A Tale of Two Wars
By Kieran Hawson
IT STARTED WITH A GUN SHOT. The sound of the bullet shattered the silent air. Crack! The bullet tore right through the soldier's chest. Airman First Class Edgar Witt watched his comrade fall, heard an anguished cry, and with surprise, realized it was his own voice he had heard.
Witt knew the war would be brutal and gruesome. He wasn't afraid for himself; after all, he had nothing - no family, no one who loved him. Only when the soldier fell did he realize what he had signed up for.
Witt was about to fight in one of the bloodiest wars of the last hundred years, the Vietnam War.
Legacies. All legacies last. They continue on. They inspire people to do things. Abraham Lincoln has one of the most well-known legacies of all time. His heroism is still remembered today, over a hundred years later.
This legacy affects both the heroes of the past as well as the present. Witt remembered Honest Abe. Yes, he remembered Abe's sacrifice as he watched that soldier fall, yet he knew that that soldier would never receive credit for his sacrifice, he would be forgotten. So Witt saw this as a senseless death with no courage or honor.
The Legacy of Old Abe affects not only Witt of the future, but also Leroy Davidson of the Confederate army. Leroy Davison does not know of the legacy of Old Abe, for it is in the future for him. He knows only of the legacy of his father. Leroy has no respect for legacies of famous soldiers. For they get credit and fame for their sacrifices. Leroy has his own story.
Leroy's father was killed in battle. He was a Corporal for the Confederate Army. His father had no funeral, no recognition. He was thrown into the pile with all the other dead soldiers to rot. Leroy held that hatred inside him. He wanted every last Northern soldier dead and left to rot just like they did to his father. The same hour that Leroy turned sixteen, he joined the Confederate army. He was ranked as a Sergeant, but his hatred fueled his determination, and so he quickly became a Sergeant like his father. After the battle of Fort Sumter, where he blew the Union troops out of their fort, he was promoted to Brigadier General. Leroy accepted this title happily. He was given a brigade of soldiers, three regiments of infantry, and three regiments of cavalry, under his command. And that very same day, he led six thousand six hundred men to the battle of Bull Run.
Witt did not leave his trance because of the gunshots. Nor was his trance broken by the sound of fire bombs going off in the distance, the trance was broken by a song. It was a sweet, rhythmic song. It sounded sweet and happy, and then he realized that it was Sergeant Thomas. Samson Thomas was in charge of this platoon, and while geared up and hiding behind a tree, he sang a song his mother had written for him before he left. It was a strong, powerful, country song. The very same kind of music that Thomas had always listened to. He was from Nashville, and always kept a piece of the South with him. The song he sung sounded something like this:
I will hold strong,
I will stay long,
If I fall down
I'll get up and never frown.
There ain't no way
I will give up now
The sun keeps shining
and I will vow
If there's a way
To come back home
I will find it
I will not roam.
In the end
We'll fight or fall
We must have hope
We must give it our all.
Exactly a hundred years later on that very same day that Leroy led his men into battle, Witt found himself in his first battle. Witt knew he needed to get to a helicopter. He was no good on the ground; he was a pilot in the U.S. Air Force. His chopper was about a hundred yards away, but between him and that chopper was a large, open expanse which meant he would have to leave the cover of the jungle.
He was with a small patrol of infantry who were ordered to protect this small landing site that had been found. He had been ordered to land and give supplies to their camp. He landed the chopper and walked to the camp to get the soldiers to help him unload when he watched the first bullet hit.
Their group had been ambushed by about thirty Vietnamese. There were only fifteen in Witt's unit. He knew that if he could get to his helicopter he would be able to access his machine gun and fire from the chopper. He decided to just go for it and run.
He took off sprinting. He put every ounce of strength he had into his legs. He was only ten feet away when he felt a searing pain in his left leg. He stumbled and fell face-first into the cockpit of the chopper. He looked at his leg and saw the bullet hole. He knew that he needed medical attention or else the lead from the bullet could infect him. He could fly away to base and get medical treatment. But he quickly realized that if he just flew away, the fifteen soldiers would surely die. However, if he stayed and fought, he risked losing his leg.
So he chose to fight. He squeezed the trigger and gunned away at the enemy soldiers.
Witt did not lose his leg. It turned out that the bullet went straight through his calf and would only leave a scar. He thought about the lives he'd saved, and decided to go back and see the group of soldiers he had fought with; that was how he met Sergeant Samson Thomas.
The group was in their tent at the firebase, and when Witt entered, they all cheered for him and thanked him. He learned that Sergeant Thomas was in charge of the ambushed troop. Thomas was lively and had a good sense of humor. He also seemed confident and brave. Thomas sized Witt up and decided that he was a quiet, lonely man. He seemed brave on the outside, but Thomas saw how scared he was underneath the surface.
They were interrupted by a confused lieutenant who ran into the tent. He told the group that they were needed to reinforce a platoon that was fighting a skirmish outside of town. Witt was asked to go to provide air support.
