It really hadn't been fair. John had been fighting the pain that grew exponentially as each day passed. He'd laid as still as he could on the thin, stinking mat, not even able to swat the stinging black flies away, because even the smallest movement would turn the constantly gnawing pain into white hot teeth with a pitbull's grip on his ankle. It would travel up the shattered bone in his leg and leave him gasping through clenched jaws as he struggled not to shake and make it worse. The adventure books he'd gobbled up as a kid would always have the injured heroes blacking out with their pain, but that turned out to be fiction in its purest sense.
When Rodney had told him that the only thing left was to have his leg hacked off, he'd fought it like the pain. Laid still and not answered and tried to will it away. But the pain had finally beaten him down, left him desperate enough to actually wish his leg gone just so the unrelenting pain would just STOP. There was one syrette of morphine left, and John wanted it so badly. But to waste it, just to wake up again in the same place with the pitbull waiting… So when Rodney said he should give in, he did.
The rest was a whirlwind of painted brown faces, hands and water and strange words and movement that had him as close to that heroic blackout as he'd ever gotten. Finally laid out on the table, as the natives in their feathers and gourds had gathered around, he had found his still place again. The pain had ebbed just enough for his heart to race with panic at his hastily muttered 'do it.' He could hold out, he could wait another day. Ronon could try to bring help again. He'd seen the red streaks, knew well enough their portent. But they had Penicillin, the great Miracle Drug that cured everything if you believed the stories.
Ronon climbed up on the table with him and pulled him into a firm grip, his arm a steel band across John's heaving chest.
He couldn't do this. He couldn't let a native clad only in mud and feathers slam a steel blade into his femur. What had he been thinking? What the hell had Rodney been thinking? Was he under some native sorcery? A spell or a plant given to him so he would do the cannibals' bidding?
His heart was pounding against his sternum, sending reverberations throughout his entire body. He could feel his head and limbs thrum with fear-drawn adrenaline. He opened his mouth, gasping in the humid, fetid air. His own stench, infection and old blood and cold sweat. He tried pulling Ronon's arm away from where it was constricting his chest, holding him in place while a painted monster waited patiently with his machete. The arm was a restraint on his breathing. On his singular desire to crawl off the table and back to the small quiet hut.
Suddenly he felt warmth as Ronon dipped his head down next to his ear. The big man's dreads were a scratchy tickle on his cheek.
"You can do this, Sheppard."
John tightened his feeble grip on the steel band but didn't answer.
"Live, Sheppard. If there is one thing I've learned flying with you, it's that you have a strong will. Strongest one I've ever known. You've got balls of steel. And you will not give in to your fear."
John choked out a laugh. "Think it's winning, buddy."
"Don't. Let. It. Fight this. Live, Sheppard. Nothing else matters."
Then Rodney was there, his face a pale sweaty mask. Fear showed there too, but when he met John's eyes he saw the strength there he'd always counted on.
His crew. Two men he'd die a hundred times for. And they'd already proven they would die for him. Ronon could easily have gotten himself and McKay out to the shore, made them temporary shelter until they could set up a signal fire. With the thousands of troops descending on Biak, they would likely be rescued eventually. But they'd stayed for him.
He tightened his grip on Ronon's arm, but pulled it in closer, bracing himself in his friend's sheltering grasp. He knew they would get him through this if humanly possible. He stuttered out a nod and Rodney jabbed the needle into his hip.
It was little worse than the sting of the black flies. Then he felt the ice water that suffused his system, spreading an ironic warmth throughout his body. He sagged, let his eyes close as the world dropped away and he was left suspended in a comforting fog. He could hear the voices around him, knew the machete would be biting at the bone of his femur soon. One chop would likely not be enough, and the thought should've scared the crap out of him, but it seemed so distant and blunted.
After waiting an eternity for the blade to fall, John realized there were harsh voices breaking through the fog. Then the sounds of rattling metal, the distinct ratcheting of revolvers being cocked. He could feel Ronon tensing behind him.
