet impacted the rock throwing pieces of the bullet and rock everywhere, a dust cloud formed; the Germans dove for cover.

Currie waited to keep the area targeted; he saw one of the Germans poke his head up to see if it was all clear. Currie shifted the point of aim 3 inches to the right and fired, the bullet plowed into the ground throwing dirt, sand and stone into the Germans face. The three Germans broke and ran the German with the wounded hand was leading the man who he had blinded with the dirt. Currie crouched down and followed them at a run, closing the distance, he popped up the Germans were still running. Currie fired again. The Germans dove again for cover.

Currie closed the distance, this time keeping watch on them as he ran, he stopped and fire again, keeping the three men pinned down. He watched as one of the German’s crawled up the side of the wadi. Currie brought his weapon up aimed and fired; the man fell and rolled back down into the wadi.

Currie pushed three rounds down into the magazine and closed the bolt. The wounded German stood and raised his hands, the last man stayed hidden. Currie took cover behind the rise slowly walking toward them he peered over the rise to keep the men in sight. Currie walked up the rise, the man who had been hiding jumped out pointed the pistol at Currie, and squeezed the trigger, but the gun wouldn’t fire, the German laughed tossing the pistol down.

“You Americans,” he laughed, “Great believers in the Geneva Convention, you can’t shoot an unarmed man.” He said in English

Currie pulled the Ghillie hood off his helmet.

“Oh, a Captain in camouflage and a sniper you are very versatile.”

“All in a day’s work and who might you be?” Currie said

“Unterstrumfuhrer Klaus Manda, Schutzstaffel.”

The wounded man barked in German; the other German lunged at Currie. Currie shot him in the chest, killing him instantly. The Unterstrumfuhrer tried to climb out of the ravine and attack Currie. He came face to face with the muzzle of Currie’s 45. The Germans mouth dropped open in disbelief he never saw the pistol or where it came from.

“Now you will tell me everything, I want to know, Unterstrumfuhrer Klaus Manda,” Currie said thrusting a map at him.

The German said in English, “Norman Manda Klaus Untersturmfuhrer. Currie pistol-whipped the lieutenant in the face knocking him back into the wadi. He looked at Currie in disbelief. He said “Geneva…” Currie shot him in the ball of his right foot.

Currie squatted down, “maybe you didn’t hear me, where is the rest of your unit? You will mark it on the map, I want to know where the SS are who skinned and the killed those two men in El Bayadh. Maybe that was you. I want to know where your supply depots are.”

The German was in pain holding his foot.

“You’re not listening,” the 45, barked again, the German screamed and grabbed his left foot; “that was only your toe lieutenant, but it got you attention, Didn’t it?”

“You’re a mad man,” the German screamed.

” No, I’m just and angry man, now tell me what I want to know, or your ankles are next, then your knees,” the German began cursing screaming at Currie in German. Currie shot him in his right ankle, the man passed out slumped over on the ground in mid word.

Currie squatted on his haunches drinking from his canteen. When the German woke, Currie climbed down into the wadi; the German stared up at Currie, he said, “bitter, bitter,” one moment.

Currie said, “Nein” and ground his foot into the Germans ankles. The German screamed and passed out again. When the German again regained consciousness, he pleaded with Currie to stop, Currie tossed the map down and pencil. The German opened the map, he marked the locations of supply dumps, troop areas, where POW’s were being held, and he marked where the entries to the supply dumps were.

The German looked at Currie, the man was in extreme pain, he was defeated, “Hauptman, Wasser bitter,” he said, pointing  the canteen, Currie handed him the canteen, the German unscrewed the top put the canteen to his lips, he closed his eyes and drank the cool water.

Currie raised the 45 and pulled the trigger; the Germans head bucked backward and slammed back into the wall of the ravine; the canteen tumbled from his hand. The life of the German passed from his body like the water draining from the canteen.

Currie reached down folded the map, picked up the pencil, and wiped the blood from it. “Rot in hell” he said. He turned and headed south to meet up with Kovac and Jones.

Currie crawled up the side of the wadi and walked down the eastern side; his mind was whirling with what had transpired this day. Currie heard the jeep before he saw it. He stopped and waited for Kovac and Jones to pull up beside him. Jones hopped in the back, Currie sat down, laying his rifle across his lap. “Let’s go, he said.” Currie nor Jones nor Kovac said one word to each other on the trip back to the company.

Currie sent for Snotky, and asked for another map, he told Snotky to translate the German and transpose it to the Map.

The MP’s loaded the prisoners and were waiting, Currie handed them the map to take to Major Boyd S2 at Battalion.

Currie took off his Ghillie suit carefully rolled it up and packed it away, he picked up his rifle, dropped the floor plate taking the three shells out and then ejecting the one from the chamber.

Gleason showed up with a cup of coffee, laid it on the hood of the jeep, Currie reached for it, he picked it up, his hand shook so bad he set it down and used both hands to pick it up again. Gleason wiped up the coffee with a rag. I’ll get you another cup,” Gleason said as he turned and walked away.

Currie sat on the running board of the jeep, he put a cigarette in his mouth holding his hands so they wouldn’t shake and trying to light it. Gleason knelt beside him and flicked his lighter for Currie. He sucked the cigarette to life, Gleason poured a canteen cup ½ full of coffee, and “here you go Captain setting it on Currie’s knee,”

“Thanks Bucky,” Currie said. Currie’s hands trembled as he drank the coffee.

Gleason picked up Curries rifle, “I’ll clean it.”

“No, I ‘ll do it.” Currie said shaking his head.

“Captain, I said I would clean it.” Gleason said,

Currie shook his head, Gleason took the rifle and cleaned it between delivering cups of coffee to his Captain, and he packed it back in the case, asked Currie for the shells.

Currie pulled them out of his pockets and handed them to Gleason.

The MP’s and POW’s pulled out; Myers brought the bloody map back to Currie.

“Mount them up, we are heading here,” He tapped the map, “a German supply depot, it is about 80 miles away, we should be able to scout it tonight, tomorrow we destroy it or call in an airstrike.”

“Let’s get rolling.” Meyers said, “what about the three Germans, should I send someone to bury them.”

Currie shot him a look and in a very low voice said, “No, they have been taken care of. Let’s get a move on we have places to go and things to do.”

Able Company moved out just after noon heading east. They crossed the road ahead of where the burnt hulks of the Italian and German trucks were. The German tracks were clearly visible on the dusty sparsely grassed plateau. Currie looked behind him, the column had fanned out each truck clearly visible and behind them was the wall of choking red grey dust cloud that closely followed them,

“Damn, I bet we can be seen a hundred miles away,” Currie thought and looked at the speedometer, Gleason was doing all of 20 miles per hour. He looked at his watch, the bezel was dirty, he licked his thumb, and rubbed the crystal, the dried blood wiped away leaving his thumb red, he wiped his thumb on his pants. At this speed within 2 hours, we will be close enough to scout out the supply dump, and then determine how to destroy it or capture it. Battalion called Currie on the VHF radio. Currie told them he was moving forward to scout out the supply depot. Battalion told him that they had sent an L-3 out to recon the area, but they saw nothing from the air.

Currie was to find it and find it fast. Currie asked Battalion if capturing the supply depot was an option. Battalion told him no, it was to be destroyed.

Currie thought to himself, “I’ll destroy it yes, I will destroy it. After I learn all they know.” He smiled, and then adjusted his goggles, he pointed to the west, and his hand imitating a pistol, his thumb dropped as would the hammer on the pistol. Gleason sped up.

The desert terrain a landscape of gently rolling hills, the red grey sandy soil was dotted with clumps of grass or lone patches of scrub brush. Gleason steered around the scrub brush and the larger rocks… The smaller rocks and stones scattered behind him. Gleason made corrections to his course from the hand signals given to him.

Currie looked at his watch; they had been traveling for 1-1/2 hours covering a little more than 50 miles. “Gleason slow it down to 10 mph, I don’t want a big dust cloud to alert the enemy any more than we might have already. For the next hour, the dust wasn’t as thick or billowed as high; Currie had the column fall back in line and put 50 yards between each truck. Gleason slowed the jeep down and brought it to a stop, it had been an hour Currie stirred from his seat, he checked the map, off to the NW a few miles was a wadi that should give them the cover they needed, a half hour later the trucks were parked and spaced out in the wadi. Currie fixed two landmarks by the compass and with the wadi, and he knew their exact position.

The edge of the Haut Plateau lay 10 miles to the south of them.

Currie called his lieutenants and NCO’s together, “I want lookouts in pairs, 100 yards out dug in and at either end of the wadi, hook up the field phones. Currie pointed to the map, here, here, here, here, here, here. I want the camouflage netting strung out over the equipment. I want us invisible, space out the equipment on either side of the wadi, and put it uptight against the walls in any nook or cranny you can find. Throw some sand on the tops of the trucks. I want the ½ track at the head of the wadi and leave one jeep out. We will use it tonight for the recon and cover over the windshield and mirrors. Let’s get them fed and bedded down and then I will go over the recon.”

For the next 2 hours Currie supervised the camouflage and the location and placement of the lookout post…he even walked down the edge of the wadi looking down on the trucks and men; he completed his inspection on both sides. Good ole Gleason waited for him when Currie walked up, he handed him a pack of camels and a canteen cup full of coffee,

“I’ll have your refill ready when you are sir,” he said.

Currie nodded and head for his jeep. Currie unfolded the map the bright red bloodstains were now a rusty red brown color. The German had marked a common entrance on the Haut Plateau to nine ravines that comprised the supply depot.

Currie laid out his plan to Rawls and Kovac, “take 3rd and 4th squad, drop them off two by two’s 500 yards out, they will make their way to these ravines, scout them. The truck will wait somewhere around here until 0100 at that time it will start back, the men are to flash their red-light 3 dashes, followed by 2 dots, that’s the pickup signal, you pick them up and high tail it back here pronto.”

“What about prisoners,” Rawls asked.”

“No,” Currie” said,” we know there is a dump, we want to know what’s in it and how big it is. Then we will destroy it or have air corps bomb it.

It was about 30 minutes to dark, when a lone small German observation plane flew over making one pass up and another pass down the ravine, the plane flew on searching the plateau.  The plane returned passed over them and disappeared to the south. “Mr. Myers send word to our lookout posts and tell them to expect patrols tonight,” Currie said. “I’m pretty sure that SOB didn’t spot us, he hung around too long, but I don’t want to take any chances.”

Every preparation that could be made was made. They were ready, at 1920 hours third and fourth squad were assembled, and were being briefed; they had their maps and assignments. “I want you guys to get a good look. I don’t want to have to come look for any of you, so be damned careful,” Currie said.