When Witt arrived, he saw the disaster the platoon was facing. It was a small piece of forest that was entirely in flames. Witt was able to make out the figures of American soldiers retreating. He watched as some of the soldiers were shot down while running. Edgar rained bullets into the burning forest, quickly swooping down to pick up three soldiers. The other five helicopters flying behind Witt copied his maneuvers. Then they flew back to base to make their report.
Witt had been amazed by the intensity of the scene. This battle, which would probably be labeled only a skirmish back at headquarters, opened his eyes even more to the truth of war. Two hours later, he set out again. This time he was to fly his chopper above Sergeant Thomas's platoon, providing air support. After downing a quick bowl of noodles and a warm soda, Witt was in his chopper flying toward My Tho. As soon as he arrived, things went terribly wrong. Ten of Thomas's men went down. Only Thomas and four other soldiers were left. Witt pointed his gun toward the forest to the left of the soldiers. Just then, fifty Viet Cong fighters ran out of the jungle and surrounded the five remaining soldiers, grabbed them, and dragged them into the brush. Witt rained fire on the Vietnamese, but his propeller was hit. His chopper would only hold out a little longer, and he might just be able to get to base if he left at that moment. So he turned around, leaving Sergeant Thomas and the remaining men behind.
It was dark. The room smelled of rotting food. Thomas remembered being surrounded. He remembered Witt firing. He remember the sound of the helicopter blades fading into the distance. What he did not remember was whether the chopper left him or he left the chopper. He remembered the sharp pain in his head and he couldn't remember anything after that. He racked his brain trying to remember how he got here, but everything was dark. He suddenly heard the sound of metal scraping metal and then hinges squeaking. He felt large, rough hands grabbing his arms. He received a shove, followed by a loud grunt. The guard said something in Vietnamese. Nhun lêun chut lui bing! It was just gibberish to Thomas. The guard had said, "Get up, lazy rat!" But for Thomas, being barked at in a language he couldn't understand drove him crazy.
Thomas was dragged to another room. This one was well lit, and after the pitch blackness of the previous room, the light burned his eyes. He could make out a blurry, dark shape that he guessed must be his interrogator. Thomas was forced down onto a cloth on the dirt floor. He suddenly felt something cover his face and then felt water all around him. He thought he was drowning, but then the water stopped and his face was uncovered. He realized he was being waterboarded. Thomas's interrogators then yelled at him again, first in Vietnamese, and then in broken English. They threatened to drown him again if he didn't talk. Thomas knew that they were not allowed to kill him, so he answered only with a loud grunt. He suddenly felt the drowning sensation begin again, but he knew better this time. He took four waterboardings and then they decided to put him back into the solitary darkness of his cell.
Thomas saw the blackness close in around him, then felt a sudden sharp pain in his head and finally lost all consciousness.
Meanwhile, Witt arrived at base and gave his report to the major. The major commended his efforts and said he would recommend Witt for a promotion. But Witt felt the guilt gnawing on his insides. He knew that he was the reason why Thomas was captured. Thomas was captured because Witt had been afraid. Because of his cowardice, Thomas was certainly being tortured, along with his men. Witt then realized what he needed to do. He needed to go back for Thomas and the others. He had to save them.
Witt got a new assignment that was close to the prison camp. He needed to take a group of choppers to My Tho and attempt to drive the Viet Cong from the area with air power. After swallowing the lump of guilt in his throat, Witt donned his helmet and clambered into his chopper. As Witt and his group neared My Tho, Edgar thought he saw some smoke rising out of a section of the jungle. Witt knew that he never would have caught sight of that smoke if it weren't for his good eyesight. Without thinking, Witt made his decision, although he might soon regret it. Radioing the others to continue on to My Tho, Witt turned the chopper and headed toward the smoke.
Witt spotted a patch of bare land and chose to land. He scanned the jungle, until he saw the small flash of sunlight hitting metal. Choosing to investigate, he was gratified to discover an enemy camp. Given its close proximity to where Thomas was captured, Witt guessed it might well be a prison camp. Grabbing his .32 Magnum from the cockpit of the helicopter, he slipped into the camp by hopping the barbed wire fence. Next, he saw a metal door. He ran over to it and tried opening it. Surprised to find it unlocked, he then realized that the door was probably locked from the inside, and so it would lock him in. Witt stopped the door with the steel toe of his boot just in time and then jammed it slightly open with a rock.