He blinked and drifted and the next he knew, Teyla's face was swimming into view in front of him. He smiled. Or at least he thought he did, because when Teyla met his eyes there was only deep concern. As she bent over his body the realization of what she was seeing brought heat to his face and he moaned, tried to fold in on himself protectively. Then something was draped over him and he wilted with relief.
He floated in his head for a while, rousing only to answer questions with what he hoped were the right words. When he felt hands manipulating his bad leg he jolted back, his heart pounding with fear that it had all been a dream and they were taking his leg right there and then. He tried to get Teyla's attention, last minute, panicked regrets tumbling about in his feverish brain. Her words were reassuring and he was able to accept that his leg was safe, for now, and that would be enough.
The trip through the jungle was a nightmare, almost enough to make him beg for the convoy to stop, just long enough for him to catch his breath. Gasping with each jouncing step his litter-bearers took on the uneven path, John had struggled to keep his jaws clamped shut, bottling up the screams in his throat. There could be Japanese around, and his silence was crucial.
A small yelp finally broke free as a branch bent by someone's forward progress snapped back and struck his splinted leg. The group froze in place, listening for the yelled orders of Japanese troops. John closed his eyes and prayed his weakness wouldn't be their undoing. After a minute of listening to fat raindrops plopping onto the foliage Lorne nodded an all clear, then shot a meaningful glance at Teyla. She placed her fingers on John's neck, pressing gently on his carotid. She pulled anther syrette of morphine from her pack, then he felt the prick of the small needle. She smiled at him, swiped a hand over his forehead and pulled free a leaf from his hair.
The promised cocoon of the morphine was there, hovering on the periphery, but the trip was rough enough to keep him awake until they broke free of the jungle, emerging out onto a rocky gray beach. There he saw his first seaplane. The pontoons were jarring but he could imagine touching down on the ocean's surface with them, water spraying up in his wake as he skimmed across the waves… And with that thought he finally sank into the black.
There were murmured voices, alternating soft and harsh. John listened from the bottom of a deep pool. He lay on the bottom, the water warm and dark, his breathing even and calm despite the water.
"The choice is no longer yours to make, Lieutenant. You were relieved of that duty the moment the major was placed in my care."
"You saved Sully's leg just last month!"
"Captain Sullivan's break was much cleaner and infection never had a chance to set in." There was an exasperated sigh but the voice softened. "The leg needs to go, Rodney."
"Look, Doc- Carson. Please. You aren't even willing to try? You're going with the diagnosis of a couple of senior citizens in war paint?"
"Your native granny was right, Rodney. The infection has spread too far, and the best I can do for the major is to remove the leg."
"I- I don't know that that's best for the major," was the quiet, almost hesitant reply.
The lure of staying in the warm dark pool was strong. He had heard enough to recognize they were talking about him, what they were trying to decide for him. Just as he had back on Biak, he was tempted to let the decision be made for him. He knew - and had known- that the choice made him a coward. But the thought of losing his leg scared him beyond measure. He would be shipped home. Back to his father and the big quiet house. Patrick Sheppard would put on a good show for everyone. His son, the returning war hero. How proud he would seem as he tucked the blanket around his wheelchair bound son with thoughtful tenderness. Everyone would shake John's hand and praise him for his sacrifice then wander off to the tables groaning under the weight of food and drink his father would so generously pay for.
Then the crowds would drift away and he'd be left alone to wheel about the cold, empty rooms, with his own weight to bear- that of his father's condemnation and disappointment.
John stirred as his thoughts brought a shot of adrenaline. His heart kicked up a notch and sent the chemical racing through his body, awakening him further and sparking a new fire in his damaged leg. He heard a moan, and the reverberation through his broken nose set off a thrumming ache that made him realize he had made the sound.
"Major?" he heard from both men simultaneously. He cracked open one eye as he surfaced from the pool. Beckett and McKay were standing at his side. Rodney's eyes were wide with concern.
"How about we do this one at a time, Rodney?" came the doctor's weary but affectionate rebuke. "How are you feeling, lad?"