The field phone buzzed, he lifted the handset from the bag, “ok keep a watch on them and let me know,” he handed the handset to Meyers. We have visitors; LP4 says a column of dust about three miles out…is headed our way. “I guess that plane did see us, damn it all to hell, ok let’s get ready, get to your positions,” the men untied the camouflage got their weapons.

Currie jumped up on the cab of a truck and glassed the area; where LP4 was in the distance he saw the dust then saw the trucks a convoy moving very fast. They were doing over 40 miles per hour, another minute or two and they would be here, Currie saw a 6-wheel armored car followed by a line of Opel Blitz Transport trucks.

Currie called Rawls,” get your squads loaded and ready to go, that’s a supply column headed for the depot; with all the dust they are kicking up we can fall right in behind them; they will escort you right up to the depot, then fall out and carry on your patrol. The patrol of 2 armored cars and 41 trucks came within 100 yards of Curries position. The Chevy 30 pulled out into the dust trail, left by the convoy and sped away to the South,

“Well now we know we weren’t seen by the spotter plane,” Currie muttered to himself. Currie paced up and down looking at his watch, time seemed to have stopped; where was his patrol? Where were his men? Currie paced and smoked, checked his watch and paced some more. At 0330 the lookout post 6 called, he heard trucks coming and saw the dust. Currie ran to the mouth of the ravine; he could see by the light of the moon the German column snaking its way across the desert. The lead armored car bore down on Curries position and closed to within 100 yards before changing course and missing the mouth of the ravine by 30 yards. The loaded trucks rumbled by their engines whining, the springs creaking, the canvas covers flapping in the wind, they made enough noise to drown out the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Currie looked at his watch, wiping the dust off, the last truck and the second armored car rumbled past, at 0339.

The dust began to settle Currie saw a lone truck moving slowly, he thought to himself, “those are my boys,” he watched as the truck drew closer.

The truck passed Currie he saw the bright white star on the door of the truck not 40 yards away. The truck slid to a halt then it backed up it stopped again. Two figures dropped off the back and headed toward the ravine, the sentry challenged them. They ran back to the truck the truck turned and headed for the ravine, Currie grabbed hold of the mirror and swung up on the running board, when the truck passed him; “welcome home boys, did we lose anyone.” Rawls said, “No. All present, and accounted for.”

Currie, Myers, Copeland and Rawls debriefed the men; it took them more than 3 hours of putting all the bits of information together. There were nine major ravines and a dozen or so smaller ones. There was gas in barrels stacked almost to the top of the ravine. There were ravines packed and stacked with water cars, rations, small arms ammo, mortar rounds, artillery rounds, land mines, spare parts tires, explosives, there were building, or sheds built in some ravines. There were also around a 100 people working there. Along the crest, there were four patrols 4 men in each, one in each sector that patrolled the top. We will take care of the gas and the ammo dump first, and then we will take care of the rest of it.

“The gas is here close to the road; the ammo dump is here about a mile away. Tomorrow night when the convoy comes by, we will join it and follow them to the edge, where we will turn off and drive down to the gas supplies. Set your satchel charges into the mix, set the fuses for an hour. The other team will do the same set your charges in the ammo dump and 23-skee-doo. We will use the 30’s it looks enough like those Opel Blitz Trucks to give us some time, use the ½ track, no use the jeeps, they’re faster and quieter. Once it goes, 23-skee-doo back here, we will regroup then attack what’s left or what comes out.

Currie radioed his report in then told S-2 his plans. S-2 told him to give his them the coordinates and they would have the air corps drops a few bombs on it, Currie said have the flyboys drop their eggs when the convoys were in there, that way they would get the transports as well as the dump itself. Currie put the handset down and cursed, he would still get to sift through the debris and chase the survivors. Currie told Myers to settle in; they would be here another 24 hours, get everybody fed, limiting unnecessary movements but be ready for anything.

About 1430 hours Currie heard the drone of  airplanes, he looked about the horizon coming in at about 10,000 feet were 12 B-24’s, they flew over the supply dump and about 2 miles south of the dump before they dropped their bombs, blowing big holes in an empty desert.

Currie jumped off the truck, ran to the radio, and called S-2 at battalion, “What the hell is going on,” Currie said. Boyd told him that II Corp thought the target was too valuable to waste, so they made it a priority, Boyd told Currie that II Corp wanted bomb assessment report immediately. Currie said, “No problem, he could give him the assessment right now. They missed the supply depot, by 2 fucking miles.” There was silence at Boyd’s end of the radio. Now that they know, we are here and waiting for us, we are going to attack them tonight as planned. II Corp turned a walk in the park operation into a shit sandwich that I must “eat.”

Currie put the handset down, “those dumb sons of bitches they’ve screwed this pooch big time.” “Captain, lookout post says 1 vehicle in sight”; Currie sprang to the truck then to the cab, he peered over the edge of the ravine; they were out looking for them for sure. “Hold your fire, no movement; let’s see if we can draw them in, we need to get all of them at one time. The lookouts watched as the Horsch Cross country car, crisscrossed the plateau moving closer and closer to them. The car was about a mile out when it turned and raced away, it was being chased by a pair of yellow-nosed P-47 fighters. The fighter’s fired all its 8- 50 cal machine guns at the car; the bullets chewed the car up. The car lost control swerved hard, pitched over on its side, and rolled once over landing on its top. A pall of smoke rose from the car, the P-47’s roared back into the sky and a lone L-3 observation plane came into view briefly before vanishing over the horizon.

Currie climbed down from the truck shaking his head, pack it up boys; let’s get ready to roll; looks like the flyboys will be at it again.

The ground trembled then shook, there was a rumble of explosions, a reddish black and orange fire- ball rose high into the sky; the rumbling of multiple explosions continued. “Damn-it all to hell,” Currie said, he didn’t have to look he knew the dump was going up in flames and explosions, “my supply depot, I found it, it was mine to destroy, not some son-of-a-bitch fly boy.” Currie muttered as he watched the smoke and flames rise from the desert floor. Meyers tapped Curries shoulder and pointed off to the west. The L-3 was trailing smoke, its engine making a ghastly Rupp sputter Rupp sound. Currie yelled down, “see if you can get that s-o-b on the radio and tell him to head east; we will pick him up.

“Captain” corporal Cane said,” I got them on the radio, but they don’t believe we are Americans,” Currie said, “for god sakes, what next?” “Meyers see what you can do,” Currie got down off the truck, “oh fuck them! Kovac!” Currie yelled, “get my jeep up here,” Meyers, tell that yellow nosed P-47 jockey to fly toward the German car he knocked out, he will see me.”

“Come on Sgt.” Currie jumped into the jeep, “let’s go show our asses,” Kovac drove the jeep out of the ravine and headed towards the burning car. They had traveled about ¼ mile, Currie said, “Stop, and get out!” Currie and Kovac stood beside the jeep, within minutes the P-47 flying 25 feet off the ground buzzed over Currie and Kovac, dust and sand rocks flew around them, “that smart ass son-of-a-bitch,” Currie said.

Currie picked up his radio, “hey thanks a lot asshole,”

“That’s lieutenant asshole,” the reply came back,

“This is Captain! Lieutenant asshole, now does your little buddy need help or not, I ‘m tired of playing games.”

“Yes, sir he is down about 20 miles west of here.”

“Go get Doc. and then go get him.” Currie climbed in the jeep, Kovac spun the jeep around, and headed back to the ravine, Doc was waiting at the entrance, Currie got out, “go get him.” The fighter buzzed over the ravine and the jeep, Kovac took off following him.

Currie got everyone moving, “Ok, saddle up, and let’s go not much we can do now.”

Currie called battalion, and Battalion gave Currie his orders, he was to head eastward and meet Second battalion for an assault. Currie advised they were picking up the pilot of the L3 and as soon as they had him, they would be on their way.

The P-47’s shadowed Kovac and Doc who headed off into the desert looking for the pilot of the L-3. Doc spotted the lone figure walking to the west as they crested a knoll. Kovac steered toward him. Kovac slid to a stop next to the flyer, “hop in Lt,” Kovac said. Doc turned, “are you hurt?” The flier held out his hand, it was wrapped in a handkerchief. Doc unwrapped it, the flier had a cut and small burn. Doc handed him a sterile dressing; I will dress it when we get back to the company.

Kovac swung the jeep around, just in time to see the P-47 strafe the L-3. The wing on one side fell to the ground and the fire started, “Damn, I use my fire bottle to put the fire out to save the damn thing, and they use it for target practice.”

“Say, lieutenant, how did the supply depot go up?” Kovac said,

“I was fired at, took a hit in the engine, my escorts strafed the gun emplacement and the next thing I know, boom. My escorts strafed again, dropped their two bombs and all hell broke loose. As a matter of fact, in about an hour a flight of B-17 will bomb it again to make sure it is destroyed,” he said.

Kovac drove fast to get back to the company, He almost threw the lieutenant out of the jeep, twice before they found the company, Kovac slid to a stop at the entrance to the ravine, then drove slowly down into it, coming close to colliding with the ½ track.

“Jesus H Christ Sergeant where in the hell did you learn to drive,” the fly boy said,

“Well sir, the Captain told me to get you and get my ass back and not spend all day doing it, which meant, haul ass sir, which I did.” Kovac said smiling.

Currie walked around the ½ track. “Is he hurt Doc,”

“No sir, I’ll have him bandaged in a minute.”

“Well hurry up we’re behind schedule.”

Doc tied the bandage tight and said, “all done.”

Currie returned the lieutenant’s salute and climbed into the jeep. He held up his hand one finger pointing up and made circles with it. The ½ tracks engine came to life, as did the engines in the vehicles behind him, “let’s go Kovac.”

Kovac backed out of the ravine, Currie pointed the direction he wanted to go Kovac started out in that direction.

“I’m Williams, Pete Williams,” the lieutenant said.

Currie turned to look at him, “I’m Currie, we will meet up with the battalion by night fall, and they will get you back to your outfit as soon as they can.” Currie looked over his shoulder at the smoke and fire that was still boiling out of the ravines…then at the convoy, Meyer’s jeep was bringing up the rear, “all right Kovac lets wind it out.” Kovac mashed the gas pedal, the lieutenant held on for dear life. Currie pulled is goggles down and settled back into the seat. Currie would look at the compass from time to time giving Kovac course changes. The column passed some enemy armor in ruins, and then turned north; they should meet up with the Battalion in an hour or so.

Kovac swerved to the right, steadying his course on a well-worn camel trail road. The jeep crested a small knoll; down the road was the Battalion. Kovac slowed down; they approached the sentry he waved them through the checkpoint.

