This story chronicles what we felt were the last days of WWII in
Luft Stalag 13. The major historical
events that we wrote about actually happened, though admittedly, we took
certain liberties on how they happened. The familiar Hogan's Heroes characters
aren't ours; the rest are. But they are
free to use if you so wish. (Our only requirement here is that you do not use
Toby unless you treat his character with tender loving care! He represents an
important aspect of, and insight into, the authors' lives.) Hint… There will be a test later… Who is
This effort took almost four months of our lives to write and was our first foray into fan fiction. Please be kind and tell us what you think. Enjoy! We want to hear from you!
This story contains some strong language and violence. Our rating would be PG-13. This story was originally posted in September 2001. Grammatical and continuity updates were completed in April 2004.
WWII still raged on. The Allies had retaken Paris. The Battle of the Bulge, which had spilled the blood of tens of thousand, of both German and Allied forces, ended with the Allies victorious. On both fronts, the Allies were marching relentlessly toward Germany. The Russians, who continued to advance toward Berlin, had retaken Poland. With the other Allies liberating Athens and the horror that had been Auschwitz, the general consensus was that Germany would be defeated by summer's end.
Hammelburg, Germany, Luft Stalag 13,
March 15, 1945, 0430 Hours
In a Prisoner of War camp just outside the small town of Hammelburg, Colonel Robert Hogan, the Senior POW Officer, lay in his bunk contemplating the thick shadows on the ceiling of his small room. It was a room that, after more than three years, he knew intimately, every crack and board, the lumpy mattress and the inadequate blanket. It was a room he couldn't wait to leave. Although he and the rest of the prisoners in this camp had stayed here voluntarily, it had never been home. The latest reports from both London and the Underground placed the Russian forces nearing the German border. The Allied troops had crossed that line back in September. And listening to the German radio broadcasts was next to useless as they continually lied to the populace on the state of affairs. The war was going to end, and the Allies would win. Hogan liked to think that, over the past three years, he and his men had played no small part in the coming Allied victory.
He frowned and shivered as a sudden strong gust of wind shook the shutters on his lone window and sent a frigid blast of air into the room. One of the shutters banged against the side of the barracks as the wind knocked it loose. Hogan quickly got up to close the shutter before it woke any of his men or alerted the guards. With shutter in hand though, he leaned against the windowsill breathing in the cold night air. The cold wind outside served as a reminder that there was still a lot of war left to fight. They weren't leaving here anytime soon. Hammelburg was to the south of Berlin, not near any other major town. And certainly after the three years that his team of saboteurs had operated, it didn't contain any major industry. It would be a while before Allied forces made it this far to liberate the camp. That was just as well, as Hogan and his underground contacts, with London's guidance, had put into motion a sequence of events that, if successful, could play a vital role in the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Hogan took a moment to glance at the moon, and even after more than three years here, he still thought of the moon in terms of bombing raids -- tonight's moon was a perfect bomber's moon. He was sure his countrymen and Allies were taking advantage of it somewhere, even though his ears could detect no sounds marring the stillness of the early morning. As his eyes traveled the wire, following the sweep of the searchlights, he was startled by the approach of the Sergeant of the Guard, Hans Schultz.
"Colonel Hogan, what are you doing?" Schultz asked almost whining. "There is some monkey business going on. No, don't tell me. Just get back to bed, and close the window!"
"Oh Schultz, don't worry so. The wind knocked the shutter loose. I'm merely closing it," Hogan told the corpulent guard with a charming smile, his teeth flashing in the moonlight.
"Please, Colonel Hogan. The window. We will both get into trouble if you are caught with the window open," Schultz replied anxiously.
"Okay, Okay. Some guys take the fun out of everything," Hogan grumbled good-naturedly. He quickly closed and refastened the shutter, climbed back into his bunk, and warmed his toes under the blanket.
But unbeknownst to both men, their brief encounter had been observed…
Across the prison compound, Kommandant Wilhelm Klink stood in his dressing gown and slippers, looking out his bedroom window. He was simply unable to sleep. So much was happening, things he didn't want to believe but couldn't deny. There had been Allied reports of other camps liberated, under deplorable and unspeakable conditions. He wanted to dismiss the Allied reports as propaganda, but hints of the truth had come from the SS whenever they had come into camp.
These things were so much easier to not think about. He tried desperately to distance himself from the horrors being reported. He tried in vain to convince himself that he was not responsible for any of it. But Wilhelm, his conscious now nagged at him, you are German. You are responsible. Hitler did not do everything himself. You, and others like you, helped him by turning a blind eye.
Wilhelm Klink had been a career officer when Hitler had gained power. And it had been such a gradual shift in authority that he had merely awakened one day to find Nazism was the future of his country and if you opposed it, you found yourself dead. He learned quickly that life was just simpler, easier, and safer when you let others dictate what to think, feel, and be. Everyone spied on everyone else. And trust was a word that held little meaning. Children turned in their parents. Family members turned in each other. There was nothing private. A treasonous word was enough to warrant a death sentence. The only freedom that existed in Germany by the end of 1936 was within each man's mind, and he had felt, on more than one occasion, that even that was suspect.
The German radio still reported glorious battles to the populace, but Klink knew the truth. After the last month of stinging German defeats on both fronts, the SS had reassigned every able-bodied man. The Kommandant had been left with a bare skeleton staff of young boys and old men, and more than 40 prisoners to every guard. He and Hans Schultz were the only Luftwaffe personnel left. Klink had thought about confronting the SS about the lack of personnel to adequately guard the prisoners, but he was sure the SS believed his POWs were nothing more than a nuisance, certainly better off dead. None in the SS had ever accorded them any rights. He was afraid that the SS would take matters into their own hands had he complained.
Suddenly movement caught his attention across the prison compound. Colonel Hogan's barracks. He watched as Schultz approached the open window, conversed briefly with the occupant -- Hogan himself unless Klink was mistaken -- then watched as the window closed and Schultz continued on with his rounds. The encounter was enough, however, to turn his thoughts to his Senior Prisoner.
Colonel Robert Hogan. The man is different from any prisoner that had ever been sent here. From the very beginning, Hogan had never acted like a prisoner. He has always acted like he was the one in command of this camp.
At first suspicious, Klink eventually came to realize that whatever Hogan had been up to had kept the POWs in his camp safe. Not to mention having saved his own skin on more than one occasion. It had always been easier to let Hogan play his hand, as it was never Klink's intention to harm any of the POWs. They were the enemy, but they were his responsibility to keep safe until the end of the war. So far, it had worked out to both of their advantages. Hogan had created a safe haven for the prisoners, and Klink had his stellar reputation for never having a successful escape from Stalag 13.
Let's hope nothing happens to change that so close to the end of the war.
Klink could admit now, that over time, he had actually found himself admiring the American Colonel. Hogan always had his own ideals and opinions and was never afraid to express them openly. It was a freedom that had been lacking in Klink's homeland for too long. He hoped that after the defeat of Germany, which seemed to be looming closer every day, his countrymen would be allowed to rebuild. The coming defeat did not bother him. It would be better this way, as Germany would be done with Hitler.
Klink sighed deeply as the clock on the wall chimed out five a.m. It was time to dress and face another day.
Luft Stalag 13, Barracks Two,
Colonel Hogan's Quarters,
March 15, 1945, 0600 Hours
Roll call had gone by uneventfully, with everyone present and accounted for. Hogan and the rest of his men had quietly returned to Barracks Two. The Colonel was glad that he hadn't had to make any excuses, as nothing had been going on the previous night. The moon had been too bright and he was not yet ready to begin the all-out offensive he had planned. But this morning, he did have a team leader meeting scheduled to continue hashing out those plans. He almost couldn't believe that they'd come so far. All the preparations seemed to be coming together just fine.
Hogan couldn't help but remember the day, two months earlier, when he announced to his men the plans they would carry out.
January 10, 1945 1030 Hours…
"What do you mean we need to take over Stalag 13?!" Kinch had demanded.
"Blow up two bridges, a chemical plant, and a munitions factory in one day!? You must be balmy!" Newkirk had accused.
"Don't forget about the train depot and airfield!" LeBeau had added incredulously.
"C'mon, Colonel Hogan, how does London expect us to do all this in one day?" Carter had asked, his voice breaking on the last word.
Hogan remembered making sure that his men all understood that if they accomplished everything, they would be playing a central role in helping the Allies surround the German forces. Russian troops would be approaching Berlin from the North, American troops from the East, and other Allied Forces from the West. And if they were successful, they would knock out any escape route to the South, effectively tightening a noose around the German Forces, and ultimately ending the war with an Allied victory.
Ha. After my explanation, the guys just stared at me quietly, and then exchanged glances amongst themselves. Kinch finally acquiesced and asked the question for them all,"Ok Colonel, what do you need us to do?"
A smile now appeared on Hogan's face, as he recalled how many times in the past three years that his men would look at him as if he had lost his mind, only to be silenced by Kinch's ultimate acceptance of his crazy schemes. Not that he was ever really worried that they'd not back him up. It was just that he had taken to really enjoying that interplay of Kinch with the others.
And it still happens almost every time.
Luft Stalag 13, Barracks Two,
March 15, 1945, 0630 Hours
Hogan accepted a cup of coffee from LeBeau, as he waited for the last of the 20 team-leaders to settle in. This all-out offensive was such a complicated mission that Hogan had every barracks taking charge of different pieces of the puzzle. He, at first, had hoped that they would not have to seize the Stalag, but when the official go-ahead was given; there would be no way to continue the masquerade as POWs. In taking over the Stalag, his men could have free reign in and out of camp, simplifying at least, a small, but significant, part of the process.
"Okay," said Hogan after the men were assembled. "To begin with I've just received word that the Russians have almost crossed the border into Germany. Our first task, as you know, will be to secure Stalag 13. Our target is 2300 hours on the day the Russians engage Berlin. London's best guess is early to mid-April. That gives us, at most, a month. Is there anyone here who does not believe his team will be ready to go at a moment's notice within the next two weeks?"
The room was silent.
"You're sure? Everything will be ready?" Hogan pressed. "I don't want any surprises. This is just too important."
"No sweat, Colonel," Kinch said, while many in the room also offered their readiness.
"We've got this one well covered," Captain O'Malley agreed.
"No problem, Colonel," Newkirk assured as well.
With that, the meeting went on rather uneventfully. The team leaders gave status reports on the progress being made by each barracks. At this point, no one was having difficulty with their parts. Most of what had been asked of them was just an extension of things they had done before. Only on a much larger scale.
"I want daily updates from now on," Hogan said. "They don't have to be anything formal. I think the guards are starting to notice our little gatherings, anyway. Just inform either Kinch or me when you can. Dismissed."
Luft Stalag 13, Barracks Two,
Colonel Hogan's Quarters,
March 17, 1945, 0630 Hours
Hogan was sitting at his desk contemplating how relatively quiet the last couple of days had been. Barracks Sixteen had reported that they had emptied the munitions shed of all "live" ammo, and replaced it with blanks. Barracks Eighteen had done the same with the hand grenade cellar. At least, now we have control of almost all the live ammo. The only live ammo left is in the guns of the guards and the tower guns. Hopefully, we can get through the camp takeover without anyone getting hurt. There has always been the chance that anyone or all of us would get caught or killed, but thankfully we've managed to stave off that eventuality, thus far.
It's just that I don't know if I'll be able to keep them all safe for this last mission. I really have a bad feeling about all this.
Hogan had been spending a lot of time in his office, worrying about all the pieces that needed to come together to make this mission work. He would almost hide away, because he didn't want to face his men, worried that any one of them may not come back from this mission. It had always bothered him. He had always hated to lose a man under his command, but the men here at Stalag 13 were more than that, they were friends. To have made it this far, and then to lose one, would be just unbearable.
You need to get out, get fresh air, and get your mind off this.
Hogan's musings were interrupted by a knock on his door. "Come."
"Colonel. A message from London," Kinch said as he opened the door.
"What's it say?" Hogan asked.
"It's a reply to your wanting to use Stalag 13 as a safe house for local members of the underground who may need protection. London agrees with your decision. Of course, it's up to you to make it work, they cannot supply any more help at this time," quoted Kinch.
"Okay thanks, Kinch. Get Lieutenant Riley from Barracks Four to commandeer as much food as he can. Use the empty space in the tunnels to store it," Hogan ordered. "Get in touch with the underground. Pass the word. Have them start moving food our way. We don't know how long we'll need to keep up the pretense of a POW camp after the sabotage missions are completed. Also, get Lieutenant Taylor from Barracks Fifteen working on plans to extend the living quarters, either below ground or above, say the recreation hall, for example."
"Yes, sir. Will do," said Kinch as he headed to the door.
"Kinch," Hogan began.
"Yes, sir?" Kinch asked turning back to Hogan, expectantly.
"Thanks for being my right-hand man," Hogan said with a slight smile.
"You're welcome, Colonel," replied a broadly smiling Kinch. "I wouldn't have missed it for the world."
Luft Stalag 13, Barracks Two,
Colonel Hogan's Quarters,
March 25, 1945, 1900 Hours
The days were getting longer and longer for Colonel Robert Hogan and his men. There had been no new news from London on the position of the Russian forces. Hogan's men even had most of their preparations made. LeBeau and his team of tailors had been working non-stop for the past few months. They now had plenty of German uniforms for the sabotage teams, as well as for the entire staff of "POW" guards from Barracks One, Thirteen and Fourteen. Newkirk and his band of forgers had also been working non-stop on creating enough identity cards and papers for an army. Another team had been working on creating enough counterfeit money to finance their new army. They now had 500,000 marks. And Carter had manufactured, wired, and in some instances, created new varieties of incendiaries for all of the teams. And Barracks Twenty had been sending men in and out of camp for days collecting food as well as any maps that could be supplied by the underground to aid in the sabotage efforts. Their hard work was keeping them in close contact with the underground.
And the underground members, themselves, had been indispensable in this effort as well. Hogan had them working in a 75-mile radius of the camp. The planned sabotage was spread over a wide area, but timed so that everything would be blown simultaneously. He had teams ready to sabotage the Darmstadt Chemical Plant, the Wurzburg Munitions Factory, the Schweinfurt Airfield, the Train Depot in Lindach, as well as teams out to blow the bridges in Lohr and Hammelburg.
All of Hogan's people were ready. They needed only wait for the take over. As soon as that was accomplished, they would commandeer the motor pool and start packing the trucks with all the equipment so the sabotage teams would be ready to start leaving camp by early the next morning. Once this mission began, the schedule was very tight.
No wonder I've got the willies, thought Hogan. The worst part of this whole process has been the waiting. When word had first come down for the mission, it had put a number of other sabotage missions on hold. Some of which can still be implemented within an hour of my order, but hopefully none will have to happen. This mission is designed to be the last.
I can't believe it's almost over. No more death and destruction. All of the killing can end.
The sooner this war ends, the better.
Luft Stalag 13, Tunnel under Barracks Two,
April 1, 1945 1900 Hours
Hogan, Newkirk and LeBeau, standing dressed as German civilians, were getting ready to go out to meet with the local underground leaders. The underground had wanted one last meeting before everything was put into motion. Some wanted to discuss what the situation would be like after the sabotage, wanting a contingency plan for getting their families into Stalag 13. Others were just looking for Hogan to tell them that everything would be fine.
They were to meet at the Haus-Brau in Hammelburg, somewhere rather public so as to not draw too much attention. The owner, Hermann Schlick, a long-standing member of the underground had set up a birthday party in a back room so they could talk in peace.
After arriving at the Haus-Brau…
Hogan told the people gathered, "As soon as Stalag 13 is secure, your families can move in. As you know, I can't make any promises. There is still a war on, and I can't determine what the German forces will do. All I can do is promise that I will do everything in my power to keep your families safe until you return, or until the Allies liberate Stalag 13. I don't want to lie to you, there is so much that can go wrong, so much that I have no control over. But I swear to you that my men and I will do the best we can to preserve your trust in us."
"Thank you, Colonel Hogan," said the group's leader, Heinrich Berger. "I think we just wanted to make sure that you were still on our side. With the war being close to over, and knowing the horrors that have been committed by Hitler, we were worried London would blame all Germans, instead of just the few in charge, and that we would be left to fend for ourselves."
"I would never let that happen. You know that. You have all been indispensable to our continued success," Hogan assured, as his eyes searched the room and met the eyes of each member of the underground present. "So are we all set? Does everyone have what they need?"
"Yes, we are all set. We await your orders, Colonel. Good luck," said Berger.
"Thanks, same to you," replied Hogan.
It was then that the underground leaders began to leave somewhat sporadically so as not to be noticed…
Hogan, Newkirk, and LeBeau decided to wait until the civilians were clear before leaving. So they just sat quietly, not talking. Newkirk and LeBeau wanted to leave the Colonel to his thoughts. They had both noticed how his demeanor had changed recently. He'd become very introspective.
God knows it is his prerogative, thought Newkirk. He's got a big weight on his shoulders, but if anyone can handle it, Colonel Hogan can.
Just as the three were preparing to leave, a commotion broke out in the front of the restaurant. Newkirk went quickly to investigate and saw the Gestapo heading through the restaurant, and shouting in German about the underground and traitors.
"Gestapo!" Newkirk hissed, gesturing to his companions urgently.
"Let's go. Out the back," Hogan ordered, pulling his gun out. "Get to the truck."
The Colonel hung back slightly to ensure that both of his men exited the building safely. But, just as he started through the door himself, two Gestapo officers entered into the backroom, with Major Wolfgang Hochstetter, the Gestapo Area Commander, bringing up the rear.
"Halt. Don't move," one of the Gestapo yelled.
Hogan turned back and fired two shots in the Gestapo's direction. He had kept his back partially turned, as he was fairly certain Hochstetter would recognize him. He was under no illusion that he had hit anyone; he was simply trying to slow them down. Quickly he made his escape outside and ran toward the truck they had stolen earlier in the evening.
LeBeau reached the truck first and hastily started it up. Newkirk dove into the back turning and crouching to provide covering fire for the Colonel's escape. As Hogan reached the truck, many more Gestapo with guns blazing came from around the building. Hogan had barely gotten a foot on the passenger sideboard of the truck, before LeBeau floored it.
Holding tightly to the side of the truck, Hogan stood facing backward, and fired non-stop at the pursuing Gestapo. The next thing Hogan knew, a searing pain ripped through his side. He was propelled backward, and landed almost in the front seat. He started to feel dizzy and almost lost his grip on the truck. The last thing he saw, before losing consciousness, was LeBeau grabbing for him to keep him from falling.
"Newkirk! The Colonel has been hit. Come help him," LeBeau yelled urgently, holding onto Hogan with all of his strength while trying to keep the truck on the road.
Newkirk pulled Hogan into the truck bed, laid him down, and checked for a pulse. It was faint, but there. He tried to stop the bleeding, and yelled to LeBeau simultaneously, "We have a small reprieve. I knocked out a lot of tires in the trucks parked in the area. I'm not sure how long it will take them to regroup." He glanced worriedly down at his patient. "Louis, we need to get the Colonel back to camp, he's bleeding badly. Can we dump the truck?"
"Yeah, but I don't want it to be too close to Stalag 13. I'll let you out with the Colonel, and then I will ditch the truck and backtrack. Can you make it alone?" asked LeBeau.
"Yeah no problem," Newkirk reassured.
Newkirk turned his full attention to Hogan, trusting LeBeau to see them to safety. He hurriedly examined his commanding officer, finding what looked like an entry and an exit wound from a single bullet in the officer's left side. At least, the bullet still isn't in there. Thank God for small favors. Newkirk quickly discovered though that trying to stop the bleeding was impossible with the crazy driving LeBeau was doing. But after a few frantic minutes and several creative curses later, he did manage a makeshift pressure bandage, using cloth ripped from Hogan's shirt.
April 1, 1945, 2300 Hours
Major Hochstetter shouted orders as he exited the Haus-Brau. His men had converged on the rear of the building when they had heard the firing begin. The three fugitives were trying to escape in a truck. Bullets were flying everywhere. One of the fugitives was shooting at all the vehicles from the back of the truck, effectively taking care of a quick chase by the Gestapo. The third man appeared to have been shot by one of his men. And that man had then been pulled into the truck as it disappeared around a corner.
Hochstetter and his men's only recourse was to regroup in the front of the building where the only working vehicles were. Soon though, they were in hot pursuit of the fugitives with Hochstetter in the lead vehicle. As they drove, something nagged him about the wounded man. He had only gotten a quick glimpse. The man looked so familiar, yet he just couldn't place him.
Hochstetter had troops in two different vehicles driving frantically to catch up with the truck. The driver of his vehicle was able to follow the truck's tire tracks on the muddy back roads of Hammelburg. They had traveled almost three miles when they noticed that it looked as if the truck might have stopped briefly. Picking someone up or dropping someone off? Hmmm I wonder. There's nothing in the area. If one of them were injured they would probably continue onto Wurzburg, to the nearest hospital. Hochstetter ordered his troops onward. After another two miles, his troops found the fugitive's truck dumped into a swamp.
"Macht Schnell," ordered Hochstetter. "Search the surrounding area. They can't have gotten very far with an injured man."
The Gestapo searched for 45 minutes or so, before Hochstetter ordered their return…
"Where could they have gone?" asked the Major more of himself than anyone specifically. "What's in the area that they can use as a hide-out?" Or maybe get medical treatment? Of course that man could be dead by now. And we may only be searching for two fugitives. But you would think his body would have been left behind in their rush to escape. Hmm.
"Sir," one of his officers interrupted his thoughts. "Luft Stalag 13 is just a short distance away."
"Stalag 13!" yelled Hochstetter. "That's it, Hogan!! I've got him now! I've always suspected that there was more to that man, than the coward he portrayed. I should be able to force his hand with concrete proof! He can't hide a gun shot wound."
Hochstetter gathered his men and they headed for Stalag 13.
Luft Stalag 13, Tunnel under Barracks Two,
April 2,1945, 0030 Hours
Newkirk had returned with Colonel Hogan close to an hour ago, after having carried Hogan over his back until the Colonel had regained consciousness. It was then that Hogan had refused to let Newkirk continue to carry him any further. Newkirk protested, but was only allowed to support the Colonel as he walked. Newkirk had been very worried during the whole trip back to camp, as the Colonel had been bleeding badly and though the man wouldn't admit it, Newkirk knew the wound was taking a big toll as they made their way slowly through the forest surrounding Stalag 13.
And even after they had made it back to camp, the Colonel only allowed Sergeant Wilson, the camp medic, to apply tight pressure bandages to help stop the bleeding. Wilson did make sure that the Colonel knew that he was concerned about the blood loss and chance of shock. But all Wilson got for his concern was a rebuke.
"I have too much to do right now to worry about that, Wilson, but I will keep it in mind," Hogan replied. He was still worried that LeBeau had not yet returned, but he knew that he couldn't concentrate on that and just hoped for the best. Because for now he had to make sure his men were ready for what was probably coming next. So, he had Kinch call an emergency team leader meeting while Wilson had been giving him the once over.
Once the team leaders arrived…
Hogan stoically stood and addressed them. "You all have prepared well for this upcoming mission. I'm sorry to say, that I may have screwed that up tonight. I believe Major Hochstetter may have recognized me as we left the Haus Brau. If that's the case, he will show up here. I will personally deal with the consequences of my actions, when that happens. I promise you all that I will not give any of our plans away, even if it comes to taking or losing my life in the process. This final mission is too important not to be brought to bear on the German forces. Sergeant Kinchloe will be in charge, in the event of my… absence." As Hogan finished that statement, he started to hear the murmurs of dissention in the ranks.
"Colonel Hogan, you can't think like that. We can take over the camp tonight!" Carter said excitedly.
"Yeah, let's do it now!" agreed Newkirk.
Hogan heard lots of agreement coming from the team leaders, so he quickly tried to forestall any mass riot. "Gentlemen, we can't do this now. We had our original timetable for a reason. I'm hoping I can still talk myself out of this. Hochstetter was looking for the underground. I need to make him believe that all he found were three escaped prisoners. I will have to admit to escaping, especially if it's obvious that Hochstetter knows I was wounded. I will play that by ear. The fence on the south side will have to be forfeited as our escape route. Any plans to use that escape route from now on will have to change."
As the pain in his side got worse, Hogan had to pause and take a deep breath before continuing. "This is an order. No one is to make waves if Hochstetter arrives. I do not want any crazy rescue attempts made on my behalf. You all need to promise me that you will continue our plans no matter what may happen to me."