His lips were dry, stuck together and he felt skin rip as he parted them. His voice was a dry whisper as he fumbled for an answer. "I- I- "
"Easy, son." Carson nodded at someone out of John's range of vision, and a moment later the smell of lemon drifted through his swollen nose. A white cloth dabbed gently at his mouth. It was cold, dripping with water. His raw lips stung with the added lemon but the flavor was well worth it, the citrus cutting through the paste, loosening his tongue from the roof of his mouth as he sucked greedily.
"Not too much," the doctor admonished. "You may be going in for surgery soon."
John swallowed roughly, licked the lemon water from his lips. "Leg?"
"Aye. It's your best option, son. But now you're awake, I'll give you a say in the matter."
A large head hove into John's view from behind Rodney. His gunner was there, a fresh square of gauze on the hit he'd taken to his head. As he wakened further he noticed Rodney's arm was in a sling.
"You okay?" he asked, flicking his eyes at both of them.
"Yeah, we're good," Ronon answered. Rodney lifted his broken arm briefly then sighed. "We're good," he echoed.
"Right behind you," Carson said with a smile.
John turned his head enough to see that his lemon water-bearing angel was indeed Teyla. "We are all good, John," she said, smiling.
"Aye, lad, everyone's present and accounted for. It's you we're all worried about."
"What… what'r my options, Doc?" John asked softly.
"It's my professional opinion, Major, that we amputate your leg at the femur or the hip, depending on what I find during the surgery. The femur cut would allow you use of a prosthetic limb at some point in the future…" He left the rest unsaid. But even through the morphine haze, John understood, if he had to take it at the hip, he would remain legless and bound to a chair for the rest of his life.
"'s not an option, if there's only one choice."
Carson sighed and nodded. "We could try high doses of Penicillin to beat back the infection. If we can stop the sepsis, I may be able to salvage the leg. But I must advise you, Major, that waiting could prove fatal. Your condition right now is quite tenuous."
John looked into the eyes of each of his friends. Read their fear and concern. Teyla squeezed his arm as if trying to lend him some of her own vital strength. Rodney attempted a smile, but it never reached his eyes. His gunner quirked his own grin, feral as ever. "You know the answer I'd give you, Sheppard."
He did know the answer, had known it all along.
"I want to keep my leg…" he said as calmly and strongly as he could.
Carson's face crumpled and he began nodding his reluctant acceptance.
"… but I want to live more," John finished.
The doctor smiled and patted his shoulder. "Understood, Major. I promise we'll get you through this."
Time passed in a haze. He awoke infrequently, pain shaking him from sleep but only briefly. The slightest stir or moan would bring the ice water back to his veins and he'd sink back into velvety blackness. Sometimes he dreamed of flying, the gray ocean rushing beneath him, no Zeros, just the clouds and the sun warm on his face. The first peace he'd felt in the skies in years. Other times his plane would be spiraling out of control as he fought the stick, the same gray ocean now granite cold and hard as he smashed into it, exploding into a white hot fireball that would wake him gasping and screaming. He was vaguely aware of hands on his face, on his arms, shushing him back to reality so he could slip once more back into sleep.
Then came a time when he surfaced from his pool and the pain was there but muted and distant.
Music was playing softly from somewhere. He heard a loud cry, off in the distance. There was the sound and vibration of pounding feet as the cry grew strangled and more urgent. Then it stopped abruptly.
"Think that was O'Donnell," was softly muttered.
"Nope," was the reply. "O'Donnell didn't make it- he died yesterday. Think that's Brigman."
"Oh. Brigman had the burns, right?"
"So where were you this morning?"
"Flew out with Lorne. His gunner took shrapnel in his shoulder. Was just a cleanup run. Didn't hit any resistance."
"You uh, find anyone?"
John opened his eyes and blinked away the film in time to see Ronon grin. "Yeah, we picked up three who made it to the airstrip. Looks like they're all gonna make it."
"Really? Wow, that's -- hey, he's awake!"
"Think you're right, McKay. Hang on, I'll go get the doc."
"Major? Am I right? Of course, I'm right, I'm a genius!"
John curled a small smile at that and was rewarded with Rodney's face breaking into a wide grin.
Ronon came clomping back in, his boots loud on the metal floor. "Doc's right behind me. He awake?"
"You doubt me?" Rodney asked, hand on his heart as if wounded. "He smiled."