The convoy pulled to a stop across the road from the Battalion HQ, Currie hopped out of the jeep and headed for the tent, Myers pulled up, and followed him into the tent.

Myers was met at the tent flap by Mike Johansen, “Come on Mike, I’ll show you where to setup the company.”  Mike patted Myers on his shoulder, ushering him out of the tent.

“Say Myers that was a damn good job taking out both those convoys, the POW’s gave us some damn good information, especially they Italians, they were more than helpful. Meyers drove slowly down the road bordered by tents.”

“Right over there,” Johansen said, pointing to a piece of ground, next to kitchen and the supply company. “Mike, the CO told me to tell you to tell your cut throats to stay out of the supply area,”

Myers shot him a look, “Johansen, if it wasn’t for our cutthroats, this battalion would have had nothing at, Jackson, nor in England, not to mention their special items that we supplied to you, don don’t even start.”

“Ok, ok, I’ll admit it, you’ve done “more good than harm”, even the Col says so, but the new supply officer is scared as hell.” Johnson said

“Well, tell him not to worry, my boys have other things to worry about than a few supplies; besides we took a couple truck loads from that Italian Convoy,”

Myers pulled over and directed the trucks into the area. Rawls pulled up and stopped “Charlie, set the company up here, I’ll be right back,” Meyers said.

Myers swung the jeep around headed back toward Battalion, He was driving, and not listening to Johansen jabbering, Meyers jammed on the brake, slid to a halt, jumped out, and rushed into the tent. Meyers looked around Major Boyd and Currie were standing in the corner talking and laughing.

“What’s up boss?” howdy Major, how are you?”

“I’m doing Mike and you?”

Currie interrupted, “staff debriefing at 1600 hours and action reports, we will be here. Let’s go Mike.”

“Yes sir” Meyers said looking a little dejected, “the jeep is over there,” Meyers said as they left the tent. “I’ll drive.” Meyers climbed in behind the wheel and started the jeep. Currie was sitting down in the seat as Meyers eased out the clutch. Currie looked at Meyers as He sped off toward the Co. area.

The company was busy setting up the camp; the tents were going up, the slat board floors going in. Gleason was digging around in his stuff while the company tent was being erected. Gleason looked at Currie, Nodded and held up the burner for his coffee pot. Currie smiled and held up two fingers. Gleason nodded again. The boss wanted 2 cups to start with. Gleason fiddled with the burner, filling it, wiping it down, and checking for leaks. Then he lit it off and set it below the pot. Currie looked at the pot, he had told Gleason to paint it, but he had only put enough paint on it to dull the shine some. Currie strode a little closer to Gleason, “put a little more paint on it to dull it up, just a little more ok.”

Gleason looked at him but sir, it is so beautiful how about if I make it dull without paint, “Gleason said.

“Paint if Gleason, it is still too shiny, I don’t want that shiny son-of-a-bitch getting anyone killed.”

“Yes sir,” Gleason said.

Currie walked around the area, he caught Snipes coming back from the supply company area, “Sgt. Snipes a word with you,”

“Yes, sir Snipes said.

“Leave the supply company alone, no withdrawals without a requisition,” Currie said.

“Oh no sir, I was making a report,”

“And no trading either.”

“Yes sir” Snipes saluted Currie returned it.

Both men walked away. Snipes looked over his should to see Currie looking at him. Snipes shrugged his shoulders before disappearing into the mass of men setting up the tents. Currie thought, “It won’t last.” Gleason found Currie leaning up against the fender of the ½ track, he handed Currie his enameled cup and a canteen cup full of coffee. “Thank Sergeant” Currie said.

“Captain, permission to speak freely sir,”

“Sure, Gleason Permission granted,” Currie said.

“Captain Sir, are you alright? Are you feeling ok?”

“Does it show,” Currie said.

“Yes, sir it does.”

“I’m tired that all,” Currie said lighting a cigarette.

“Ok sir” Gleason said.

“Hey Bucky” Currie said using Gleason nickname “; thanks for asking,”

“You are welcome sir.” Gleason saluted. Currie returned his salute, and drank his coffee watching the hustle and bustle around him

“Gleason” Currie said, “Where are those…”

“Here they are sir,” Gleason handed a stack of mimeographed action reports to him. “Find….”

Gleason interrupted, “lieutenant Myers, Rawls, Copeland, and Evan are waiting outside in the command car. “Where did we get a car?” Currie demanded.

‘Sir, I was told to tell you it was found under a rock sir, that’s all I know sir.” Gleason said.

Currie said, “Shit” then turned and pulled the tent flap back and walked out of the tent. Currie looked at the command car and shook his head. Currie grabbed the handhold stepped on the running board and swung himself up into the seat. Rawls started the engine.

“Christ almighty” Currie said when the engine finally caught and sputtered to life, the command car shook from the vibration of the engine. Rawls stalled it once before finally getting it moving down the road, over the noise and shaking

Currie yelled, “So what is the story on this piece of shit.”

Snipes and Corporal Waites said, “2-days and they would have it running like a top, the motor pool signed it over to us.”

“Tell them 2 days to get it right or turn it back in, “Currie said.

Rawls brought the command car to a shuddering halt outside Battalion HQ. Currie dismounted followed by the others. Col Snow who had approached from the other way saw the command car,

“Captain Currie, I see you have acquired another mode of transportation. I don’t even rate one of those.”

Currie saluted and said, “Sir, if my boys can repair it and make it run the way it should, I’ll give it to you.”

“What’s wrong with it?” Col Snow said, with a look of I don’t believe any of what you just said.

“Charlie, if you would start it up please.”

“Yes sir.” Rawls jumped up into the car, after 4 times the engine began to sputter vibrate, smoke, and wheeze,

Col Snow yelled, “Shut it down.”

Rawls turned the switch off. The engine continued to run until Rawls dumped the clutch, the car jerked forward and then stopped.

“Ok, Ok, the proof is in the pudding, you can keep that hunk of junk.”

“Yes sir” Currie said smiling.

The debriefing started; Currie was debriefed by Major Boyd. Rawls, Copeland, and Evan were debriefed in turn by Major Moore. Currie gave Moore the facts about everything; however, he left out a whole lot of details. Moore asked him more than once about the information he got from the German; it had been a windfall. The troop concentration, the dates all were accurate. Currie told him he was just lucky he guessed in getting the information. Well, it was a damned good job, no matter how you obtained it. It hurt the enemy it cost them dearly. The thought hit Currie like a bold of lightening, “duty, honor, country.” He had told the truth, but he had lied by not speaking the whole truth. Currie sat there

“Are you ok Captain?” Boyd asked.

“Yes, yes Sir just fatigued it all.”

“Well we are just about done here.” Currie answered the questions. While duty honor country, pounded in his brain. Currie felt uneasy but he knew he had to do it. He owed it to his men; he would do it for them.

“Oh, by the way Captain,” the Colonel has put you in for a bronze star, “well aint that just ducky,” Currie thought. He left the table returning to the command car to smoke.

Currie lit a cigarette, he repeated to himself over and over again what I do and have done is an always will be for my men, my country, whatever I must do, whatever it takes. He was lost in thought when Rawls and Copeland spoke, Currie snapped back to reality. “At 1300 hours tomorrow, we will have a briefing to where we go next.”

Rawls tried to start the command car 3 times or 4 times then it rattled and shook its way to life. “Jesus H. Christ Charlie let’s get out of here before we are laughed out of the war, ok,” Currie sloughed and sunk embarrassed down into the seat. Rawls backed the car out onto the road and drove back to Able Co.

Corporal Waite was waiting on the road for their return, He ran alongside the car and jumping aboard asking Rawls not to shut of the engine. Rawls pulled the black smoke-puffing dragon to a stop putting the transmission into neutral and letting out the clutch. Rawls exited the car from the passenger side, Waite ground the gears putting it in reverse and backing the car clear of the tent before catching first gear and driving it down to the rear area of the company.

Corporal Waite turned the ignition switch off and let the car buck and cough to a jerking stoop. Waite jumped down from the seat unlocked the two latches and threw the bonnet up exposing the side of the engine. Corporal Waite was whistling “don’t sit under the apple tree” as he popped the cap off the distributor, and pulled the plug wire off cylinder #1 “Wilber hand me the spark plug wrench and a 9/16 wrench,” Waite pulled the spark plug out, “Wilbur hop up in there and bump it over till I tell you to stop.” Wilber bumped it over 6 times before Waite told him to stop. He loosened the hold down bolt on the distributor clamp and took the distributor out of the block.

“Wilber hand me that new distributor,” Waite dropped in the block twisting it back and forth to align it, he lifted it turned the rotor a notch or two forward, and then dropped it back into the block. He put the hold down clamp on the distributor shaft, bolted it down, and tightened the bolt snugly. He gapped the dwell and the new plugs and put them in. he changed out the cap and rotor.

“Ok Wilber, try it.” Wilber jumped up turned on the ignition switch, twisted the starter switch the engine turned over. A ball of flame erupted through the carburetor, Waite twisted the whole distributor a few degrees, try it again, Wilbur twisted the switch, the engine snapped and back fired again. Waite twisted the distributor while Wilbur was cranking it over, the engine fired up. Waite twisted it a little to the left then right, he sped up the motor and adjusted it and finally tightened the hold down bolt tight against the clamp. Waite pulled his screwdriver from his pocket and adjusted the carburetor, he stepped back smiling. Wilber revved the motor up, once then once more before shutting it off.

“Wilber put the tools up; I’m going to take it for a test drive.” Waite started the command car, grabbed the gearshift lever, and ground the gears until he found first gear. He pulled out slowly up through the soldiers, weaving in and out of the line of tents, until he turned onto the road. Waite gunned the engine then changed the gears. He headed down the road about 2 miles; he turned the car around and headed back to the company.

Waite felt a strange vibration in the command car. Then he felt his body being violently thrown against the steering wheel his head snapping awkwardly to one side. Waite pushed himself back his arms surprisingly weak, he looked at the dashboard of the car, it was covered in a fine mist of blood, and he watched the bright red drops fade to black as the He-111 passed over his head. Corporal Ralph Waite mechanic extraordinaire died that instant, the command car swerved violently to the left turned sideways then upended turning over rolling over twice before coming to a stop upside down, and bursting into flames. Waite’s crumpled body lay in the desert just yards from the command car; He was staring upward into the pristine blue sky, a sky he would never see again.  Able company had lost a good man today, and the war had just started.

The Henkel 111 streaked at over 270 mph over the encampment, the 7.92 mm MG-42 protruded from the planes belly and spit bullets at 1000 rounds a minute, the gunner swiveling the machine gun spraying the men on the ground with a deadly rain of lead. Men fell and screamed; bullets whizzed and whined. The bullets found their targets, the soft bodies of men; they were knocked down thrown violently like a dog shaking its prey in its mouth. Some men Shot back trying to return the hail of bullets, but the plane flew on unscathed.