Hogan looked at his men's faces. They all looked as if they planned on disobeying his orders. "I need you all to promise me that you will do nothing to jeopardize the planned mission," he demanded. After what seemed like an eternity to Hogan, Kinch came forward and promised that he would keep to the planned missions. Hogan visibly relaxed, knowing Kinch would keep the men to "his" word.
LeBeau appeared at the tunnel hub. "Mon Colonel are you all right?" he asked worried. All the way back to camp his imagination had been working overtime on what could have happened to Hogan.
"I'll be fine," answered Hogan. "I was going to ask you the same thing?"
"I was able to dump the truck and head back without running into any Gestapo," said LeBeau.
"Good, good. Kinch, please fill in LeBeau on the newest orders. Everyone else get back to your barracks. I'm going to my quarters and rest," Hogan said. "Kinch, put someone on Gestapo look out. I want to be up and awake when and if they arrive." He turned slowly toward the tunnel entrance to Barracks Two, wanting to forestall any more discussion.
"Yes, sir," Kinch agreed solemnly to the man's back.
Newkirk caught up to the Colonel and helped him ascend the ladder. He could easily tell that Hogan was in a lot of pain as they made their way to his quarters. And he noticed that blood was already spotting through the clean bandages. So, at the very least, Newkirk was planning on staying with the Colonel until they reached his quarters.
As they both reached the door to the office, Hogan turned and faced Newkirk. He patted him on the shoulder and said, "Thanks for everything Newkirk. I never would have made it back here without you."
Newkirk expression was angry as he said, "I won't accept your thanks, Colonel, if all I brought you back here for was to face a Gestapo goon squad. Won't you change your mind?"
"I can't," Hogan answered. "You know there's too much at stake here."
Newkirk replied with a very quiet "Yes, sir," and turned away, his shoulders slumped in regret.
As Hogan entered his quarters, the pain began to shoot through his left side. I have to stay awake. Make that stay alive, long enough to answer to Hochstetter. Maybe he didn't recognize me. Wishful thinking, Hogan, you saw the recognition in his eyes. I'm surprised he's not here already. Thank God the meeting had been over and everyone else had gone. I can now have some legitimacy in saying that Newkirk, LeBeau and I were just escaping. Whatever happens, I will not cave in to Hochstetter.
No longer able to stand though, Hogan headed for his bunk to lie down, knowing that he needed to conserve what little strength he had left, if he was even going to have a chance of surviving Hochstetter's visit.
Meanwhile still in the tunnel under Barracks Two…
LeBeau and Carter verbally assaulted Kinch, after Newkirk had left to help Hogan back to his quarters.
"We can't just do nothing, Kinch," said Carter anxiously.
"Oui, there has to be something we can do?" LeBeau added hopefully.
Kinch replied, "I gave my word to the Colonel that I would do nothing. I can't go back on my word."
As Newkirk returned to the tunnel and overheard the conversation he interjected, "Actually, you promised not to make waves if Hochstetter came into camp. What if we find a way to stop him from coming to camp."
Kinch's eyes lit up. "Yeah, the Gestapo Headquarters bombing! That's it! The underground was all set to put that plan into motion. I'll contact them. They told the Colonel that they would only need an hour of notice to act." Kinch went immediately to fire up the radio and contact Heinrich Berger.
Berger was relieved to learn that the three men had made it safely back to Stalag 13, but he was upset to learn that Colonel Hogan had been wounded. Hermann Schlick had contacted him and informed him that the Gestapo had arrived in full force before Hogan and his men had left to return to camp, but had not been aware of the injury to the Colonel.
The mission that Kinch now asked the underground to complete was only supposed to be a "GO" on Hogan's personal command, but it didn't take much for Kinch to persuade Berger. The underground hated the Gestapo almost as much as they liked Colonel Hogan. "Colonel Hogan has done so much for us," said Berger. "It's the least we can do. It's going to take an hour for us to regroup. Do you have a contingency plan if Hochstetter arrives before that?"
Kinch replied with regret, "That's where it gets complicated. Colonel Hogan made us promise to do nothing that would bring any unwanted attention to the camp. I gave him my word to comply with his order. We are just going to have to hope that the Colonel can handle himself with Hochstetter until you can do what you need to."
"We'll do our best, Kinch," promised Berger.
"Thanks. Good luck," Kinch replied, signing off. He looked up from the console, into the solemn faces of Newkirk, LeBeau and Carter. "It's a go. Let's just hope they can get to it before Hochstetter gets here."
Within 30 minutes…
Kinch was informed of the Gestapo's presence and entered Hogan's quarters to notify him. "Colonel. The Gestapo are here," Kinch said as he helped the officer to his feet.
"Thanks, Kinch. I'm up. Go back to bed now. I don't need you in trouble for being awake at all hours too," replied Hogan, as he tried to put on his bomber jacket hoping it would help hide the fact that he was injured. Hogan took a deep breath, and straightened up, just as his office door closed behind Kinch.
Show no weakness, Hogan, he willed himself, knowing he faced his toughest challenge.
Luft Stalag 13, Outside Front Gates,
April 2, 1945, 0130 Hours
When Major Hochstetter was stopped at the gate by the guards, Gestapo soldiers leapt from the vehicles and threatened the inexperienced camp guards. They were allowed to enter as Sergeant Schultz approached. "What can I do for you, Major?" asked the corpulent guard.
"Where is your Senior POW Officer, Colonel Hogan?" demanded the enraged Gestapo Major.
Oh no! "Major. Let me get Colonel Klink. I'm sure he can help you," Schultz said.
"Sergeant, if I had wanted to speak with Kommandant Klink, I would have asked for him. Where is Colonel Hogan?!" screamed Hochstetter, as his soldiers threatened Schultz with raised weapons.
"Jawohl, Major. Barracks Two is this way," Schultz offered. But before Schultz headed for Barracks Two, he ordered one of the camp guards to wake Colonel Klink and ordered that each barracks be locked down, knowing that the fewer prisoners out in the compound, the better it would be. Schultz then hurried after Hochstetter thinking, This situation doesn't look good.
The Gestapo soldiers barged through the doors of Barracks Two. Several held the POWs at bay with machine guns, while one soldier burst into Colonel Hogan's quarters. The soldier grabbed Hogan and shoved him hard into the main barracks. Hogan had to grab the edge of a bunk, to keep from falling.
"Move," the guard ordered.
"Okay, okay. Hold your horses," Hogan replied.
The guard's response was a rifle butt into Hogan's left side, directly impacting his wounds. They know. Hogan collapsed to the floor clutching at the sudden fire in his side. He was picked up again and thrown through the barracks door into the compound and landed hard on the ground. His men spilled through the barracks door behind him and into the compound. Someone had come to help him up, but gunfire rang out from the Gestapo, forestalling any help. Hogan couldn't spare the energy to look but hoped no one was injured. He slowly managed to get to his knees and found himself confronted with Major Hochstetter.
"Hogan, so tell me. Where were you at 10:00pm last night?" demanded the Gestapo Major.
Hogan made it to his feet to stand ramrod straight facing Hochstetter before he answered, "I was right here in camp, Major."
"Do not lie to me, Colonel Hogan!" exclaimed Hochstetter.
Before Hogan could get another word out, a second rifle butt was thrust into his injured side. This time Hogan nearly passed out as he hit the ground.
Colonel Klink hurried from his quarters into the compound just as Hogan was hit for the second time. Nervously, Klink confronted Hochstetter, "What's the meaning of this, Major? Why are you beating my Senior POW Officer?"
"Your Colonel Hogan is a member of the underground resistance in this area, Colonel," replied Hochstetter. "He was involved in an altercation with my men this evening at the Haus-Brau in Hammelburg. We were there to arrest suspected members of the underground when your Senior POW and two others started shooting."
"That's ridiculous, Major. Hogan is a POW! How would he contact the underground?" Klink asked, not believing it possible.
Hogan had managed to get to his feet again as Klink's interruption had given him extra time. He could feel the blood running down his side though, and was not sure that he could take another hit like the last two.
Hochstetter chose to ignore Klink's question and returned his attention to Hogan, insisting, "Do I have to ask you again, Hogan? Where were you at 10:00pm last night?"
"I told you, Major. I was right here in camp," replied Hogan stonily.
Hogan was ready this time as he saw the rifle being raised. He grabbed it with all his strength, and tried to block the force of the blow. But all he accomplished was oblivion as from behind another guard raised his rifle and slammed it into the right side of Hogan's face. The American Colonel went down in a heap, not moving.
"Dummkopf, I wanted him conscious," Hochstetter yelled. "Is he even still alive?"
"Ja," his man answered after hastily checking the prisoner.
"Take him and follow me to the Kommandant's office," ordered Hochstetter. "I will interrogate him when he wakes. He turned back when Klink didn't immediately follow after him. "Are you coming, Klink?"
Klink followed, not knowing how to deal with the crazed Gestapo Major. He'd never seen Hochstetter this enraged before. He had no idea what was going to happen. Just having Colonel Hogan beat in front of his men is not a good sign. Hogan's men are very loyal to him. There are not enough German soldiers in camp to stop what could become a riot. And with the Gestapo here… men on both sides could die. This shouldn't be happening now. We are so close to the end of this war.
The other prisoners, having watched the assault on their commanding officer, were getting more and more agitated. And the remaining Gestapo in the compound were getting more and more nervous by the minute.
Schultz quickly found Kinch and tried to get him to get the men to return to the barracks. "Please, Kinch, I do not trust the Gestapo and I know that Colonel Hogan wouldn't want anyone else hurt. Please have the prisoners return to the barracks!" Schultz pleaded.
Kinch tore his eyes away from the Kommandant's closed door -- the one Colonel Hogan had just been dragged through. Schultz is right. We need to get inside to listen to what was happening. He turned and yelled, "All right. Let's get back to the barracks."
Schultz was astonished at how quickly and willingly the men returned to Barracks Two. He placed a guard on the barracks and, with a heavy heart, headed towards the Kommandant's office. I wonder if Colonel Hogan has one more trick up his sleeve and can talk himself out of this one.
Inside the Kommandant's office…
Hogan was still unconscious when two soldiers -- one Gestapo, the other from Stalag 13 -- brought him into Klink's office. "Handcuff him to that chair," ordered Hochstetter. The men complied and then went to stand out of Hochstetter's way.
"Major, you need to explain to me how you plan to prove Hogan was the one present at the Haus-Brau," demanded Klink.
"You can see for yourself, Kommandant," replied Hochstetter going over to where Hogan was slumped in the chair. He pulled open Hogan's bomber jacket, and revealed the bloodstained shirt beneath. "Your Senior POW managed to get himself shot while trying to flee." He ripped the shirt aside to pull off the blood stained bandages, showing the bullet wound clearly, still seeping blood.
As Klink watched Hochstetter remove the bandages and saw the gunshot wound, he realized that he could no longer approach Hogan the same way ever again. Why would he try and escape so close to the end of the war? This made no sense. Hogan certainly can't be involved with the underground…or can he? Either way, I can't let this situation get any worse. Major Hochstetter seems on the verge of insanity. Who knows what he and his men will do?
The bandages being removed seemed to rouse Hogan. He stirred slowly. Hochstetter backhanded the Colonel across the face several times, to get his attention. "You can't hide your guilt any longer, Hogan. I want you to tell me what the underground has planned," demanded Hochstetter.
Hogan's eyes fluttered open. He appeared to have trouble focusing. He was feeling somewhat detached from the world. He could feel the blood pumping through his veins, his heart beating in his chest, and his head pounding. His eyes traveled to the sound of Hochstetter's voice. Hochstetter just asked me something. What I don't know. Don't answer, his mind screamed. Say nothing!
Clarity returned slowly and along with it, the pain. Hogan tried to assess his situation. He could tell that he was in Klink's office, and handcuffed to a chair. He could feel that the bandages were gone. That meant, that Klink knew the truth and somehow that troubled him. I guess there's no use in trying to convince anyone that I never left camp.
"Answer me, Hogan! What is the underground planning?" Hochstetter yelled as he grabbed a nightstick from his guard and hit Hogan hard in the stomach.
The pain reverberated from Hogan's head to his toes. Gasping, Hogan replied, "I don't know what you are talking about, Major." He was interrupted by a coughing spell and then continued, "I had no contact with the underground." More coughing.
"Why were you in Hammelburg, Hogan?" Hochstetter screamed.
"My men and I were trying to plan an escape route," gasped Hogan, holding onto consciousness tenuously.
"Do not lie to me!" Hochstetter screamed, backhanding Hogan again. "We have ways of making you talk."
"Go to Hell, you Bastard," Hogan replied his world starting to spin.
In a mad rage, Hochstetter repeatedly struck Hogan with the nightstick. Hogan will either talk or die. It no longer matters to me which one it will be!
Hogan felt like his insides had been ruptured. He began coughing again, but this time spitting up blood as well. He knew now he wouldn't survive Hochstetter's tirade. A last bit of anger rose from the pit of his stomach. He let fly a rapid string of expletives, hoping that Hochstetter's next blow would end it for good. He was hurting so badly. He didn't think he could take much more anyway.
But before Hochstetter could react to Hogan's outburst, a Gestapo officer entered Klink's office in a panic, followed by Schultz.
"What is it?" demanded Hochstetter. "I didn't want to be disturbed."
"I'm sorry, sir, but there have been multiple explosions at Gestapo Headquarters in Hammelburg. The building is totally engulfed in flames," the officer reported nervously.
"What!" Hochstetter said in disbelief, "That can't be! Round up the rest of the men. We'll be returning to Hammelburg immediately."
"Jawohl, Herr Major," replied the officer as he quickly left the office to carry out his commander's orders.
Hochstetter turned back toward Hogan with an evil grin. "I no longer have time to finish our conversation. A pity." He reached for his revolver, and with one quick motion the gun was pointed at Hogan's temple.
Hogan readied himself for what would be his release from pain. He closed his eyes and heard the gun go off, but nothing happened. Hogan forced open his eyes to find Colonel Klink standing in front of him, holding the revolver and the room full of angry Germans pointing guns at one another.
Klink was saying, "Major, you haven't proven to me that Colonel Hogan had anything to do with your underground. That makes him only an escaped prisoner, which leaves him under my authority. Go tend to your burning building, I will see to Colonel Hogan."
"Klink, you idiot, have you lost your mind?" Hochstetter hollered.
Klink stared at Hochstetter, for once not giving an inch. "You and your men are to leave Stalag 13 immediately, Major. Unless you can come up with concrete proof of Colonel Hogan's involvement with the underground, do not return here."
"This isn't over; your traitorous actions will be dealt with soon. Sympathizing with the enemy. BAH!" Hochstetter and his men left Colonel Klink's office without further comment.
It was then that Hogan found his world spinning wildly out of control. He had watched everything through a blood tinged haze. What just happened? Did I see it right, or is this some strange version of Hell? Vaguely he thought he heard Klink giving orders, but nothing made any sense anymore and his world quickly turned black once again.
Klink ordered Private Neuberg to remove the handcuffs. "Private, get someone to help you move Colonel Hogan to my quarters," ordered Klink. "I will call for a doctor. It will have to be Doctor Freiling. With the bombing of Gestapo Headquarters, the doctors at the hospital won't come," he said out loud to himself.
"Schultz find the medic, Sergeant Wilson. Have him report to my quarters immediately. Have the guards pull double duty until further notice. We will need to find out how Colonel Hogan and his men escaped from camp. Complete an additional head count of the prisoners as well," ordered Klink.
"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant," replied Schultz as he headed out the door.
Kommandant Klink headed for his living quarters. He couldn't bear to sit in his office to make the call. Hogan's blood had stained the chair and floor. Some of it had even spattered as far as his desk.
Private Neuberg returned with another guard and they transferred Hogan to Klink's living quarters. Klink indicated to them that Hogan should be placed in his bedroom.
Sergeant Wilson rushed into the Kommandant's quarters, just as the guards finished moving Hogan. As he passed through Klink's quarters, he noticed that the Kommandant was on the phone, but Klink hadn't spared him a second glance. Wilson just went immediately to examine his commanding officer.
As Private Neuberg and the other German soldier returned from the bedroom, Klink indicated that he wanted Neuberg to remain in his quarters to guard the prisoners coming in and out and quickly dismissed the other soldier.
Luft Stalag 13, Barracks Two,
April 2, 1945, During Colonel Hogan's Interrogation
The men of Barracks Two, along with every barracks leader, had crammed into Hogan's office. They listened anxiously to what was going on in Klink's office. They had heard Hochstetter's tirades and had listened as Hogan's responses got more and more disjointed. The Colonel had not sounded good at all. Kinch was afraid that, even if the underground succeeded, it would be too late for their commanding officer. When they heard Hogan's expletive-laden outburst, they all knew that Hogan had reached his breaking point. He was trying to get himself killed, before he told the Major anything.
At the crucial moment though, word of the bombing had interrupted Hochstetter, who announced he was leaving for Hammelburg immediately. The men in Barracks Two cheered, thinking that Hogan was off the hook, but they were silenced when the gunshot rang out. No one had heard what had happened, everyone feared the worst, but Kommandant Klink's words rang in everyone ears. Hogan was still alive. Klink had apparently had some altercation with Hochstetter and forced him to leave. And now, Klink was contacting Doctor Freiling for Hogan.
Luckily for Colonel Hogan, Doc Freiling is a member of the underground. "Baker," ordered Kinch. "Contact Doc Freiling, make sure he knows he's coming here for Colonel Hogan. Also try and get a status report on what's happening at Gestapo Headquarters."
Luft Stalag 13, Compound,
April 2, 1945, 0200 Hours
After securing the medic and doubling the guard, Schultz ordered his men to start a prisoner head count. He then stopped by Barracks Two, wanting Hogan's men to know his condition. He entered Barracks Two and was almost bowled over by Kinch, Newkirk, LeBeau and Carter.
"How's Colonel Hogan, Schultz?" Kinch asked distraught.
"He's alive, but barely. Kommandant Klink has called for the doctor from Hammelburg. Colonel Hogan is in the Kommandant's quarters. Sergeant Wilson is with him now. You four may come with me to see him," said Schultz.
The four men bolted from the barracks, ran across the compound and into Klink's quarters, with Schultz trying to keep up. Klink, who was still on the phone, turned when the four barged in. He was still holding the revolver. The POWs came to a screeching halt, staring at the gun in Klink's hands. Klink actually had to follow their gaze to his hand. He had forgotten he was still carrying it. He handed it to Schultz and allowed the four men to pass into his sleeping quarters.
Hogan was on Colonel Klink's bed. Wilson was trying to stop the bleeding from his original wounds, as well as from the nasty gash on his head. He turned as the four men approached. "Kinch, Colonel Hogan is unconscious and will need blood, he's bleeding internally as well as from the more obvious injuries. He's an O+, can you get about six guys lined up?"
"Carter, take care of that," Kinch ordered, motioning for Wilson to continue.
"He's in very bad shape. He's lost more blood than I want to discuss. His blood pressure is almost non-existent and he's in shock," reported a very worried Wilson. "He really needs a doctor, Kinch. I don't think I can handle this alone."
Kinch went to Wilson's side, placed his hand on his shoulder. "It will be okay. Just do the best you can. It's all anyone could ask of you, it's all he would ask of you. Colonel Klink was going to call Doc Freiling, let's hope that he comes soon. What do you need us to do?"
"There's nothing, really. I only hope the Colonel can hold out until the doctor arrives. He has internal injuries that I'm not qualified to deal with. I'm just trying to keep him warm and stop him from bleeding to death," Wilson replied.
Kinch looked up when Klink entered the room. "I have talked to the doctor personally, he is on his way. He should be here very shortly."
Kinch stood. "Thank you, Kommandant. Can you tell us what happened?"
Klink stared at the still form of Colonel Hogan for a moment before answering Kinch. He hoped he could make things go back to normal. "Major Hochstetter was unable to prove his allegation that Colonel Hogan was involved with the underground," Klink finally replied. But before he could continue, Schultz entered the bedroom to announce that all prisoners were present and accounted for. "Good," replied Klink, "there still has never been a successful escape from Stalag 13." He now had time to question Sergeant Kinchloe about the escape route, but he decided to wait until after Hogan got medical attention.
Kinch nodded his head, somewhat amazed. "Yes, sir. That's true." Kinch had expected Klink to blow his top about the escape route, but he didn't. This is very strange. But at the moment he didn't care, Klink had called for a doctor for Hogan. Anything else can wait.
"How is he?" Klink asked.
"Not good. Sergeant Wilson has asked for blood donors. The Colonel has internal injuries that will need the doctor's care," Kinch replied as his gaze shifted to where Hogan lay. "Sergeant Carter should be back shortly with the donors."
Klink couldn't help but notice the worry and devotion in Kinch's gaze. Hogan was a fortunate man to have people who cared this much about him. "I'll have Schultz help Sergeant Carter. You may stay with Colonel Hogan," Klink said starting to leave his bedroom.
"Thank you, sir," Kinch replied. He turned, grabbed a chair, and placed it by Hogan's bedside. Kinch sat slowly and really looked at Hogan for the first time since entering the room. Hogan was so pale, his face nearly as white as the pillow behind his head. His black hair was in stark contrast to his white face, though the hair on the right side of his head was plastered down with blood from his head wound. There was a bandage that had already stained through on his right temple. His right eye was swollen shut. There were bruises already starting to show on the officer's face. Wilson had blankets covering the rest of Hogan's body to try to counteract the shock. He could only imagine what additional injuries lay concealed.
Wanting to have some time alone with Hogan, Kinch asked Newkirk and LeBeau, "Can you guys go check on Baker. He's supposed to be monitoring the radio for updates on the Gestapo Headquarters bombing."
"Sure," they replied. "We're on it." Both men knew Kinch's relationship to Hogan was based on more than just respect for your superior. The two men were truly friends. It didn't take much to see he wanted some time with Hogan. Not to mention, they were sure he wanted to keep an eye on the doctor and medic.
LeBeau took a moment to check on the Colonel before they left. "Take good care of him, Wilson," he said as he turned to leave.
"Louis, let's go," Newkirk prodded, already at the door, not willing to see his commanding officer so helpless. He had tried to save the Colonel's life earlier that evening, only to have to listen to him being nearly beaten to death. Although it had been his idea to have the underground distract Hochstetter, it hadn't been enough to spare the Colonel additional injury.
"Yeah all right," answered LeBeau. They left hurriedly, anxious for any news on what was happening in Hammelburg.
As Newkirk and LeBeau exited the Kommandant's bedroom, they noticed that Colonel Klink was sitting in his armchair. He seemed to be lost in thought. So much so that he didn't even notice Newkirk and LeBeau as they exited his quarters.
But a few minutes later…
Colonel Klink looked up from his thoughts as a group of six POWs, as well as Sergeants Schultz and Carter entered into his quarters. "Blood donors are here as ordered, sir," said Schultz.
Without waiting for Klink to respond, Carter immediately reported to Kinch about the donors. Sergeant Wilson asked them to stand-by. Klink suddenly stood and ordered Schultz and Private Neuberg to accompany him to his office, while he indicated to Carter that the POWs should remain in his sitting room and wait for the doctor to arrive.
Kommandant Klink entered his outer office, followed by his two men. He started into his own office only to halt when he remembered that Hogan's blood was still spattered there. He closed the office door and turned away. He couldn't bring himself to enter that room. Facing his men he began to speak, "You are not to mention to anyone what you witnessed here tonight. All that officially happened is that Major Hochstetter arrived, questioned Colonel Hogan, and then he left after receiving word of the fire at his headquarters. Therefore, his allegations against Colonel Hogan remain unsubstantiated. Hogan and two others escaped, there is no denying that. They are still here in camp; therefore it was an unsuccessful escape attempt. The record of the camp stands… there has never been a successful escape from Stalag 13. That is all that has happened here tonight."
"But, but, Herr Kommandant!" Schultz protested.
"But nothing, Sergeant. That is all that I want you both to remember about this night," Klink ordered, meeting both men's eyes intently.
"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant," Schultz replied, nodding vigorously.
Klink continued his orders, "Private. You are to remain on guard in my quarters while the prisoners are there. Schultz, go to the front gate and await Doctor Freiling. Once the doctor is settled, I wish to speak with Sergeant Kinchloe. Bring him here."
"Jawohl," Schultz acknowledged, and followed the Private outside.
Klink sat back in his clerk's chair lost in thought about how his world had just been turned on its ear. Colonel Hogan almost beaten to death in front of his eyes. He, himself, certainly not long for this world if Hochstetter returns to fulfill his threat. He hoped that Hochstetter would be too busy to return anytime soon, giving him time to work out some plan, as he was sure Hochstetter did not feel threatened by his earlier posturing. He just hoped that Colonel Hogan would recover. It would help to restore normalcy to his POW camp.