"Morphine'll do that for you," came a Scottish brogue as Beckett came into view. "How are you feeling, lad?"
John was struck with a wave of déjà vu. He had no idea how much time had passed since he'd last been asked that question. But as the fog thinned he remembered with a start what had happened then. His hand scrabbled on the bed at his side, his fingers questing over the sheet for his leg.
Beckett stilled his hand, squeezed the fingers fondly before putting them back on his stomach. "It's still there, son."
Relief surged over him, made his eyes well up. He squeezed them shut but felt a hot tear crest the lip of his lid and trace down the side of his cheek.
It made the doctor smile. "You gave us quite a scare this week, I'll have you know. Even had you prepped and ready to go in. Another more urgent case came in and bumped you down a place in line. By the time we came back for you your fever had come down a notch or two, so we waited it out."
John sniffed back warm salty moisture. It moistened his throat enough to allow a softly breathed, "Thanks, doc."
Beckett folded his arms and stiffened his back. "Let's see how grateful you are at the end of a week, flat on your back in that thing." He nodded his head at the end of the bed.
John lifted his head, dug his chin into his chest and gaped at what had been done to his leg.
A dark angry red incision ran from just above his knee, down his shin and braceleted his ankle. Shiny steel staples held the flesh together at the two joints and heavy black sutures zippered down his lower leg. Wood and gauze bandages made a kind of scaffolding that cradled his leg from thigh to ankle and the whole construction was held aloft by a system of pulleys that hung down from the ceiling.
Beckett sighed then continued. "And realize that you're staring down the barrel of another seven to ten weeks there."
John tried to picture ten weeks on his back. The notion should've freaked him out, but the morphine haze just left him staring, with what was likely a goofy smile, at his still attached, though Frankenstein-inspired leg.
Beckett turned out to be right. The first week was relatively easy. Morphine kept him comfortable and he dozed through most of it. When he was awake it was to catch up on news of how the battle on Biak was going or goings on around the base. Who made it back and in what condition. The news was mostly bad. Hundreds had been killed since the battle began, thousands more terribly wounded. But the true toll was being taken as Teyla had warned. Lack of clean water had made thousands ill, and weakened thousands more who succumbed to the various tropical diseases. As men grew desperate and panicked during the shortages, accidents became commonplace; a bad gunpowder mix here, an overloaded jeep there. Ten times more were dying due to illness and poor leadership than the Japs killed.
Then John learned the fate of the Eager Beaver. After it had plummeted out of the sky and struck the Pegasus, it crashed into the Pacific. Pieces of the plane had washed ashore; all aboard her were missing, presumed dead.
The news weighed heavily on John's conscience. Young Lieutenant Betts had been her pilot.
"Oh, now don't start the guilt thing again," Rodney moaned.
"I put him in that plane, McKay," John growled back.
"No, he volunteered. Because he was cocky and figured 'fly one plane, you've flown 'em all.'"
"He never got any training," John started.
"Because there wasn't time," Rodney spat back. "Nieves had dysentery so bad he couldn't leave the latrine long enough to fly the mission. Nuts needed the Beaver up there and Bettsy waved his hand in the air."
At the time John had figured the kid was a natural enough talent, he could pick it up. By the time he'd gotten the weather reports, it hadn't occurred to him that the storm might be too much for the young pilot. And it had cost the lives of three good men. Rodney could sputter about it all he liked, but John knew those deaths were on him.
As week two started, Beckett began him on bed exercises. Small hand weights for his arms and chest at first. The single pound dumbbells had his limbs shaking and his face covered in sweat, but one of his crew or Teyla was usually there with a towel and words of encouragement. More awake, his morphine cut back, the days stretched long and tedious in front of him. He had a small radio that sometimes managed to get in the Armed Forces station. He followed the news as the war progressed. The European theatre was seeing success, beating back Hitler's men by the day, but the Pacific wasn't going nearly as well. And it had him itching to get out of bed and DO something.