Continuing down a short hallway, he found himself in a dark room where he heard grunts and moans. Creeping stealthily through the dust and dirt to the wall, he found a lantern on the ground. It was full of kerosene, and so he carefully tried to light the small wick with his lighter. He managed this after a few tries that resulted in him burning himself. As he lit the lantern for the last time, he singed his thumb badly, which caused him to drop the lantern. It fell into a medium-sized pile of trash. A few seconds passed and then the pile burst into flame, illuminating the room for the first time. Four Vietnamese guards leapt in surprise, but quickly gathered themselves and looked around for the intruder. Witt pulled his Magnum and took his first shot. Nailing the first guard in the thigh and watching him fall with a cry of pain, Witt then leapt to the side as two bullets whizzed past his ear. Luckily, the guards carried only single-shot shotguns. Two of the guards retreated to reload. The fourth guard took aim and fired. The shot flew over Witt's head. Unfortunately, the round exploded against the wall and showered shrapnel into his back. Witt quickly fired at the second guard who had just finished reloading. He hit him square in the chest. The third guard took a clumsy shot and hit one of the wooden ceiling beams. Some of the shrapnel hit the guard who was still reloading and he yelled in pain. Witt saw his opportunity and took two shots, one at the guard that had been hit with the shrapnel and one at the clumsy guard. Both shots found their mark and the guards went down.
With the gunfight over, Witt quickly searched each cell looking for the Sergeant and his men. He found Thomas curled up into a ball at the back of his cell, semi-conscious, but saw no sign of the other soldiers. Taking one of the guards' shotguns, he used it to bash open the lock. Witt carefully dragged Thomas out of the cell and propped him up on the wall. He asked the Sergeant where the other men were. "They're gone," Thomas replied wearily.
General Anh Dung Phan glared out the window of his large bamboo hut. He listened to the sound of the rockets being fired and the guns cracking. A grim, ruthless smile came to Phan's dry lips. Anh Dung Phan was leading the Viet Cong in their fight against the US. He knew that their fancy rockets and machinery were overrated. The French had attempted the same kind of attack and they had obliterated them.
The Viet Cong won using single shot weapons against rockets. They feared no one. Phan knew this. He knew that the US would fall in the end. They were too impatient, looking for a quick war solution, but the Vietnamese were endlessly patient. They would outlast them.
A hundred years ago, in Franfort, KY, Robert E. Lee sat in an old wooden chair, thinking similar thoughts. He felt that the North were weak and cowardly and did not deserve to rule over the South. Lee picked up his new rifle from the table top and walked to his dressing room. He changed into the garb of a Confederate General and slung the gun strap over his shoulder. He fitted his cowboy hat on good and snug, and then walked out the door to his saddled horse. Full of optimism and conviction, he rode out to meet his men at headquarters in Richmond.
As Lee neared the border of Kentucky and Virginia, he passed a large cotton plantation. He saw the dark brown faces bobbing in the fields of white and green. One of those brown faces is that of Lucey Taylor. Lucey was born on this cotton plantation and has never left. She has spent all of her 27 years here. She is now an orphan, for her parents died from heat stroke because they were overworked. She is determined that before her 28thbirthday, she will escape, but for now, she is stuck pluckin' cotton.
Witt felt he didn't deserve to live when it was his fault Thomas's men were dead. As he dragged Thomas to the chopper, Witt heard him mumbling and quietly weeping to himself. Bending down, Witt slung Thomas over his shoulders and then stumbled and trudged the rest of the way to the chopper. Strapping Thomas into the copilot's seat, Witt rounded the front of the chopper and then hauled himself into the adjacent seat; making a quick decision, he resolved that he should continue on to My Tho to at least see if he might be able to help someone there.
Thomas came to about half an hour later. Everything had gone wrong. He wasn't in the cell anymore and he felt as if he had lost something he cared about, but his head was so foggy, he couldn't remember what it was. He found himself next to Witt and noticed an automatic mini gun sitting next to him. Once Witt saw that Thomas was awake, he explained how he had rescued him, but that there had been no sign of Thomas's men. Remembering that his men were dead, Thomas felt like the whole world had just fallen on him. They were all gone. Although he was crushed with grief, he knew that now was not the time to dwell on the fact that his men were dead. He needed to take action. He readied the mini gun and then moved back to take his spot at the firing window.
Arriving in My Tho, they quickly rendezvoused with the US troops. Warning civilians to clear out, they were firing at the houses, but then some sixty Viet Cong emerged from the trees and started firing at the choppers. The mini gun rattled like an angry possum as Thomas sprayed bullets at the enemy. He fired for ten minutes straight before he had to pull back and reload. Witt decided that firing Napalm rockets behind the Vietnamese would set fire to the forest and trap them in the town. His plan worked. The Viet Cong were surrounded on three sides. Undaunted, they continued firing relentlessly with their shotguns, rifles, and muskets. Five of the ten choppers were either destroyed or forced to land, and the surviving soldiers rallied together and were firing back with what weapons they had left. Eventually, the Vietnamese were forced to surrender. Of the original force of sixty, only ten were left alive. The US ground troops came and disarmed the remaining men and led them to the back of the remaining choppers where there were small holding cells. Exhausted and grief-stricken, Witt and Thomas returned to base where they were given three days off to regain their strength. While mourning the lost men, they were once again thankful to be alive.