Luft Stalag 13, Outside Front Gates,
April 2, 1945, 0230 Hours
Doctor Oskar Freiling, an older man with a small private practice in Hammelburg, arrived at the gates of Stalag 13. Colonel Klink had called for him, informing him that one of the prisoners needed his services, but Sergeant Baker had contacted him via his short wave and had informed him that Colonel Hogan was the one who needed his help. Freiling had dropped everything, packed the few medical supplies he had on hand, and had driven to Stalag 13 immediately.
Doc Freiling had retired from his practice prior to the beginning of the war, but once war had broken out, he felt that he had to practice medicine again, as doctors were in such high demand. But from the beginning he had not felt comfortable with Hitler's policies and had begun to sympathize with the underground, soon becoming an active member.
As the doctor reached the closed barbed wire gates of the prison camp, he leaned out his window to request entrance to the camp. Sergeant Schultz had been waiting for him there and immediately had the gate guards admit the doctor's car. He directed the doctor to stop in front of Kommandant Klink's quarters saying, "Your patient is Colonel Hogan, the Senior POW Officer. The Colonel is in the Kommandant quarters, this way."
The doctor, having retrieved his bag from the seat beside him, hurried into the Kommandant's quarters. He was somewhat surprised at the amount of people there. Before he could think too much about it, Sergeant Wilson approached, saying, "Doctor, this way please. Colonel Hogan is critically wounded."
Doc Freiling hurried into the bedroom followed by Schultz. He barely spared Kinch a look, his attention being riveted to Colonel Hogan. His eyes were quickly cataloging the injuries he could see while he demanded of the medic, "What's his condition, Sergeant?" The two men had worked together a few times before, once almost two years back, over a seriously wounded flyer. Happily that flyer had made a nice recovery and Hogan had sent him back to England along with three other members of the man's squadron. And the doctor had been impressed with Wilson's abilities on each occasion.
As Sergeant Wilson answered the doctor, Schultz motioned for Kinch to follow him. Kinch got up quietly, giving Hogan's still form a long look before he followed Schultz from the room. Kinch closed the door before he turned to Schultz. "What's up, Schultz?"
"The Kommandant would like to speak with you," Schultz replied.
Kinch exchanged a look with Carter at that news and followed Schultz. Kinch entered the outer office where Klink sat behind the clerk's desk. "You wanted to see me, Kommandant Klink?"
"Yes. As you are the closest prisoner in camp to Colonel Hogan, I would like you to answer a few questions for me," Klink began. "I am fully aware that Colonel Hogan and two other prisoners escaped from Stalag 13 last night. I am prepared to keep all prisoners confined until I locate the escape route used. The guards will begin their search at dawn. The search will continue until an escape route is found. However, if you would like to tell me how they got out of camp, I will not attempt to discover the identities of the other two men, nor will I conduct a search. I will also rescind the confinement orders. The decision is up to you."
Kinch was surprised how Klink's demeanor had changed over the course of the night. He actually thought that this Klink could locate what he was looking for, and perhaps even more. He knew that Hogan had intended to give up the sliding fence on the south side, so he thought it best to continue with that plan. "All right Kommandant. You've won. There is little point in denying it. The fence between guard towers six and seven slides up about three feet, easily allowing a man to pass under."
"Why would Colonel Hogan escape now Sergeant, after all of this time?" Klink asked, genuinely curious.
Kinch thought furiously for a moment, "One of the prisoners had received terrible news from home. All he could think of was being there for his family. He escaped. Colonel Hogan, with the help of another prisoner, followed trying to talk him into returning to camp, before he got hurt. Unfortunately it was the Colonel who got hurt. Both prisoners decided to bring the Colonel back here as it was the only place, they could think of, to care for his injuries."
"Oh. I understand," replied Klink unsure of what to believe. His mind was telling him that the excuse given by Sergeant Kinchloe was a complete crock, but his heart was telling him to accept the excuse and move on. Especially since his greatest desire, at this moment, was to have the camp return to its normal routine. He turned towards Schultz. "Schultz, escort Sergeant Kinchloe back to my quarters, then have some of your men repair that fence. Immediately."
"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant," replied Schultz.
"Thank you, Colonel," Kinch said, saluting the German Colonel before he turned and hurried back to check on Colonel Hogan. Schultz followed him closely. As Kinch entered the Kommandant's quarters, along with Schultz… LeBeau, Carter and Newkirk looked at him curiously.
"What happened?" Newkirk demanded.
"I'm sorry. Kommandant Klink gave me no choice. He knows about the fence," Kinch replied guiltily looking towards Schultz.
"I guess you did what you had to do, mate," Newkirk said reluctantly. LeBeau and Carter nodded in agreement. The four men then resumed their vigil and Schultz left to get some men working to fix the fence.
Time went by slowly…
Kinch and the others, along with the various blood donors, were waiting for any news of the Colonel's condition. One by one though, the donors came and went, with nothing forthcoming from either Wilson or the doctor. The donors had been left in the dark as well. All they could say was that the two men were working non-stop on the Colonel, barely saying a word to each donor.
Only the occasional visit from Sergeant Schultz broke into the long silences…
Roll call had also come and gone with every prisoner involved in Colonel Hogan's care being excused. Schultz had come by after roll call was over, to tell them that Colonel Klink had informed the entire camp of Colonel Hogan's injuries, and had rescinded the confinement orders. The guards were also released from double duty shifts as well. The rest of the prisoners had taken the news about Hogan's injuries better than Schultz had expected, almost like they had already known more about it then he did.
At 0630 Hours…
Kinch, LeBeau, Carter, and Newkirk were the only POWs left in the Kommandant's quarters and Schultz had replaced the guard. Doc Freiling and Sergeant Wilson finally came out from the Kommandant's bedroom. The Colonel had needed all 6 pints of blood during the procedure.
"Your Colonel Hogan is in very bad shape," Doctor Freiling began. "I was not fully equipped to deal with all his injuries. I wanted that said up front. As it stands, he may still die. Infection will be the biggest worry. I was only able to supply your medic here, with a small amount of penicillin. It will have to do. Medical supplies are in very short supply right now, some can not be had at any cost."
When Kinch nodded his understanding, Freiling continued. "As for Colonel Hogan's injuries, his head injury consists of contusions and fractures in the eye socket, as well as the cheekbone on the right side of his face. He has considerable swelling behind his right eye. If he survives, he could experience some vision problems, either temporary or permanent; I'm not sure which. He will experience severe headaches and dizzy spells until the swelling subsides. There may be some brain damage as well, but that will have to be assessed after he regains consciousness."
Freiling paused, taking a deep breath, and then continued. "He has a wound clean through the abdomen, 5 broken ribs, and a punctured lung on his left side. The lining of his stomach was also ruptured in a few places. I was able to stop the bleeding, but I had to leave drains in all the wounds. That's the best I can do. Hopefully, your Colonel Hogan is a fighter; he'll have to be to survive," finished the doctor. He had hoped he could have sounded more comforting to Hogan's men, but upon seeing the German Sergeant, he decided to play it very formally.
"Doctor, can we see him?" Kinch asked offering a brief prayer as the doctor cataloged the Colonel's injuries.
"Yes. One at a time," replied the doctor. "I assume you will be first, since you asked? Follow me."
The doctor and Kinch entered the bedroom. Kinch took a minute to check on Hogan. Hogan was still unconscious on the bed, though Kinch thought he looked a lot more at peace than four hours ago. "Okay Doc, what's happening in Hammelburg?"
"Kinch, I was informed that the underground was successful in retrieving a lot of items taken by Hochstetter's little extortion ring. Some stuff was lost of course, as we didn't want it to look like a robbery. The building is a complete shambles though. Very many Gestapo lost their lives in the building's collapse and fire. There were no casualties among the underground. And you can be assured that Major Hochstetter will never again be a thorn in Colonel Hogan's side. He and his men were to be ambushed on their way back to Hammelburg. I was assured, there would be no one left alive," reported Doc Freiling.
Kinch sounding a little panicked said, "The plan, as I remember it, did not include an ambush of Hochstetter's vehicle!?"
"The underground hoped that it would be an added benefit, and an additional thank you to Colonel Hogan. We all owe him a great deal, and if we could protect him in any way, you know that we are willing to do it," answered the doctor. "While I don't generally condone the loss of life, in this case I cannot say that I minded too much. The Gestapo consists mainly of soulless monsters -- and then to do what they did to the Colonel." Freiling shook his head in horror. "Things should never have been allowed to get this insane."
Kinch shook his head. "You know Doc, that's why we're fighting this war. To put an end to the horrors that Hitler has done."
"Ja. Ja. Germany will have much to answer for, once this madness is over with," replied the doctor.
Before Kinch could reply, Newkirk peeked his head in and said, "Watch it, guys. Schultz left to inform Klink of the Colonel's condition, and they are heading this way."
"We're through, Newkirk," said Kinch, glancing back at the doctor, not knowing quite what to say. He certainly wouldn't miss Hochstetter, but the Colonel wouldn't be happy when he found out. Make that, he's not going to be happy period, since I completely ignored his original orders. "Okay, Doc," Kinch said finally.
Kinch and Doctor Freiling left the bedroom, just as Colonel Klink entered his quarters. "Doctor Freiling, can you tell me Colonel Hogan's condition?"
The doctor repeated his earlier statements but added, "Colonel Hogan should not be moved for a few days, his condition being very unstable at present. I will return tomorrow to check on him. He should have 24-hour supervision until he regains consciousness. If and when that happens, call me and I will return. I will want to do a thorough examination at that point, to determine if damage to his brain has occurred. If that's all, I'll be leaving now."
"Of course, Doctor, thank you for all your help," Klink began, but before he could continue, one of his men came rushing through the door.
"Herr Kommandant, Herr Kommandant!" the guard said, rather panicked. "I just received word that Gestapo Headquarters was completely demolished. There were 50 men in the building at the time and all were killed. Also the underground ambushed Major Hochstetter and his officers after leaving camp last night. There were no survivors."
Klink stared at his officer, somewhat dumbfounded. The other POWs were staring at Kinch in the same way. Kinch hadn't had a chance to tell them. They wanted to rejoice out loud, but one glance from Kinch kept them quiet. That's all we need to do, get Klink pissed off.
Klink blinked once at the news, and dismissed the Private. Once the guard was gone, he turned back to the doctor and continued like nothing had interrupted him, "Doctor. When do you expect Colonel Hogan to regain consciousness?"
"I really can't say. My best guess would be within 24 hours, but it could be longer than that. He may never wake, but I don't expect that. He appears to be in good health and physical condition. That will work in his favor." Freiling was surprised at Klink's lack of reaction to the news of Hochstetter's untimely demise.
"Thank you again for all your help, do you need assistance to your car?" Klink offered.
"Nein, I'll just be on my way," Freiling replied, shaking his head. He left the room without looking at anyone.
Klink turned to Kinch. "You men will need to work out a schedule to keep an eye on Colonel Hogan. He can continue to stay where he is, but I will be using this area here for my sleeping quarters. You are to come up with a plan that includes not disturbing me."
"Yes, sir," Kinch agreed.
Klink left his quarters again feeling very confused. He was having trouble digesting everything. Hochstetter was dead, Gestapo Headquarters demolished, more than 60 Germans dead, and an injured POW in his bed. Somehow the picture wasn't right. He reached his office, which thankfully had been cleaned, and sat heavily in his chair. With Hochstetter dead there was now little danger from outside of the camp. He could only hope that Hogan would recover and things could return to normal.
Kinch, LeBeau, Carter, and Newkirk had worked out a schedule for the day, with Wilson's help. They would each do a 6-hour shift. Wilson gave the group some rudimentary lessons on what they should keep an eye out for. He said he would keep checking in on a regular schedule. Basically they needed to keep an eye out for any major change in breathing or excessive discharge from the drains. LeBeau was to the first to begin his shift. The others returned to Barracks Two.
Earlier that Evening
Hammelburg Road, leading from Luft Stalag 13 back into town,
April 2, 1945, 0130 Hours
Ten members of the local underground had gathered near a small clearing 1.5 miles from Stalag 13. They had been part of the group scheduled to sabotage Gestapo Headquarters in Hammelburg. The building would be blown soon. Most of the preparation work for that mission had been done. The only people needed were those who were to retrieve all of the ill-gotten booty that Major Hochstetter had been stockpiling in the building. They would retrieve as much as possible, but the idea was to make it seem that most of it went up with the building.
Papa Bear had put this mission on hold, when a series of new orders had come from London. They were just asked tonight by one of his men to continue with the plan. It seemed that Major Hochstetter had been able to identify Colonel Hogan as a member of the underground and was heading to Stalag 13 to confront him. Hochstetter's men had wounded Hogan in a skirmish earlier tonight and the Major would have him dead to rights. Papa Bear's civilian operatives were to try to keep the German Major from getting to Stalag 13, but time had not been on their side. Hochstetter had made it to Stalag 13. For all they knew, Hogan may already be dead.
They were then ordered to intercept Major Hochstetter's vehicles on their way back into town from Stalag 13. The civilian underground leaders decided that Hochstetter and his men were to be assassinated for the, as yet, unknown injuries to Papa Bear, perhaps even his death. And, in addition as well, for the past atrocities done to the people of Hammelburg in the name of Hitler. Not many residents of Hammelburg and the surrounding countryside could say that Hochstetter hadn't committed some crime against their families. This assassination order was something that neither Papa Bear nor his men were aware of. The civilian leaders of the underground had taken it upon themselves. Besides, Papa Bear had done so much for them. They felt they owed him.
The moon was very bright this evening. Under normal conditions, that would be very dangerous, as their identities could be discovered. It would not matter this evening, though. Their plan was to ambush the vehicles along the quietest stretch of road. Word would get to the Major sometime soon after the bombing of his headquarters in town. They were just going to have to wait for the right moment. It was not until 0215 that they saw the headlights of two vehicles heading their way. The ten men were scattered in the trees lining both sides of the road.
As the cars approached, the men fired their weapons disabling the vehicles. Both cars were riddled with bullets, killing some of the occupants instantly. Both drivers had tried to react, but the vehicles collided, with one turning on its side, the other hitting a tree. Immediately the underground converged on the vehicles, dragging the men from the cars and into the clearing. Shots were heard, as the underground made sure the few dead men in the vehicles, stayed dead. They wanted no surprises.
Hochstetter was pushed to his knees and held there, as his men were lined up in the same fashion, only they were facing him. Hochstetter was forced to watch as one man went down the line, methodically placing the muzzle of his pistol against the forehead of each man, and pulling the trigger. The underground wanted each of the men to see the face of his executioner. Each man had slumped forward, lying dead with his face in the dirt.
Hochstetter had watched in horror and disgust as each one of his men was executed. He had felt his whole body jump at each gunshot. He knew he was to be next. As the shooter turned towards him, he panicked and tried to run. The man who had been holding him in place did not try to stop him. Hochstetter didn't get very far, before he heard a gunshot and felt pain tear through his left leg. He crumpled to the ground. Terror engulfed him and he again tried to run. Another shot rang out. This time he was hit in the right leg. He fell face first into the dirt. He continued to try to get away by clawing his way forward. The man, who had held him before, came up and hauled him back to his knees.
Hochstetter began frantically begging for his life, offering money and power to all. The shooter advanced on him, slowly. As he reached the Major, his only words were, "Colonel Hogan sends his regards." Then he slowly placed the gun to Hochstetter's forehead and pulled the trigger. Major Wolfgang Hochstetter died his face showing a look of horrified disbelief. He also slumped dead to the ground, face in the dirt.
The bodies were left where they lay, as a silent testimony to final justice.
Luft Stalag 13, Barracks Two,
April 2, 1945, 0700 Hours
Kinch had given a report to all team leaders about Hogan's condition, as well as the Gestapo Headquarters bombing and Hochstetter's death. Kinch also decided to let London know about their situation. London was concerned that the mission would have to be scrubbed. Kinch told them they were ready. Colonel Hogan had organized everything. The POWs would be ready when the time came. London offered to have Hogan transferred back to England or to send a medical supply drop. But after much discussion, they realized that either would bring unwanted attention to Stalag 13.
At this point in time, it would be too risky. Colonel Hogan would certainly not want them to take that risk for him.
Kinch headed back to his bunk, and looked at his watch, 0830 Hours. My God, it hasn't even been twelve hours since the Colonel was first shot. Kinch's own 6-hour shift with the Colonel didn't start until 0100 Hours. LeBeau, Newkirk and Carter had the first three 6-hour shifts. He decided to get some sleep, knowing that he would have to deal with being the one "in-charge" when he awoke. What a night. C'mon Colonel, come back to us. I never expected to take this job from you.
Kinch slowly drifted off to sleep…
And was awakened at 1300 Hours, when LeBeau and Wilson had returned from the first shift. They reported that Hogan was pretty much the same. He had not regained consciousness, but Wilson assured Kinch that, this was not uncommon with his type of injuries. The fact that the Colonel had remained stable was a good sign.
"Thanks guys, now get some sleep," said Kinch.
Not able to got back to sleep, Kinch got up and after a cup of coffee headed for a tour of the camp. He had to show the other prisoners that he had this situation under control. He checked in with team leaders as he met them in the compound. Everyone was worried about Colonel Hogan, but all the mission plans were moving ahead. He had assigned Baker to radio duty, as it was almost time to start monitoring the radio on a 24-hour basis. Word could come at any minute.
Kinch returned to Barracks Two, feeling better after his rounds. He had been really worried that the men wouldn't want to follow his orders, but that didn't seem to be an issue.
Luft Stalag 13, Kommandant's Quarters,
April 4, 1945, 0100 Hours
Wilson had been checking in on Hogan at each change of shift. He was worried, as he had given Hogan the last of the penicillin earlier in the day, hoping that it would be enough to head off any infection. Carter had reported to him, at the end of his second shift, that the Colonel, while not conscious, seemed very restless. So, Wilson decided to stay with Kinch for his shift. The restlessness could be the Colonel's body telling his brain that something was wrong. It is a good sign; it means that he might be ready to come around. Kinch and I will just have to be ready.
Wilson, still worried about the Colonel becoming conscious, shared his thoughts with Kinch. "Most patients would be on a lot of pain medication, Kinch, so the process wouldn't be painful. The fact that the Colonel has not been on any means that as soon as awareness comes, so will the sensation of pain, then panic. We don't want the Colonel waking in a panic. Please talk to him Kinch, tell him what's been going on. Give him something to focus on, but be ready to hold him down. We don't want him to further injure himself."
Kinch just nodded, and both men continued their vigil in silence.
After a couple of hours, Hogan did come around…
Kinch clearly saw when awareness dawned across Hogan's face, and then watched as almost immediately the pain set in. As the panic began to show in his friend's eyes, Kinch began talking softly until Hogan's eyes finally connected with Kinch's. Even through the pain though, Kinch could see the Colonel relax.
It was when the Colonel tried to get up, that Kinch put a light hand on his chest and continued saying, "No you don't, Colonel." The light pressure was enough to keep Hogan from moving.
"Did you get the license plate number of the truck?" asked Hogan hoarsely through clenched teeth. Now fully awake all Hogan knew was pain.
"You mean the one that hit you?" answered Kinch with a concerned grin.
"Yeah, that one," replied Hogan to finish the old joke.
"As a matter of fact, we did," replied Kinch, moving uncomfortably in his chair. He didn't want to tell Hogan what had been done for him. He knew that the Colonel was not going to take the news well.
"Kinch, I need to examine Colonel Hogan. Will you contact the doctor?" Wilson asked.
"Sure," Kinch replied, relieved that the conversation on what has been happening would be delayed.
Wilson did a thorough examination, telling the Colonel about the extent of his injuries and that there was no pain medication available. He made sure that Hogan knew that he'd already received the last of the antibiotics and explained that he would need to stay quiet, no getting up for a few more days. "You are still very sick, Colonel. Please don't push yourself, okay?" asked Wilson.
"Are you trying to boss your commanding officer around Sergeant?" threatened Hogan, with as much of sheepish grin as he could muster. Wilson returned as stern a look as possible. "You win Sergeant, I'm no going anywhere," Hogan said with a soft sigh and closed his eyes, as even that little bit of exertion was enough to tire him out.
Kinch returned after asking Schultz to call the doctor and making sure that Freiling was on his way. Kinch looked worriedly at Wilson when he noticed that Hogan had his eyes closed. Wilson assured him that their commanding officer was just sleeping.
Things are looking better, thought Kinch.
Luft Stalag 13, Kommandant's Quarters,
April 4, 1945, 0330 Hours
Colonel Klink was awakened when he heard all the commotion is his bedroom. The prisoners had been exiting and entering through the bedroom windows during the evening hours, as not to disturb him. Tonight though, Schultz came into his quarters with the doctor.
"Is everything all right?" Klink asked, sitting up on the couch and letting the blanket that had been covering him fall around his waist.
"Colonel Hogan has regained consciousness and I summoned the doctor, as he requested," Schultz informed the Kommandant as he watched the doctor enter the bedroom where Hogan was.
"That's good, Schultz. Thank you," Klink said also turning to look as his bedroom door, lost in thought. So Hogan has regained consciousness. It is a very hopeful sign.
Doc Freiling entered the sick room and moved directly to Hogan's bedside, only to see that his patient's eyes were closed. He looked questioningly at the medic.
"Colonel Hogan is merely sleeping," Wilson said noticing the Doc's frown. "He's woken, only to fall asleep again. He can't seem to stay awake."
"It's the head wound. Your Colonel has got a nasty concussion on top of his injuries. It will make him feel fuzzy and he will doze off without any warning. But the fact that he has awakened is good news," Freiling said before beginning to check his patient's pulse and temperature and carefully removing the bandages to clean and inspect each wound.
Hogan woke again when Freiling was mostly through with his examination.
"How are you feeling, Colonel?" Freiling asked.
Hogan croaked something and then he cleared his throat to try again. "Like I've been run over by a truck," he said.
"I can imagine." Freiling went on to ask Hogan a variety of questions, designed to determine the state of his memory. Finally he examined the American's battered face, especially the bruised, swollen right eye. Freiling blocked the good eye with his hand. "Can you see anything with your right eye, Colonel?"
"It's blurry," Hogan said softly, his voice weakening. "Wilson mentioned that this could be permanent?"
"I do not believe so, Colonel," Freiling replied, removing his hand. "Your eye is still very swollen. I would imagine it is still swollen inside as well. I believe your vision will clear when the swelling goes down. Your memory seems fine, with just some details of your interrogation being fuzzy. That is normal as well. The details may never be clear to you. I was concerned with memory function and motor functioning. Your memory I would say is excellent, and later on I will assess your motor functioning. I don't expect to find anything wrong there either. You were very lucky, Colonel Hogan."
"Yeah lucky," Hogan repeated tiredly. He hurt everywhere; even breathing was painful and difficult. The broken ribs throbbed with each breath and the punctured lung labored to fill with air. But he was still alive. By all rights he knew he should be dead.
Doc Freiling studied his patient for a moment, and then he continued with obvious reluctance. "This next bit of news is disturbing, Colonel. Tomorrow, the three drains will have to be removed, and those wounds stitched closed. Without anesthesia and pain medication, the process is going to be very painful."
"Great," sighed Hogan. "Why don't we just do it now, Doc, I'm hurting as it is?"
"Sorry to disappoint you, your wounds need another 24 hours to drain properly," Freiling replied. "Now go back to sleep."
"Not now, Doctor, I need to get a status report from Kinch." He had held off asking until now, as Kinch seemed to be trying to hide something from him. He could usually tell. Hogan was truly worried that he had caved in to Hochstetter, but he couldn't really remember everything that happened. He had vague impressions in his mind of what did occur, but nothing concrete. And every time he tried to force his memory back to his interrogation his head pounded intolerably.
How can I face my men, if I have given away secrets?
Actually Hogan couldn't figure out why he wasn't dead. The one thing he did remember was feeling the muzzle of a revolver being pressed to his head. The thought sent shivers down his spine.
"All right, Hogan. Get your report. Then get some more rest. Tomorrow isn't going to be pleasant." The doctor left the room to be immediately accosted by the two Germans who waited outside the room. He repeated his report to them and then left the Stalag, not looking forward to his next trip back here.
"Wilson, watch the door. All right, Kinch, what's going on?" demanded Hogan, with a surge of adrenaline. The pain dulled. He needed to know what happened.
"Actually, Colonel, everything is under control. The mission is still on, plans are moving ahead. London has kept us up to date on the position of the Russian forces. They expect things to come together in a couple weeks. We are ready Colonel, you don't need to worry," Kinch replied reassuringly.