Week three started off badly. He'd developed a bedsore on the small of his back. The only time he moved was when they changed his sheets or an orderly helped him onto his bedpan. Now he had the added bonus of nurses coming in to change the bandages on his ass. Rodney chiding him about his weight loss making his ass 'bony' didn't help, and neither did Beckett's pointed reminders that if he'd taken the leg he'd have already been up and around on crutches.
He'd made his bed and apparently, he was gonna lie in it. A lot.
He was struggling with a tray of food, propped up against a mound of pillows when he looked up to see Nuts O'Neill himself striding his way. John dropped his spoon and tried to straighten up by digging his elbows into the thin mattress. The tray tilted and threatened to slide off his lap but the colonel caught it with a smile and hand wave.
"At ease, Major."
"No other position to take, I'm afraid, sir."
"You have a point." O'Neill pulled over a chair and plopped down casually. "So. You got to keep your leg."
"Good on you. Helps we have Beckett, of course. The man's one of my prizes. Traded him off the Aussies for a few boxes of whiskey and a surgeon who probably drank half of them his first week there."
"I owe him my life, yes, sir," John replied. The colonel rarely visited the hospital and as John looked around he saw many of the other patients and staff staring his way. Nuts seemed oblivious to the attention.
"Is there, uh, something I can do for you, Colonel?"
"Funny you should ask, Major. I was here to do something for you."
"For me? Sir?"
The colonel was eyeing up John's traction setup. His eyes widened as he traced first the healing incision and then the rope work up the ceiling. "Geez, the Seabees come in and set that up for you? No wait, Army Corps?"
"From what I hear tell, sir, it was my guys. McKay is still out 'cause of his broken arm and Dex… well, he just likes to keep busy."
"Yeah, I've heard that about him. Guess you made the right pick with him after all."
"With both of 'em, yes sir. Wouldn't be here without them."
"Or a certain Papuan Mata Hari, I hear. Guess I know now where all your mystery intel was coming from."
John blushed. "About that, sir…"
"Her information saved a lot of lives, Major," O'Neill brushed off. "And I've had the pleasure of her acquaintance. And believe me when I say it was a pleasure. Wow, she's a good-looking dame."
"Not what I'm here to talk about," the no-nonsense commander cut in. "I have a proposition for you, Major."
"Anything, sir, John said sincerely. "And by the way, thank you, sir. I know Lorne had to get your blessing on picking our asses up."
"Don't forget the seaplane." O'Neill flashed a smile. "So. What do you know about jets, Major?"
"Um, they go real fast? Or at least they're supposed to. They have their own special fuel formula. The ratio of burn to oxygen is--"
"Good, right, they go fast. We're rounding up a list of names, and I've thrown yours in the hat. After this whole silly war thing is over, how'd you like to try flying them?"
"M- me, sir?"
"Yes, you, Major, and stop with the modesty bullshit. I need the cocky Sheppard who knows damn well he can fly anything with wings. You still that man?"
John looked long and hard at his mangled leg suspended in front of him. Was he still that man?
"If you're worried about the leg, Beckett says give it a year and you'll be back on your feet and flight ready. He seems to think you have the right stuff still."
Huh. John hadn't heard any such word from the doctor. His talk was more of the 'wait and see' and 'you're getting better but still have a long road ahead of you' type.
As if reading his mind, O'Neill lowered his voice and leaned in closer. "See the doc is a smart man. He has to keep you on a short leash since there's no two ways about it, you're stuck for another five weeks at least. Then the plaster goes on and you'll be hobbling around on crutches for another four to six weeks at least. Spent some time similar to yours," he said softly, tapping at his knee. "But what the doc don't understand, being only a medicine man and not having spent any time on a bed pan himself, is I know you need something - something to drive you, keep you going. A reason to get outa that damn bed," he growled, staring spitefully at the narrow cot.
"So," he said, wiping his hands on his trousers and rising from his chair, "in conclusion, you get your reason, and we get a pilot to test our jets. Ever since he saw the Brits got them, Major General Arnold has been chomping at the bit. He's jealous as hell. Any objections to Edwards, Major?"
"Air base, sir"
"Yeah. It's California. You have a problem with that?"
"No, not at all, sir."