Leroy Davidson and his men overtook a Union platoon near the border between Alabama and Georgia. Leroy looked out over the battlefield. He watched as the pathetic Blue troops fled. They were badly trained. They knew no discipline. The Confederates had been successful in driving back the Union soldiers who were trying to set up a base so that they could launch attacks from nearby. As Leroy left to report back in Atlanta, he was met by a messenger who had orders from General Lee. Leroy was to spend the night in Atlanta, and then head to Frankfort, Kentucky to command a regiment of two thousand soldiers to Memphis. They needed to await the final decision on whether or not they were going to attack the North directly and were to build up defenses in Tennessee until they received news. Tired but confident the South would prevail, he saddled up his horse early the next morning, ready to make the three-day ride to Frankfort.
Two days later, Leroy crossed the Kentucky border. It was getting dark, so he rode over to the same cotton plantation that General Robert E. Lee had just passed through a day ago, also the same plantation where Lucey Taylor lived. Leroy took his horse to the stable and walked over to the main house. When the owner of the plantation learned that Leroy was a military man of power, he knew that he would have to treat him very well, so he invited to make himself comfortable and to ring for anything at all that he wished. Leroy called for his dinner a little later, and a hearty meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and buttered collard greens was served to him by a slave named Lucey. As she walked into the room and took a look at Leroy Davidson, she realized immediately that he was a Confederate soldier. She had heard that soldiers thought of black people as dirt beneath their shoes. She was very careful not to do anything disrespectful so that she wouldn't be beaten. However, he didn't seem cruel or mean. He smiled gratefully when he saw his dinner. He was friendly to Lucey. Dressed in his Confederate gray uniform, he looked very handsome, with kind blue eyes, strawberry blonde hair that waved around his shoulders, and a small, neat mustache. As she served him his dinner, he did something she didn't expect; he thanked her. Never had any white person said thank you for anything she did. She couldn't help smiling, and was surprised to realize that she liked this soldier, and he seemed to like her in return.
General Phan stared at a large map of Vietnam. He calculated that the US forces would probably let down their guard after their victory in My Tho. What the US didn't know was that he had another group of 1000 Viet Cong troops hidden in the woods just outside of a major US base, Mickey Mouse, the same base where Witt and Thomas were currently resting. Phan would send a messenger to tell those troops to attack in two waves of five hundred. Base Mickey Mouse would fall under the weight of Vietnamese tenacity.
General Lee reached Richmond right on time and had a quick conversation with the cautious President Davis. They decided the time was ripe to launch the attack on the Union that they had been planning for several months. They planned to take some 70,000 men to Pennsylvania and launch a direct assault upon the Union forces stationed there. While marching to Pennsylvania, Robert E. Lee thought about the strength and pride that would come from taking over Pennsylvania. Then they would be unstoppable. They would guarantee the rights of the Confederate States of America and preserve the South's way of life.
Witt and Thomas were woken by piercing gunshots that rang through the night air. They quickly armed themselves and snuck out the door. They watched as two guards fell, then they heard a legion of footsteps coming out of the woods. Hearts racing, Witt and Thomas realized that the base was under attack. They ran to the alarm bell and quickly pulled the lever. Red lights spun and the base was filled with the ear-splitting sound of the siren. Within a minute, forty men were charging outside and engaging with the Vietnamese. Legs scrambling, Witt and Thomas sprinted to the chopper hangars. They quickly hopped into Witt's helicopter and took flight. Thomas aimed his .45 Desert Eagle pistol out the copilot's window. He fired a round at the dark, fuzzy shapes hiding in the forest. Just then, Witt noticed a faint glow radiating from the woods. Blades whirring, Witt turned the chopper toward the light. Soon, Thomas was able to see the glow, too. He picked up the Soviet 762 sniper rifle lying beside him and aimed it at the glow. Witt handed Thomas a pair of military binoculars and shouted over the roar of the engine, "What is down there?" Thomas peered through the binoculars with growing dismay. Five hundred Vietnamese soldiers were camped below, all armed and definitely looking ready for a fight. Thomas mouthed what he saw to Witt and saw him go pale. Thomas then caught sight of the mini gun. They had left it in the chopper, and now it might save them. Witt had only two rockets left. They decided to fire the rockets directly at the base, while Thomas would use the mini gun and Witt the chopper's machine gun to provide clean-up. Hands sweating, Witt reached for the controls. He let his thumb rest on the little red button that would fire the rockets. Taking aim, he fired. Two red streaks shot through the air. They watched as the rockets hit their mark. The camp shot up in flames. The tents were obliterated in seconds and only a handful of soldiers remained visible. With both the mini gun and the machine guns buzzing, the Vietnamese didn't stand a chance. Witt and Thomas radioed for back-up and a platoon of US troops emerged from the foliage to hand-cuff the survivors.
