Chapter 2: Home Field Disadvantage
By now the sky was dotted with Russian planes that buzzed overhead. Soviet tanks and infantry blotted out the moon. Anderson sped through the streets as air-raid sirens howled throughout the city. The Alaskan National Guard was caught completely by surprise and they were in total disarray. And to add insult to injury, Seattle and San Diego had also been invaded. Anderson frantically searched through radio stations attempting to get some news on a resistance, when he heard the rattle of Vulcan cannons in the distance. He turned into the street where the sound was coming from.
The three anti-air Vulcans were spitting out lead in streams of short bursts. The bullets were punching holes and tearing up parachutes, causing whatever they were carrying to plunge to a quick death.
Anderson parked his car into a nearby ally and grabbed his G36 and AUG. He attached the AUG onto a small rifle holder on his back. The moment he walked out onto the street, a T-60 came around the corner. Instinctively John hit the ground and a series of explosions turned the tank into a smoldering wreck.
Two American privates helped him up as a major gunfight between Soviet and US infantry ensued. As they ran to safety, Anderson yelled over the gunfire, "Private! Who's in charge here!"
"Sergeant Carole, sir!" He responded, "But her just got evaced! Shot in the neck and incapacitated! Who, may I ask, are you, sir?"
"I'm Lieutenant John Anderson! I'm taking temporary control of your force."
"Sir, yes sir!"
Yelling over the constant buzz of the Vulcans, he yelled, "What've we got at the moment?" John fired a shot from his G36, killing a Soviet with an RPG, "I want to know what I've got available. What's your name, by the way?"
"Four M60 Pattons, a pair of Bradleys, and three Vulcans," He answered, "and I'm Conner Zdanzewicz."
Firing half a dozen shots at the Reds, Anderson said, "Well, Conner, you wanna know what I think?"
"We're gonna get pinned down if we stay here!" He walked to the Pattons and Vulcans telling them his plan. Then, balancing his gun against his shoulder, Anderson motioned everyone into the Bradleys and they began to move.
Everyone sat quietly in the APC as bullets bounced off of the armor, the driver said to them, "Well, Leftenant," He was a born British, "Those ruskys are shittin' their army all over the place, ay?"
The passengers inside laughed, but were quickly silenced when the 25mm chain gun came to life. The Bradley rumbled on past the sign that read: 'Anchorage City Limit' and continued down the road.
Connor looked up at the Lieutenant and asked, "Sir, where are we headed?"
John turned to him, "Wasilla."
"Is there going to be anyone there? It's an out of the way city!"
"There's going to be people there," He said reassuringly, "Trust me."
The rally point that was set if there ever was an invasion on the city was Wasilla. Although it was a small city on the outskirts of Anchorage, it was an easily defendable point and John had always been told to make for Wasilla if the need ever arose. And the need had most definitely arisen.
Anderson's gamble had worked. The majority of the Alaskan Guard stationed at Fort Richardson was rallying in the little town of Wasilla. His small group of troops was one of many disorganized platoons that had fled the Red Army in Anchorage. John was sitting on top of the Bradley's turret, his helmet hanging loosely on top of his head and the G36 resting in his lap.
Anderson hit his hand two times against the vehicle and the APC came to a slow stop. He hopped down and made his way to a group of troops busy loading tank shells for transport, "You guys know where the commanding officers are?"
One of the soldiers looked up and shrugged, "Not sure, sir, I would say the city office."
"Where would that be, if you don't mind me asking?"
He pointed west down George Parks Highway, "It's that way, sir. It's at the intersection of East Heming Avenue and North Knik Street."
The lieutenant left with a grateful smile, saluted the small squad and hopped back onto the Bradley which began to roll down the still and quiet highway.
The trooper's assumption was correct. Surrounding the city hall was a trio of M1A1 Abrams tanks in the street in front of the City office. In the center was a table which had several officers gathered around it. John jumped down from the APC and walked towards them.
The others turned to him and saluted.
"John! Never expected you to be here!"
At the head of the table was Colonel Jake Peterson. John had met him several years ago at Fort Knox during some of his army training. He never expected to see the tall, burly officer in Alaska, "Colonel, why are you in Alaska?"