"Good. Warm and dry. Good for the leg, too. The humidity here is a killer." He rubbed his knee then made a vague salute that John was still lifting his hand to answer as the colonel dropped his. Then Oneill let out a low whistle. "I think I see another reason coming this way, Major," he muttered out the side of his mouth. "One with great gams…"
"I don't know who you're talking about, sir," John stammered as Teyla and his crew headed his way.
"Funny, thought it was your leg broken, not your eyes," O'Neill grunted as he walked away.
"What did Nuts want?" Rodney asked as he dropped heavily into the chair the colonel had just vacated.
"He offered me a job," John said, still trying to adjust to the news.
"What kind of job? You cant even take a cr--"
"Not now," John snarled as he felt his cheeks flush and darted a quick glance Teyla's way. "For later, after the war is over. Whenever that is."
"Soon, I'd imagine," Rodney said off-handedly.
"What's soon, and why would you think that?" John asked, narrowing his gaze. "Spill it, McKay."
"Well, you know they liberated Paris this week. The Allies have decended on Hitler like a pack of wild dogs. Paris was a big chunk out of his - hind portions," he stammered with a wary look at Teyla. "Russia will get the scraps. I hear Roosevelt and Churchill are already arguing over how to divvy up Germany."
"That's Europe, Rodney," John said tiredly. "Pacific isn't going so hot."
"True, true. But I put in a few calls to some old friends. What with all the down time I have on account of my badly broken arm." He lifted his sling and deliberately winced.
Teyla patted Rodney's shoulder like a patient mother. It did the trick; Rodney continued with his tale. "Anyway, Once Europe is all over but the crying, there are plans for Japan. Big plans." He winked dramatically; his smile was smug.
"He's talking about the bomb," Ronon chimed in.
"I know what- wait, how do you know? You told him about the --"
"The bomb, yeah." Rodney blushed lightly and traded a heavily loaded look with the gunner. "I was trying to make a point."
"Anyway, my friends tell me that they've made a breakthrough. I can practically guarantee you that by the time you're up and about, the war will be ending. More with a bang than a whimper, I'm afraid," he added. "Huh. It's strange to think about it. The war being over, I mean."
"What will you do, after, Rodney?" Teyla asked.
"I uh, suppose I'll go back to Bell. Say, Bell has the contracts for the jet prototype," he said brightly. "You'll still be flying planes with my… modifications."
"That's comforting," John replied dryly.
"Hey! My modifications saved our bacon more times --"
"And you, Ronon?" Teyla aksed loudly over the squabbling.
The big man smiled and averted his eyes. "Go back to Hawaii. I'm hoping they'll rebuild Pearl, and can use a strong back. And I, uh. I got a girl waiting for me."
Teyla grinned broadly as John and Rodney sputtered. "Why that's wonderful, Ronon. What is her name?"
"Melena. She said she'd marry me if I came home."
"And after all this time you never thought to mention this?" Rodney almost screeched.
"Didn't wanna jinx it," the gunner mumbled. "And you'd think I was stupid and backward for being superstitious."
Rodney nudged at the lucky compass that John knew he had but Rodney didn't know he knew he had. "Yes, that would be a silly superstition," he muttered.
"So, Sheppard gets his jets, Ronon gets the girl, I get unlimited coffee. Maybe I'll get a cat… What about you, Teyla?"
"I will stay here and help re-build Guinea," she said with a touch of sadness.
"You know, Hawaii is almost a halfway point between the states and here. Maybe we could all meet there, after the war? Ronon, you can put us all up, right?"
The big man laughed and knocked Rodney in the shoulder. "Sure, McKay. You can sleep on the floor."
"Not with my back --"
"And I'll teach you to surf," he said to John.
"That's standing on a board in the water, trying not to drown as a tsunami hits you, right?"
"Pretty much, yup."
"Sounds cool." John leaned back against his pillows and took in a deep breath. Outside the war still raged and he had almost a year of recovery to face. But here, amongst his friends, even in a crappy tin hospital in the middle of the jungle on the other side of the world, he felt completely at home.