Currie ran from the tent, black smoke was already rising from the vehicles that were now on fire, men screamed Medic! Medic! Currie saw and his Corpsmen scrambling towards the screams of those men who were hurt and the yells of men getting help for those who couldn’t scream.

Currie was knocked to the ground by a man running for the ½ track. Currie looked up to see the man vault into the ½ track, swing the 50 cal in his direction, and begin to fire. The gun fired the tracers that arched out to meet the foe, bullets began to whiz by, little spits of dirt kicked up around him walking their way towards the truck. He watched almost mesmerized as little holes began to appear in the skin of the ½ track, the pings in the metal sides of the track sounding like the toll of bells.

The plane roared overhead, the rumble of the two BMW 1500 Hp engines mixed with the staccato sound of the machine guns answering death as it passed over, the .50 cal gun kept firing following the plane. Currie heard the deafening thudding sounds of the bullets striking the aircraft. The plane flew on maybe another 1000 yards before the right wing was violently torn off and fluttered to the ground. Currie lay on the ground trembling watching the plane abruptly flipped over and dive into the ground, a huge red orange ball of flame mixed with black smoke rolled up into the air, announcing the death of the plane and its occupants.

The camp was in chaos, Currie jumped up, unaware that he had soiled himself, “Get our people in order, I want to know what we have left.” Currie yelled to Copeland, “find Rawls and Evans, he saw Kovac, “get some order here, get those fires put out.”

Currie made his way to the ½ track, Romero had his back to him a red flower of blood was growing on his back. Currie picked him off the gun. Romeo looked at Currie, “did I get him sir?” Currie nodded as Romeo collapsed into his arms. Currie yelled, “Medic” as he laid Romero down, “Medic.” Pruett jumped up into the truck, took Romero’s pulse, he looked at Currie and shook his head. “He is dead sir,” Pruett jumped down hunting for the next dead or wounded man. Currie stood there looking at Romero. The medic had closed his eyes before he left. Currie balled up his fist and struck the hard-cold steel side of the ½ track before removing one of his tags. Order was being restored; fires put out. The wounded and the dead were being moved up beside the road. The wounded lay on stretchers, the dead laid out on the ground, their lifeless bodies wrapped in olive drab green ground covers.

Meyers stumbled up to Currie, “what’s the tally Mike? Currie asked. Mike said, eight dead, 12 wounded, 4 missing, Currie pointed over his should, Romero in the track he is dead he is the one who shot down the plane.

Currie hand was trembling as he pulled the cigarettes and lighter from his pocket, he lit one, and walked down the rows of tents accessing, the damage cataloging it. He gazed into the eyes of his men, they had changed, and they weren’t the men he had known at Fort Jackson or in England. There in their eyes was a look, a faraway look, he had seen that look in the eyes of the Germans, and Italians, a damning far away stare into nothingness. He had seen this look in the eyes of the men, he had tracked down and killed, he wondered if he had the same look as those men, he blinked once, then twice more,

Gleason wore a bandage on his head and one on his hand; he was making a pot of coffee. “Gleason, what are you doing?” Currie said loudly. Gleason turned towards him, “don’t you have work to do.”

Gleason pointed his bandaged hand toward the burnt-out frame of a tent, sitting amid the destruction was Gleason’s majestic Underwood Typewriter, sitting in ashes of his tent. The platen and key pads had been consumed by the fire. A few flames still flickered from the wooden file boxes, “But sir,” Gleason said, “I saved it and the cups, I know how you love your coffee, I can always get a new typewriter, can’t I sir,” Gleason sort of looked up and collapsed in a heap on the ground.

Currie yelled “medic – medic.” Doc rounded the corner and rushed toward them. Doc kneeled and turned Gleason over “for Christ sakes,” again Doc yelled “stretcher-bearers, stretcher-bearers over here.” The stretcher-bearers arrived, Currie noticed the bandage on his belly, “This makes twice,” Doc said.

Currie said, “Twice”

“He has a belly wound, he was burned saving that precious coffee pot, and I put him on a stretcher with an IV in his arm. He was supposed to go straight to the hospital. He came back here to make coffee.”

Currie looked at the man on the ground, looked at the pot, and then he turned the burner off. He kneeled squeezed Gleason’s arm, “hey Bucky,” Gleason opened his eyes, “thanks for the coffee, it is the best you have ever made.”

Gleason smiled, “thank you sir.”

The stretcher bearers lifted him and stumbled to the road,

“Davis.”

“Yes sir.”

“Do you know how to make coffee in this contraption?”

“Yes, sir I do Sgt. Gleason taught me.”

“Good, make a full pot, and I want it shined, get all the paint off of it, and shine it.”

“Yes sir” Davis said.”

“Find me; bring me a cup, when you have it made.”

Currie tracked down Meyers, “how does it look Mike”

“11 dead, 12 wounded 5 critical and 1 missing.”

“Who is missing, Mike?”

“Sergeant Waite,”

“Find him,”

“We are looking for him; he was last seen driving that command car.”

“Have someone go down the road and see if that hunk of junk broke down,”

“Yes sir,” Mike said.

Currie said, “Staff and NCO briefing at,” glancing down at his watch, “1700 hours.”

Davis found Currie “here Sir,” handing him a canteen cup full of coffee.

Currie sipped the hot black brew, “not too bad” he said. “I’m sure you’ll improve with time.”

Currie caught sight of Kovac and Snipes, “Sergeants Kovac, Snipes,” Currie, yelled. Kovac and Snipes walked towards him, “join me gentlemen,” he said, “looks as though we might be a few items short… See what you can do about it.” Kovac, Snipes said, “yes sir,” they saluted and left Currie’s side.

Currie passed the burnt out remains of Gleason’s tent, the fire destroyed the Underwood Typewriter, and all the Company files. Currie looked into the men’s faces, “who was missing? Who was dead? Would the wounded survive?” There were a thousand more questions he had racing precariously through his mind, funny there is no one here who could answer those questions,” He thought. He wrote his notes on a piece of paper with singed edges.  He looked in amazement that all his trucks, jeeps, 30 cwts were undamaged. The only vehicle that was damaged was his ½ track, ½ dozen-bullet holes in the body but no mechanical damage.

Currie saw the last ambulance leave; the bodies were also gone, empty IV bottles. Bandages and gauze that were once as white as snow were now stained red with blood and strewn over the area. Currie stepped into his tent. Several dots of light were visible on the floor and desk; he looked up saw the holes in the canvas. “If I had not run outside when I did, if Romero had not bowled me over when he did, I could have been one of the dead.” He shivered.

Currie was at his desk, Davis came in with a cup of coffee, “sir, aint it too damn hot for coffee,” he said.

Currie took the cup, “dismissed,” he said glancing at Davis,

“Yes sir,” Davis answered he was exiting the tent, he stopped, “Captain Sir, Lieutenant Meyers, is here to see you.”

Currie nodded, Meyers followed by Rawls, Copeland, Evans, Kovac, Snipes and Sawyer paraded in.

Ok Mike let’s have it, report.

“Yes sir, 12 dead, Nichols, Wilson, Fitzhugh, Benfield, Waite, Barry, Feston, Crowder, George, Hopkins, Slattery, and Romero. Wounded Gleason, Sgt. Billings, Marshal, Dickson, Avers, Bosarge, King, and Puckett. Those men are going home, Edwards, Wiggens, Hopper, Anders, should be back in a week or so.

“Did you say Waite?

“Yes sir. Out on the road he was probably the first man killed in the raid, the command car he was driving is a burnt-out hulk.”

“Ok, Meyers, get on the report, request replacements, and materials; Rawls, make Corporal Lance squad leader till Anders returns. Get this mess cleaned up…whatever you guys need get with Kovac and Snipes, I’m sure if it is around, they should be able to procure it. Get Barrus moving on chow, see what the battalion is doing, if they are cooking get some chow down here.”

“Sir, Barrus is already on it.” Rawls said,

“Is there anything else?” Currie looked around and said, “Dismissed.” before anyone could answer or ask a question.

Currie sat back in his chair. “Davis”

“Sir, Davis responded,

“Coffee.”

“Sir, yes sir,” Davis said leaving the tent.

Currie lit a cigarette, he blew the smoke upwards with pursed lips, he reached into his pocket digging around for his note book, he withdrew it and opened it up; he took his pencil and wrote with a slow methodical hand the names of the dead and on another page he wrote the names of the wounded.

Currie leaned on the table he put his forehead in his left hand and rested it there; he flipped back to the page where he had written the names of the dead, his dead. Currie shook his head then added on more name to the page, his own name. Currie thought that after today I am just as dead as the men that were killed today.

Davis brought Currie’s coffee,

“Thanks Sergeant Davis,”

“Sir, its Corporal Davis, Sir.”

“Sergeant, are you going to argue with a Captain,”

“No sir,” Davis said.

“Good, thank you Sergeant,”

“You’re welcome, sir,” Davis said.

Crossroads

Myers woke Currie before the sun had risen. Peters and the Italian lieutenant had been killed three Germans had escaped. Currie began to boil, to seethe. I have a patrol ready to go out and find them. “No! Stand Down God Damn it, Stand Down. I want Jones and Kovac here; I’m going to go get them.” Currie began to dig into his duffel; he pulled out ghillie suit and four boxes of match grade 30 cal ammo. Myers had never seen Currie like this before; he was a man possessed. “Get the other jeep Kovac, pull it up here.” Jones get your stuff together we are going to track those murdering bastards down.”

“Yes sir,” Jones muttered.

Currie unrolled the Ghillie suit a tattered stringed burlap looking multi colored cloth coveralls. Currie took off his web gear putting the 45 in his pocket, the boxes of shells in his other pockets. He pulled the leather case that held his rifle out of the jeep uncased it, wiped it down with a rag; he opened the bolt and checked the weapon. He pulled a roll of the same cloth the suit was made of from his pocket, and carefully wrapped the rifle he wrapped it from muzzle to the butt-plate of the stock leaving only the receiver and butt-plate exposed. He opened the bolt and pushed five match grade 168-grain 30 cal shells into the magazine. He closed the bolt chambering a round.

“Let’s go,” he said, to Kovac as he picked up his helmet and two canteens, “where did they go Jones?”

“They headed west, out the back probably 4 to 5 hours ago,” Jones said.

“Let’s see your map,” he said to Kovac. Kovac slowed the jeep down and stopped at the edge of a ravine. Jones jumped out to look around, “they’re headed south from here down the wadi Captain.”

