Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Hogan's Heroes characters; I just like to write about them.
Forget Me Not
It was a bright, sunny September morning. The prisoners of Stalag 13 had been lined up for almost an hour for roll call, and some of the men were stomping their feet in an effort to keep warm in the chilly autumn air. Sergeant Schultz finally came down the line counting them, hoping like he did every morning that all the prisoners would be there. He got to the end, where Colonel Hogan was standing, and nervously finished his count.
"Dreizehn, vierzehn, funfzehn!" They were all here! He looked at Hogan and smiled with relief. "Colonel Hogan," he said, "I'm glad to see that all the prisoners are here this morning."
"Where else would we be, Schultzie?" Newkirk called out from his position next to Hogan.
Schultz scowled at Newkirk, and was just about to respond, when the door to Colonel Klink's office banged open, and out stepped the Kommandant
"Repoooort!" Klink yelled as he strode across the compound.
Schultz came to attention and saluted. "Herr Kommandant," he stated enthusiastically, "I beg to report, all present and accounted for!"
"Very well," Klink said, returning the salute. "Now, Colonel Hogan," he continued, turning towards the senior POW officer, "If you have any requests you want to make, I suggest you do it now. I have a lot of work to do today, and I do not wish to be disturbed, especially by you!"
"Aw, Colonel," Hogan replied, sounding hurt, "When have I ever disturbed you?"
"When haven't you?" Klink retorted. "Now I mean it, Hogan," he said, waggling his finger in front of the Colonel's face, "I will not tolerate any interruptions from you today, do you understand?"
"Yes, sir!" Hogan answered, trying to sound as serious as Klink.
"Good!" Klink shot back, then turned to Schultz. "That goes for you, too!" he barked at him, then walked purposely back to his office, yelling out, "Disssssmissed!" as he left.
As the prisoners started shuffling back to the barracks, Schultz wandered over to where Hogan and his men were still standing.
"Blimey, what's eatin' at ol' Klink today?" Newkirk asked, hoping to get Schultz to fill them in.
"I shouldn't tell you," Schultz said, lowering his voice.
"Aw, c'mon Schultz," urged Hogan, "We won't tell, I promise!"
Schultz couldn't help himself. 'Well," he said conspiratorially, "The Kommandant had a date with a fraulein last night, and I heard that it didn't go very well."
"Was it that barmaid from the Hoffbrau?" Newkirk interjected.
Schultz shook his head. "Nein, it was with a woman that he met last week in Dusseldorf. At least, that's what I heard."
"So what happened, then?" asked Newkirk, "On the date, I mean."
"I don't know," Schultz answered, "I only know that when the Kommandant returned, he was in a very bad mood." Suddenly a worried expression crossed his face. "Please, Colonel Hogan," he added nervously, "Don't disturb him today…you'll get us both into trouble!" He looked at Hogan pleadingly.
"Don't worry," Hogan reassured him, "I won't bother Klink. In fact, I plan on being as far away from him as I can get!" Hogan smiled and gave his men a knowing look.
"Oh, thank you, Colonel Hogan!" Schultz exclaimed, and then noticed Hogan's expression. "You're not planning some monkey business, are you?" he said, looking worried again.
Hogan leaned in closer to him. "Do you really want to know?" he said, almost in a whisper.
"No!" Schultz answered, "I know nothing!" And with that, he turned and headed for the gate to check on the guards and start his rounds.
Hogan grinned and turned to look at his four men, who had smiles on their faces as well. "It looks like we won't have to worry about Klink today," he chuckled, then motioned towards the barracks. "We better get moving," he reminded them, "We've got our own work to do."
They filed into Barracks two. Hogan, the last one in, closed the door behind him. LeBeau went to the stove to start the coffee, and Kinch, Carter, and Newkirk sat down at the long table in the middle of the room. Hogan leaned against the bunk nearest the door, wanting to go over their mission one more time. He glanced at his watch; it was already 7:00 a.m.
"Okay," Hogan began, "Does everyone remember what they're supposed to do?"
"Oui, Mon Colonel," LeBeau answered first, "Carter and I go out the emergency tunnel at 0800, and meet with an underground agent, codename, 'Snow White.' He'll take us to the road where the new tanks will be passing by at 0900. We count them, take pictures, and then come back."
"Yeah, Colonel," Carter piped up, "I've got the camera all ready!" He said, holding it up.
"Just make sure there's film in it this time," Kinch reminded him, giving him a nudge.
Carter became indignant. "That only happened once!" he replied defensively.
"All right," Hogan interrupted, trying to keep their attention on the task at hand. "Carter, why don't you double-check; just to be on the safe side? And bring some extra film…it's very important that we get as many pictures as possible."
"Yes, sir," Carter responded, trying to sound more confident than he felt. Boy, you mess up one time, and they never let you forget it! He thought to himself, shooting Kinch a dirty look.
"And remember," Hogan continued, "This is a reconnaissance mission. I want you to avoid trouble at all costs."
"What about you and Newkirk, Colonel?" Asked Carter.
"Same thing goes for us," Hogan answered, "Newkirk and I will leave five minutes after you and LeBeau, but our contact is meeting us along the road to Hammelburg, at a spot approximately three miles from camp. He'll have the information for us about the tank movements that London needs to set up a counter-offensive. We get the information and high-tail it back here, hopefully in time for lunch. Simple!"
"Simple he says!" Newkirk huffed, lighting a cigarette, "Colonel," he added, "I still say it's bloody dangerous to be goin' out in broad daylight. What if we get caught?"