The two soldiers where both promoted for their courage in locating and single-handedly taking on the enemy camp. Sergeant Samson Thomas was promoted to Colonel and Airman First Class Edgar Witt became a Major of the United States Air Force. Witt was now in charge of one hundred choppers, while Thomas now commanded two thousand new troops. With this development, the two friends must go their separate ways. Witt was to go on a mission to attack Halong Bay, cutting off the Vietnamese supply chain, while Thomas was being sent to Da Nang to destroy a Viet Cong base and establish a new American base in its place, to be named base F, code name Base Fanny. Thomas and Witt said good-bye. Thomas once again thanked Witt for rescuing him and Witt thanked Thomas for staying with him all this time and protecting him with that mini gun of his. It wasn't until they were both on their way that they realized they might never see each other again. Little did they know that destiny still had things in store for the two of them that they would only be able to accomplish together.
A legacy is not perfect, for nothing is truly perfect. A legacy both forgets and excludes. It forgets details, certain things get lost over time after the story has been told over and over. It also excludes certain people because they were not in a position of power. In war, many lives end, yet so few are remembered by legacy. But in fact, anyone who dies in battle for their country or for what they believed in deserves a legacy. It shouldn't matter whether they died in a famous battle leading ten men against a hundred, or if they died anonymously, far from home, from a single misfired bullet. What matters is that that person had a future. They had a family and friends, and their death affects those people. A legacy cannot control history, but it can serve as a reminder of honor, of courage, and of purpose. Sometimes the most heroic-looking man, the best soldier, is not the one who saves the day. Instead, it is the young, inexperienced, unknown soldier who saves lives. And once in a while, they are also the ones remembered.
War has its roots in the selfish egos of men. In the case of Leroy and Lucey, their chance at a living legacy would be taken away by the ultimate price of war. Happy and relaxed, Leroy and Lucey talked for a while after his meal. The more time they spent in each other's company, the more they liked each other. Leroy and Lucey both knew that they lived in different worlds, but they still could not help falling in love. Both had never met anyone who could make them laugh this easily, anyone with whom they felt more comfortable. They wanted to run away together and marry, but war ruined their plans. Leroy was leaving the next morning, though he swore to return for Lucey as soon as possible. But this was a promise that could not be kept, for it is not a soldier's decision whether or not they will come back.
General Ahn Dung Phan, confident and strategic, knew how the war would go. He had it all planned. The US troops were loosing men, just as he was. But he knew that his men would not be defeated quickly or easily. He could see that the US troops, tired and beaten, were being worn down by the terrain, climate, and constant warfare. The Vietnamese were always receiving fresh troops out of Halong Bay who were all born in this climate and born to walk and fight on this terrain. But Phan did realize that he had lost many men. The loss at base Mickey Mouse had greatly lessened the Vietnamese morale, but also ruined a key part of their battle plan. They had relied too much on the hope that the other five hundred troops would not be found. They were receiving one thousand new troops from Halong Bay in two days' time. Those men could be split up and sent to many battlegrounds as reinforcements. Five battles were raging at the moment, and two hundred extra men at each of them should be enough to tip the scales. He knew that as long as Halong Bay, small and quiet, remained a secret that they would be unbeatable. Little did he know that Halong Bay had been discovered and that two hundred triple-manned choppers, armed with ten napalm rockets each, were heading to destroy Halong and any hopes of reinforcements.
Witt, the forward most chopper in the formation, caught the first glimpse of Halong Bay. There was nothing amazing about it. About ten bamboo docks coming out of a dirt beach. He didn't see any guards, but he knew that with the Vietnamese you couldn't always trust your eyes. He suspected that the guards were hiding in the trees where they would have cover. He radioed in to the captain and ordered him to fire two rockets into the trees. Within seconds, the forest was in flames. Witt, through the radio, told his men that he knew that if there had been any Vietnamese in there then they would be dead. He had four choppers destroy the docks with rockets and he took the rest of the men out two sea. Two more choppers chose to stay behind at the beach in case of an attack. After an hour of flying over the South China Sea, Witt and his men spotted four North Korean battle ships sailing in their direction. Witt quickly broke up his men into four groups and ordered them to each fire one rocket each at a ship. One rocket hit each ship. The ships kept coming none of them were damaged at all. Witt decided that every chopper should fire two rockets at a battle ship. Over a hundred red streaks fired at the ships. Some missed, but almost all of them hit their mark. The ships all went up in flames. Witt ordered his men to head back to the beach and to leave the Captain in charge of fifty choppers who would stay and guard the beach in case of any more reinforcements coming from North Korea. Witt, in the point position yet again, took the rest of the men and headed toward the closest base. Witt told the General that they would need a construction crew to go to Halong and build a base and to build weapons. The General agreed and told Witt that his mission was to take the choppers that he had with him and to escort the crew to the choppers back at the beach.
To make sure the construction crew got there safely, Witt had fifty men o the left, fifty on the right, and fifty behind. Witt suddenly watched two choppers fall out of the sky on the left side. Witt ordered the fifty men that were behind the crew to fire into the trees on the left. Fire started over on the right side as well. Witt and his men fired at the right and left. Witt ordered all the men, both the choppers and construction crew to go forward as fast as they could. They all speed ahead. As choppers and occasional construction vehicles went down. They reached the beach in time and the support from the captains men helped them destroy the trailing Viet Cong. To stabilize Halong, the construction crew got right to work on creating a semi-underground base.