"Okay. What aren't you telling me, Kinch?" Hogan said softly, his voice was not very strong but he was determined to get some answers. "My memory isn't real good right now, but I can't imagine Hochstetter letting me live. Neither can I believe that Klink wouldn't be turning this camp upside down for escape routes. I do seem to remember that he knew I had escaped. Did I cave in and tell them something I shouldn't have? I'm not sure how I would live with myself, if I did."
"Oh, Colonel, you didn't do or say anything, believe me. You were tough," assured Kinch, but looked away from Hogan, knowing that he had betrayed Hogan's trust in him. "However, Colonel, a few things did happen. They seemed to all come together at once. First I want you to know that I disobeyed your last order about not interfering with Hochstetter. I decided that your orders referred to when Hochstetter was in camp. I decided that if I could stop him before he got to camp, I really wouldn't be going against your orders. So, I had the underground go ahead with the Gestapo Headquarters bombing. I was hoping to deflect Hochstetter before he got here."
Kinch paused to assess Hogan's reaction. There was none, the Colonel had no expression on his face. "And," prompted Hogan.
"And that didn't work, as you know. But word of the bombing came from Hammelburg during your interrogation in Klink's office. At that point Hochstetter said he was leaving. The next thing we heard was a gunshot, and Colonel Klink telling Hochstetter to leave his camp. Everything else was a haze, except for Klink calling a doctor and having you transferred here to his bedroom," continued Kinch. "We don't really know what happened in Klink's office, or how he forced Hochstetter's hand. Everyone had cheered when Hochstetter said he was leaving. We missed the specifics of their altercation." Kinch paused in his explanation, hoping that maybe the Colonel could remember the specifics.
Hogan realized Kinch was waiting for a response. All he could do was stare at the ceiling in silence, wondering if what he remembered could have been possible. Klink disarming Hochstetter as the gun went off? Impossible. Klink doesn't have the gumption to do such a thing. But, that's the only thing possible. I do seem to remember Klink holding a revolver.
He saved my life. Why?
Kinch noticed Hogan lost in thought and when no information was forthcoming, he continued, "I had asked the Kommandant what happened. All he said was that Hochstetter did not prove his allegations that you were a member of the underground. Then Schultz came in and interrupted our conversation to report that all prisoners were accounted for. Klink repeated the standard phrase about there never having been a successful escape from Stalag 13. My assumption at the time was that he knew you escaped, and I expected him to haul me off for questioning. He just asked about your condition and left."
"It wasn't until later that morning that Klink questioned me about the escape attempt. He even made a deal with me. I would supply the escape route and he would not pursue the other two prisoners that escaped with you. He asked me why you would have escaped after all this time. I had to come up with an excuse, quickly. I told him that one of the prisoners had received bad news from home and escaped. You followed him to get him to return to camp before he got hurt. Of course you were the one hurt, and were brought back to camp by the other two, as they had nowhere else to go. Klink seem to accept that without too much fuss and he has indeed kept his word, so far."
"What happened with the bombing?" Hogan asked giving up trying to figure out what Klink was up to… because his head had now begun to pound in time with his heartbeat.
"The underground was able to retrieve most of the cached loot that Hochstetter had hidden there. There were 50 Gestapo in the building at the time. All were killed. The building is in shambles. None of the underground were injured," reported Kinch.
"Why hasn't Hochstetter returned? There's no way he would let Klink get away with kicking him out of camp. Not to mention, he would want finish what he started," Hogan asked, raising a hand to massage his left temple. He couldn't bear to touch the right side of his face. It was just too sensitive right now.
Kinch replied, "Sorry, Colonel, this wasn't part of the plan. But the underground ambushed Major Hochstetter's vehicles after they left Stalag 13 that night. Doc Freiling had informed us that no one survived the ambush."
"Oh," said Hogan. This was too much to digest at once. The adrenaline rush ended and the pain returned 4-fold. His head was pounding, his stomach felt like it had twisted. Hogan wasn't sure if the additional pain was from the beating or from the news he had just listened to. His men had purposely killed over 50 people just to save his life. He'd always tried to keep personal feelings out of anything he had to do. There's no denying that he had ordered the death of many. Too many. Hogan justified it as his duty. He knew he would do it again, if it meant the end of Hitler's Third Reich. But he was not sure how he was going to deal with the knowledge that over 50 people had died to save the life of him personally. This war needs to be over. Hogan said nothing more, closed his eye and drifted off to sleep.
Kinch and Wilson watched as Hogan lapsed into a long silence and dozed off. Under normal circumstances, Hogan would have torn into Kinch about not following orders. Right now, Kinch wasn't sure what was on the Colonel's mind. I suppose he will tell me when he's ready.
Luft Stalag 13, Kommandant's Quarters,
April 5, 1945, 0800 Hours
Hogan opened his eyes when he became aware of more than just LeBeau's presence in the room. LeBeau had been there since sometime early that morning, in fact he couldn't remember waking without someone being present. Kinch, Carter, Newkirk and Wilson had come into his room along with Schultz and Doctor Freiling. Hogan swallowed nervously, knowing the doctor had come back to remove the drains from his wounds and stitch them closed.
"How are you feeling this morning, Colonel?" Doc Freiling asked, placing his hand on his patient's forehead to check on his temperature.
"Better I think," Hogan replied. "But that's not going to last is it?"
"Nein. I am sorry, Colonel Hogan," Freiling replied, sorrow and regret thick in his voice. He didn't like what he was going to have to do. "I'm going to explain to you what I've already told your men. It's very important that you do not move. We need to restrain your arms and legs. First we will handcuff each limb to the bed, and then each one of your men will also physically restrain a limb. You will also have something in your mouth to bite down on. I need to re-open the wounds to remove the drains and stitch each one closed. I know this is going to be very painful, I will try to do it as fast as possible."
"Do what you have to do," Hogan said taking a deep breath to settle his nerves. He began to cough convulsively. Damn it, that deep breath was a mistake. He'd forgotten his broken ribs and punctured lung. Tears welled in his eyes and the pain that had been a dull background ache blossomed fully again.
"Easy Colonel. Don't fight it so," Freiling encouraged, placing his hand on Hogan's chest trying to ease his patient's breathing.
Hogan nodded, closing his eyes. When he was breathing easily again he allowed himself to be handcuffed to the bed. He felt his men take a hold, each to a limb. He bit down hard on the object in his mouth as the doctor made the first incision. The pain was excruciating. His mind was uncomprehending as the doctor continued. He could feel his whole body trembling. Mercifully he passed out before Freiling had finished with the second drain.
30 minutes later…
"That's done," Freiling said after re-stitching the third wound. He motioned for Schultz to remove his patient's restraints. "Hopefully no infection will set in. I will return tomorrow morning. If Colonel Hogan has regained consciousness, he can be removed from here and placed in his own quarters."
"Do you think he will be unconscious long this time?" Wilson asked straightening Hogan's covers.
"Nein. I expect no more than a few hours. It would be kinder if it could be longer, but I don't expect it. He's strong, and a fighter. He won't let himself be out for any more than absolutely necessary," Freiling replied, gathering his tools together and re-packing his medical bag.
Kinch pulled the chair closer to Hogan's bedside. He wasn't planning on moving, until Hogan woke again. Holding Hogan's right arm flat against the bed while the Doc did what he was doing had been a nightmare. Even as weak as the Colonel was, it had been very hard to hold him down. If it wasn't for the restraints that the Doc had insisted on, they wouldn't have been able to hold him. Kinch hoped never to be part of anything so horrible again. The pain that Hogan had experienced went beyond anything Kinch would wish upon an enemy, and to see it inflicted on a man that he admired so much and considered one of his closest friends was simply more than Kinch wanted to face.
After almost six hours…
Hogan fought his way towards the light again. Moaning softly, he tossed and turned restlessly on the bed.
"Easy Colonel," Kinch soothed.
"Kinch?" Hogan sighed.
"Right here Colonel," Kinch replied touching Hogan on the upper arm to reassure the other of his presence.
"Good," Hogan sighed moving his head restlessly on the pillow. "God everything hurts."
"I know. I know. Take it easy Colonel," Kinch replied wiping Hogan's face with a soft cloth, damp with cool water. It was all he could offer the Colonel. There was no medication of any kind available now. "You're through the toughest part. It's all downhill from here. Just rest now."
Hogan easily drifted off to a restless sleep, sleeping most of the day and into the night, while his men continued their 24-hour vigil.
Luft Stalag 13, Kommandant's Quarters,
April 6, 1945, 0130 Hours
Kommandant Klink woke suddenly when he heard a noise from his bedroom. It had sounded like something has fallen. Perhaps Colonel Hogan has fallen from the bed? If it was nothing, he could return to sleep. If it had indeed been Hogan he would be in extreme pain, and probably be unable to rise. LeBeau? Yes it would be LeBeau with him now. He may need my help. Klink silently pushed open his bedroom door, seeing the bed in the sparse moonlight coming in through the window. The bed's empty! He immediately turned on the light and saw Hogan crumpled to the floor three strides from the bed.
"Colonel Hogan!" Klink said crouching besides the wounded man. "What are you doing out of bed?"
LeBeau panicked as he returned from the bathroom, "I was just gone for a minute. Mon Colonel, I'm so sorry!!"
Hogan moaned, turning his head towards LeBeau's voice. "Water," he mumbled, his pale face drenched in sweat, and the clean bandage on his face spotted through with fresh blood. The fall had aggravated that wound and probably his others as well.
"LeBeau, let me help you get the Colonel back to the bed," Klink offered.
He and LeBeau carefully picked Hogan up from the floor and half-carried him back to the bed. When Hogan was lying prone once again, his breath coming in painful gasps, LeBeau bathed Hogan's face with the cloth left for the purpose. Klink went to get a glass of water from the bathroom, which he then gave to Hogan. When Hogan was as comfortable as they could make him, Klink went to leave the room.
"Colonel Klink," Hogan said softly from the bed.
"Yes?" Klink replied, turning back to the wounded man, meeting his eyes for the first time since he had regained consciousness.
"Thank you," Hogan said. "For what it's worth, I owe you my life."
"You owe me nothing, Colonel Hogan. Your head wound must have you confused," Klink replied. "You owe me nothing at all." Klink turned and exited the room quickly. Klink had hoped Hogan wouldn't remember what happened in his office. He certainly didn't want too.
Hogan stared at the closed bedroom door a long time after Klink had left. Klink is reacting to this whole thing very strangely.
Luft Stalag 13, Kommandant's Quarters,
April 6, 1945, 1330 Hours
Hogan lay as still as possible on the bed, thinking that if he could just lie there quietly that the pain would fade into the background ache it had been before Newkirk had propped him up to feed him some soup. He had been so weak that Newkirk had needed to spoon-feed him. Newkirk had just left to bring the tray back to the kitchen. Hogan hadn't been alone for more than five minutes, when the doorway opened to admit Kinch.
"How are you doing today, Colonel?" Kinch asked seating himself in the chair that Newkirk had just vacated. Newkirk had given his update to Kinch in the outer room before Kinch began his shift. Kinch knew that Hogan had only been able to eat a few mouthfuls before it was impossible for him to sit up any longer.
"I was doing ok until Newkirk thought it was lunch time," Hogan replied, his body still tense on the bed. "So what's been happening in the outside world?" he asked more to keep his mind occupied than for any real desire to know.
"Things are proceeding, Colonel," Kinch replied. "Doc Freiling is on his way here from town. He expects that you'll be able to be moved back to the barracks this afternoon."
"Oh swell. I can hardly wait," Hogan said sarcastically. Any move is going to hurt like hell. Though it's probably better to get me out of here. Klink can have his quarters back and we can talk more freely.
Kinch smiled sympathetically, "Is there anything I can do for you in the meantime?"
"No. I guess not," Hogan replied with a sigh. Most of the time, the pain was merely in the background, present but not overwhelming. Any movement though, had the pain flare bright and hot within him, leaving him gasping for breath and praying for it to end.
"Try to get some rest, Colonel. I'll be right here if you need anything," Kinch said leaning back in his chair. He watched, satisfied, as the Colonel's eyes drifted closed. The six-hour shifts that they maintained were harder now; the Colonel was awake most of the time. Hogan had always disliked being coddled and the constant vigil that they maintained was getting on his nerves. LeBeau had reported when he finished his shift that the Colonel had tried to get up last night. LeBeau had been momentarily out of the room and had returned to find Hogan crumpled to the floor and Colonel Klink trying to help. The fall had shaken the Colonel's confidence, but Kinch seriously doubted that it would prevent Hogan from trying again.
Most of two hours passed before the bedroom door opened admitting Doc Freiling, Wilson, Carter, Newkirk, LeBeau, and Schultz who was carrying a stretcher from the infirmary.
"How is he doing this afternoon?" Freiling asked going directly to Hogan's bedside.
"He is doing okay," Kinch replied. "Newkirk was able to feed him lunch, just a little thin soup like you told us."
"Excellent," Freiling replied, pleased with the news. He began his examination and stopped when he found that several of the wounds had bled some during the night. Fingering the bandages he asked, "What happened?"
"He fell from bed," Kinch admitted. "He was only alone briefly, but he tried to get up."
Freiling frowned reprimanding, "You were to stay with him always."
"I had merely gone to the bathroom," LeBeau said from the sidelines. "He was sleeping when I left the room, and I was not gone long at all."
"Don't blame LeBeau, Doctor," Hogan said softly from the bed, after all of the people in the room, and the doctor's examination had woken him. "I was trying to get a drink of water, but I dropped the glass. I got up to get some more. I didn't expect to be so damned weak."
"Well you are," Freiling told his patient, glaring at him. "Kindly do not attempt to get up again, you will rip open all of your stitches that your friendly doctor so kindly put into you to keep you from bleeding to death!"
"I'll try to remember that," Hogan replied dryly. "So am I to be moved today?"
"Yes. Even though you aggravated your injuries, there is no reason not to move you," Freiling replied, gesturing for the others to spread out around the Colonel's bed. When the stretcher was positioned, he continued, "Now, Colonel, you are not to do anything. We will do all of the work. Understand?"
"Okay," Hogan replied with a sigh. He felt himself being lifted and set his jaw to avoid calling out in pain. Before long he was positioned on the stretcher.
"Okay, Colonel?" Freiling asked, checking on him.
Hogan nodded once, sharply. All of his concentration was focused on controlling his pain.
Kinch and Newkirk each grabbed an end of the stretcher and carried him from Klink's bedroom where he had lain for the past five days. As they carried him across the prison compound he became aware of how crowded the compound was. It looked like every man in camp was standing there, to watch him be transferred from Klink's quarters to his own. As he was carried past, each group of men saluted him, showing their respect.
Hogan was embarrassed as they carried him into Barracks Two. But soon the transfer was complete and Hogan was placed on the bottom bunk.
Freiling again examined him and then said, "Good that went very well. I will return in four more days to remove your stitches, Colonel. Do not hesitate to call me back here again should need arise. Auf Wiedersehen."
Luft Stalag 13, Kommandant's Office,
April 6, 1945, 1530 Hours
Colonel Klink stood at his office window. The front gate had called not too long ago to report that Doctor Freiling had returned to camp. Hogan was to be moved from his quarters to the barracks. Klink had decided that he still wanted to maintain some distance between Hogan and himself and was going to observe the transfer from here.
With astonishment he watched, as what seemed to be every prisoner in the camp, crowded into the compound, apparently to watch Hogan be moved. The men formed into ranks and stood quietly waiting. Klink noticed that the guards were standing around looking very uncomfortable. It was obvious that they didn't have the slightest clue what was going on.
The two men who were carrying Hogan on the stretcher came into view then. Kinch and Newkirk were doing the honors, followed closely by LeBeau, Carter with Doctor Freiling and Schultz bringing up the rear. As the procession passed each rank, the prisoners saluted their commander. Klink stood with his mouth open absolutely amazed. Never had he seen such a spontaneous display of respect given to any officer. Hogan was obviously a very popular commander, especially for only being the Senior Officer in a prison camp.
Klink stood at his window a long time after the procession carrying Hogan had disappeared into Barracks Two. He had watched the other prisoners in camp disperse, all moving urgently away as if they had a pressing task to complete. It was almost like they had interrupted something important to show Hogan their respect, but then had to immediately return to what they had been doing. When Klink saw Schultz and Doctor Freiling leave Barracks Two he turned and sat again at his desk.
Schultz was standing in front of his desk. "Herr Kommandant, Colonel Hogan has been transferred from your quarters to his own. The doctor reports that the Colonel is in satisfactory condition and that he expects to be back in four days to remove the Colonel Hogan's stitches."
"Thank you, Schultz," Klink replied. "Was there any problems with the other prisoners? I noticed quite a crowd out there."
"No, Herr Kommandant, they only wished to show their respect," Schultz replied.
"That was quite a display of respect then," Klink said with an eyebrow raised in question.
"Yes, sir. Colonel Hogan has always commanded their loyalty and respect," Schultz assured his Kommandant.
"Thank you, Schultz," Klink replied. "Please keep me updated on Colonel Hogan's condition. You can assure him that he can miss as many roll calls as he needs to. Dismissed."
"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant," Schultz replied, saluting. "Oh, sir, I have one of the prisoners cleaning your quarters."
"Thank you Schultz," replied the Kommandant.
Lost in thought, Klink barely watched Schultz leave the room. He now knew that Hogan would recover, and hopefully things at Stalag 13 could return to normal. Though how normal can things be? If what I now think is true? It was such a coincidence that Hochstetter's headquarters was attacked and Hochstetter himself was ambushed and killed just when he accused Hogan of underground activity. There have been far too many strange occurrences in and around this camp since Hogan was brought here. I wonder now if Hochstetter was right? And if he was, where does that leave me? A traitor? A coward? A fool? Wilhelm Klink didn't want to know the truth. He hoped the war would end before he had to face it.
Luft Stalag 13, Colonel Hogan's Quarters,
April 11, 1945, 1600 Hours
The last few days had gone by uneventfully. Kinch was completely on top of the mission plans and had been giving Hogan daily reports. It was now mostly a waiting game. Hogan's stitches had been removed, the process not being anywhere near as bad as the drain removal. His wounds had had enough time to heal and were now just a dull ache. The worst things were his broken bones and the severe bruising. Hogan had noticed how even though his men had given up being in the same room with him 24 hours a day, they had been stationing themselves outside his door to keep away unwanted distractions. Hogan had decided to just use the time to get better. He trusted his men to take care of all the details.
Hogan found that while he lay in his bunk healing though, his thoughts repeatedly turned toward Colonel Klink and his unusual actions since Hochstetter had arrived that night. He now clearly remembered what had happened, though he had not told his men. He remembered Hochstetter pressing the gun to his head. He had thought that it was the end. In the next moment after the gun had fired, he found himself still alive and opened his eyes only to see that Klink was holding the revolver and ordering Hochstetter from the camp. All very out of character for the Colonel Klink that he thought he knew. Then Klink had merely repaired the fence that Kinch had given up, and had taken no further action against the prisoners. Again out of character. Hogan had to wonder what Klink was thinking.
Luft Stalag 13, Tunnel under Barrack Two,
April 12, 1945, 2235 Hours
Hogan carefully lowered himself the final few rungs of the ladder, breathing a sigh of relief when he stood on the dirt floor of the tunnel. He had grown tired of lying in his bunk. Admittedly, he was still very stiff and sore, but felt recovered enough. He was sure his men would not share that opinion, but regardless of that he decided to take a walk around below ground and see what was happening.
Hogan watched Sergeant Matthews's team practice for a while. Sergeant Mathews was having his men 'practice' disarming and capturing men. He had volunteers walk by, and his men would creep up behind and jump them. Hogan had been amused. The men he had in camp were flyboys. None of them, before coming to Stalag 13 as a prisoner, had any commando training. Now he would wager any of them against any crack commando unit. They had learned because they had to. It is amazing what one can do when one's life is on the line.
Hogan continued on and eventually found himself near the newly dug passage that led to the motor pool, where he came across the men in Sergeant Marlow's crew. They were industriously stacking materials, so it would be ready when the time came to load it onto trucks for the different sabotage teams to take.
"Is anything wrong, Colonel?" Marlow asked coming up to his commanding officer from behind a stack of crates. He was amazed but pleased to see the Colonel out and about.
"No. Nothing wrong. Merely taking a walk," Hogan replied with a grin. "Carry on, Sergeant."
"Yes, sir," replied Marlow. "Are you sure that you do not need any help?"
"I'm fine, Sergeant," Hogan said frustrated, and tired of being coddled. He continued on, leaving the surprised Sergeant in his wake. As he finished the full circuit of the main tunnel system and headed toward the radio room, LeBeau and Carter came running up from behind him.
LeBeau said, speaking out of breath, "Colonel, are you all right? You shouldn't be out of bed! Let's us help you back to your quarters, sir." As LeBeau was talking, Carter started to take hold of Hogan's arm to help support him.
Hogan shook Carter off. "I'm okay. Leave me be," he ordered adamantly. "I can make it back by myself. I'm going to check the radio room first. You guys must have something else to do, right?"
"Yes, sir," they both replied, dejected, and quickly turned away, neither wanting to face the Colonel's wrath. So both men headed back to Barracks Two without further comment.
Hogan entered the radio room to find Kinch there listening through the headset. Things had been very quiet recently, with everyone merely waiting for the word to be given. Perhaps this is it and all the waiting will be over.
"What is it, Kinch?" Hogan asked, moving to stand before the table that Kinch had his radio set up on.
Kinch held up a hand, still listening to his headset intently. Kinch was frowning by the time he signed off. "This just in, Colonel," Kinch said, ripping off the top sheet of paper on his pad.
Hogan took the page and read it swiftly. "Oh, God," he whispered softly. London had just informed them that President Roosevelt had died earlier that day.
"That leaves Truman in command," Kinch said.
"Let's hope he has the vision to see us through to the end," Hogan replied. "This won't affect us much, but I hope it doesn't slow down the approach of the American forces."
"He's stuck with this war, just like we are," Kinch pointed out. "He's got to be committed to following Roosevelt's plans through."
"I hope so, but of course now when the armistice's signed, he'll get the credit for ending the war," Hogan said with an ironic grin. "Of course at this point I don't care whose signature is on the damned document, so long as it's signed!"
"Amen to that," Kinch replied.
Hogan sighed, "Pass the word and let the men know Roosevelt's gone. Klink should find out the news tomorrow. I'll get some sort of gathering approved for the recreation hall day after tomorrow."
Luft Stalag 13, Compound, Morning Roll Call,
April 13, 1945, 0530 Hours
Hogan slowly followed the rest of his men out for his first roll call since his injuries. After he had walked around the tunnel last night he was now very stiff and sore, but he was unwilling to go back to his bunk. He would struggle through, hoping that each day movement would be easier. For now, he just stood patiently while Schultz completed his count and reported to Klink.
"All present and accounted for, Herr Kommandant," Schultz reported, saluting.
"Very good, Schultz," Klink replied as his gaze focused on Colonel Hogan's spot in the line up. Well, Hogan has answered roll call this morning, so he must be feeling better. "I see you've decided to join us again for roll call, Colonel."
"I had nothing better to do this morning, Kommandant," Hogan replied, some of his previous personality surfacing, though it was an effort.
"I'm glad your schedule has cleared, Colonel. Dismissed," Klink turned and headed to his office.
Hogan followed the rest of the men back into the barracks where he sat at the table, and accepted a cup of coffee from LeBeau. The conversation in the barracks turned to Roosevelt's passing. Roosevelt had been a popular President and would be missed. The men were worried about what effect this would have on the ending of the war. Hogan could not offer them much comfort other than to say that hopefully with all the plans already in place all Truman would be able to do was to carry them through.
The conversation quickly turned to baseball, though, when Schultz came into the room. "Colonel Hogan, Kommandant Klink would like to see you," Schultz announced.
"Okay Schultz," Hogan said rising carefully as he slowly placed his cap on his head, and followed Schultz out of the barracks.
Then upon entering the Kommandant's office…
"You sent for me, Kommandant?" Hogan asked somewhat tenuously as he was uncertain of how Klink was going to react. Hopefully this summons would only deal with Roosevelt's death; anything else Hogan felt unprepared to deal with.
"Yes. Why don't you sit down, Colonel?" Klink offered. "I have some disturbing news for you this morning. I was listening to the morning radio broadcast and heard the report that your American President Roosevelt died yesterday."
Hogan bowed his head briefly. "Thank you for telling me, sir. May I have your permission to hold a memorial service?"
"Yes, certainly. You may use the recreation hall," Klink replied.
"Thank you, sir. I'll have something ready tomorrow," Hogan said and then grew worried, as Klink delayed answering him.