"That's why we'll all be in uniform." Hogan replied, wanting to reassure himself as much as Newkirk. "If we get caught, we say we're just trying to escape."
Carter looked at him questioningly. "But Colonel, what about the camera?"
"We ditch the camera, Carter!" LeBeau said, looking exasperated. "What did you think we'd do, hand it to the guards and say we found it?" LeBeau shook his head disgustedly
"Well, geez," Carter exclaimed, once again defending himself, "I never thought we'd do something like that! I'm not an idiot, you know!"
"All right, that's enough!" Hogan practically yelled at them, already anxious about the mission, "This isn't the time for arguing!"
"Sorry, Colonel," LeBeau and Carter apologized, almost in perfect unison.
Hogan noticed Carter's hang-dog expression, and immediately regretted sounding so harsh. "And Carter," he said to the young Sergeant in a gentler tone, "No one thinks you're an idiot."
Carter smiled at him. "Thanks, Colonel, and I promise I won't let you down!"
Hogan briefly smiled back. "I know you won't, Carter." he told him. "Look," he continued, addressing all of them, "I know it's dangerous to be out of camp during the day, but London needs this information, and they're counting on us to get it. Just be careful, and keep an extra eye out, and everything should go smoothly."
At least, that's what Hogan was hoping for. He'd begun to have a nagging feeling in his gut that something wasn't right, but he couldn't put his finger on it. Almost as though something bad was going to happen…
Hogan shrugged it off. They had to complete this mission; many lives depended on the information they were being sent out to collect. Besides, it was their job. When this war is over, I'm taking a nice, long vacation! He thought, sighing to himself.
After a few cups of coffee and a bit more time going over the details, Hogan knew they were ready. It was approaching 8:00 a.m.; time to start moving out. They went down the tunnel to where the emergency entrance was located. LeBeau and Carter went out first, the rest of the guys wishing them luck. Hogan studied his watch for a few minutes, and then let Newkirk know it was their turn. Before they headed up the ladder to the tree stump that opened into the woods, he turned to Kinch.
"I want you to stay with the radio," Hogan told him, "If there's any trouble, the underground will contact you."
"Sure, Colonel," Kinch responded, wishing he was going out this time instead of staying behind to man the radio, as usual.
"Thanks, Kinch," Hogan smiled, "I always know I can count on you." He motioned to Newkirk to climb the ladder, waited until Newkirk was clear, then climbed up himself, and was gone.
Carter and LeBeau made their way carefully through the woods just beyond Stalag 13. They arrived at the spot where their contact was supposed to be, and crouched down, furtively looking for him. They didn't have long to wait; almost immediately they saw movement just beyond the brush where they were hiding. Suddenly a figure appeared, dressed in a cape and hood. LeBeau stepped forward and called softly, "Snow White," to which the figure answered, "Papa Bear," the correct recognition code. He strode up to greet him, when the underground agent pulled the hood down, revealing a young, attractive woman. It's a girl! LeBeau thought to himself, delighted, and a very beautiful one, at that! He hurried to introduce himself.
"I am Corporal Louis LeBeau, and you are?" He said as charmingly as possible.
The girl smiled. "My name is Gretchen." She answered in a thick German accent, "I am here to take you to the road where the tanks will be passing by."
Just then Carter came up to join them. "Hey, Louis, is this our contact?" He asked, looking at Gretchen. "Wow, you really are Snow White, aren't you?" He added, noticing her dark hair cascading to her shoulders. "I'm Sergeant Carter, by the way. It's nice to meet you!" He stuck out his hand in greeting.
Gretchen took his hand and shook it firmly. "Danke, I'm glad to meet you, too," she replied sweetly.
"Carter," LeBeau whispered fiercely at him, "Don't you have somewhere else to be?"
"Gee, Louis," Carter whispered back, "I thought we were supposed to stay together."
"That doesn't mean that you have to be right next to me all the time!" Exclaimed LeBeau.
"Then where else am I supposed to be?" Carter countered, wondering why Louis was being so difficult.
Gretchen was watching the interaction of the two men with amusement. Finally she spoke up. "Gentlemen, if you will follow me?"
LeBeau smiled at her. "Please, lead the way Mon Cheri…I would follow you anywhere!" He grabbed her hand gently as he spoke, and brought it up to his lips; planting a soft kiss on the back of her hand.
A light bulb went off in Carter's head, and he realized why LeBeau wanted him to keep his distance. He smiled inwardly to himself; some things never changed!
Gretchen accepted LeBeau's attempt at chivalry for a moment, then drew her hand away. "We should get going now," she said matter-of-factly, and started off through the woods, checking periodically behind her to make sure the men were following her.
As they made their way through the forest, Carter gave LeBeau a nudge. "You just want some time alone with her, don't you?" He asked him knowingly.
"What was your first clue, Carter?" LeBeau answered sarcastically, and then suddenly felt bad for giving Carter such a hard time. "Oui, I wouldn't mind getting to know her better," he continued in a kinder tone.
"Well, I hope you get a chance to do that, Louie," Carter responded sincerely.
Now LeBeau felt real remorse for how he had been treating Carter. "Thanks," he said, apologetically.
They had almost reached their destination, when Carter suddenly had a thought. "Hey, Louie, if our contact looks like her code name, what do you suppose Colonel Hogan and Newkirk's contact will look like?"
At that, LeBeau started laughing out loud. "I don't know, Carter, but their contact's name is 'Dwarf'!"