Currie looked at the map, this wadi runs a good 10 miles south from here, “I want you to turn around go out a good ½ mile and parallel the wadi. I want you to cut off the end of the wadi. If you cut their trail, round them up and come get me, if not wait for me there. I will be along in a while.”

Currie got out of the jeep put his helmet on, tucked the two canteens into the back pouch of the suit, he pulled the hood up over his helmet. He crossed the wadi, climbed the rise on the west side, and disappeared behind it. Jones climbed back in the jeep.

“What do you think Top?” Jones said,

Kovac shook his head, “It’s his game now my son. I think we need to do as we were told.”

Kovac and Currie backtracked and headed south.

Currie trotted down the backside of the rise crawling to the top, every 100 to 200 yards to survey the wadi. He continued heading south; he crossed the ridge twice and checked the wadi for tracks the tracks were still there.

Currie covered about five miles when he rose to check the wadi; he caught a glimpse of movement south of him. He sighted through his scope; he had caught up with them. Currie crawled down the slope continuing down the backside of the ridge. He covered 300 yards quickly, and then crawled to the crest of the ridge. Currie sighted his quarry again, he aimed the rifle thumbing off the safety, slowly squeezing the trigger, the Springfield barked.

The rifle the German soldier carried suddenly shook violently, the stock under the receiver and bolt exploded driving splinters of wood into his hands; the rifle was ruined. The German soldier threw the weapon down screaming in pain holding his hand. The three soldiers took cover. Currie dropped down and advanced closing the distance to 500 yards.

Currie crawled up the rise to look, he saw the three men running down the wadi. He aimed the Springfield, targeting a rock jutting out into the ravine about 50 yards in front of the men; about the time they reached the rock, Currie fired; the bullet impacted the rock throwing pieces of the bullet and rock everywhere, a dust cloud formed; the Germans dove for cover.

Currie waited to keep the area targeted; he saw one of the Germans poke his head up to see if it was all clear. Currie shifted the point of aim 3 inches to the right and fired, the bullet plowed into the ground throwing dirt, sand and stone into the Germans face. The three Germans broke and ran the German with the wounded hand was leading the man who he had blinded with the dirt. Currie crouched down and followed them at a run, closing the distance, he popped up the Germans were still running. Currie fired again. The Germans dove again for cover.

Currie closed the distance, this time keeping watch on them as he ran, he stopped and fire again, keeping the three men pinned down. He watched as one of the German’s crawled up the side of the wadi. Currie brought his weapon up aimed and fired; the man fell and rolled back down into the wadi.

Currie pushed three rounds down into the magazine and closed the bolt. The wounded German stood and raised his hands, the last man stayed hidden. Currie took cover behind the rise slowly walking toward them he peered over the rise to keep the men in sight. Currie walked up the rise, the man who had been hiding jumped out pointed the pistol at Currie, and squeezed the trigger, but the gun wouldn’t fire, the German laughed tossing the pistol down.

“You Americans,” he laughed, “Great believers in the Geneva Convention, you can’t shoot an unarmed man.” He said in English

Currie pulled the Ghillie hood off his helmet.

“Oh, a Captain in camouflage and a sniper you are very versatile.”

“All in a day’s work and who might you be?” Currie said

“Unterstrumfuhrer Klaus Manda, Schutzstaffel.”

The wounded man barked in German; the other German lunged at Currie. Currie shot him in the chest, killing him instantly. The Unterstrumfuhrer tried to climb out of the ravine and attack Currie. He came face to face with the muzzle of Currie’s 45. The Germans mouth dropped open in disbelief he never saw the pistol or where it came from.

“Now you will tell me everything, I want to know, Unterstrumfuhrer Klaus Manda,” Currie said thrusting a map at him.

The German said in English, “Norman Manda Klaus Untersturmfuhrer. Currie pistol-whipped the lieutenant in the face knocking him back into the wadi. He looked at Currie in disbelief. He said “Geneva…” Currie shot him in the ball of his right foot.

Currie squatted down, “maybe you didn’t hear me, where is the rest of your unit? You will mark it on the map, I want to know where the SS are who skinned and the killed those two men in El Bayadh. Maybe that was you. I want to know where your supply depots are.”

The German was in pain holding his foot.

“You’re not listening,” the 45, barked again, the German screamed and grabbed his left foot; “that was only your toe lieutenant, but it got you attention, Didn’t it?”

“You’re a mad man,” the German screamed.

” No, I’m just and angry man, now tell me what I want to know, or your ankles are next, then your knees,” the German began cursing screaming at Currie in German. Currie shot him in his right ankle, the man passed out slumped over on the ground in mid word.

Currie squatted on his haunches drinking from his canteen. When the German woke, Currie climbed down into the wadi; the German stared up at Currie, he said, “bitter, bitter,” one moment.

Currie said, “Nein” and ground his foot into the Germans ankles. The German screamed and passed out again. When the German again regained consciousness, he pleaded with Currie to stop, Currie tossed the map down and pencil. The German opened the map, he marked the locations of supply dumps, troop areas, where POW’s were being held, and he marked where the entries to the supply dumps were.

The German looked at Currie, the man was in extreme pain, he was defeated, “Hauptman, Wasser bitter,” he said, pointing  the canteen, Currie handed him the canteen, the German unscrewed the top put the canteen to his lips, he closed his eyes and drank the cool water.

Currie raised the 45 and pulled the trigger; the Germans head bucked backward and slammed back into the wall of the ravine; the canteen tumbled from his hand. The life of the German passed from his body like the water draining from the canteen.

Currie reached down folded the map, picked up the pencil, and wiped the blood from it. “Rot in hell” he said. He turned and headed south to meet up with Kovac and Jones.

Currie crawled up the side of the wadi and walked down the eastern side; his mind was whirling with what had transpired this day. Currie heard the jeep before he saw it. He stopped and waited for Kovac and Jones to pull up beside him. Jones hopped in the back, Currie sat down, laying his rifle across his lap. “Let’s go, he said.” Currie nor Jones nor Kovac said one word to each other on the trip back to the company.

Currie sent for Snotky, and asked for another map, he told Snotky to translate the German and transpose it to the Map.

The MP’s loaded the prisoners and were waiting, Currie handed them the map to take to Major Boyd S2 at Battalion.

Currie took off his Ghillie suit carefully rolled it up and packed it away, he picked up his rifle, dropped the floor plate taking the three shells out and then ejecting the one from the chamber.

Gleason showed up with a cup of coffee, laid it on the hood of the jeep, Currie reached for it, he picked it up, his hand shook so bad he set it down and used both hands to pick it up again. Gleason wiped up the coffee with a rag. I’ll get you another cup,” Gleason said as he turned and walked away.

Currie sat on the running board of the jeep, he put a cigarette in his mouth holding his hands so they wouldn’t shake and trying to light it. Gleason knelt beside him and flicked his lighter for Currie. He sucked the cigarette to life, Gleason poured a canteen cup ½ full of coffee, and “here you go Captain setting it on Currie’s knee,”

“Thanks Bucky,” Currie said. Currie’s hands trembled as he drank the coffee.

Gleason picked up Curries rifle, “I’ll clean it.”

“No, I ‘ll do it.” Currie said shaking his head.

“Captain, I said I would clean it.” Gleason said,

Currie shook his head, Gleason took the rifle and cleaned it between delivering cups of coffee to his Captain, and he packed it back in the case, asked Currie for the shells.

Currie pulled them out of his pockets and handed them to Gleason.

The MP’s and POW’s pulled out; Myers brought the bloody map back to Currie.

“Mount them up, we are heading here,” He tapped the map, “a German supply depot, it is about 80 miles away, we should be able to scout it tonight, tomorrow we destroy it or call in an airstrike.”

“Let’s get rolling.” Meyers said, “what about the three Germans, should I send someone to bury them.”

Currie shot him a look and in a very low voice said, “No, they have been taken care of. Let’s get a move on we have places to go and things to do.”

Able Company moved out just after noon heading east. They crossed the road ahead of where the burnt hulks of the Italian and German trucks were. The German tracks were clearly visible on the dusty sparsely grassed plateau. Currie looked behind him, the column had fanned out each truck clearly visible and behind them was the wall of choking red grey dust cloud that closely followed them,

“Damn, I bet we can be seen a hundred miles away,” Currie thought and looked at the speedometer, Gleason was doing all of 20 miles per hour. He looked at his watch, the bezel was dirty, he licked his thumb, and rubbed the crystal, the dried blood wiped away leaving his thumb red, he wiped his thumb on his pants. At this speed within 2 hours, we will be close enough to scout out the supply dump, and then determine how to destroy it or capture it. Battalion called Currie on the VHF radio. Currie told them he was moving forward to scout out the supply depot. Battalion told him that they had sent an L-3 out to recon the area, but they saw nothing from the air.

Currie was to find it and find it fast. Currie asked Battalion if capturing the supply depot was an option. Battalion told him no, it was to be destroyed.

Currie thought to himself, “I’ll destroy it yes, I will destroy it. After I learn all they know.” He smiled, and then adjusted his goggles, he pointed to the west, and his hand imitating a pistol, his thumb dropped as would the hammer on the pistol. Gleason sped up.

The desert terrain a landscape of gently rolling hills, the red grey sandy soil was dotted with clumps of grass or lone patches of scrub brush. Gleason steered around the scrub brush and the larger rocks… The smaller rocks and stones scattered behind him. Gleason made corrections to his course from the hand signals given to him.

Currie looked at his watch; they had been traveling for 1-1/2 hours covering a little more than 50 miles. “Gleason slow it down to 10 mph, I don’t want a big dust cloud to alert the enemy any more than we might have already. For the next hour, the dust wasn’t as thick or billowed as high; Currie had the column fall back in line and put 50 yards between each truck. Gleason slowed the jeep down and brought it to a stop, it had been an hour Currie stirred from his seat, he checked the map, off to the NW a few miles was a wadi that should give them the cover they needed, a half hour later the trucks were parked and spaced out in the wadi. Currie fixed two landmarks by the compass and with the wadi, and he knew their exact position.

The edge of the Haut Plateau lay 10 miles to the south of them.

Currie called his lieutenants and NCO’s together, “I want lookouts in pairs, 100 yards out dug in and at either end of the wadi, hook up the field phones. Currie pointed to the map, here, here, here, here, here, here. I want the camouflage netting strung out over the equipment. I want us invisible, space out the equipment on either side of the wadi, and put it uptight against the walls in any nook or cranny you can find. Throw some sand on the tops of the trucks. I want the ½ track at the head of the wadi and leave one jeep out. We will use it tonight for the recon and cover over the windshield and mirrors. Let’s get them fed and bedded down and then I will go over the recon.”