Finally Klink merely cleared his throat and dismissed him. Hogan left Klink's office with relief, though he still didn't understand this new Colonel Klink. The man was avoiding talking about what had happened that night, and Hogan had no idea why.
Luft Stalag 13, Tunnel under Barracks Two,
April 16, 1945, 0700 Hours
Kinch pushed the earpiece firmer against his ear trying to counteract the static, even though in his heart of hearts he would never have mistaken this message. The day has finally come. London just confirmed that the Czar's troops had engaged Berlin. Kinch rapidly wrote the details down as they came in. The Russians had spread out and were attacking Berlin from the East and North… exactly as Hogan had predicted, leaving the West and South open for retreating or fleeing Germans. Kinch signed off. And then tearing off his headphones, he sprinted for the ladder leading up to the barracks. He took the ladder two rungs at a time and vaulted over the bunk slats.
"Whoa, mate. What's the hurry?" Newkirk asked looking up from his card game with Carter. The other men in the barracks were also watching Kinch with interest.
Kinch waved the paper but couldn't help his broad grin as he continued towards Hogan's quarters. He knocked on the door, and at the officer's soft come command, he entered. Hogan looked better to Kinch's eyes, although he was still sporting bruises from his recent Gestapo encounter. But Kinch knew that the officer's wounds still gave him pain. There had been nothing any of them could do for the Colonel's wounds; no medicines were available, even in Wurzburg at the Hospital. Time and Hogan's own natural healing abilities would have to do the rest. "Message from London, sir," Kinch said immediately.
Hogan, who had been lying down, swung his legs around and sat up, reaching out to take Kinch's report. Reading the report swiftly, he muttered, "Finally."
Kinch grinned broadly in return, but said nothing.
"All right, this is it," Hogan said rising, and wincing slightly, as his healing wounds pulled against the bandages. He still tired easily now and suffered from horrendous headaches… a left over from his concussion. And even though his wounds were healing now, he was still fairly weak. "Pass the word. I want to know of any problems. Otherwise it's a go for tonight."
"Yes, sir!" Kinch replied, preceding Hogan into the main barracks. "It's a go, guys. Tonight," Kinch announced. "Those that are to carry the message to the rest of the camp, better get going."
Five men, with wide grins of anticipation, immediately left the barracks, each going in a different direction. They had even practiced this. The whole camp would know within four minutes that the word had been given. Hogan was leaving nothing to chance. There wasn't a man in camp that didn't have a job.
Luft Stalag 13, Barracks One,
April 16, 1945, 2230 Hours
Sergeant Chris Matthews consulted his watch, counting down the seconds until his team could move out. His stomach was in knots, but everything had been planned down to the last second, and it should work out splendidly. Matthews's had been part of many missions prior to this one, so he wasn't unfamiliar with how Hogan ran a mission. The men on his team had all been on at least one mission before, and they had practiced relentlessly in the tunnels below the camp. His team was responsible for quietly taking out the compound guards. He was sure that he and his team would fulfill their mission with no difficulties. They had to have all fifteen out of commission when Sergeant Frank Tarlow's team, from Barracks Thirteen, created the diversion so that they could take out the off-duty guards in their barracks. And Sergeant Ken Hart's team from Barracks Fourteen, were the snipers to be in place, ready at Hogan or Kinch's orders, to take out the tower guards.
Although Hogan wanted a clean takeover and had ordered everyone not to hurt any of the guards, Matthews wasn't sure he agreed with the Colonel's orders. He didn't care one way or the other if some German soldiers were killed, but he would obey Hogan. Matthews was sure that order would have changed after Hogan's near brush with death at the Gestapo's hands, but Hogan had repeated the order to ensure that there would be no misunderstandings. For some reason Hogan wished to protect the German guards in camp. His men were armed, but their orders were to quietly take out the compound guards, the guns were in case something went wrong. Matthews watched as his second hand ticked the last few seconds away.
"Go!" he whispered at the men standing ready beside him. The men slipped from the barracks in well-rehearsed twos and threes going stealthily towards their unsuspecting targets.
Luft Stalag 13, German Non-Commissioned Officers' Quarters,
April 16, 1945, 2235 Hours
Carter, LeBeau, and seven other men from their barracks entered the German NCO quarters. Their job was to capture all of the other Germans in camp that were not on duty or in the guard's quarters. At one time, there had been 15 men assigned quarters here, but now there was only Schultz and two others. They had decided to simply go into the rooms, three to a guard, and startle the men awake.
The teams of three men paused in the hallway, each team before their target door. "Go!" LeBeau whispered, quietly opening the door to Schultz's room. They crept toward the sleeping Schultz and positioned themselves as arranged. LeBeau stood near the door, his job as back up. Olsen poised his hand to cover Schultz's mouth to stifle any alarm, and Carter was to shake him awake. At Olsen's nod, Carter woke Schultz.
"Schultz. Schultz. Wake up!" Carter said to the guard in a normal voice, shaking the sleeping man.
"What, what?" Schultz mumbled opening his eyes to a drawn and cocked gun. Schultz woke fast after that. "What is going on?" he asked, his eyes wide and staring at the gun pointed at his head.
"The Colonel is taking over Stalag 13, Schultz," Carter said. "We're here to make sure you don't make any trouble."
"Trouble, what trouble?" Schultz protested, holding his arms out to the side in surrender. "You must be joking, Carter. Up to more of your monkey business heh?"
"No joke, Schultz," LeBeau replied, picking up Schultz's rifle. "The Colonel has plans for the camp."
"If Colonel Hogan wants the camp, he's welcome to it. You know I am loyal to ANY ONE! Most especially him!" Schultz replied, giving in all at once. He was a simple man, who enjoyed his wife and family, he didn't want to hurt a soul. Even his civilian occupation reflected the inner man. As a toy maker, he sought to bring joy to the young and old alike. Then war had come, and his factory was commandeered to make guns of all things, and Schultz had been drafted.
Lucky for him he had been assigned to Stalag 13. Even though this assignment had had its unpleasant moments, he had always tried to treat the prisoners in his care with respect. They were in most cases young men who were very far from home. They had reminded Schultz of his own young sons.
The Kommandant had also attempted to treat the prisoners here with dignity. The conditions here had always been good under Colonel Klink. Not like some of the other Stalag's Schultz had visited over the course of the war. Then when Colonel Hogan had been brought here, suddenly the Stalag was a different place. The American Colonel ran the place with a wide smile, bolstering Klink's ego, when it suited his plans. Even as Schultz looked the other way, all the crazy monkey business that went on here, had amused him.
"We know Schultzie," LeBeau agreed. "But we want to make sure."
"Yeah. Yeah," Olsen agreed. "Get dressed. We're to take you to Klink's quarters."
Luft Stalag 13, Compound, Between Mess Hall and Guards Barracks,
April 16, 1945, 2245 Hours
Sergeant Frank Tarlow crouched next to Private Mills, in the deep shadows of the mess hall. Ten feet and to the right of their position was the entrance to the guards quarters. If things were going to plan, Corporals King and Santos were entering the guard's quarter's storeroom via the tunnel entrance. In another five minutes they would be setting off their smoke bombs and retreating back the way they had entered the building. They were to ensure that that tunnel entrance could not be used again.
The plan was for the smoke to drive the guards out of the building. He and the rest of his men would meet them, and take them prisoner for a change. The angle of the guard towers made this a relatively easy task. No guard tower was able to fire directly on this building, it was a German forces building and did not have to be defended against. The tower guards would know something had happened, the lights would be brought to bear, but they would be impotent to protect their fellow soldiers.
After the guards were secured, his men were to conduct a thorough search of the building and remove anything that could be used as a weapon. The former guards would be housed there, and it was his team's responsibility to ensure that they could not break out and cause future difficulties.
As the seconds counted down, Mills nudged him and gestured to their left. Tarlow turned his head just in time to see one of Matthews's crew subdue one of the compound guards. He hoped that Matthews and his men hadn't missed any even as the smoke began to waft out of the guard's barracks. Tarlow whispered the order to be ready, and stood to meet the panicked guards.
Luft Stalag 13, Kommandant's Quarters,
April 16, 1945, 2245 Hours
Newkirk melted into the shadows on Klink's porch as Hogan and Kinch entered the building. His job was to watch their backs. No one would enter Klink's quarters without going through him first.
Kinch took up a position just behind the curtain between the hallway and the Kommandant's quarters. Hogan wanted to confront Klink alone, but Klink was not to get by Kinch should something go wrong. Hogan nodded at him and continued into Klink's private quarters. It hadn't been too long since Klink had had him treated by Doctor Freiling in these rooms. For almost five days he had been laid up in the Kommandant's bed, too weak to move, while Klink had slept on his couch. Those five days had changed something in the relationship between the two men. Just what the changes were Hogan couldn't quite put a finger on, but they were significant. Klink had saved his life. Hogan had no doubts about that. Hochstetter would have killed me.
Hogan had begun to see Klink in a different light, more of a glimpse of the man he could have been, if Hitler hadn't thrust Germany into a political and moral nightmare. In turn, he believed Klink also saw him differently. He had stopped his light-hearted, somewhat foolish, cowardly persona. After Hochstetter, and in light of everything he must now accomplish, and on top of his injuries, Hogan discovered he hadn't the energy for his charade any longer.
Hogan took a seat in the armchair with a direct line to Klink's bedroom. Two weeks ago he would have definitely known what Klink was going to do when he came out and found him here. But now he was unsure, for Klink was apparently capable of much more than Hogan had ever given him credit for. He consulted his watch. He would have his answer soon. Shortly the alarm should ring, triggered by the tower guards, at the apparent fire in the guards' quarters. Klink would waken, and come out to demand what was going on. Hogan need only wait.
The alarm rang, only two minutes behind schedule. Klink's new guards were not top-notch fighting men. It took Klink another two minutes before he entered his sitting room. Klink pulled up in his headlong rush to get outside to find out what was going on when he saw Hogan sitting there with a revolver.
"Why don't you have a seat, Kommandant?" Hogan said softly, his gun never wavering from the German Colonel.
Klink sat on his couch, his expression turning from surprise to resignation. "What is the meaning of this, Colonel Hogan?"
"I am taking over Stalag 13. You will find out, very soon, that all of your compound and off duty guards have been captured. The only guards not under my control will be the 12 tower guards. You will order them to surrender. Their fate is up to you."
"And if I don't?" Klink asked exploring his options, trying to ignore the gun that Hogan still held on him. Klink was surprised at this turn of events. He had not expected Hogan to forcibly take control of the camp. He certainly hadn't expected this move from his senior prisoner when Berlin was still in German hands. Though he had no illusions that Germany would lose… the war was long from being over. Klink had thought that he would eventually surrender to Hogan, but only when the Allied liberation of Stalag 13 was assured.
"I have snipers in place, each with a clear shot at a tower guard. I will kill them," Hogan replied his expression calm, meaning every word.
Klink swallowed hard, reading Hogan's still battered face. There was no pretense there. Hogan would carry through with his threat, if he didn't comply. The guards were either someone's grandfather or sixteen-year old son, drafted to fill uniforms when Germany became desperate for fighting men. Klink wouldn't, couldn't condemn them to death over a few months' time. "If I order them down, what happens then?" he asked quietly.
"They and the rest of your guards will be held captive in the guards' quarters. They'll be comfortable enough. If you surrender, I give you my word that I will protect you and them from the Allies when they arrive," Hogan replied.
Klink was silent for a moment, studying his American counterpart. Finally he asked, "Why should I believe you?"
"Let's just say I owe you one, Kommandant, and leave it at that," Hogan replied, crossing his legs and striking a casual pose in his chair. He wanted Klink to surrender without having to resort to bloodshed. He'd had enough of that to last several life times and the war was still not over.
Before the conversation could continue though, Kinch entered the room with Carter, LeBeau, Olsen, and Schultz. "Everything is secure, Colonel. The snipers have taken their positions," Kinch reported.
"Is that true, Schultz?" Klink asked before Hogan could say anything.
"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant. I've seen it with my own eyes. The prisoners have taken the camp," Schultz confirmed.
Klink turned back to Hogan, his head high. He would surrender, but he would not be disheartened. It was true Germany was losing, but he was sure Hogan would not take advantage of their sudden reversal of roles. "You have me at a distinct disadvantage, sir. The camp is yours, Colonel Hogan."
"We're not finished yet, Kommandant." Hogan stood trying to mask the pain that movement brought him. He was mostly recovered, but sudden movements could still bring him much discomfort. Besides the severe bruising, the only thing that still plagued him seriously was his debilitating headaches. Those had abated to the point where he was not constantly in the throes of one, but if he overextended himself and became overtired he was sure to have one. And they could still last for days. "You still need to call down the tower guards, or I will fulfill my threat to you. So if you please, Colonel."
Klink stood as well and preceded Hogan from his quarters, leading the way to his office. With a final disbelieving look at Hogan, Klink lifted the receiver to talk to all of the tower guards.
Hogan stopped him by holding the receiver. "Tell them to surrender and report here."
Klink nodded and spoke into the handset, "Attention, attention. This is Colonel Klink. Colonel Hogan now has possession of Stalag 13. You need to drop your weapons and surrender, and report to the Kommandant's office. Macht Schnell."
After several minutes Newkirk came into the office from his post on the porch. "Nobody's come down, sir."
"Kinch have Sergeant Hart's men fire a warning shot," Hogan ordered, meeting Klink's eyes squarely.
"Yes, sir," Kinch acknowledged, relaying the message through the walkie-talkie he carried. Almost instantly what sounded like a single shot rang out, but in reality it was the sound of twelve rifles being fired simultaneously. All of the shots dug into the wood near each of the tower guards.
Grudgingly the guards, one by one, climbed down and with their hands above their heads, converged on where Klink, Hogan and the rest of Hogan's team stood on the porch of the Kommandant's office.
"That's all of them, Colonel," Newkirk said as the last man approached.
"Carter, Newkirk. Confine these 12 men with the rest of the guards, see that they're comfortable, will you?" Hogan ordered.
"Yes, sir," Newkirk replied, leading the former guards to their quarters, which would now be their prison.
Hogan and Kinch motioned for Schultz and Klink to reenter Klink's quarters. The two men complied.
"What happens now, Colonel?" Klink asked seating himself beside Schultz on the couch.
"You and Schultz will have to remain as figureheads, unfortunately there is still a war on. We must maintain the illusion that you still control this camp. You will each have a personal guard, while many more of my men will dress the part as camp guards. You will both be housed here in your quarters for the duration," Hogan told them.
"Hogan, if I may ask you something?" Klink asked.
"Yes, Kommandant?" Hogan replied, sure he knew what Klink's question was. He would treat Klink, Schultz and his other German prisoners, with the same integrity that had been shown to them.
"Why have you played your hand now?" asked Klink. "The end of the war is in sight, true, but the surrounding area for over 100 miles in all directions is still under German control."
Hogan was quiet for a moment, debating whether to tell the truth. Somehow telling Klink lies, as easy as it had been in the past, was impossible now. Besides after all of this time he owed them both the truth. So he said, "Hochstetter was right, you know. I am a member of the local underground, its leader in fact. There is much work for us to do to aid in a quick, clean defeat of Hitler's Third Reich. Maintaining this charade of being POWs was just too hard to do."
Klink was silent, his expression unresponsive. His gaze slowly met Hogan's.
Hogan was surprised by the man sitting in front of him. He had expected an outburst of some kind. Suddenly he knew why Klink had been acting out of character. "How long have you known?" Hogan asked quietly, ignoring the surprised look on Kinch's face.
Klink responded with a heavy sigh. "Not for long, though in retrospect, I should have known. When Hochstetter arrived, it took me by surprise. I just couldn't let him continue his tirade. He was on the verge of insanity and I was sure that he wouldn't stop with just your death. It seemed that that was what he wanted regardless of getting any answers to his questions. I was worried that if you died, your men would be next on his list. I just had to stop him. I had no plan beyond the moment. I just hoped he would leave." He paused, looking forlornly at the floor. "It wasn't until I thought about what a coincidence the Gestapo Headquarter's bombing and Hochstetter's death was, that I came to the realization that you had more influence in this war than I could ever imagine."
"Kommandant," said Hogan trying to get the German Colonel to look at him. "Then I owe you for more than my life. I will keep my promise to you. You and your men will be safe from the Allies when they arrive. I just need to know I can count on you and your men, not to interfere with the things my men and I have to do now. But, you have to understand that I will do whatever I need to, if you and your men do not cooperate."
Klink fidgeted a little on the couch. Finally he began, "I understand, Colonel Hogan, but I want you to understand that throughout this war I have been ignoring many things I shouldn't have. It was much safer that way. You know what the current Germany is like. The Germany of my childhood is long gone, and what we have allowed Germany to become is not worth saving. I did not see how one man could make much of a difference. So up until now I believed the only way to survive this war was to hide within myself, and the reputation of this camp." Klink sighed again his expression one of regret. "So I guess you can say I've made my choice, Colonel. I will not interfere with your plans, whatever they may be."
Hogan replied, "I want to accept your word, Kommandant, but I have to take precautions. What we have planned is too important. You will both have a guard who will speak fluent German. As for my men that are posing as camp guards, any of them in positions that could have outside contact, will also be fluent in German. You should know, as well, that I am fluent in German. Every normal camp activity will continue as before. For all outward appearances nothing in the camp has changed. Are we clear here?" Hogan asked.
"Yes. Very clear, Colonel," Klink agreed. "May I speak with my men to explain what has happened?"
"Certainly. I will accompany you. And I expect that you conduct yourself appropriately and don't try anything foolish," Hogan replied.
"Of course, Colonel," replied Klink.
As Hogan gestured for Klink to precede him out of the Kommandant's quarters, he noticed that Schultz looked lost and scared. Hogan paused a moment, then he turned to Kinch ordering, "Kinch escort Colonel Klink to Corporal Webber and have them go to the guards quarters. I'll catch up. Send in Corporal LaSalle for Schultz. Then get on the horn to alert the underground that we're all secure here."
"Yes, sir. Kommandant, if you please," Kinch replied, leaving the room with Kommandant Klink.
Hogan turned to Schultz, his expression soft. "Schultz, don't worry. Everything will be okay. You have always treated us very fairly. You have nothing to fear from me. I hope soon that I will be able to see you back with your family," Hogan told the former guard, hoping to convince Schultz of his sincerity. Of all the Germans I've met, poor Schultz is the most unlikely soldier. He should never have been taken away from his toy factory. That's where he belongs, not here.
"I hope so too, Colonel. Thank you," Schultz replied as Corporal LaSalle entered the room.
Hogan left the room. He had a lot to do, and not a lot of time left to accomplish it. After he had met with Klink and the former guards, he had seen the Kommandant back to his quarters and headed immediately back to the barracks to get an update from Kinch.
Luft Stalag 13, Motor Pool,
April 16, 1945 2300 Hours
Sergeant Marlow threw open the door to the tool shed so that his team would have easy access to the tunnel it concealed. This was the last tunnel they had dug. Below ground stacked in neat rows was the ammunition that each team of saboteurs would take with them. His team's job was to load the trucks, in time for each sabotage mission. Two trucks had to be ready to go in just under six hours. Two men to a truck began a maintenance overhaul of each of both trucks to leave at 0600 the next morning. It was their jobs to see that the trucks were in perfect working order, a full tank of gas, extra containers of gas and at least one spare tire. The rest of his men began to carefully load the trucks with the supplies.
Luft Stalag 13, Barracks Two,
April 17, 1945 0030 Hours
Hogan entered the empty barracks. Everyone else had something to do, and here he was, alone, waiting for a report. There were some barracks in camp that were still sleeping, but most of the camp was occupied. He poured himself a cup of coffee, debating whether to go below or sit here to wait for Kinch. Kinch solved the debate by climbing out of the tunnel. Hogan sat with a silent sigh of relief, realizing that he was operating on pure adrenalin. He knew that he was going to pay for all of this activity tomorrow… but for now he had too much to do.
Hogan waited as Kinch sat down across the table from him. "Okay Kinch, I want to go over every detail. Let's start with the status of 'our' camp guards."
"Yes, sir," Kinch agreed. "All of 'our' camp guards are in place. They have their uniforms, papers and weapons. A schedule has been worked out. The changing of the guard will occur when it always did. Roll calls will be conducted, for our German guards to coincide with the regular POW scheduled roll calls. A perimeter fence is being constructed around the guard's barracks. It should be finished by 0800 Hours. We will have 12 of 'our' guards stationed around that perimeter always. We also have five guards stationed around the Kommandant's quarters. There will be three shifts of personal guards for Klink and Schultz. They are never to be alone, per your orders."
"Very good," Hogan said. "What's the status of the motor pool, do we have the six trucks?"
"Corporals Joyce and Gentry have just left to retrieve the two additional trucks recently stolen and hidden in the woods. They are scheduled to return by 0230 Hours. That gives us the six trucks. Sergeant Marlow will have the first two trucks at the front gate by 0500 Hours, they will be packed and ready to leave by 0600 Hours. He will then prepare the trucks retrieved by Joyce and Gentry. They should be ready and packed by 1200 Hours for Teams three and four who will leave at 1300 Hours. He will then continue packing the last two trucks, one that will be departing with team five at 1600 Hours. The last truck needs to be ready by 2200 Hours on the 19th for Team six. Sergeant Connors and Sergeant Holloway will take the two trucks, scheduled to be the last to leave, and will pick up family members of the underground. They will be leaving at 0230 Hours. They are expected back by 0500 Hours, which will give Sergeant Marlow plenty of time to get them ready," answered Kinch.
"And you've contacted the underground?" asked Hogan
"Yes, the local underground members who will be accompanying the teams are on their way and will report to their team leaders as soon as they arrive. They are expected no later than 0200 Hours. Their families will be at the pick-up sites at the appointed times. They should be carrying with them their remaining foodstuffs and only essential personal effects," Kinch reported.
"What's the condition of their living arrangements?" asked Hogan.
"Lieutenant Taylor and men from Barracks Fifteen are remodeling the recreation hall to accommodate the families of the underground. We're only expecting fifty civilians, including the members that will be accompanying our teams. They should easily fit in the Recreation Hall. They should have all the beds ready by 0600 Hours. They will continue to work on the food storage and dining areas through the day. A perimeter fence is being constructed around the Recreation Hall. It should be finished by 0800 Hours as well. We will have 12 guards stationed around that perimeter. Of course, this is only for appearances, in case of unexpected visitors to camp," replied Kinch.
"The men are aware that I expect them to treat the families of the underground with complete respect. Correct?" asked Hogan.
"Yes, sir," agreed Kinch.
"I'm aware that it's been a along time since most of these men have had female companionship. I don't want any incidents. The men are to keep their hormones in check. Was that made clear to them?" Hogan asked.
"Yes, sir. I made it very clear," repeated Kinch, and then he added, "There shouldn't a problem."
"Do we have people sealing the tunnel entrances to where the Germans are being held?" Hogan asked.
"Yes, sir. Corporals Marshall and Stone are working on that now. They will be finished soon. They are only creating temporary seals. The tunnels will not be able to be opened unless you are exiting from a tunnel. The tunnel entrances in the guards' barracks and Klink's quarters are presently the only ones being sealed," answered Kinch.
"Good," Hogan said. "Give me a run down on each team."
"All the preparations for Teams One through Six have been completed. Each member of the teams was supplied with uniforms, paperwork, money, weapons, and maps. Each truck will be loaded with the necessary explosives, rations for the men and enough fuel to see them to their target and back. The teams have their orders to blow their targets on April 19 at 2400. All Teams are due back in camp by April 22. Team One consists of Sergeant Foster and selected men from Barracks Seven: Their target is the Schweinfurt Airfield. They will be departing at 0600 Hours. Team Two consists of Captain O'Malley and selected men from Barracks Five: Their target is the Darmstadt Chemical Plant. They will also be departing at 0600 Hours. Team three consists of Lieutenant Jenkins and selected men from Barracks Twelve: Their target is the Wurzburg Munitions Factory. They will be departing at 1300 Hours. Team Four consists of Sergeant Jean Ouellette and selected men from Barracks Nine: Their Target is the Lohr bridge. They will also be departing at 1300 Hours. Team Five consists of Captain David Kellogg and selected men from Barracks Nineteen: Their Target is the Lindach Train depot. They will be departing at 1600 Hours. Team 6 consists of Sergeant Barnes and selected men from Barracks Ten: Their Target is the Hammelburg Bridge. They will not leave camp until 2200 Hours on the 19th," Kinch reported.
"I know they've all gone over the sabotage plans for their sites a thousand times, but do they have any questions or concerns? Do you feel they are ready?" wondered Hogan.