"I got stationed at Richardson last year, but I heard about you! Fighting in Germany!"
John waved the thought away, "That's not important. What's our plan right now?"
Jake nodded, "You can tell me all about it later. I'm just glad we have a seasoned veteran here." He brought the lieutenant over to the map, "You see here, the Glenn Highway Bridge, we're sending the armor we have to this point." He indicated the northern side of the crossing, "They'll provide a guard detail while the 25th Infantry division plants charges along the bridge's supports. We'll destroy it which will give us enough time to retreat to Fairbanks."
"Fairbanks?" John asked, "Fairbanks is a horrible place to defend, it's in the middle of a plain! The Russians won't even need to attack the city; they'll just shells from where we can't see them."
Jake pulled the lieutenant aside, and quietly said to him, "I know, I know."
"Then why don't we head to Delta Junction and make for Whitehorse in Canada?"
""That's what I said we should do, but the Pentagon isn't too eager in losing the final frontier," the colonel sighed, "Remember, Alaska is a major producer of our oil. We need it."
"So, Washington expects us to defend an undefendable position?" John said in protest.
"Yes, for now. The President has contacted the Canadians and they're supposed to send some people our way. The first to arrive would be the 1 CMBG group from CFB Edmonton," He patted John on the back, "What about that plan, eh?"
He sighed, "Well, it should give us enough firepower to fight back; it's just the waiting that'll be a pain."
"You got that right."
As the darkness began to creep in, the few tanks that they had and the 25th infantry began to make their way to the Glenn Highway Bridge. And despite constant pleas not to go, Anderson decided to accompany the soldiers he met in Anchorage. The road was still and quiet, Anderson sat in the passenger seat of an HMMWV with his G36 cradled in his lap.
The stars were bright and it was a full moon. If it wasn't war time, Anderson would have said it was beautiful.
Surprisingly, according to a RC-135 recon plane from Eielson AFB, the Russians had stopped their pursuit at Eklutna where they had set up camp for the night.
A line of M60 Pattons and M1 Abrams tanks fortified the northern shore of the Matanuska and Knik River crossing. A dozen HMMWVs made their merry way down the bridge. Some broke away from the main group as they stopped to set their charges.
It was eerily quiet, it was discomforting. As Anderson's Humvee, the last one to place its charges at the farthest end of the bridge, stopped to prime their C4; they came under attack by Russian armor. It was a scouting party of PT-76 light tanks and BMP-2 IFVs.
Shells and high-caliber rounds screamed passed the small vehicle and Anderson yelled out loud, "Turn us around! Move!"
The car reversed and made a hard turn around to make a shot for the safe side. As craters popped around them, the U.S. armor on the other side of the crossing returned fire. A series of distant explosions perforated the southern shore. Several Soviet vehicles were destroyed.
The Russians took their fire away from the retreating HMMWV to focus on the threat across the river. The armored car twisted and weaved, chasing explosions gambling that the gunners would not fire in the same spot twice.
The night was alive with noise and bright muzzle flashes lit up the shores as U.S. and Russian forces dueled across the river.
The Americans had the advantage. Their superior armor soon had the Reds on the run.
Anderson let out a relaxed sigh. As he got out of the Humvee, he heard "Fire in the hole!" and the bridge was no more, going up in a series of large explosions.
Conner ran up to him from a nearby M60 Patton, "Sir, our plane reports that the Russians in Eklutna are on the move. We need to pull back or we'll outnumbered."
The lieutenant nodded, "Let's pack up and head out!"
With the bridge successfully destroyed, it gave the scattered U.S. defenders some breathing room. And when Anderson arrived back, they made the decision to make the long run to Fairbanks.
Leaving Wasilla took some time and the convoy was moving at a slow and steady pace. Far too slow and it was discomforting Anderson. If they didn't move faster, the Russians would be on their tail in no time...
Talkeetna was still about one hundred miles away, and at the pace they were going, it would take hours.
Anderson quietly remembered the saying 'Home field advantage.'
In their case. They had a home field disadavantage...