Meanwhile, Thomas was marching toward Da Nang when two of his men fell. He yelled to his men, "Scatter!" His men all quickly broke formation and scattered into the forest. Thomas fired at the few Viet Cong soldiers hiding in a clump of jungle shrubs. They fired with their muskets, but Thomas' semi-auto rifle took care of them easily. He heard the gun shots lessening and called for all his men when he heard them stop. He had lost maybe twenty men, but everyone else seemed fine, no major injuries. To make sure they were safe during the night, Thomas set up a watch and let his heavy eyelids close. He was woken by his lieutenant and was told that they needed to start their march so that they would be ready to take Da Nang by nightfall. That night, they initiated their plan to take the base. Thomas took one thousand men to the back of the base and his lieutenant took the other thousand to a hidden spot in the woods. Thomas and his men shot at the windows and doors to start the Vietnamese alarm and after a minute of firing, the alarms started to whine. The Viet Cong started to emerge from the base. Thomas and his men fired at the handful of men that came out. Then the Viet Cong started flowing out of the base like ants. Thomas and his men fired away and the lieutenant and his men fired with them. The Vietnamese were falling almost the minute they came out the door. A pile of corpses started around the door. The Vietnamese started to have to wade through a sea of dead soldiers and they finally started coming out a different door. Thomas and his men were rained with bullets. To make sure his men escaped, Thomas led his men into the woods and joined with the lieutenant. Together, they pounded bullets into the remaining Vietnamese until no more came out the doors. Tomas sent fifty men into the base to see if they were hiding anywhere. The men came out a little while later and reported that there were no Vietnamese left. Thomas took his men into the base and sent them to bed. He and ten other men to sentry position around the base and later switched guard duty.
The next day, Thomas radioed for a construction crew to repair the base and to upgrade it with turrets and a helipad. The crew arrived two days later and base Fanny was officially established.
The crews both were able to finish their jobs on time. For Thomas, the base was fixed up and retro-fitted with all the newest defensive weapons, and for Witt, the base was made out of solid concrete and bulletproof glass windows, as well as a four full-sized helipads on the roof and another twenty arranged around the beach. They both felt calm and felt that this war was finally going better for them, but destiny has it differently, and Thomas and Witt are unaware, oh so unaware.
Just when Witt though he was done, received a radio message that he was needed to support a group of soldiers that had been ambushed in Cat Ba. Witt took twenty choppers on the one hour flight to Cat Ba. Meanwhile, Thomas also felt safe, until they were suddenly attacked by thousands of Vietnamese. Thomas' men and the base turrets did a number on the Vietnamese, but they just kept coming. Eventually, Thomas had to abandon the base. They retreated and ran all the way to the closest base, base Bonny.
In Cat Ba, Witt's battle wasn't faring much better, almost all the ground troops were either dead or had retreated and most of his choppers had been downed. Edgar also was forced to retreat, but he decided that he should go the base Bonny instead of his own base, because he didn't want that base discovered yet.
Four hours later, Witt and Thomas met yet again. Bloodied and bruised, they gave each other a rough hug and sat down and told each other about their last battles. They were ordered to both take their remaining men back to Da Nang and attempt a recapture of base Fanny, if they succeed in that recapture, then they were ordered to take three quarters of their men to Cat Ba and attempt to eliminate the forces there.
The heat was unbearable. The terrain disorienting, and the bugs came in torrents. Thomas and his men trudged along, beaten down by lack of sleep and bitten by bugs so many times that even their itches had an itch. They had had victory at Da Nang after seven straight hours of slow warfare. Each footstep shot pain up their legs and each of their blisters was torn open again. Suddenly, gun shots rang out and the choppers over head grouped into a battle formation. Thomas ordered his men to scatter in the forest and follow the choppers gunfire. Thomas smelled burning gasoline and knew that a chopper had been downed. Thomas ran through the under growth and let loose his M16 at the first Vietnamese he saw. Thomas tripped through the pointy vines and stumbled on the roots protruding out of the moist dirt. Thomas swept the area and then charged into an opening where he saw a group of his men crouched behind and upturned army vehicle. Thomas saw the Viet Cong grouped in the trees firing in unison at the vehicle. Thomas swept their area with his gun. Most of the men fell those alive fled back into the woods probably to regroup. Thomas led the group after them so that they could find the main group. When they arrived at the group, the battle was practically done. The choppers had destroyed most of the force with rockets, and the rest were being gunned down. The battle of Cat Ba was over.
Again it seemed that Witt and Thomas were to leave each other again. They bayed each other a long farewell and they decided that if they both made it out then they would meet back in the States. Thomas then set out to supervise the restoration of the camp. Witt hustled over to his awaiting chopper and gave the signal for his men to take off. Suddenly, the air was full of the buzz of whirring chopper blades. The choppers became airborne, and they flew out toward their base in Halong.