"Yes, sir. They've been ready for almost two weeks. They know what they need to do and they know the risks. They are really ready, Colonel," Kinch answered.
"Thanks, Kinch," Hogan said. "It looks as if by 0800 Hours the most obvious changes to camp will be made. We'll only be waiting for trucks to leave on missions. The families of the underground will be settled. The camp guards will be secured."
"Yes, sir. Everything is moving along fine," Kinch said glancing at his watch. 0130 Hours. "You know Colonel, you should take some time to rest. You've been up for almost 20 hours now. You have time before the first teams leave." It had been almost two weeks since the Colonel was injured and while he looked much better, Kinch knew that he was still weak. The doctor told Kinch to make sure he got rest. Hogan had lost almost 15 pounds during the two-week period. And the food rationing wasn't helping the situation either. Kinch was still worried and was planning to talk to the doctor when he arrived later today.
"Kinch, I understand your concern and I thank you for it. But I'm fine," Hogan replied annoyed. "Admittedly I'm nowhere near one hundred percent, but I can handle it. There is too much to do right now. I still want to check on each team personally. And before you give me a dirty look, I won't hover over them. I just need to touch base with them." Hogan paused. "So are we finished?" he asked harsher than he should have.
Kinch straightened up and responded formally, "Yes, sir. If I may, sir? I would like to accompany you, sir? I was going to check on each team, too, sir."
Oh great, four 'SIRs' in one response. I guess I've really pissed Kinch off. Sighing he said, "Look, Kinch. I'm sorry. You're right I probably should be resting, but I can't do that. I need to be visible. I can't have the men thinking I've deserted them. It's important to me. I thought you of all people would understand that."
"Of course, I understand," said Kinch. "I'm just worried about you, that's all," he finished quickly averting his gaze from Hogan's.
Hogan stood and extended his hand to shake Kinch's. "You're a good friend, Kinch." When Kinch responded in kind Hogan said softly, "I promise to let you know if I can't handle it. Okay?"
"Okay," said Kinch.
"Good," said Hogan. "Shall we go take a turn around the camp then?"
"Yes, sir," replied Kinch.
Together they spent the next hour or so checking in on each team. They greeted the underground team members as they arrived. They watched as the trucks going out to retrieve the families of the underground leave, and congratulated the men retrieving the stolen trucks after they had also gotten back safely. So far everything was going according to plan.
Kinch knew that Hogan's presence was inspiring to the men in camp, especially during stressful situations. He just never realized to what extent Colonel Hogan needed to be that presence. Hogan had just spent the last hour and a half walking around this camp, like there was nothing wrong with him. He slapped people on the back, made jokes, anything he could to break the tension. All the while telling everyone they were doing a great job. The effect it had was amazing. The men in camp had been so worried about the Colonel that morale was low. He managed to change that in a little more than an hour.
"Okay, Kinch. Let's head back to the barracks. I need another cup of coffee," Hogan said moving in that direction, happy that his turn about camp had had the desired effect. Being able to deflect the men's attention off his well-being gave them a chance to better concentrate on the jobs at hand. Relieved, Hogan entered the barracks, followed by Kinch.
Hogan had begun to feel faint in the compound, but knew he couldn't let it show. But now, he had barely made it through the door of Barracks Two before he felt himself falling. He grabbed for the nearest bunk. But before he could comprehend, Kinch was there and eased him down onto a bunk. Hogan knew that he had overtaxed himself, 22 hours without sleep was just too much in his present condition. Now he was left with a pounding headache, as well as his whole body being just plain sore.
"Colonel, what's wrong? What can I do?" Kinch asked panicked. Hogan looked white as a sheet. Kinch was taken by surprise as Hogan's condition had changed drastically from what it had been like in the compound, as soon as he entered the barracks.
"Remember that promise I made to you a couple of hours ago?" Hogan asked fatigued. "Well, I do need some rest. I will be in my quarters if you need me." Slowly he rose from the bunk, but needed to lean on Kinch's shoulder to make it to his own quarters. "I want to meet the first truck with the families of the underground when it arrives. You are to wake me. Is that understood?" Hogan ordered, knowing he had about 90 minutes or so before the first truck of underground families was expected into camp.
"Of course, sir," said Kinch worried all over again about the Colonel. He was tempted not to tell the Colonel when the trucks arrived, but he knew better than that. Hogan needed to be there. Kinch was definitely going to check in with the doctor when he arrived.
Luft Stalag 13, Kommandant's Quarters,
April 17, 1945, 0500 Hours
Colonel Klink had spent a restless night, pacing his bedroom. He had tried to lie down, but found it impossible to sleep. Colonel Hogan had ordered that the personal guards assigned to himself and Schultz never be out of sight of either of them. Schultz had slept on a cot brought over from the NCO quarters, while Klink was to sleep in his bedroom. The guards would remain in the living room, but his bedroom door had to stay open.
It's bad enough, that I am now a prisoner, but being watched 24 hours a day will drive me mad. I may need to confront Colonel Hogan on this matter. As a prisoner here, Hogan had never been hounded 24 hours a day by a personal guard. Klink sighed and glanced at the clock. 0500 Hours. He stretched and headed for the bathroom.
The guard was at his door immediately saying, "That door needs to remain open, Colonel Klink."
The German Colonel gave the guard a nod, grabbed his uniform on the way by and changed while in the bathroom. He re-entered his bedroom and went to the window, opened it and found another guard pointing a gun into his face. His personal guard came up behind him and told the other guard to ease off.
"Sorry, Colonel. From now on you need to check with us before you open a window," said the guard.
Klink nodded his understanding, and then glanced around the compound. He couldn't believe what he saw. There were three searchlights illuminating the recreation hall. Colonel Hogan was greeting some civilians. And it appeared that two trucks had transferred civilians into camp. The trucks were parked in front of the recreation hall. There was even a fence being erected. Civilians were moving stuff into the hall. Klink was worried that Hogan may have taken hostages as a precaution, but he could easily that the civilians were not being forced into anything. Some are even shaking Hogan's hand. It was then that he saw Doc Freiling stop and talk to Hogan. Could it be that these people are members of the underground?
"Good morning, Colonel," Schultz said as he came up behind the Kommandant.
"Schultz," Colonel Klink acknowledged, only slightly, as he continued to stare out the window.
Klink persisted with his assessment of the camp. There were two more trucks parked at the front gates as well, they appeared loaded with a lot of equipment. Hogan had said that what they had planned was very important. I wonder what's he up to? He also noticed that there were two additional trucks parked over near the motor pool. How did Hogan get two additional trucks? The camp only had four trucks of its own. The Kommandant then noticed an additional searchlight focused on the guard's barracks and that a fence was being erected there as well. Klink also noticed what appeared to be many more fake Germans soldiers in camp that he ever had originally stationed at camp. What is Hogan up to? Klink had thought that maybe Hogan had taken over the camp on a whim, not really having planned it. But he realized now, that this plan of Hogan's had to be in the works for a long time. "How blind have I been?" he asked out loud of himself.
"Don't berate yourself, Kommandant," said Schultz sympathetically. "We only saw what he wanted us to see."
Before Klink could respond, one of the guards entered to say it was time for morning roll call. Klink glanced out the window again before he headed for the door. He noticed a lot of those fake guards were rounding up the POWs for roll call. He exited his office, and silently headed down the stairs into the compound. The POWs were still assembling. Klink noticed that his men were also being made to attend this roll call, as well. He counted 12 guards surrounding his men. Hogan isn't taking any chances.
The Kommandant's attention was brought back to the POWs when he heard Schultz report that all POWs were present and accounted for. "Thank you, Schultz. Dismissed." The prisoners scattered so quickly it shocked Klink. What are they up to? "Colonel Hogan," called Klink, before he was escorted back to his office. The German Colonel still wanted to talk to Hogan about the 24-hour guard.
Hogan, who had been talking to Sergeant Kinchloe, turned quickly at his name, and started to head toward Colonel Klink. "What can I do for you, Kommandant?"
"Colonel, I want to lodge a complaint about the 24 hour supervision assigned to us. It's ludicrous. You were never subjected to anything like this under my authority. I feel that neither Schultz nor I should be subjected to this," stated Klink rather vehemently.
"Kommandant, as I told you before, I need to take precautions. This 24-hour supervision will be temporary, no more than one week. I can't take any chances right now. You'll just have to deal with it," said Hogan with authority. "Webber, LeSalle. Return Kommandant Klink and Sergeant Schultz to the Kommandant's quarters. They need to remain there until further notice. Understood?" Hogan turned away, angry, without waiting for a response from his men, and headed toward the two trucks parked at the front gates.
Kommandant Klink watched Hogan walk away, somewhat surprised. It was the first time he realized that the tables were indeed turned. Even last night during the take over, Hogan had never used that tone with him. He was now extremely concerned about Hogan's real intentions toward he and his men, as he'd never seen 'this' Hogan before.
Luft Stalag 13, Colonel Hogan's Quarters,
April 17, 1945, 0445 Hours
Kinch knocked before entering Colonel Hogan's quarters. He wasn't surprised to find Hogan was awake when he did enter. "Sir, both trucks carrying the families of the underground have just entered through the gates."
"Thanks, Kinch," Hogan said as he slowly rose from his bunk, studiously ignoring his second in command. The short rest hadn't done much. He had spent most of the time going over all the plans in his head, which made it pound all the more. Well, at least I don't feel faint anymore.
After finally getting to his feet, Hogan straightened his jacket, put on his cap and attempted to put his command face on. Before he left his quarters though, his eyes finally met Kinch's. Hogan easily saw the worry and concern in his friend's gaze. This time though Kinch let him pass without voicing his concern. Hogan was glad he didn't have to face that obstacle as well as he really didn't have the energy to fight with Kinch.
The Colonel then spent the next half hour greeting the families of the underground…
Most of the 50 civilians, he'd met before. He'd been amazed early on, when he realized that once these people committed themselves to the underground, their entire families also participated in the work. They all had been indispensable in saving the lives of many Allied soldiers, by risking their lives to help transfer them in and out of Stalag 13. He hoped that now he could keep them safe, for he knew that he and his men could never have accomplished what they had without these people.
After finishing his little circuit of the recreation hall, Hogan noticed Doc Freiling turn from talking to Kinch and head in his direction. Immediately, Hogan started to feel defensive, even though, in his heart, he knew Kinch had good intentions. He just didn't have time now to get a lecture from the good Doctor.
"Colonel Hogan," said Doc Freiling. "How are we feeling today?"
"Just fine, Doc. No problems at all," answered Hogan hastily.
"Is that so?" asked the doctor. "I'd like to make my own assessment if you don't mind Colonel."
As if God was on Hogan's side, the guards began yelling about roll call. "Sorry, Doctor, I don't have time for that right now." Or later. Hogan knew he couldn't put the doctor off forever, but he was going to try. Quickly turning away from Doc Freiling, he headed for his usually place for roll call.
But roll call was over too quickly, however…
And Kinch confronted the Colonel at the door of Barracks Two. Before he spoke, Kinch looked around to see if anyone was in earshot. Nobody. "Sir, I'm sorry but you need to have the doctor check you out. I told him you were still experiencing headaches. He's worried that something else might be going on. The headaches were supposed to go away with the swelling, which should have been 4 days ago. Please let him take a look at you, sir."
"Stop hounding me, Kinch! I have too much to do right now!" Hogan ordered angrily. Before Hogan could continue his tirade though, he heard Klink call to him. Hogan turned quickly from Kinch and headed toward the Kommandant, relieved that he got away from second-in-command. But that relief changed to tension as soon as Klink started complaining about his 24-hour supervision.
With his head pounding and his anger at Kinch's efforts to coddle him, Hogan came down hard on Klink in response to his demands. He had completely lost his composure. Immediately, he felt guilty, but refused to face it. So, Hogan had turned from Klink and headed for the front gate, needing to see his teams off. I will deal with everything else later.
From just across the compound…
Kinch, stunned, had watched the Colonel walk away. He couldn't believe how stubborn the Colonel was being. He knew he couldn't get Hogan to see the doctor before the first teams left, but he would get him to, very soon after. Only I know I can't face the Colonel alone and change his mind. But there's power in numbers. Kinch went to find Doc Freiling, Newkirk, Carter and LeBeau.
Mission: Schweinfurt Airfield - Team One
Luft Stalag 13, Near Front Gate,
April 17, 1945, 0600 Hours
Sergeant Paul Foster stood among his five-man team. He inspected each of his men one final time, as he expected Colonel Hogan would be there shortly to see them off. The men he was taking with him were all experts, the best in his barracks. Corporal Joe King, Private Francis MacDonald, Corporal Art Sheoytz, Sergeant Allan Gettings and Private Fred Riggs. The training program that existed in this camp for the prisoners so that they had the skills necessary for what Colonel Hogan needed was excellent. They were all dressed as members of the SS, he was the ranking officer dressed the part of a Major. The plan called for them to have absolute access to the airfield once they arrived. At this late date in the war, no one sane questioned the SS.
"Are you ready to go, Sergeant?" Hogan asked walking slowly up to the group.
"Yes, sir," Foster replied giving his commander a sharp salute, trying to ignore his commander's face, which looked particularly awful this morning in the half-light of dawn. It had gone all purple and black over the last week and still looked very painful.
"You have your rendezvous and codes?" Hogan asked, returning the crisp salute. He was sending more than 40 men out over the next few hours, and he wanted to have a firm send off for each team.
"Yes, sir. Kinch went over them with me again an hour ago. We're ready to go," Foster said.
"Very good. I'm not going to give you any advice Foster. You know what you need to do. The mission is up to you. Good luck," Hogan told the men, and then saluted the entire group.
The six men then came to attention and returned it.
"Thank you, sir. We'll see you back here very soon," Foster said, motioning for his men to take their positions in the truck.
Hogan stood and watched the truck pull out the gates, and watched until it turned at the bend in the road. God speed. Then he turned and went to the second truck and team two who were waiting for his leave.
Mission: Darmstadt Chemical Plant - Team Two
Luft Stalag 13, Near Front Gate,
April 17, 1945, 0610 Hours
Captain Ian O'Malley watched as Colonel Hogan sent off Sergeant Foster and his men. Foster's team wasn't going as far away as his team, but they had the most complicated assignment. They were to operate off some forged orders planted on an official courier several days ago. Those orders should arrive at their destination today, and that would explain their presence of Foster's team at their target. They were to officially take over security of their target and were to be there a day or so before the target date. He silently wished them good luck as their truck drove out of Stalag 13.
O'Malley took a deep breath himself and called his own men to attention. Hogan was now making his way toward them. The men he had chosen for this mission were, Corporal Rory Girouard, Corporal Michael Soule, Sergeant William McSorley, Corporal Conrad Gagel, Lieutenant Mark Brunelle and Private Glenn Lomax. Both Lomax and Gagel were fairly knowledgeable about chemicals, at least enough to hold a somewhat meaningful conversation about them. His entire team spoke German like natives, and each of them were very competent with explosives. They were all dressed as members of the regular German Army, with orders to conduct civilian scientists to the Chemical Factory in Darmstadt, to examine and inspect the plant's productivity. The Germans were working on heavy water experiments there, and their orders were to steal what information they could and then destroy the plant.
"Colonel," O'Malley said, offering his commander a crisp salute.
"Captain," Hogan replied returning the salute. "Are you all set?"
"Yes, sir," O'Malley replied. "Kinch gave me the latest codes an hour ago, we're to rendezvous with our civilian guides in Aschaffenburg, and I have the address and recognition code. As planned we're to masquerade as members of the German Scientific Division, sent to inspect the factory."
"Very good. As I told Sergeant Foster, I'm not going to give you any advice. You know what you need to do. The mission is up to you. Good luck," Hogan told these men, and then saluted them.
The men then came to attention and returned it.
"Thank you, sir. We'll be back before you know it," O'Malley said, motioning for his men to take their positions in the truck.
Hogan stood and watched the second truck pull out the gates, again watching until it turned the bend in the road. God speed.
He sighed, wearily rubbing his face with his left hand, careful not to touch the right side, as it had grown steadily more painful and sensitive over the last several days. Hogan knew Kinch was right to be worried, but he honestly didn't want to know what was wrong now, as he had too much to do to take time out because he was sick. Resolutely, he straightened and returned to Barracks Two. Perhaps I can get a few hours of rest in before the next set of teams leave.
Hogan was confident his men knew what they were doing, but he also knew that there was so much riding on the successful completion of these missions, that he hadn't been able to shake the feelings of anxiety. Just part of the job, Hogan thought wearily as he entered through the door of Barracks Two, only to stop short when confronted with the five very irritated faces of his men and Doc Freiling. They were all standing, with their arms folded, waiting on him, he assumed.
"What's the meaning of this?" demanded Hogan already getting defensive.
Doc Freiling took center stage. "I need to examine you Colonel Hogan. These men are here to help, if you give me any trouble. They are prepared to hold you down if necessary. Can I assume that won't be necessary?"
Hogan stared at his men with a look that said, 'You will regret this'. He then turned to the doctor. "It won't be necessary, Doctor, as I hoped never to repeat that experience ever again." Hogan indicated that the doctor should precede him into his office, but not before giving his men another look of daggers. He wasn't going to let them off the hook just yet, even though he knew their concern was genuine.
"Well, that went well," said Kinch sarcastically. He'd never seen that look on the Colonel's face before. Boy, am I in for it later. "Thanks guys. I knew if it was just me here, the Colonel would never have given in." Kinch had explained to the others earlier that the Colonel's headaches should have subsided by now and hadn't. He told them that the doctor was afraid that something else was causing the pain and that Hogan needed to be examined again.
"Anytime," said Newkirk. "The Colonel is one stubborn man. Doesn't know what's good for him."
"You can say that again," said Carter.
"Oui," said LeBeau. "Let's just hope he's okay."
"Yeah," said Kinch. "You guys can go back to what you were doing. I'll stay and see what the doctor has to say."
The other three departed, each giving a final worried glance towards the Colonel's office. Kinch just sat at the table and stared at the Colonel's door.
Meanwhile inside the Colonel's office…
The doctor had instructed Hogan to remove his jacket, shirt and cap and hadn't said a word since. He had taken Hogan's blood pressure and temperature, as well as checking the surgical sites. He then started to put pressure on those sites. "I want to know how much pain you are feeling, Colonel." His voice had come as a surprise. This wasn't the kindly doctor. This doctor was not going to take any grief from his patient. "Tell me when it hurts," he said as he pressed hard on Hogan's stomach and chest.
"Okay. That's enough. I give," gasped Hogan after trying in vain to control the pain. The doctor had been unrelenting with the pressure. As the pressure ceased though, he breathed a sigh of relief.
"Good. The pain from your surgical sites and ribs isn't anything too excessive. The pain you felt is normal for your stage of recovery," stated the doctor. "I am concerned about your weight loss, though. You must have dropped 15 pounds, since I last saw you. It is important that you put this weight back on."
"Doctor, the food in camp is being rationed and we now have 50 more people to feed. I seriously doubt the weight will go back on anytime soon," replied Hogan.
"All right, Colonel, I understand. But you need to be aware that any more weight loss could be dangerous. Just make sure you eat," replied the doctor admonishing his stubborn patient. He took a deep breath, before continuing. "Now, Colonel," the doctor said, looking right into Hogan's eyes. "Kinch tells me you have been experiencing severe headaches. Is this true? And don't lie to me."
"Who, me, Doc? What makes you think I would lie to you?" Hogan asked with a sheepish grin.
The doctor's expression never changed.
"Okay you caught me," Hogan replied with a sigh. "The headaches come and go, but they have been getting longer and more painful over the past few days. I've had one since around 0300 this morning."
The doctor started to examine the bruising on the Colonel's face, as well as peering into his right eye. He pressed his fingers onto Hogan's right temple. Hogan flinched in agony and pulled away.
"How long has it been that painful, Colonel?" the doctor asked alarmed.
"Just a couple of days. It's only bad when the headaches come, but like I said, they've been getting worse as well. What's going on, Doc?" Hogan asked now clearly worried, giving up the pretense of nonchalance.
"I'm sorry, Colonel. I can't be 100% positive without more tests, which we are not able to do. But what my experience tells me is that possibly a bone chip from the fractures may have lodged itself somewhere behind your right eye, and has caused an infection. Your headaches are being caused by a growing hematoma."
The doctor paused, reigning in his own feelings and then continued…
"Colonel, I can not lie to you. This is extremely serious. The only way to cure this injury is either with surgery or heavy antibiotics, neither of which am I prepared for. There are no antibiotics available and I do not have the experience of a brain surgeon. There also would be no anesthesia available anyway, so I would never attempt the surgery."
"So, tell it to me straight. What am I to expect?" asked Hogan, clearly not wanting to know.
"The pain will continue to get worse. For how long or how much, I cannot say. The worst of it will be when the hematoma bursts. It will spread the infection to the rest of your brain. Mercifully, it would be much better for death to come as the hematoma bursts, as the only other option is a slow death as the infection spreads," the doctor told him disheartened, as Colonel Hogan reminded him of his son, Hans. So full of life and energy. Had the two ever met, they would have been friends. But Hans had died fighting this senseless, bloody madness called a war. To watch Hogan slowly deteriorate will be like loosing another son.
Hogan slumped on his bunk at the news, and sat with his head in his hands quietly for a long moment…
When he finally, after what seemed an eternity, looked up at the doctor he asked, "You don't know how long?"
"No. I'm sorry, Colonel," the doctor answered not knowing what else to say to soften the news.
Hogan ran his hands through his hair. This can't be happening to me. I have too much to do, to be dying now. Damn it, why now, after everything that we've accomplished? As fear started to grip his heart, he took a deep breath to settle his nerves and used all his training to keep those feelings at bay. I just can't dwell on this now. I just can't. I have to ensure that this operation can continue.
Without acknowledging the doctor, Hogan slowly got up and went to open his door, needing to find Kinch. He had to make sure Kinch knew what to expect. I don't want everyone to know, but Kinch deserves to. He noticed Kinch was still sitting at the table in the barracks. "Kinch, I need to talk to you for a minute," stated Hogan. "Come here please." He turned and went to sit on his bunk again.
"What's the matter, sir?" Kinch asked as he entered the Colonel's quarters, hoping that Hogan was just going to chew him out for the stunt a few minutes ago, but seeing the Colonel's face, he knew it had to be something bad.
Hogan took a deep breath. "Kinch," he said with a frog in his throat. He coughed, and then continued, "This isn't easy for me, but the good doctor just told me that I'm dying. Nothing can be done at this point. I wanted to let you know, as you will need to keep this place running without me. I don't want anyone else to know. I know you can handle it. I just thought you should know and could be prepared for it when it happened. According to the doctor, it can happen at any time. There is a hematoma growing in my brain behind the right eye. Without medication and surgery, it will eventually burst, either causing my death or causing a slow death as the infection spreads."
Hogan paused to see if Kinch comprehended everything, because the next thing he was going to ask of him would be hard for him to accept. "Kinch, I need you to promise me something."
Kinch was still in shock but said, "Yes, sir. Anything."
"If I am going to die, I want my death to be quick. I do not want to linger in pain. I want you to promise me, that if it comes to that, you will take my life," Hogan stated solemnly.
Kinch couldn't answer at first. He had lowered his eyes to the floor, so he didn't have to look at Colonel Hogan. How can I do what he's asking? I just can't. He looked up to meet Hogan's eyes and found himself promising to do what the Colonel asked, all the while his heart was still screaming… no I can't.
"Thanks, Kinch. Like I said before, you're a good friend." This time Hogan stood and placed both hands on Kinch's shoulders and squeezed hard. "Please don't tell anyone else, okay? I need to go now and talk to Colonel Klink. I was a little rough on him and Schultz earlier." Hogan left the doctor and Kinch and headed toward the Kommandant's Office.
Kinch looked deep into the eyes of the doctor, "There has to be something we can do, Doc. He said he needs medication and surgery. Is that true?"
"Actually, Kinch, if we could get hold of some strong antibiotics, that could solve the problem without surgery. But there are none to be found anywhere at this point, not in Germany anyway. We also don't know how much time he has. Once the hematoma bursts, it will be too late," the doctor replied. "That was one of the hardest things I've ever done. That man doesn't deserve to die. He's done so much for our cause, it is such a shame that he will be unable to see the end result."
"Yeah. I know. I always thought that he and I would leave this place together," Kinch said sadly. He turned to the doctor suddenly as an idea struck. "You said he needed antibiotics. What if I could get a medical supply drop from London?" Kinch asked hopefully. "They had toyed with the idea when the Colonel was originally injured. Maybe I can persuade them."
"If you could, Kinch, that would be great. I suggest not telling the Colonel. It may not go over well. We don't want to get his hopes up until we are sure," the doctor cautioned.