For the next 2 hours Currie supervised the camouflage and the location and placement of the lookout post…he even walked down the edge of the wadi looking down on the trucks and men; he completed his inspection on both sides. Good ole Gleason waited for him when Currie walked up, he handed him a pack of camels and a canteen cup full of coffee,

“I’ll have your refill ready when you are sir,” he said.

Currie nodded and head for his jeep. Currie unfolded the map the bright red bloodstains were now a rusty red brown color. The German had marked a common entrance on the Haut Plateau to nine ravines that comprised the supply depot.

Currie laid out his plan to Rawls and Kovac, “take 3rd and 4th squad, drop them off two by two’s 500 yards out, they will make their way to these ravines, scout them. The truck will wait somewhere around here until 0100 at that time it will start back, the men are to flash their red-light 3 dashes, followed by 2 dots, that’s the pickup signal, you pick them up and high tail it back here pronto.”

“What about prisoners,” Rawls asked.”

“No,” Currie” said,” we know there is a dump, we want to know what’s in it and how big it is. Then we will destroy it or have air corps bomb it.

It was about 30 minutes to dark, when a lone small German observation plane flew over making one pass up and another pass down the ravine, the plane flew on searching the plateau.  The plane returned passed over them and disappeared to the south. “Mr. Myers send word to our lookout posts and tell them to expect patrols tonight,” Currie said. “I’m pretty sure that SOB didn’t spot us, he hung around too long, but I don’t want to take any chances.”

Every preparation that could be made was made. They were ready, at 1920 hours third and fourth squad were assembled, and were being briefed; they had their maps and assignments. “I want you guys to get a good look. I don’t want to have to come look for any of you, so be damned careful,” Currie said.

The field phone buzzed, he lifted the handset from the bag, “ok keep a watch on them and let me know,” he handed the handset to Meyers. We have visitors; LP4 says a column of dust about three miles out…is headed our way. “I guess that plane did see us, damn it all to hell, ok let’s get ready, get to your positions,” the men untied the camouflage got their weapons.

Currie jumped up on the cab of a truck and glassed the area; where LP4 was in the distance he saw the dust then saw the trucks a convoy moving very fast. They were doing over 40 miles per hour, another minute or two and they would be here, Currie saw a 6-wheel armored car followed by a line of Opel Blitz Transport trucks.

Currie called Rawls,” get your squads loaded and ready to go, that’s a supply column headed for the depot; with all the dust they are kicking up we can fall right in behind them; they will escort you right up to the depot, then fall out and carry on your patrol. The patrol of 2 armored cars and 41 trucks came within 100 yards of Curries position. The Chevy 30 pulled out into the dust trail, left by the convoy and sped away to the South,

“Well now we know we weren’t seen by the spotter plane,” Currie muttered to himself. Currie paced up and down looking at his watch, time seemed to have stopped; where was his patrol? Where were his men? Currie paced and smoked, checked his watch and paced some more. At 0330 the lookout post 6 called, he heard trucks coming and saw the dust. Currie ran to the mouth of the ravine; he could see by the light of the moon the German column snaking its way across the desert. The lead armored car bore down on Curries position and closed to within 100 yards before changing course and missing the mouth of the ravine by 30 yards. The loaded trucks rumbled by their engines whining, the springs creaking, the canvas covers flapping in the wind, they made enough noise to drown out the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Currie looked at his watch, wiping the dust off, the last truck and the second armored car rumbled past, at 0339.

The dust began to settle Currie saw a lone truck moving slowly, he thought to himself, “those are my boys,” he watched as the truck drew closer.

The truck passed Currie he saw the bright white star on the door of the truck not 40 yards away. The truck slid to a halt then it backed up it stopped again. Two figures dropped off the back and headed toward the ravine, the sentry challenged them. They ran back to the truck the truck turned and headed for the ravine, Currie grabbed hold of the mirror and swung up on the running board, when the truck passed him; “welcome home boys, did we lose anyone.” Rawls said, “No. All present, and accounted for.”

Currie, Myers, Copeland and Rawls debriefed the men; it took them more than 3 hours of putting all the bits of information together. There were nine major ravines and a dozen or so smaller ones. There was gas in barrels stacked almost to the top of the ravine. There were ravines packed and stacked with water cars, rations, small arms ammo, mortar rounds, artillery rounds, land mines, spare parts tires, explosives, there were building, or sheds built in some ravines. There were also around a 100 people working there. Along the crest, there were four patrols 4 men in each, one in each sector that patrolled the top. We will take care of the gas and the ammo dump first, and then we will take care of the rest of it.

“The gas is here close to the road; the ammo dump is here about a mile away. Tomorrow night when the convoy comes by, we will join it and follow them to the edge, where we will turn off and drive down to the gas supplies. Set your satchel charges into the mix, set the fuses for an hour. The other team will do the same set your charges in the ammo dump and 23-skee-doo. We will use the 30’s it looks enough like those Opel Blitz Trucks to give us some time, use the ½ track, no use the jeeps, they’re faster and quieter. Once it goes, 23-skee-doo back here, we will regroup then attack what’s left or what comes out.

Currie radioed his report in then told S-2 his plans. S-2 told him to give his them the coordinates and they would have the air corps drops a few bombs on it, Currie said have the flyboys drop their eggs when the convoys were in there, that way they would get the transports as well as the dump itself. Currie put the handset down and cursed, he would still get to sift through the debris and chase the survivors. Currie told Myers to settle in; they would be here another 24 hours, get everybody fed, limiting unnecessary movements but be ready for anything.

About 1430 hours Currie heard the drone of  airplanes, he looked about the horizon coming in at about 10,000 feet were 12 B-24’s, they flew over the supply dump and about 2 miles south of the dump before they dropped their bombs, blowing big holes in an empty desert.

Currie jumped off the truck, ran to the radio, and called S-2 at battalion, “What the hell is going on,” Currie said. Boyd told him that II Corp thought the target was too valuable to waste, so they made it a priority, Boyd told Currie that II Corp wanted bomb assessment report immediately. Currie said, “No problem, he could give him the assessment right now. They missed the supply depot, by 2 fucking miles.” There was silence at Boyd’s end of the radio. Now that they know, we are here and waiting for us, we are going to attack them tonight as planned. II Corp turned a walk in the park operation into a shit sandwich that I must “eat.”

Currie put the handset down, “those dumb sons of bitches they’ve screwed this pooch big time.” “Captain, lookout post says 1 vehicle in sight”; Currie sprang to the truck then to the cab, he peered over the edge of the ravine; they were out looking for them for sure. “Hold your fire, no movement; let’s see if we can draw them in, we need to get all of them at one time. The lookouts watched as the Horsch Cross country car, crisscrossed the plateau moving closer and closer to them. The car was about a mile out when it turned and raced away, it was being chased by a pair of yellow-nosed P-47 fighters. The fighter’s fired all its 8- 50 cal machine guns at the car; the bullets chewed the car up. The car lost control swerved hard, pitched over on its side, and rolled once over landing on its top. A pall of smoke rose from the car, the P-47’s roared back into the sky and a lone L-3 observation plane came into view briefly before vanishing over the horizon.

Currie climbed down from the truck shaking his head, pack it up boys; let’s get ready to roll; looks like the flyboys will be at it again.

The ground trembled then shook, there was a rumble of explosions, a reddish black and orange fire- ball rose high into the sky; the rumbling of multiple explosions continued. “Damn-it all to hell,” Currie said, he didn’t have to look he knew the dump was going up in flames and explosions, “my supply depot, I found it, it was mine to destroy, not some son-of-a-bitch fly boy.” Currie muttered as he watched the smoke and flames rise from the desert floor. Meyers tapped Curries shoulder and pointed off to the west. The L-3 was trailing smoke, its engine making a ghastly Rupp sputter Rupp sound. Currie yelled down, “see if you can get that s-o-b on the radio and tell him to head east; we will pick him up.

“Captain” corporal Cane said,” I got them on the radio, but they don’t believe we are Americans,” Currie said, “for god sakes, what next?” “Meyers see what you can do,” Currie got down off the truck, “oh fuck them! Kovac!” Currie yelled, “get my jeep up here,” Meyers, tell that yellow nosed P-47 jockey to fly toward the German car he knocked out, he will see me.”

“Come on Sgt.” Currie jumped into the jeep, “let’s go show our asses,” Kovac drove the jeep out of the ravine and headed towards the burning car. They had traveled about ¼ mile, Currie said, “Stop, and get out!” Currie and Kovac stood beside the jeep, within minutes the P-47 flying 25 feet off the ground buzzed over Currie and Kovac, dust and sand rocks flew around them, “that smart ass son-of-a-bitch,” Currie said.

Currie picked up his radio, “hey thanks a lot asshole,”

“That’s lieutenant asshole,” the reply came back,

“This is Captain! Lieutenant asshole, now does your little buddy need help or not, I ‘m tired of playing games.”

“Yes, sir he is down about 20 miles west of here.”

“Go get Doc. and then go get him.” Currie climbed in the jeep, Kovac spun the jeep around, and headed back to the ravine, Doc was waiting at the entrance, Currie got out, “go get him.” The fighter buzzed over the ravine and the jeep, Kovac took off following him.

Currie got everyone moving, “Ok, saddle up, and let’s go not much we can do now.”

Currie called battalion, and Battalion gave Currie his orders, he was to head eastward and meet Second battalion for an assault. Currie advised they were picking up the pilot of the L3 and as soon as they had him, they would be on their way.

The P-47’s shadowed Kovac and Doc who headed off into the desert looking for the pilot of the L-3. Doc spotted the lone figure walking to the west as they crested a knoll. Kovac steered toward him. Kovac slid to a stop next to the flyer, “hop in Lt,” Kovac said. Doc turned, “are you hurt?” The flier held out his hand, it was wrapped in a handkerchief. Doc unwrapped it, the flier had a cut and small burn. Doc handed him a sterile dressing; I will dress it when we get back to the company.

Kovac swung the jeep around, just in time to see the P-47 strafe the L-3. The wing on one side fell to the ground and the fire started, “Damn, I use my fire bottle to put the fire out to save the damn thing, and they use it for target practice.”

“Say, lieutenant, how did the supply depot go up?” Kovac said,

“I was fired at, took a hit in the engine, my escorts strafed the gun emplacement and the next thing I know, boom. My escorts strafed again, dropped their two bombs and all hell broke loose. As a matter of fact, in about an hour a flight of B-17 will bomb it again to make sure it is destroyed,” he said.

Kovac drove fast to get back to the company, He almost threw the lieutenant out of the jeep, twice before they found the company, Kovac slid to a stop at the entrance to the ravine, then drove slowly down into it, coming close to colliding with the ½ track.