Leroy and his men slowly trudged along the dusty road. The sun trying to cook them like turkeys. They were all dreadfully thirsty. The dry Kentucky air sucked every bit of moisture out of them. Each breath only cracked their lips more and filled their mouths with dust. Leroy knew that they had to get to the small base at Kentucky border.
Over two hours later, Leroy finally reached the small camp. Many of his men had fallen to different kinds of heat sicknesses. Leroy himself was diagnosed with heat exhaustion and was taken and put in a cold bath. Leroy knew that his men needed to meet the General, but decided that it would be best to stay at this camp for a day so that his men to be brought back to full health. Two days later, Leroy was back out on the road marching him men to Pennsylvania.
Halong was a boring lifeless place. Witt constantly wished he was doing something. He spent each day sitting inside the base listening to and old radio. It had been almost a month since he last was given and assignment. He thought Thomas must be having a great time, running around vanquishing the enemy, but in fact, Thomas was doing quite the same thing as Witt. Thomas lay on his bed hoping that something would happen, anything would happen. They both realized that even though battle was dangerous and terrifying, it was a lot better than sitting doing nothing and not know what was happening in the war.
Thomas and Witt's boredom was finally lifted, when they received an assignment from the General. It was a small mission. They were sent to spy on a Viet Cong base where the Viet Cong General, Anh Dung Phan, was residing. Four hours later, they arrived at the base. Witt and Thomas decided to go into the town and try to talk to the villagers using the basic Vietnamese that they had been taught. They shuffled along the dusty streets asking the people if they knew anything about the base. After another three hours of talking and receiving no information, they decided to look for a home that would let them stay for a night. They found a beautiful woman who said that she had a hut that they could stay in for only 50 dong (2 cents in US money.) Witt and Thomas happily agreed. On the walk to the hut, Witt and the woman started to bond. Her name was Long An Phan. Her secret was that she was sister to Ahn Dung Phan. But she liked these men, especially Witt, and decided that she would not tell her brother about them.
Witt and Thomas stayed around for a few days. Witt and Long grew closer and closer. They could not stop talking to each other. They laughed and laughed at each others bad jokes. Thomas had to admit that it was getting pretty annoying. One their fourth day early in the morning two men armed with M16's knocked on the door. Long crept to the door and shushed the two men. She told them that there was no one there and that they didn't need to worry. Reluctantly, the men left and Long slowly closed the door.
Witt and Thomas had to leave the next morning and Witt promised that he would come back and see her, but everything went wrong when the two men from the night before burst out of the bushes and ran after them.
Thomas fired his Desert Eagle and the searing bullet went all the way through the soldier's head. Witt kept running toward his chopper, but he never made it. Thomas felt everything suddenly go into slow motion. He watched helplessly as the remaining soldier lifted his machine gun and fired a round of bullets at Witt. They all imbedded themselves into Witt's back and he fell with a sickening crunch on the soft forest earth. Thomas felt two different feelings in side him, one was the snap of a close bond, the loss of a friend. He also felt and burning rage at the Vietnamese soldier. He shot him once in the leg then used up all the ammunition by pumping the man full of hot lead. Thomas then fell to his knees and let all his emotion out. Their was a huge cry that was miserable enough to make every one who heard it feel the same pain as Thomas, then everything went black.
Thomas knelt by the body of his comrade. He though back through all the times that Witt had saved him. He had rescued him from the prison, carried him through My Tho. Flew him to the Vietnamese secret base, and come to his aid in Cat Ba. Now he was gone. Thomas couldn't believe it. He would never again bring the comforting sound of chopper blades to his ears. Thomas knew he must move on, but this wound hurt so much. Witt was gone. Now what?
He decided he would call the General so that Witt's family could be notified, little did he know that Witt didn't have any family. He told the General that Major of the Air Force Edgar Witt was killed. The General didn't seem shaken, he told Thomas that Witt didn't have any family to notify and so he should just leave him and continue with his mission. The General then disconnected from his radio and Thomas was left is silence once again.
Thomas couldn't imagine not having any family. Thomas had always had one of the other seven members of his family there for him. He then heard a sudden cough. Witt's body shook.
Thomas rushed over to his side. Witt coughed again, and Thomas turned him over. He was as white as a sheet and Thomas knew deep inside that Edgar would die. Edgar croaked out a few words that touched Thomas heart more than anything ever had. He had said "I'll always think of you as a brother." Then he paused as croaked two last words before slipped away, they were, "Love Long." Thomas knew exactly what he meant. He realized that something had to be done with Edgar body. So he went into the close by forest and collected two pieces of wood one about six inches longer. He then found some twine in his pack and he tied the two pieces together to make a cross. He then pounded the cross into the ground. He then spent the next two hours gathering fire wood. He then layered the fire wood across him. Thomas then pulled a spare shirt of his out of his pack and his box of matches. He then put the shirt on the wood and he then light a match and took one last look at his best friends pale dead face and he started crying as he dropped the match, the shirt went up in flames and then so did the wood. Thomas then muttered the only words that he could manage, "Goodbye brother."