The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels
Many a mother in Australia,
When the busy day is done,
Sends a prayer to the Almighty
For the keeping of her son,
Asking that an Angel guide him
And bring him safely back
Now we see those prayers are answered
On the Owen Stanley track,
For they haven't any halos,
Only holes slashed in the ears,
And with faces worked by tattoos,
With scratch pins in their hair,
Bringing back the wounded,
Just as steady as a hearse,
Using leaves to keep the rain off
And as gentle as a nurse.
Slow and careful in bad places,
On the awful mountain track,
And the look upon their faces,
Makes us think that Christ was black.
Not a move to hurt the carried,
As they treat him like a Saint,
It's a picture worth recording,
That an Artist's yet to paint.
Many a lad will see his Mother,
And the Husbands, Weans and Wives,
Just because the Fuzzy Wuzzy
Carried them to save their lives.
From mortar or machine gun fire,
Or a chance surprise attack,
To safety and the care of Doctors,
At the bottom of the track.
May the Mothers in Australia,
When they offer up a prayer,
Mention those impromptu Angels,
With the Fuzzy Wuzzy hair.
Sapper H "Bert" Beros
NX 6925, 7th Div., RAE, AIF
A MOTHER' S REPLY
We, the Mother's of Australia
As we kneel each night in prayer
Will be sure to ask God's blessings
On the men with fuzzy hair.
And may the Great Creator
Who made us both black and white
Help us to remember how they
Helped us to win the fight .
For surely He, has used these
Men with fuzzy wuzzy hair
To guard and watch our wounded
With tender and loving care.
And perhaps when they are tired
With blistered and aching back
He'll take the Yoke On himself
And help them down the track.
And God will be the Artist
And this picture He will paint
Of a Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel
With the Halo of a Saint.
And His presence shall go with them
In tropic heat and rain
And he'll help them to tend our wounded
In sickness and in pain.
So we thank you Fuzzy Wuzzies
For all that you have done
Not only for Australians
But for Every Mother's Son.
And we are glad to call you friends
Though your faces may be black
For we know that Christ walked
With you - on the Owen Stanley track.
Battle of Biak-
Biaks Japanese garrison of 11,000, taking advantage of coral caves that honeycombed the terrain, held out until August 20th, 1944. The bloody battle for Biak produced some of the worst fighting of the entire campaign and cost 10,100 U.S. casualties on land and sea. There were 471 KIA, 2,433 WIA and 7,200 lost to illness and accidents. About 4,700 Japanese were killed, 220 captured and the rest were pinned down in the islands interior.
Approximately 202,100 Japanese soldiers, sailors and airmen died during the New Guinea campaign.
The largest number of deaths, 127,600, occurred in Papua and New Guinea with a further 44,000 dying on Bougainville and the remaining 30,500 dying on New Britain, New Ireland, and the Admiralty Islands.
A total of 5,770 Australian soldiers are known to have died in Papua and New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago and Bougainville. The Royal Australian Navy suffered a total of 1,094 deaths in operations throughout the Pacific and Indian oceans against Japan.
The Americans suffered approximately 16,850 casualties during the New Guinea campaign. Over ten thousand men suffered from disease or illness, and approximately 7,000 American soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen were killed.
Papua and New Guinea-
15,000 civilian deaths. (estimate)
Author's notes: This was without a doubt, marathon story, with plenty of peaks and valleys writing wise. As always, I couldn't have done this without my fellow Jedi, Beth. For all her long nights, crazy late-night phone chats, and mighty editing skills. She can make words shine on a raining day. This was a tough story to weave in and out heavy bits of history, character moments, and battling AU versions of the people we love, all the while trying to make it exciting. .
Author's note: This was Kristen's original idea for BigBang and I am proud to have had a part in bringing it to fruition. No one writes action scenes as well as she does, especially when she puts Sheppard into pilot!mode.
The AU aspect taxed me sorely, as I had grown comfortable with the voices we all know and love, and I no longer had that recognition to fall back on. No current pop culture references, reining in some of the voices to fit the military standard we had placed them in, working in the bonding of the team we all know and love while considering the views on race and gender of the times. I was happy to hear that most found the voices still recognizable as our Team.
Take care and be safe.
This story was posted on Livejournal first with over forty pictures of the time period.