“Jesus H Christ Sergeant where in the hell did you learn to drive,” the fly boy said,

“Well sir, the Captain told me to get you and get my ass back and not spend all day doing it, which meant, haul ass sir, which I did.” Kovac said smiling.

Currie walked around the ½ track. “Is he hurt Doc,”

“No sir, I’ll have him bandaged in a minute.”

“Well hurry up we’re behind schedule.”

Doc tied the bandage tight and said, “all done.”

Currie returned the lieutenant’s salute and climbed into the jeep. He held up his hand one finger pointing up and made circles with it. The ½ tracks engine came to life, as did the engines in the vehicles behind him, “let’s go Kovac.”

Kovac backed out of the ravine, Currie pointed the direction he wanted to go Kovac started out in that direction.

“I’m Williams, Pete Williams,” the lieutenant said.

Currie turned to look at him, “I’m Currie, we will meet up with the battalion by night fall, and they will get you back to your outfit as soon as they can.” Currie looked over his shoulder at the smoke and fire that was still boiling out of the ravines…then at the convoy, Meyer’s jeep was bringing up the rear, “all right Kovac lets wind it out.” Kovac mashed the gas pedal, the lieutenant held on for dear life. Currie pulled is goggles down and settled back into the seat. Currie would look at the compass from time to time giving Kovac course changes. The column passed some enemy armor in ruins, and then turned north; they should meet up with the Battalion in an hour or so.

Kovac swerved to the right, steadying his course on a well-worn camel trail road. The jeep crested a small knoll; down the road was the Battalion. Kovac slowed down; they approached the sentry he waved them through the checkpoint.

The convoy pulled to a stop across the road from the Battalion HQ, Currie hopped out of the jeep and headed for the tent, Myers pulled up, and followed him into the tent.

Myers was met at the tent flap by Mike Johansen, “Come on Mike, I’ll show you where to setup the company.”  Mike patted Myers on his shoulder, ushering him out of the tent.

“Say Myers that was a damn good job taking out both those convoys, the POW’s gave us some damn good information, especially they Italians, they were more than helpful. Meyers drove slowly down the road bordered by tents.”

“Right over there,” Johansen said, pointing to a piece of ground, next to kitchen and the supply company. “Mike, the CO told me to tell you to tell your cut throats to stay out of the supply area,”

Myers shot him a look, “Johansen, if it wasn’t for our cutthroats, this battalion would have had nothing at, Jackson, nor in England, not to mention their special items that we supplied to you, don don’t even start.”

“Ok, ok, I’ll admit it, you’ve done “more good than harm”, even the Col says so, but the new supply officer is scared as hell.” Johnson said

“Well, tell him not to worry, my boys have other things to worry about than a few supplies; besides we took a couple truck loads from that Italian Convoy,”

Myers pulled over and directed the trucks into the area. Rawls pulled up and stopped “Charlie, set the company up here, I’ll be right back,” Meyers said.

Myers swung the jeep around headed back toward Battalion, He was driving, and not listening to Johansen jabbering, Meyers jammed on the brake, slid to a halt, jumped out, and rushed into the tent. Meyers looked around Major Boyd and Currie were standing in the corner talking and laughing.

“What’s up boss?” howdy Major, how are you?”

“I’m doing Mike and you?”

Currie interrupted, “staff debriefing at 1600 hours and action reports, we will be here. Let’s go Mike.”

“Yes sir” Meyers said looking a little dejected, “the jeep is over there,” Meyers said as they left the tent. “I’ll drive.” Meyers climbed in behind the wheel and started the jeep. Currie was sitting down in the seat as Meyers eased out the clutch. Currie looked at Meyers as He sped off toward the Co. area.

The company was busy setting up the camp; the tents were going up, the slat board floors going in. Gleason was digging around in his stuff while the company tent was being erected. Gleason looked at Currie, Nodded and held up the burner for his coffee pot. Currie smiled and held up two fingers. Gleason nodded again. The boss wanted 2 cups to start with. Gleason fiddled with the burner, filling it, wiping it down, and checking for leaks. Then he lit it off and set it below the pot. Currie looked at the pot, he had told Gleason to paint it, but he had only put enough paint on it to dull the shine some. Currie strode a little closer to Gleason, “put a little more paint on it to dull it up, just a little more ok.”

Gleason looked at him but sir, it is so beautiful how about if I make it dull without paint, “Gleason said.

“Paint if Gleason, it is still too shiny, I don’t want that shiny son-of-a-bitch getting anyone killed.”

“Yes sir,” Gleason said.

Currie walked around the area, he caught Snipes coming back from the supply company area, “Sgt. Snipes a word with you,”

“Yes, sir Snipes said.

“Leave the supply company alone, no withdrawals without a requisition,” Currie said.

“Oh no sir, I was making a report,”

“And no trading either.”

“Yes sir” Snipes saluted Currie returned it.

Both men walked away. Snipes looked over his should to see Currie looking at him. Snipes shrugged his shoulders before disappearing into the mass of men setting up the tents. Currie thought, “It won’t last.” Gleason found Currie leaning up against the fender of the ½ track, he handed Currie his enameled cup and a canteen cup full of coffee. “Thank Sergeant” Currie said.

“Captain, permission to speak freely sir,”

“Sure, Gleason Permission granted,” Currie said.

“Captain Sir, are you alright? Are you feeling ok?”

“Does it show,” Currie said.

“Yes, sir it does.”

“I’m tired that all,” Currie said lighting a cigarette.

“Ok sir” Gleason said.

“Hey Bucky” Currie said using Gleason nickname “; thanks for asking,”

“You are welcome sir.” Gleason saluted. Currie returned his salute, and drank his coffee watching the hustle and bustle around him

“Gleason” Currie said, “Where are those…”

“Here they are sir,” Gleason handed a stack of mimeographed action reports to him. “Find….”

Gleason interrupted, “lieutenant Myers, Rawls, Copeland, and Evan are waiting outside in the command car. “Where did we get a car?” Currie demanded.

‘Sir, I was told to tell you it was found under a rock sir, that’s all I know sir.” Gleason said.

Currie said, “Shit” then turned and pulled the tent flap back and walked out of the tent. Currie looked at the command car and shook his head. Currie grabbed the handhold stepped on the running board and swung himself up into the seat. Rawls started the engine.

“Christ almighty” Currie said when the engine finally caught and sputtered to life, the command car shook from the vibration of the engine. Rawls stalled it once before finally getting it moving down the road, over the noise and shaking

Currie yelled, “So what is the story on this piece of shit.”

Snipes and Corporal Waites said, “2-days and they would have it running like a top, the motor pool signed it over to us.”

“Tell them 2 days to get it right or turn it back in, “Currie said.

Rawls brought the command car to a shuddering halt outside Battalion HQ. Currie dismounted followed by the others. Col Snow who had approached from the other way saw the command car,

“Captain Currie, I see you have acquired another mode of transportation. I don’t even rate one of those.”

Currie saluted and said, “Sir, if my boys can repair it and make it run the way it should, I’ll give it to you.”

“What’s wrong with it?” Col Snow said, with a look of I don’t believe any of what you just said.

“Charlie, if you would start it up please.”

“Yes sir.” Rawls jumped up into the car, after 4 times the engine began to sputter vibrate, smoke, and wheeze,

Col Snow yelled, “Shut it down.”

Rawls turned the switch off. The engine continued to run until Rawls dumped the clutch, the car jerked forward and then stopped.

“Ok, Ok, the proof is in the pudding, you can keep that hunk of junk.”

“Yes sir” Currie said smiling.

The debriefing started; Currie was debriefed by Major Boyd. Rawls, Copeland, and Evan were debriefed in turn by Major Moore. Currie gave Moore the facts about everything; however, he left out a whole lot of details. Moore asked him more than once about the information he got from the German; it had been a windfall. The troop concentration, the dates all were accurate. Currie told him he was just lucky he guessed in getting the information. Well, it was a damned good job, no matter how you obtained it. It hurt the enemy it cost them dearly. The thought hit Currie like a bold of lightening, “duty, honor, country.” He had told the truth, but he had lied by not speaking the whole truth. Currie sat there

“Are you ok Captain?” Boyd asked.

“Yes, yes Sir just fatigued it all.”

“Well we are just about done here.” Currie answered the questions. While duty honor country, pounded in his brain. Currie felt uneasy but he knew he had to do it. He owed it to his men; he would do it for them.

“Oh, by the way Captain,” the Colonel has put you in for a bronze star, “well aint that just ducky,” Currie thought. He left the table returning to the command car to smoke.

Currie lit a cigarette, he repeated to himself over and over again what I do and have done is an always will be for my men, my country, whatever I must do, whatever it takes. He was lost in thought when Rawls and Copeland spoke, Currie snapped back to reality. “At 1300 hours tomorrow, we will have a briefing to where we go next.”

Rawls tried to start the command car 3 times or 4 times then it rattled and shook its way to life. “Jesus H. Christ Charlie let’s get out of here before we are laughed out of the war, ok,” Currie sloughed and sunk embarrassed down into the seat. Rawls backed the car out onto the road and drove back to Able Co.

Corporal Waite was waiting on the road for their return, He ran alongside the car and jumping aboard asking Rawls not to shut of the engine. Rawls pulled the black smoke-puffing dragon to a stop putting the transmission into neutral and letting out the clutch. Rawls exited the car from the passenger side, Waite ground the gears putting it in reverse and backing the car clear of the tent before catching first gear and driving it down to the rear area of the company.

Corporal Waite turned the ignition switch off and let the car buck and cough to a jerking stoop. Waite jumped down from the seat unlocked the two latches and threw the bonnet up exposing the side of the engine. Corporal Waite was whistling “don’t sit under the apple tree” as he popped the cap off the distributor, and pulled the plug wire off cylinder #1 “Wilber hand me the spark plug wrench and a 9/16 wrench,” Waite pulled the spark plug out, “Wilbur hop up in there and bump it over till I tell you to stop.” Wilber bumped it over 6 times before Waite told him to stop. He loosened the hold down bolt on the distributor clamp and took the distributor out of the block.

“Wilber hand me that new distributor,” Waite dropped in the block twisting it back and forth to align it, he lifted it turned the rotor a notch or two forward, and then dropped it back into the block. He put the hold down clamp on the distributor shaft, bolted it down, and tightened the bolt snugly. He gapped the dwell and the new plugs and put them in. he changed out the cap and rotor.

