Brothers at War - Part 22

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Claire opened the door slowly with anticipation. The room inside was beautiful. It was perfect. With two little beds and two little tables and two little rocking horses it was absolutely perfect for two twin boys.

                                                                  *

Gerard had been back at the base for over 2 weeks when he received a letter from Franck with photos of the finished baby suite. It was better than he imagined it to be and suddenly he knew that the large bill Franck had left was well worth it. He hoped that Claire was pleased with the room. He could imagine sitting in the rocking chair with a guitar and two little boys on his lap, or Claire, him and the boys sitting at the miniature tables with finger paint getting everywhere. Gerard could imagine Claire and him with a bundle each in their arms. He couldn’t wait.     

 Having arrived back at the base Ger had learned that Chase had been deployed to Germany as a result of his promotion. Who knew when the brothers would see each other next? Gerard also learned that he would shortly be deployed to the pacific. Even farther away from home. Many of the men however were thrilled at the idea, compared to Korea, the pacific would be warm and almost like a holiday. Where in the pacific they were being sent was not yet known but the aim was to help the invasion of Australia. 

                                              * 

A few weeks earlier Chase was sitting strapped into a plane flying high over Europe. He'd been in quite a few army planes now but never before with a parachute strapped to his back. In an hour or so he'd been jumping off this plane exactly 3 seconds after the man before him and landing in Germany where he would have to find the rest of his platoon. The 3-second gap between soldiers was to ensure they didn’t get too far away from each other. 

The men sat in silence while the small lights of the aircraft flicked every so often. Other than the small lights of the buttons and emergency exits the platoon was in complete darkness. Chase could barely see his hand even if he held it in front of his face. He pulled a picture of Hailey and Amelia out of his top left pocket of his uniform. He looked at it and kept it in his hand for about a minute before placing it back, wondering what the two of them were doing now. 

A sudden bang, followed by more bangs and the sky lighting up interrupted his thoughts. Chase watched as every man's head rose, listening to the noise as it got louder and louder. The optimistic thought that the soldiers would drop silently into Germany was obviously wrong. The soldiers knew there was chance that the enemy would have entered Germany by the time they got there, that suspicion was obvious by the sound coming from below them. Optimistically Chase thought that they would fly over the gunfire and bombs and be dropped over a safer part of the country. Chase was proved wrong when the officer stood and gave the signal. The men stood without delay and formed a line, checking the man in front of them’s parachute. Chase prayed that nothing would go wrong with his chute. 

Falling with the chute felt like forever. Falling into the unknown darkness and just waiting for the ground to get closer. With all the bombs and gunfire Chase felt like he was just waiting for his guts to get blown out. It’s not like he could do anything to avoid getting killed. He was the most vulnerable he had ever been just hanging like a puppet. All he could do was wait.

                                                     *

 Nothing could describe how slowly the minutes passed as Chase just waited to get shot or blown up. He watched as it happened to men around him. He watched as they screamed in pain or were killed so instantly that they didn’t have the chance to make a sound. When he did finally land on the ground he landed in a field or clearing of some sort. He got rid of his chute and then ran for the nearest trees. Catching his breath from running he listened for any sign of life. Nothing. There was no sound that wasn’t distant gunfire or explosions. He waited listening for several more minutes before moving. He needed to find his platoon as soon as possible. 

With his pack and his gun in his hand Chase stayed low. From the amount of gunfire Chase knew that the enemy was possibly everywhere and he had as much chance of finding them as finding American soldiers. This was not supposed be the case. The allies were supposed to get to Germany before the Enemy did, this definitely made their job harder.  

 Suddenly he heard movement, a quick rustling in the grass caused him to quickly crouch behind some bushes. Chase gripped his gun and waited in the silence trying to hear their movement again. He almost held his breath as he waited for any sign that someone else was there. “Flash” he heard whispered in the night. “Thunder” Chase immediately whispered back.

 The word’s ‘flash’ and ‘thunder’ were once used by the soldier’s in World War II on D-day to quickly know if you were talking to a true Allied Soldier. The officers had taught the allied soldiers in this war to use the same method. Chase stood up to find a soldier about 5 feet away from him in the open. All he could see was his silhouette as the two walked towards each other. As he got closer the soldier’s face came into the light. He looked about as scared as Chase felt. “I’m Raymond, from 19th Platoon, Fox Company” The soldier said quietly but assertively, looking at Chase. “Taylor, 14th Platoon, Fox company” Chase replied. “Where the hell are we?”

“I saw a sign saying Gusow about a mile back” Raymond whispered as they crouched down. Chase got out his map and covered the light from his flashlight with his army rain jacket from his pack. After about 30 seconds analyzing the map he looked to Raymond, “If we’re where I think we are we’re about 7 miles away from our target destination. Looks like we have a lot of walking a head of us”

 The two men walked in the direction of Letschin. Letschin is a small town in Germany that was one of the towns the allies planned to occupy on the border of Poland. Poland and it’s surrounding countries were already occupied by the enemy and England, France and the United States had sent soldiers to assist Germany in protecting it’s borders and help countries occupied by the enemy.  

Throughout the night as the two soldiers walked, weapons in hand, they didnt speak. Any sound was met by sudden crouching and a tighter grip on their weapons. They were scared but they walked on. Luckily as the hours passed they avoided the enemy. There was one instance where there was a large group of the enemy, too large for two men to take on, about 50 feet away. They had hidden and stayed silent as the enemy walked on.

As the morning arrived they met 3 more American soldiers. They were hidden and had called out 'flash' to Chase and Raymond. Relieved that they had found other American soldiers they quickly ducked out of view and exchanged stories of what had happened to them. The soldiers they met, Hudson, Lerman and Anders had landed about 200 feet from the site they were at now but had come across a large group of the enemy stationed right where they wanted to go so they planned to stay where they were until they passed. "Is there any chance of going around?" Chase asked.

"Nope" Anders replied, "There’s a river to the left and more of the enemy to the left. Our best bet is waiting till night fall again and moving through enemy territory. I've radioed into the base and they think that's best"

Chase nodded.

 They sat down in the cleared area and made themselves comfortable. They had a whole day to wait for nightfall. All they could do was sit and be alert and quiet. Chase looked around at the 4 men. They were exhausted from a night of wandering and being fully alert. He told the men to do shifts while the others slept. It was going to be a long night and they needed to be well rested. Chase and Raymond took the first shift for staying awake. They talked a little and Chase learned that Raymond’s first name was Ian. 

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