"Put it this way Doc. We can't tell the Colonel until it's absolutely necessary, because he would forbid me to make this request. He wouldn't want to risk anyone else's life for his own. So can this be our little secret? It's still quite possible that they will not be able to send it," Kinch replied.
"Okay, Kinch, can I help? I can give the people in London the specifics of his injury. If they need it that is," offered the doctor.
"Sure," answered Kinch. They both left the Colonel's quarters and headed to the radio room under Barracks Two.
Luft Stalag 13, Compound,
April 17,1945, 0800 Hours
After Hogan left Barracks Two, he leaned against the outside wall for a moment. It was such a shock to have discovered that he may not see the end of this war. He realized that he needed to check in with his men first, before checking in with Klink and Schultz, as he knew that he might not get another opportunity.
Resolutely he began a tour of the camp…
The men working on the fences for the recreation hall, as well as the guards' barracks would be done very soon. Everything was running smoothly in the motor pool as well. Hogan continued to wander the compound and met with the other four team-leaders, wishing them luck.
The Colonel had also seen Newkirk, Carter and LeBeau in his travels, as well. He had told them that the doctor had prescribed rest, and saying that the headaches were only from too much stress and activity. Hogan knew he owed them the truth, but did not want to advertise it in the compound.
After his circuit of the camp, Hogan finally headed for Klink's quarters, wanting to square things with the Kommandant. He hadn't meant to chew his head off earlier in the day. Remembering the look on Klink's face as he turned away, Hogan was convinced that Klink was no longer sure of his intentions. Hogan truly wanted to ensure the safety of the remaining Germans in camp. When he had given his word, he had expected that he would be around to enforce it. Now, he might not be able to. He knew that Kinch would keep his promise, but Kinch was only a Sergeant and he would not have much pull with any liberating force.
As Hogan climbed the steps to the Kommandant's quarters, LaSalle and Webber came out after having been relieved. He almost bowled over both men, and they jumped backward hastily moving out of his way.
"Sorry, sir," they said together, almost in one voice.
"You both have nothing to be sorry for," Hogan replied. "It is I who should be apologizing to you both. I was very sharp with you earlier today, when there was no need. You and this entire camp are doing a terrific job under very difficult conditions."
"Thank you, sir!" they said again together. Hogan didn't give out praise often, expecting that everyone would do their jobs. But when he said it, he meant it.
Hogan continued into Klink's quarters. Corporal Joyce and Private Kingston stood from where they'd been seated at the table playing cards. Klink was pacing on the other side of the room, while Schultz was seated on the couch.
"I wish to speak with Colonel Klink alone," Hogan said to his men. "Why don't you men take Schultz for a stroll, perhaps he can check on the other guards. I'll send someone to find you when you may return."
"Yes, sir," Joyce replied gesturing for Schultz to rise. Kingston was already at the door.
Schultz got up and gave Hogan a look of concern before he left with the two guards. He couldn't believe how much Hogan's personality had changed, seemingly overnight. This man wasn't the same charming, irrepressible con artist he had known. Schultz wasn't sure how to approach him any more.
"What do you want now, Hogan? No revolver this time?" Klink asked, still stinging from their earlier confrontation.
Hogan sighed and sat in the same armchair that he had occupied during his take-over. "Why don't you join me, Kommandant?"
Klink sat, really confused now. Hogan was such a different person now than he had been in the past three years of their acquaintance. He had no idea what to expect from him. Earlier this morning he was angry and belligerent. Now he appeared subdued and hesitant.
Hogan waited for Klink to sit before he began. "Colonel Klink, I came to apologize for earlier this morning. I had no right to bite your head off like that. At the time I hadn't been feeling all that well, and both Kinch and Doc Freiling were badgering me to rest. I don't like to be coddled. My men have been doing that to me for the last two weeks. I'd just had enough. You asked me the wrong question at the wrong time. So again, I apologize."
"Thank you, Colonel," said Klink still very bewildered. "I was truly afraid that you had changed your intentions for my men and I." Klink paused and then looked directly at Hogan. "If I may speak freely, Colonel?
"Of course," Hogan replied.
"I've seen more mood swings from you in the past ten hours than I have ever seen in the past three years. I honestly don't know what to believe, or what expect at this point," Klink said.
Hogan was quiet for a long moment, gathering his thoughts and his courage. He was going to be totally honest with Klink. "I wish I could tell you exactly what was going to happen. But now, I'm not even sure. I promised you, and your men, your safety. But right now I don't know whether I can fulfill that promise. Things have drastically changed since earlier this morning."
"What has happened?" Klink asked alarmed. "News of the front?"
"No. Things much closer to home. What I have to tell you is very hard for me to say. It is now very likely that I will not be here to fulfill my promise to you. My intention is still for Kinch and the other men in camp to defend that promise against any Allied force that liberates this camp, but Kinch is only a Sergeant and may not be able to stand up against any Allied opposition."
"I don't understand, Colonel. Where will you be?" Klink asked confused. Where would Hogan go?
Hogan cleared his throat and got up to face the window, his back to Klink, finding that he couldn't say what he needed to. The words just weren't there.
"Hogan?" Klink asked, getting up as well. And when Hogan didn't move, Klink took a few steps towards him.
Sensing Klink's approach, Hogan moved immediately to the other side of the room, putting more space between them.
Klink was dumfounded. To his knowledge Hogan had never backed away from anything. Klink remained still and silent, staring at Hogan's back.
"I'm sorry, Colonel Klink. What I am going to tell you now, I hope you will keep to yourself. There are only two other people in camp that know the truth," Hogan said softly. "As I said, this is difficult for me. Doctor Freiling just told me that I am dying, from complications due to the blow to my head. Death can come at any moment. There will be no warning and there is little or nothing he can do to stop it."
Hogan straightened and turned to face Klink. "So you need to understand that I can no longer personally guarantee your safety. But I trust Kinch and the others. They're all good men. They will do what they can to keep that promise. I want to make sure you know that you can trust them." Hogan paused and sighed. "At this point, that's the best I can do. I'm sorry."
"Thank you for your honesty. I have no doubt that your men will continue with your original plan," Klink said, a little shell-shocked. He paused then continued, "Colonel Hogan. I'm very sorry. I never should have allowed that beating to continue as long as it did. May I ask, what has happened? The last report from Doctor Freiling was that you were recovering."
Hogan took a deep breath, again moving away from Klink, so that he faced the window. "There is a hematoma building behind my right eye. It's causing pressure to the brain, resulting in severe headaches. Without anything to treat it, the hematoma will eventually burst, causing the infection to spread."
Klink stared in horrified disbelief at Hogan's back. There was nothing he could think of to say. Hogan wouldn't want sympathy, nor pity.
Hogan suddenly turned to face Klink. "I'm sorry that I won't be here to see the end of this bloody war." Hogan stood straight and gave Klink a crisp, clean military salute. This time he meant it. It was the only way he could think of to convince Klink of his sincerity. He held the salute waiting for Klink to respond in kind.
Klink stood for a moment in shock. Hogan had never given him a proper salute, always it had been casual, almost insulting. Klink straightened and returned the salute.
Hogan left the room, not saying another thing. Klink stood for a long time, staring at the last spot Hogan had occupied. He didn't move until Schultz returned, alone.
"Where are the guards?" Klink asked.
"They stopped at the door, Herr Kommandant, per Colonel Hogan's orders," Schultz replied. "What did Colonel Hogan have to say?"
"He asked me to keep it to myself, but I feel that you have a right to know. It could affect our very survival. First, Hogan apologized for his attitude this morning. He said he had not been feeling well and had lost his temper. But the real reason he came, was to tell me that he may not be here to protect the Germans soldiers in this camp when the liberating forces arrive. He assured me, that his men would continue with his plans. He just wanted me to know, as he could no longer personally guarantee our safety."
"Where will he be?" Schultz asked anxiously. "Why would he leave? I had expected that he would try to keep his promise, even if events conspired against him. We are truly safer with Colonel Hogan here. Now he's deserting us. Why?"
"He's dying, Schultz," Klink replied softly, and pausing for Schultz to fully comprehend. "He was just told this morning. It now seems that because of my delay in acting, Major Hochstetter will accomplish what he set out to do that night."
"You shouldn't blame yourself Colonel," Schultz replied. "Major Hochstetter was beyond reason that night." Insane describes him better. Poor Colonel Hogan, to die so close to the end of this war. It's awful, but at least he is man enough to try to fulfill his promise to us. He could have abandoned us with no explanation.
"But Major Hochstetter was also right about Colonel Hogan's involvement in the underground. Hogan is not the innocent here. You need to realize that Hogan, being the leader of the underground, was responsible for all the resistance activity in the area. Very many people died because of him and many more may still. Does that make him any better than Major Hochstetter? And what does that make me, Schultz?" Klink asked.
"A man with a conscience. Hochstetter had no conscience. He was insane. You couldn't watch such madness," Schultz replied, for once being forthright. "We should now both realized that Colonel Hogan was fighting for a cause. The same cause we should have also been fighting for. To free our country from Hitler's insanity," Schultz replied, resolute. "So far Colonel Hogan has been very fair. He's been honest with us. He has kept you informed about his illness. He has given his word to protect us. So what does that make Colonel Hogan?"
"A soldier, Schultz, a soldier. Something we've only pretended to be," Klink replied.
London, England, Allied Headquarters,
April 17, 1945, 0800 Hours
Papa Bear, calling Mama Bear. Urgent. Request drop of urgently needed medical supplies; penicillin, pain medication, sedatives. Also request food drop. Usual coordinates. Medical Supplies Urgently Needed. Papa Bear's condition has deteriorated. Respond soonest.
Lieutenant Patterson received this newest message with growing concern. He had been taking messages from Papa Bear for almost two years now and this was the second message they had received informing HQ that Papa Bear was wounded. He had thought that by now, the agent would have recovered. Papa Bear had a sterling reputation here at headquarters. He had received a blanket authority to provide Papa Bear with whatever he asked for. But this request was something for which he needed more authority than even that granted him. He picked up his phone and called his commanding officer, Major Peter Kimmel.
Just a short time later…
Major Kimmel handed the message to General Michael Simpson. "That's all the information we have, General. This is the second such message, though the first one only dealt with the fact the agent was wounded. That was two weeks ago. Obviously the injuries are very serious."
"What have you replied?" Simpson asked, frowning over the message.
"Nothing as yet, sir. We only received the message ten minutes ago," Kimmel replied.
"Reply that the items requested will be dropped tonight, normal procedure," Simpson ordered. "We owe Papa Bear a great deal after over three years of exceptional service."
"Yes, sir," Kimmel replied, and rose from his chair.
"However," Simpson continued holding up a hand to forestall his officer's leaving. "Once you've sent that message, come back here. I want to have a contingency plan in place for Papa Bear's operation, in case Papa Bear has died or has become incapacitated."
"Yes, sir," Kimmel replied, saluting the General.
Luft Stalag 13, Compound,
April 17, 1945, 0900 Hours
Colonel Hogan had left the Kommandant's quarters quickly and headed back to his barracks. He did not want Klink to think of him as a coward. But, he knew if he stayed any longer, he would not have been able to control his emotions. He couldn't believe how hard this was for him to accept. He had not felt this way when he confronted Hochstetter, even though he had thought his death was imminent then. I guess maybe it feels worse because I have no enemy to fight. My brain is just going to succumb to some infection. Fear enveloped him. He wasn't ready to die now. A shiver ran down his spine. Pull yourself together, man. You have too much to do before that happens.
He looked up to find himself already at the barrack's door. He'd been so preoccupied, he almost ran headlong into it. He opened the door to find Kinch and Doc Freiling entering the barracks through the tunnel entrance.
Very strange. "What were you two up to?" asked Hogan, at first only curious, but then he noticed a look of conspiracy be exchanged between the two men. Suspicious, he waited to hear their response.
Before Kinch could respond, the doctor said with confidence, "Nothing you need to concern yourself with, Colonel. Kinch was just giving me a tour of the tunnel system leading to the recreation hall."
Kinch frowned and dropped his head to his chest. Good going, Doc! Kinch groaned to himself. There is no tunnel to the recreation hall.
Anger was already starting to build within Hogan. "Sorry, Doc, good try. But there is no tunnel to the recreation hall," Hogan said rather evenly. "So. Are you two going to tell me what you were doing? Especially since it now seemed important to try and keep it from me," Hogan stated dangerously.
Kinch came forward to face Hogan, ready to defend his actions. "I contacted London to see if we could get a medical supply drop for you."
Hogan returned Kinch's posturing, not able to contain his anger. "And you did this without my permission? How dare you? Who the hell do you think you are? You've could have put this whole mission in jeopardy!" Hogan yelled, steaming. Kinch betrayed my trust. I can't believe it.
Kinch stared back at Hogan defiantly. "Yes, I did it without your permission. I dared to do it, because I knew you would never let me. Hell. I had considered myself your friend." Kinch took a deep breath, and then continued, "This damn mission is going to be in jeopardy without you!" Kinch ended up right in Hogan's face. "You are such a stubborn bastard. You know that! I bet you want to die. Sure, that's it. Take the easy way out!"
Hogan grabbed Kinch by the front of his jacket and pushed him hard up against a bunk. "How dare you talk to me that way? How can you think that I would choose death as a quick way out? I don't want to die. You bastard." Hogan gave Kinch another shove against the bunk. "Contact London and cancel that drop, now! I don't want to be responsible for any more lives."
Hogan stopped ranting, too exhausted to continue, as his whole body started to shake. Staring at his shaking hands, he let go of Kinch's shirt. "You bastard," he said, and sunk onto the bench by the table.
"I will not contact London. If you are so willing to die, then you do it!" Kinch yelled.
Hogan looked angry enough to strike Kinch. He attempted to get up, but before he could get to his feet… he doubled over, grabbed his head and crumpled to the floor, softly mumbling, "I don't want to die."
Doc Freiling and Kinch were at his side instantly. Hogan was unconscious. The doctor checked his blood pressure and pulse. "He just fainted. He's been under too much stress and has not been sleeping or eating right. Your confrontation sent him over the edge," said the doctor.
"Oh my God! I could have killed him!" Kinch said disbelieving, staring at the pale, still form of his best friend.
"Kinch, listen to me. The hematoma will grow at its own pace, nothing that anyone says or does will change that. Colonel Hogan's mind and body are warring right now. The only possible resolution was for him to pass out until a truce could be found," said the doctor. "Help me get him to his bunk."
They both carried Hogan to his quarters, and placed him on the bottom bunk. By the time they got him settled, he started to come around. "What happened?" he asked softly.
"You fainted, Colonel. Now just rest," the doctor said calmly.
Kinch sighed and sat down on the bed next to the Colonel. "I'm sorry Colonel. I was only trying to help. I didn't know how we could continue without you. And I didn't want to find that out."
Hogan replied, "I guess I should just be grateful to have a friend who cares enough." He reached up to grasp Kinch's arm. "Thanks."
"So are you going to ask me what London said?" Kinch asked.
"You know, you still shouldn't have done what you did," Hogan said quietly, turning his eyes from Kinch.
"And you're going to tell me you wouldn't have done the same for any man in this camp?" Kinch asked.
"That's not the point," Hogan stated, not knowing what else to say without getting caught in a lie.
Kinch gave him a knowing look and then repeated, "So are you going to ask me what London said?"
Hogan looked questioningly up at Kinch.
"The drop is tonight, there will be food as well as medical supplies. Mama Bear told me to tell you, 'They owed you one'," Kinch said with a smile.
"Colonel Hogan. Please," Doctor Freiling interrupted. "Please. Before you get your hopes up. You need to know, that we still have 14 hours before that drop. I don't want you to think you are completely out of danger. I do not know at what stage the hematoma is at, and the antibiotics still need 24 to 36 hours to take effect."
"I understand, Doc," Hogan replied with a sigh. Turning to Kinch he said, "I told Kommandant Klink about my condition. I wanted to make sure he knew he could count on you in my place. Please take some time and talk to him. I'm going to try and get some sleep. Wake me before the next two teams leave."
"Yes, sir," replied Kinch.
"Also, I owe Newkirk, LeBeau and Carter the truth. I had not said anything when I met them in the compound. Please don't say anything, just have them here when you wake me," ordered Hogan.
"Yes, sir," answered Kinch.
Kinch left followed by the doctor. Once they had closed Hogan's door, the doctor said, "Oh, Kinch. You both had me terrified! I thought Colonel Hogan was going to hit you."
"Me, too," Kinch said. "I've never seen him that upset, but I knew he was going to yell at me. I hoped that by taking the offensive, I could distract him enough to get my point across. I think it worked." Kinch sighed. "I'm just glad I still have all my teeth." He laughed nervously. "Do you think he is going to be okay?"
"I will check on him a little later. He's had one hell of an emotional roller coaster ride today. He needs to digest all that's been going on," explained the doctor. "But I'm sorry I can not guarantee anything. Colonel Hogan is still very ill. I can only hope, along with you, that he can hold out until the antibiotics get here."
"Okay, Doc," said Kinch. "I have work to do. I will return here around 1200 Hours. Could you keep any eye on the Colonel for me?"
"I will give the Colonel some time alone. He needs it. I will check in with everyone I came with. Then I will be back," said the doctor.
"Thanks," said Kinch, as he left Barracks Two to take a tour of the camp and to talk to the Kommandant as well.
Doc Freiling followed Kinch out of the barracks and spent sometime with other members of the underground. He wanted to see how his friends were adjusting. They were a tough people, but he knew eventually that being cooped up in a prison camp was going to wear thin. So far so good. But I still don't understand how all these men have stood it for years on end.
Two hours later…
Doc Freiling knew it was time to check on Colonel Hogan. He hoped that Hogan had gotten some rest. But he also hoped nothing was wrong as Hogan had been very quiet for the last two hours. A feeling of dread had come over the doctor when he knocked on the officer's door and got no response. He opened the door and called out, "Colonel Hogan, are you awake?"
A soft "come in" was all he heard. Hogan had been lying on his left side, but turned to face the doctor as he approached. "Is there something wrong, Doctor?" Hogan asked softly.
"No, Colonel. I just came by to check on you. How are you feeling?" he asked, putting his hand softly against Hogan's head. There's no sign of fever, which is good.
"Can we just bypass that question, Doctor? It won't do either of us any good to hear the answer," Hogan replied. His head felt so heavy, and the pounding wasn't getting any better. The sight in his right eye was also much fuzzier than it had been since the injury. He realized that it was only another indication that his condition was worsening. He felt he should keep that to himself. It just isn't worth getting the men more worried than they already are.
"Of course. Maybe you should just stay here and rest for the afternoon," suggested the doctor, but realized as he said it that it was never going to happen. Before Hogan could respond he said, "But you don't have time for that do you?"
"Hey, Doc. You are getting better at this game," Hogan said with a little more oomph. As he answered, he started to sit up in his bunk. The sudden change of position caused him to wince. His head had continued to pound since early this morning. He couldn't tell if it hurt any worse, but the constant pounding was wearing on his nerves. Not to mention that, he was way beyond exhausted, as he just couldn't sleep with his head pounding like it was.
"Can I help?" offered the doctor, helping Hogan stand and move to his desk, where Hogan sat back down.
"Thanks, Doc," said Hogan, distracted.
"Colonel Hogan, if you need someone to talk to, I'm here. I may not understand all that you are feeling, but I'm willing to listen," offered the doctor.
"Thanks, I may take you up on it, but now I need to square things with my men. Could you find Kinch for me?" Hogan asked. "And ask him to come talk to me."
"That won't be hard, Colonel. He was right outside when I arrived," replied the doctor. The doctor headed to the door, opened it, and gestured for Kinch to enter and then quickly left the two men to their discussion.
As soon as the door closed behind the doctor, Kinch came to attention and said, "Reporting as ordered, sir."
"Relax, Kinch. I'm finished yelling. I don't have the energy anyway," Hogan replied with a sigh. "I just wanted a status report. How are things going?"
"Everything is still going according to plan," Kinch said. "I just finished a tour of the camp. So far, so good, sir. I talked to Colonel Klink, and it went well. I don't think you have to worry. Newkirk, LeBeau and Carter will be here by 1200 Hours. I have not told them anything more than you are expected to rest. Doc Freiling has spent time talking to the families, he was concerned about how they would react to being confined in a prison camp. So far, they are adjusting well. The camp's guards are quiet. I honestly think that just don't know what to do. Kommandant Klink had been to talk to them a few times. I think they have become resigned to their situation," finished Kinch.
"Thanks, Kinch. What's the plan to retrieve the drop tonight?" asked Hogan.
"We can use the truck that will not be going out until the 19th. The drop is at midnight, same procedure as always. We will give the signal. I was going to send five men out. If there's a food drop and a medical supply drop, there will be a lot of stuff to move. They will be dressed in German uniforms. That way, they should be able to pass by any obstacle in their path. They should be back by 0300 Hours," reported Kinch.
Hogan didn't respond right away, and never made eye contact with Kinch. "I still don't like this, Kinch. Part of me is still angry with you for disobeying my orders. The other part of me is relieved that I now have a chance to fight this thing. I don't know how I will live with myself if someone involved in this mission is injured or killed." He lapsed into a long silence and then he said, "Of course, I can't even be sure if this stuff will come in time to change anything."
Hogan then looked directly at Kinch. "I want to be honest with you, Kinch. I've already been tempted to take my own life. I can't go on much longer like this, my head feels like it's going to explode, my nerves are shot and I'm exhausted. I promise you that I will not resort to that, unless there is no other choice. I can't desert you and these men who've worked so hard. What I need to know is that if it comes to that and I am not able to do it, will you be able to keep your promise to me?"
"Colonel, let's not think about that now. The drop is on its way. Everything will be fine," Kinch said.
"Kinch, I really need to know if you will keep your promise. It's important to me. I don't want to end up in a coma, dying slowly. It also would not do you or anyone else in camp, any good, to spend time dealing with me in that condition. A quick, clean end would be preferable," Hogan said, looking intently into Kinch's eyes and waiting for his answer.
"Colonel, I promise to do what you ask," Kinch answered softly.
"Good. Let's hope it just doesn't come to that, okay?" Hogan offered.
"Yes, sir," Kinch replied.
"Can you get Newkirk, LeBeau, and Carter together? I'll be out in a few minutes," asked Hogan.
"Yes, sir, they should be here already. I'll make sure," Kinch answered and headed to the door. As he opened it and looked in to the main barracks, he indicated to the Colonel that the men were indeed already waiting for him.
"I'll be right there," Hogan said watching Kinch close the door.
Hogan leaned on the table with his head in his hands and took four deep breaths to settle his nerves. He wanted to appear calm, cool, and collected in front of Newkirk, LeBeau and Carter. Not that they can't read right through me.
Hogan finally stood and exited his office and came face to face with the four men gathered around the center table. "I asked Kinch to have you come here, because I have something to tell you. First I want to apologize, as I have misled you since my medical exam this morning. I also made Kinch keep the results quiet, until I got a chance to tell you myself."
Hogan took a deep breath.
"The doctor checked into the reason for my continued headaches. It seems that a bone fragment from one of the fractures has lodged itself behind my right eye. It has caused a hematoma to develop. According to the doctor, the only way to stop it from growing is surgery and/or medication. I was told this morning, that neither surgery nor medication were available options. The only thing to expect was that the hematoma would grow until it burst. This would either result in my immediate death or would cause a lingering death due to the spread of the infection."
He paused for another deep breath and looked deep into the eyes of his men. They all appeared rather shocked, not having anything to say. "By this afternoon, Kinch told me that London was preparing a medical supply drop, as well as a food drop for this evening. It's still very possible that even if the medication arrives, it may still be too late. The doctor has no way of knowing when the hematoma will burst. It can happen anytime without warning."
"I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you all personally what this command, and your friendships, have meant to me. I wanted to wait until we could all walk out those gates as free men, but now I may not get a chance to do that. So. Thank you all. You have all been extraordinary. This was not an easy thing to ask of you. We all gave up three years of our lives here. Hopefully you believe that those three years made a difference. I believe that they did." Hogan paused, unable to continue; instead he offered his hand to each man.
"I think I speak for all of us," Newkirk said, glancing at the others. "We're proud of what we've done here, but it was your leadership that made this operation a success. We wouldn't have missed it for the world. Thank you." Newkirk pulled himself upright, and the other three followed suit immediately. The four of them gave Hogan a precise, drill order salute.
Hogan returned their salute. "There is one final thing I want to ask each of you. I want you to support Sergeant Kinchloe. He will be in charge, if and when it becomes necessary. He will need your help to keep this camp safe until the war is over. It's important for me to know that you will defend his decisions. Do I have your promise to do so?" Hogan asked.