“Ok Wilber, try it.” Wilber jumped up turned on the ignition switch, twisted the starter switch the engine turned over. A ball of flame erupted through the carburetor, Waite twisted the whole distributor a few degrees, try it again, Wilbur twisted the switch, the engine snapped and back fired again. Waite twisted the distributor while Wilbur was cranking it over, the engine fired up. Waite twisted it a little to the left then right, he sped up the motor and adjusted it and finally tightened the hold down bolt tight against the clamp. Waite pulled his screwdriver from his pocket and adjusted the carburetor, he stepped back smiling. Wilber revved the motor up, once then once more before shutting it off.

“Wilber put the tools up; I’m going to take it for a test drive.” Waite started the command car, grabbed the gearshift lever, and ground the gears until he found first gear. He pulled out slowly up through the soldiers, weaving in and out of the line of tents, until he turned onto the road. Waite gunned the engine then changed the gears. He headed down the road about 2 miles; he turned the car around and headed back to the company.

Waite felt a strange vibration in the command car. Then he felt his body being violently thrown against the steering wheel his head snapping awkwardly to one side. Waite pushed himself back his arms surprisingly weak, he looked at the dashboard of the car, it was covered in a fine mist of blood, and he watched the bright red drops fade to black as the He-111 passed over his head. Corporal Ralph Waite mechanic extraordinaire died that instant, the command car swerved violently to the left turned sideways then upended turning over rolling over twice before coming to a stop upside down, and bursting into flames. Waite’s crumpled body lay in the desert just yards from the command car; He was staring upward into the pristine blue sky, a sky he would never see again.  Able company had lost a good man today, and the war had just started.

The Henkel 111 streaked at over 270 mph over the encampment, the 7.92 mm MG-42 protruded from the planes belly and spit bullets at 1000 rounds a minute, the gunner swiveling the machine gun spraying the men on the ground with a deadly rain of lead. Men fell and screamed; bullets whizzed and whined. The bullets found their targets, the soft bodies of men; they were knocked down thrown violently like a dog shaking its prey in its mouth. Some men Shot back trying to return the hail of bullets, but the plane flew on unscathed.

Currie ran from the tent, black smoke was already rising from the vehicles that were now on fire, men screamed Medic! Medic! Currie saw and his Corpsmen scrambling towards the screams of those men who were hurt and the yells of men getting help for those who couldn’t scream.

Currie was knocked to the ground by a man running for the ½ track. Currie looked up to see the man vault into the ½ track, swing the 50 cal in his direction, and begin to fire. The gun fired the tracers that arched out to meet the foe, bullets began to whiz by, little spits of dirt kicked up around him walking their way towards the truck. He watched almost mesmerized as little holes began to appear in the skin of the ½ track, the pings in the metal sides of the track sounding like the toll of bells.

The plane roared overhead, the rumble of the two BMW 1500 Hp engines mixed with the staccato sound of the machine guns answering death as it passed over, the .50 cal gun kept firing following the plane. Currie heard the deafening thudding sounds of the bullets striking the aircraft. The plane flew on maybe another 1000 yards before the right wing was violently torn off and fluttered to the ground. Currie lay on the ground trembling watching the plane abruptly flipped over and dive into the ground, a huge red orange ball of flame mixed with black smoke rolled up into the air, announcing the death of the plane and its occupants.

The camp was in chaos, Currie jumped up, unaware that he had soiled himself, “Get our people in order, I want to know what we have left.” Currie yelled to Copeland, “find Rawls and Evans, he saw Kovac, “get some order here, get those fires put out.”

Currie made his way to the ½ track, Romero had his back to him a red flower of blood was growing on his back. Currie picked him off the gun. Romeo looked at Currie, “did I get him sir?” Currie nodded as Romeo collapsed into his arms. Currie yelled, “Medic” as he laid Romero down, “Medic.” Pruett jumped up into the truck, took Romero’s pulse, he looked at Currie and shook his head. “He is dead sir,” Pruett jumped down hunting for the next dead or wounded man. Currie stood there looking at Romero. The medic had closed his eyes before he left. Currie balled up his fist and struck the hard-cold steel side of the ½ track before removing one of his tags. Order was being restored; fires put out. The wounded and the dead were being moved up beside the road. The wounded lay on stretchers, the dead laid out on the ground, their lifeless bodies wrapped in olive drab green ground covers.

Meyers stumbled up to Currie, “what’s the tally Mike? Currie asked. Mike said, eight dead, 12 wounded, 4 missing, Currie pointed over his should, Romero in the track he is dead he is the one who shot down the plane.

Currie hand was trembling as he pulled the cigarettes and lighter from his pocket, he lit one, and walked down the rows of tents accessing, the damage cataloging it. He gazed into the eyes of his men, they had changed, and they weren’t the men he had known at Fort Jackson or in England. There in their eyes was a look, a faraway look, he had seen that look in the eyes of the Germans, and Italians, a damning far away stare into nothingness. He had seen this look in the eyes of the men, he had tracked down and killed, he wondered if he had the same look as those men, he blinked once, then twice more,

Gleason wore a bandage on his head and one on his hand; he was making a pot of coffee. “Gleason, what are you doing?” Currie said loudly. Gleason turned towards him, “don’t you have work to do.”

Gleason pointed his bandaged hand toward the burnt-out frame of a tent, sitting amid the destruction was Gleason’s majestic Underwood Typewriter, sitting in ashes of his tent. The platen and key pads had been consumed by the fire. A few flames still flickered from the wooden file boxes, “But sir,” Gleason said, “I saved it and the cups, I know how you love your coffee, I can always get a new typewriter, can’t I sir,” Gleason sort of looked up and collapsed in a heap on the ground.

Currie yelled “medic – medic.” Doc rounded the corner and rushed toward them. Doc kneeled and turned Gleason over “for Christ sakes,” again Doc yelled “stretcher-bearers, stretcher-bearers over here.” The stretcher-bearers arrived, Currie noticed the bandage on his belly, “This makes twice,” Doc said.

Currie said, “Twice”

“He has a belly wound, he was burned saving that precious coffee pot, and I put him on a stretcher with an IV in his arm. He was supposed to go straight to the hospital. He came back here to make coffee.”

Currie looked at the man on the ground, looked at the pot, and then he turned the burner off. He kneeled squeezed Gleason’s arm, “hey Bucky,” Gleason opened his eyes, “thanks for the coffee, it is the best you have ever made.”

Gleason smiled, “thank you sir.”

The stretcher bearers lifted him and stumbled to the road,

“Davis.”

“Yes sir.”

“Do you know how to make coffee in this contraption?”

“Yes, sir I do Sgt. Gleason taught me.”

“Good, make a full pot, and I want it shined, get all the paint off of it, and shine it.”

“Yes sir” Davis said.”

“Find me; bring me a cup, when you have it made.”

Currie tracked down Meyers, “how does it look Mike”

“11 dead, 12 wounded 5 critical and 1 missing.”

“Who is missing, Mike?”

“Sergeant Waite,”

“Find him,”

“We are looking for him; he was last seen driving that command car.”

“Have someone go down the road and see if that hunk of junk broke down,”

“Yes sir,” Mike said.

Currie said, “Staff and NCO briefing at,” glancing down at his watch, “1700 hours.”

Davis found Currie “here Sir,” handing him a canteen cup full of coffee.

Currie sipped the hot black brew, “not too bad” he said. “I’m sure you’ll improve with time.”

Currie caught sight of Kovac and Snipes, “Sergeants Kovac, Snipes,” Currie, yelled. Kovac and Snipes walked towards him, “join me gentlemen,” he said, “looks as though we might be a few items short… See what you can do about it.” Kovac, Snipes said, “yes sir,” they saluted and left Currie’s side.

Currie passed the burnt out remains of Gleason’s tent, the fire destroyed the Underwood Typewriter, and all the Company files. Currie looked into the men’s faces, “who was missing? Who was dead? Would the wounded survive?” There were a thousand more questions he had racing precariously through his mind, funny there is no one here who could answer those questions,” He thought. He wrote his notes on a piece of paper with singed edges.  He looked in amazement that all his trucks, jeeps, 30 cwts were undamaged. The only vehicle that was damaged was his ½ track, ½ dozen-bullet holes in the body but no mechanical damage.

Currie saw the last ambulance leave; the bodies were also gone, empty IV bottles. Bandages and gauze that were once as white as snow were now stained red with blood and strewn over the area. Currie stepped into his tent. Several dots of light were visible on the floor and desk; he looked up saw the holes in the canvas. “If I had not run outside when I did, if Romero had not bowled me over when he did, I could have been one of the dead.” He shivered.

Currie was at his desk, Davis came in with a cup of coffee, “sir, aint it too damn hot for coffee,” he said.

Currie took the cup, “dismissed,” he said glancing at Davis,

“Yes sir,” Davis answered he was exiting the tent, he stopped, “Captain Sir, Lieutenant Meyers, is here to see you.”

Currie nodded, Meyers followed by Rawls, Copeland, Evans, Kovac, Snipes and Sawyer paraded in.

Ok Mike let’s have it, report.

“Yes sir, 12 dead, Nichols, Wilson, Fitzhugh, Benfield, Waite, Barry, Feston, Crowder, George, Hopkins, Slattery, and Romero. Wounded Gleason, Sgt. Billings, Marshal, Dickson, Avers, Bosarge, King, and Puckett. Those men are going home, Edwards, Wiggens, Hopper, Anders, should be back in a week or so.

“Did you say Waite?

“Yes sir. Out on the road he was probably the first man killed in the raid, the command car he was driving is a burnt-out hulk.”

“Ok, Meyers, get on the report, request replacements, and materials; Rawls, make Corporal Lance squad leader till Anders returns. Get this mess cleaned up…whatever you guys need get with Kovac and Snipes, I’m sure if it is around, they should be able to procure it. Get Barrus moving on chow, see what the battalion is doing, if they are cooking get some chow down here.”

“Sir, Barrus is already on it.” Rawls said,

“Is there anything else?” Currie looked around and said, “Dismissed.” before anyone could answer or ask a question.

Currie sat back in his chair. “Davis”

“Sir, Davis responded,

“Coffee.”

“Sir, yes sir,” Davis said leaving the tent.

Currie lit a cigarette, he blew the smoke upwards with pursed lips, he reached into his pocket digging around for his note book, he withdrew it and opened it up; he took his pencil and wrote with a slow methodical hand the names of the dead and on another page he wrote the names of the wounded.

Currie leaned on the table he put his forehead in his left hand and rested it there; he flipped back to the page where he had written the names of the dead, his dead. Currie shook his head then added on more name to the page, his own name. Currie thought that after today I am just as dead as the men that were killed today.

Davis brought Currie’s coffee,

“Thanks Sergeant Davis,”

“Sir, its Corporal Davis, Sir.”

“Sergeant, are you going to argue with a Captain,”

“No sir,” Davis said.

“Good, thank you Sergeant,”

“You’re welcome, sir,” Davis said.