"Yes, sir," they replied in unison with determined looks. Obviously nothing would make them break this particular promise made to the Colonel.
"Thank you. Kinch, please give them a rundown on the package pickup for this evening. I'm going to check on the two teams leaving soon," Hogan said, heading for the door, needing to escape the barracks, as his emotions were starting to overwhelm him.
Kinch spent time telling the three of them about the pickup. Newkirk, Carter and LeBeau readily agreed to go. He would ask Olsen and Darby to help as well. Kinch had wanted to go himself, but knew that that was impossible. If something should happen to Colonel Hogan, he needed to be available. Newkirk, LeBeau and Carter were very quiet after the meeting. It seemed they were all trying to deal with the news independently. I know how they feel. I've had all morning and still can't fathom it.
Luft Stalag 13, Colonel Hogan's Quarters,
April 17, 1945 1630 Hours
Hogan had just seen three of the last four teams off, after having kept himself busy since he had talked with his men earlier in the afternoon. He had decided to tour the camp, and had checked in with everyone and had come away very proud. His men were on top of everything. The families were doing okay. Construction on the recreation hall was completed. The fence around the guard's quarters had been completed and the former camp guards were now able to get out and stretch their legs.
He had also ordered Klink and Schultz's guards to allow them a little more freedom. Both were now allowed to have the quarters to themselves. They would be escorted only when leaving the building. The phones had already been removed from Klink's quarters and office, since Hogan had people monitoring the calls going in and out of camp. If Klink were needed he would be patched in, but always with someone listening in.
Hogan had found that while he toured the camp, his mood had changed. The pain was still there and he felt weak, but seeing all his plans coming together had made him proud. He had hoped that the field teams were having as much luck. He knew that he'd just have to wait to find that out though. Hogan then realized he may never get to know what happened.
Exhausted, Hogan had then returned to his quarters to get some rest…
Hogan woke when he heard a knock at his door. "Come," he said, surprised at how dark it was. He tried glancing at his watch, but couldn't make out the time. I must have actually dozed off for a while.
Doc Freiling entered carrying a tray and said, "Colonel Hogan. I came to check on you. You've been sleeping for 5 hours. I was getting a little concerned. How's it going?" He put the tray down on the desk and lit the small lamp Hogan had in his bedroom.
"Pretty much the same, the pain is still there. I guess I won't be able to really tell until I start moving around," said Hogan as he slowly sat up. Gratefully, he wasn't feeling dizzy or light-headed, as he had been before, so he tried to stand by placing his right hand on the footlocker beside his bed, but his hand completely missed the footlocker and he started to lose his balance. "Damn," he said.
"Let me help, Colonel," said Freiling, grabbing hold of an arm and helping Hogan rise. He was suspicious, as even in his worst state the American was never clumsy. "Let me take a look at you, Colonel," the doctor offered as he helped the officer to his desk. It didn't take much for the doctor to see that the bruising to Hogan's face hadn't changed. It was still a multi-color purple. So, he continued his examination with Hogan's eyesight.
Hogan held up a hand and admitted, "Don't bother Doc. I can't see from my right eye. The vision is completely gone now. It's been consistently fuzzy for days. I had noticed it getting worse during the day today."
"Why didn't you tell me?" said the doctor, frustrated with the stubborn Colonel.
"And what were you going to do?" asked Hogan, vehemently. "Nothing, right? Nobody else needed to know. And they still don't. Please keep this to yourself."
"And I thought Germans were stubborn! You Americans are impossible!" Freiling said, throwing his hands in the air and turning away from the American Colonel, wanting to storm out of the room. But as he got to the door, he took a deep breath, and turned back to Hogan. "I've brought you something to eat. Are you going to eat it without an argument?" he asked accusingly. "I also had wanted to discuss the procedures for administering the medications."
"Sorry, Doctor, what is that you need to discuss?" Hogan asked genuinely sorry, knowing that he hadn't been all that cooperative during his convalescence.
"In addition to the antibiotics, I had asked London to include pain medication as well as sedatives. I wanted to make sure you understand what I planned to do. You'll be getting penicillin and pain medication every 4 hours. I want to administer the sedatives too, when they first arrive. You are in need of sleep desperately. I just wanted to confirm the sedative with you. Kinch told me that you have time to rest. He said the last team does not leave until the evening of the 19th."
"Actually, Doc, that sounds fine. I won't argue with you over this. It's my only chance to beat this thing. I'm sorry I haven't been the ideal patient," Hogan apologized. "What's for dinner?" he asked not really hungry, but not having the energy to fight with the doctor. Deep down he knew he had to eat. It's just hard to be hungry when all you can concentrate on is how you could drop dead at any minute. Besides, my head is pounding so hard now, that I'm surprised no one else can hear it.
"I'm sorry that it isn't something more appealing, but at least it's nourishment. You need to finish it all Colonel," admonished the doctor as he left.
Hogan ate as much as he could, knowing that the doctor probably still wouldn't be happy…
Glancing at his watch, Hogan realized that there was only 45 minutes before his men would be leaving for the drop pickup. He decided to touch base with them earlier than planned. All five men were in the main barracks, getting the final fittings of their German uniforms. He knew that Olsen and Darby had only been told they were going for a food drop. He wished them all luck, as well as, thanking them for going out on this mission at the last minute, sure that his "real" thanks reached Newkirk, Carter and LeBeau… he saw it in their faces.
Hogan returned to his office, not wanting to hover, and because he had nothing more to do at this time of night.
Mission: Darmstadt Chemical Pant - Team Two
Town of Aschaffenburg,
April 17, 1945, 1940 Hours
Soule maneuvered the truck down some very narrow streets on the outskirts of Aschaffenburg. They were looking for 14 Riedeselstrasse. Finally they found the address and it turned out to be a cobbler shop. Soule pulled the truck as far as he could to the right, in front of the shop and stopped.
"All right," O'Malley said turning so the men in the back of the truck could hear him. "McSorley, you're with me. Brunelle, you're in charge here."
"Yes, sir," Brunelle replied, following McSorley from the back of the truck. He took the Captain's seat in the front of the truck and motioned for the remaining men in the truck to keep watch out the back. They didn't need to be surprised. He watched as the Captain entered the shop with the Sergeant on his heals. This was the first mission the Sergeant had ever been on and he was clearly very excited.
Captain O'Malley opened the shop door, smiling slightly at the whimsical little bell that jangled merrily over his head at his entrance. It reminded him of his uncle's butcher shop back home in Dublin.
The clerk behind the counter raised his head from the vise he was bent over and asked, "May I help you, Herr Captain?"
"Please. I am perhaps lost. Is this the road to Birstein?" O'Malley replied, using the first line of the code he had been given.
"Ja. But you are going in the wrong direction. Wertheim is more on your way," the clerk replied, putting down his tools and wiping his hands on the apron he wore.
"Oh, Wertheim is too far. Perhaps Hammelburg is closer?" O'Malley said, completing the code.
"Ja, ja. Welcome. I am Herr Otto Schuster," the man said. He was a tall man, well over six feet and looked like he could wrestle a bear and win. He had black eyes, brown hair and looked to be about fifty. "You are Papa Bear?"
"Nein. Papa Bear sent us. I am Ian O'Malley and this is Bill McSorley. We have other men waiting outside in the truck. You have two men to go with us?" O'Malley asked.
"Ja. My brother Johann and another man from the village, Pieter Strauss, will go with you. Johann is a pharmacist, at least he is when there is something to dispense, and Pieter taught physics at the University before the war. The University is closed, and he is out of work. Both should be helpful in what we understand your mission to be." Motioning for the two men to follow him, Otto explained, "I will call Johann from the back room, and he will fetch Pieter and they will meet you here."
Otto went to the sidewall and cranked the phone hanging there. Soon he was talking to his brother, "Ja, Johan. I could use some help at the shop this afternoon. I have a delivery to make on Sandstrasse." Otto listened for a moment and then replied, "Danke Schoen. Auf Wiedersehen." Schuster hung up his phone. "He is on his way. It shouldn't take more than an hour for the two of them to come."
"Excellent," O'Malley replied.
"You are welcome to wait here," Schuster replied.
"I have four more men in the truck, perhaps we will simply wait there. We have orders, should we be challenged," O'Malley replied.
"All right. When they come, they'll enter though the back door. I'll pull the shade on that window," Schuster indicated the window left of the door.
"Okay," O'Malley agreed, leaving the shop with McSorley.
Almost an hour later…
That shade was drawn in the shop. O'Malley entered the shop just a few minutes later to find that Herr Schuster was again bent over his vise.
Schuster straightened, wiping his face while he indicated the back room with his head. O'Malley passed by the crafter and entered the backroom. There he found two well-dressed men. The man on the right was nearly sixty dressed in a sharp navy blue suit, his black hair neatly brushed back with wire rimmed glasses perched on his nose covering sparkling black eyes. The man next to him was about forty, dressed in a black suit, and was completely bald with a high forehead and blue eyes. "Herr Schuster? Herr Strauss?" O'Malley asked softly.
"Ja," the older man answered. "I am Pieter, this is Johan. You are?"
"Ian O'Malley. If you're ready to go, we'll brief you on the way. The longer we remain here, the more dangerous it is," O'Malley cautioned.
Pieter nodded and picked up a case beside him, Johann did the same and the two civilians followed O'Malley from the shop. The got into the back of the truck at O'Malley's gesture and as soon as O'Malley was seated, Soule had the truck moving down the road.
Somewhere over Germany, RAF B10 Cargo Plane,
April 17, 1945, 2345 Hours
Lieutenant Stephen Chase was performing his tenth drop for Papa Bear. He knew the drop site and the signal by heart. This time, though, was the first time that he had passengers. They were two RAF officers, a Major Michael Killian and a one-star General, Kyle Birmingham. He was told nothing of their mission. Just that they would be jumping at the drop site. He knew enough not to listen in on any conversations. It was much easier that way.
General Birmingham peered out the nearest window. The pilot had said they were still a number minutes from the drop site, but he couldn't see a damned thing. There wasn't even a glimmer of light down there. "All right Killian, as I said before, we don't know what we're dropping into here. All London could tell me was that the agent known as Papa Bear was seriously injured, perhaps dead. We're here to ensure that his operation continues. HQ can't afford to lose this operation so close to the end of the war. I was told that Papa Bear's operatives know what they are responsible for; they will be able to fill us in on what we need to know. So keep alert and stay close."
The pilot called back to them, "Drop in minus five."
Birmingham and Killian checked each other's chutes one final time and watched as the plane's crew readied themselves to drop the boxes.
"There's the signal. Go," the pilot yelled again.
The boxes were dropped first. Birmingham followed Killian into the cold night air, immediately after the boxes.
Hammelburg, Just outside of Town,
April 17, 1945, 2345 Hours
LeBeau followed behind the truck on the camp's motorcycle. He was to find the satchel containing the medication and return it to camp as soon as possible, leaving the others to deal with the more bulky boxes. They arrived at the drop site and pulled the two vehicles off the side of the road and into the bushes.
"The plane should be here very soon," Newkirk told them, glancing at his watch, as everyone else began watching the night sky.
"Look. There it is," Olsen said, pointing at the dark moving shadow.
"Give the signal, Carter," Newkirk said watching the plane through his binoculars. "They read us. One, two, three packages. Hey. There are two other parachutes. Men. What's going on? That's not part of the plan. Let's not take any chances at this stage. Let's make sure we get to them before they land. We'll have to capture them. Speak German. Remember we're dressed as goons. They're liable to shoot at you! LeBeau, you're responsible for tracking those boxes. The rest of you, focus on the chutes with the men. Okay?" The English Corporal received four nods as the others moved to intercept the parachutes.
Newkirk had stayed by the truck with the binoculars, watching each package land, in case of any mix-up. But, he was very worried about the guys trying to capture the parachutists. He had to assume that they were probably Allied soldiers, but he couldn't trust anyone at this point. There is too much at stake.
LeBeau returned first, having retrieved the medications.
"Go, Louis," said Newkirk. "We'll meet you back at camp. Tell the Colonel and Kinch about our 'additional' packages. Let them know we are going to capture them as Germans, and treat them as prisoners, until we can know for sure what they are up to."
"Okay, Newkirk. I'm on my way. Good luck," said LeBeau. He hopped on the motorcycle and left.
Newkirk breathed a sigh of relief, as Carter, Olsen and Darby finally returned with the parachutists. He took over watching the prisoners as the other three went to retrieve the packages. He had both prisoners lie face down in the dirt with their hands behind their heads. He grumbled at them in German, giving each of them a nudge with his rifle, knowing that he had to make it sound good. And could, as the others had already disarmed each of the prisoners.
Carter, Olsen and Darby worked for 45 minutes moving the boxes…
Finally they had the truck packed. Carter and Olsen each retrieved a prisoner, and spouting in German, made the men climb into the truck and sit on the floor. The men of Stalag 13 kept their guns pointed at the head of each prisoner. Newkirk drove the truck back towards camp.
Somewhere over Germany, Papa Bear's Drop Site,
April 17, 1945, 2400 Hours
General Birmingham found himself faced with the rifle of a German soldier, as he landed at the drop site. He had barely hit the ground before the soldier was in his face. He could do nothing but surrender, but hoped that Killian fared better, but was disappointed to find that the Major too was captured. Also he didn't understand much German, but it didn't take a lot to understand what they wanted. He and the Major were made to lay face down in the dirt for a long time. The Germans had split up to recover the packages. Birmingham wondered if Papa Bear's operation had already been compromised. After what seemed like forever, they were forced into a truck. Clearly the soldiers weren't taking any chances. They each had their rifles squarely pointed at both he and Killian.
Major Michael Killian tried to look into the faces of his 'German' guards. He recognized both Sergeant Carter and Sergeant Olsen and was able to relax. Whew. I'm in the right place. When he had been assigned to General Birmingham, he was charged with a different mission than the General. Papa Bear had saved his life two years back after his plane had been shot down, and he was seriously wounded. He had to stay with Papa Bear and his men for over a month, before returning to England. He knew Colonel Hogan and his men well. He just hoped he could fulfill his part of this mission. Killian was ordered not to tell his fellow prisoner anything about Papa Bear and his operatives until they arrived at their final destination. And even at that, he would leave that explanation to Hogan, or his men, if the Colonel wasn't able.
Luft Stalag 13, Barracks Two,
April 18, 1945, 0100 Hours.
Hogan couldn't sit still. He was pacing in the main barracks. The men in Barracks Two, who were trying to sleep, couldn't. One by one they each left the barracks, because Colonel Hogan was making them nervous. They just assumed he was worried about all the away missions. Just as Hogan almost wore a tread into the floor though, LeBeau, Freiling and Kinch entered the barracks.
"Colonel, take off your jacket," the doctor ordered, as he grabbed the package from LeBeau and began rummaging around in it.
"LeBeau, did everyone return safely?" asked Hogan.
"Sir, I returned alone by motorcycle to get the medications here as soon as possible. The others were going to pack the truck and head back here. But, we did run into a problem. I was ordered to leave before it was resolved," said LeBeau.
"What problem?" said Hogan to LeBeau, none too happy. He noticed the doctor was ready to give him the medication. "Wait, Doctor. Hold off on the sedative. I need to find out where my men are," commanded Hogan.
"Okay, Colonel," agreed the doctor placing that syringe back on the table. He still gave Hogan the pain meds as well as the penicillin.
"What problem?" demanded Hogan.
"Sir, along with the three supply packages, there were two parachutists as well. Newkirk ordered them to be captured. He wanted you to know, they were going to act like Germans, and treat the parachutists like prisoners until they returned to camp. I left before the parachutists were captured," LeBeau reported.
What would these people be doing here? "LeBeau, continue with Newkirk's plan. Keep them thinking they've been captured. Have Newkirk put them in the cooler. Split them up. We need to question each one separately to determine what they have planned," Hogan ordered and resumed his pacing, hoping that his men could capture these guys without incident. His men were good, he knew that. They've had a lot of practice recovering parachutes and parachutists.
Still it was another hour before the truck rolled through the gates…
LeBeau was already there waiting for them. The prisoners were hustled quickly to the cooler. They never even noticed the Allied soldiers start emptying the truck.
General Birmingham and Major Killian were split up. Each was thrown into separate cell. Birmingham demanded of his guard to see the Kommandant of the camp. His guard said nothing, but he grabbed for the General's dog tags, ripping them from his neck before he closed the cell door behind him.
Major Michael Killian's guard had recognized him as he was brought into light of the building. He and Carter had become friendly during that month. Carter continued to play the part until Killian was secured in his own cell. "What are you doing here, Mike?" asked Carter in a whisper. "Let me have your dog tags," he said loudly in German.
Killian replied also in a whisper, "I need to talk to you guys, before you talk to the General. It's very important, Carter."
Carter nodded his understanding and left. He told Newkirk and Olsen about Killian on the way back to the barracks. They entered Barracks Two to face the Colonel, who immediately asked if everyone was all right.
"Yes, sir," said Newkirk. "Everything went well and the prisoners are secure. They are two RAF officers, a one-star General and a Major." He handed the dog tags to the Colonel. "Carter has something he needs to tell you about the Major."
"Carter?" asked the Colonel.
"Yes, sir, do you remember a wounded downed flyer Lieutenant Michael Killian, who was here some time back? He had to stay with us for a month before being returned to England," Carter asked of the Colonel.
"Yes I remember. He was a good man," Hogan replied after a moment's thought.
"Well, sir. He's one of our prisoners, the Major. He recognized me and I, him. Killian told me that he needed to speak to us, before we talked to the General. He said it was very important, sir."
"Okay, go get him. Do it quietly. I don't want the General to get suspicious," Hogan said, finally getting a chance to read the dog tags and immediately recognized the General's name. He knew Kyle Birmingham. Kyle had been a Colonel, the commander of the 506th bomber squadron, when Hogan was the commander of the 504th. Kyle had been a hot shot, and the two of them had never seen eye to eye -- on anything. So Kyle is a General now. Well, stranger things have happened.
Just a few minutes later…
Killian followed Carter into the barracks and upon seeing Colonel Hogan, saluted. "Colonel Hogan, you're ali…," he stammered and then recovered. "Major Michael Killian reporting, sir!" he finished smartly. He had been relieved to find Hogan alive, but was shocked to see the condition the Colonel was in. The man had a huge bruise covering almost the entire right side of his face. He looked pale, shaky, and had apparently lost weight, and also seemed to be in a great deal of pain.
"At ease, Major. What is it you need to tell us?" Hogan asked.
"Sir," Killian began, stopped and began again. "I'm sorry, sir, London had told us that you may be dead or incapacitated. I'm just glad to find that's not the case. It makes my part of this mission much more meaningful."
"Continue, Major. I don't have all night," Hogan ordered annoyed. He had a sneaking suspicion where this whole thing was going, and he didn't like it.
"Yes, sir. General Birmingham knows nothing of your operation other than that an agent named Papa Bear could be dead and his operation compromised. I believe he truly thinks the Germans have captured us. I was not to tell him anything that I knew about you and your men. London didn't want to take any chances on losing this operation. Their orders to General Birmingham were very specific, sir. He was to take over command of this operation, but only in the event that you could no longer continue in command."
"So, Major," Hogan said evenly, the anger slowly starting to build. "What's your part of this mission?"
Killian had noticed Hogan's demeanor change. Hogan didn't like being second-guessed by anyone. Killian came to attention once more, reached in his pocket and pulled out what looked like orders and a small case. He said saluting, "Colonel Hogan, sir. On behalf of the United States Army, I hereby present you with these stars." Killian opened the case and presented them to Hogan. "Congratulations, General Robert Hogan, SIR!"
Hogan stared dumfounded at the case with the stars, never even reaching for them. Killian continued, "Sir. London wanted to make sure you knew that you had their complete support. They wanted you to know that Papa Bear could never be replaced. You now outrank General Birmingham by a full star. Sir." Again he presented the case to Hogan.
Hogan had not taken his eyes off the stars, until he had them in his hands. "Thank you, Major. I don't know what to say." He glanced up and looked around the room and saw his men start snapping to attention and saluting. Each of them had a wide grin. Hogan returned the salute, but not the grin. For his men, reality reasserted itself when they saw the Colonel's face.
Killian didn't understand what was going on, as Hogan had not reacted as expected and now his men just seemed disheartened.
Hogan said, "Major. You're free to make yourself as comfortable as possible. Kinch, please keep General Birmingham confined until I have a chance to talk to him." The Colonel headed for his office indicating that Kinch and Doc Freiling should follow him. As he closed the door behind him, he leaned against it, letting his weight sag against the door. "I will take you up on your sedative now, doctor," he sighed, letting his weariness show.
Colonel Hogan placed his new orders and stars on desk and turned back to Kinch. "Kinch, I want you to know that I expect you to be in charge of this operation if I die. You can keep that man locked up until the end of the war for all I care. Birmingham can't be allowed to take this operation over. He has no idea of the complexities involved."
"It's not going to come to that. Just get some rest. You'll be fine," Kinch said softly, not knowing what else to say.
"Kinch, I'm afraid this might be the last time we may have to talk. I'm afraid that if I fall asleep now, I won't wake up." Hogan glanced at the doctor, who didn't even try convincing him otherwise. "Take care of these people, Kinch. I'm entrusting them to you. We've done a hell of a good job here, don't let anyone ruin it." Turning to the doctor, Hogan submitted, "Okay Doc, now or never."
Doc Freiling rolled up Hogan's sleeve, gave him the sedative, and helped the officer into his bunk. It took no longer than a minute for Hogan to fall asleep.
Kinch turned to the doctor with questioning eyes.
"Sergeant, Kinchloe, I'm sorry. Colonel Hogan is still very much in danger. It won't be determined for almost another 24 to 36 hours if things have improved. His fears are not unfounded, we will just have to wait and see. This sedative should only last 6 to 8 hours. We'll see how he feels then," said the doctor.
Kinch and Doctor Freiling exited Hogan's office, to the anxious faces of Newkirk, Carter and LeBeau. They were all looking to Doc Freiling to give them something to cling to. "The Colonel, excuse me, the General is sleeping. You all know the situation. It's still a waiting game. At least for now, he isn't in any pain and he can sleep." Doc Freiling left to go back to his quarters, as well. He had to be back in two hours, to continue his four-hour schedule for the General.
Killian had been present throughout the doctor's speech. Hogan's men had explained the situation to him after the Colonel went to his office. The Major hoped for everyone's sake that Hogan would pull through, because in his short time with General Birmingham, he realized the General was not right for the job. The General just gave him a bad feeling. The General seems too rigid, and if any job needs flexibility it is this one.
Kinch never bothered to go to sleep after that, as he knew it was only 1½ hours until morning roll call, when he would have to explain this situation to Kommandant Klink. So, he just sat at the table, lost in thought, until he heard the guards yelling for roll call. Kinch assembled with the rest of the men, most of whom noticed that Hogan was not there. Sergeant Schultz gave his report and Kommandant Klink responded as always, though he had given Kinch a questioning glance.
After roll call, Kinch approached Klink…
Kinch indicated to the German Colonel, that they should head back to his office. Once they arrived Klink asked, "Has anything happen to Colonel Hogan, Sergeant?"
"Kommandant, Colonel Hogan," General Hogan, "is sleeping now. London was able to pull together a medical supply drop for him last night. He is now being treated with antibiotics, pain medication and sedatives. There is still the possibility that he will die. The medication will not take effect for another 24 to 36 hours. Until then, the prognosis is still the same. If you'll excuse me Kommandant, I must return to the barracks. I'll keep you informed," Kinch offered and headed back to the barracks.
Saying nothing, Klink only watched as Kinch left his office. But as he turned and saw Schultz he said surprised, "Hogan must be an important man to the Allies for them to have done such a thing for him."
"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant," Schultz agreed. "He must be."
As Kinch reentered the compound…
A lot of the POWs were waiting on him. Captain Doug Morris came forward as spokesman. "All right Kinch. What's going on? Colonel Hogan missed roll call. It's been obvious, that for the last few days, he's not been well. And now we have a General and a Major who have parachuted in. We want to know what's happening."
Kinch knew he couldn't keep everything a secret, so instead of trying, he decided to tell the men everything he knew. They took it better than he thought they would. They were certainly worried about the Colonel, but Kinch had come away with their support. The consensus was that if Hogan did die, they would follow Kinch as his choice for a replacement.
Kinch returned to Barracks Two and found Doc Freiling back in Hogan's quarters, already with another dose of medication. He saw on the doctor's face that nothing had changed. They would still have to wait.
And Hogan slept on…
End of First Quarter