Thomas buried the ashes in front of the cross and turned and headed toward the house to tell Long what Edgar had said. He walked through the door to see Long letting out heart wrenching sobs with her head laying on the table. He felt a lump in his throat and so he tried to clear it. Long's head snapped up. She stared at Thomas with her big glassy eyes. Thomas then broke the silence and he said that Edgar's last words had been love Long. She then broke into more sobs and choked on her words, but still managed to say, "I loved him too. So much."
Thomas left the next day unceremoniously. He stepped out the door, his mind consumed, without looking back. His mind was stuck on one thing and could not think of anything else. His feet moved themselves. His legs took step after step as his eye stared blankly at the ground in front of him. His brain kept thinking the same thought over and over, I want to die. The repetition sickened him. Everything was uncomfortable, and it was all pushing his brain over the edge. He wished for the cold hard lead to imbed itself in to his brain. He wanted it to end, to stop the pounding of his heart, and the thoughts that kept coming. He realized he had a gun he had all the means necessary to finish it. Stop the pain. It seemed so easy. One bullet and it was over. He slowly raised his hands and reached his trembling fingers into his gun holster. He felt the bumps ridges covering the handle. He pull out the gun and raised it to his temple. He put his shaky finger to the trigger. It was smooth and cold. So easy. He tightened his finger around the trigger and started to pull, and then his brain stopped the pounding thought. A new thought started pulsating through his head. What would Edgar say to him? He though about that question for a minute and realized that if Edgar was standing in front of him he would say, "Don't end your life, just because I am gone doesn't mean that your life should be over as well. Your letting them win Samson, your letting them take your mind." Thomas felt the rage boil and he rose to his feet. He placed the gun back in its holster and said to himself, " When I die, it will be fighting for Edgar. Vietnam, here I come."
Leroy's bone tired horse trotted through the misty, sticky air of Pennsylvania. He heard the faint thunder of tens of thousands of other foot steps behind and in front of him. According to their maps they were just arriving in Gettysburg, a small border town very close to Maryland. They suddenly heard the sound of tens of thousands of footsteps oddly getting closer. The noise doubled in volume, then a deafening boom shook the air and a cannon ball flew out of the mist scattering soldiers and tearing through those in its path. A cried rung out, and then the powerful voice of the General Thundered through the army, "Ambush! Retreat!" Leroy turned his horse and ran away from the cannon fire. The rest of the army did the same as they all leaped off their horses and grabbed their guns from the saddle bows. They then took cover behind whatever was their, whether it was a tree or their horse. Leroy leapt of and grabbed his loaded musket. He crouched behind a tree and fired into the surrounding mist. He heard the rest of the army firing at will as well. Then they received counter fire. Leroy saw several of the men close to him fell. Leroy saw his horse whinny in fright as a bullet whizzed over its head. He heard the sickening thud and crack of cannon balls striking trees or flesh. Leroy fired away for what felt like hours. It was a horribly terrifying experience. The darkness, the mist, the sticky breath stealing air, and the screams. Nothing compared to the screams, the cries, the heart broken calls for help, and worst was the gurgling screams of those who a calling for the last time. Leroy almost felt like he should kill himself to get it all over with, but every time he had that thought it was countered by the thought of Lucey Taylor sitting in the cotton field waiting for him, her soft brow eyes every so patient, and then the boom of a cannon would knock the image out and he would be back in his misery, the morning sun brought no relief, it only made it hotter and it cleared the mist giving him a clear view of scattered corpses and severed limbs littering the grass, Leroy wised for the darkness to enclose the world again to shield him from the horrible scene. He heard the rally call from the general, "Confederates to me!" Leroy mounted his horse, who had luckily not been killed during the night, and galloped to the generals call. He saw the remaining men, and he was stunned by the decrease in their army, what was once 70 thousand looked now no more than 50-40 thousand. The general surveyed his men and ordered a short retreat to Adams Country where they would set up defenses and plan a counter attack. They arrived in Adams Country a few minutes later and had their last artillery unit setup cannons. The general also ordered 15 thousand men to dig a trench and to defend the town. He ordered to rest of the men to ready themselves with a horse and sword and prepare to charge the Union forces, and since Leroy had a horse he was ordered to be in the charge. He sat upon his horse with is long, thin sword draw. He was to be on the far right of the charge line. He sat and waited for the dreaded call that he knew was now inevitable. He felt the army tense as the general took his spot at the point, he slowly raised his sword in the air and he bellowed, "CHARGE!" He dug his heels into the stirrups and his horse shot forward, a second later all the other men cried, "FOR THE CONFEDERACY!" They all dug their heels into their horses and soon the air was filled with the pound of hooves on the ground. Then a cannon ball flew from the forest and hit one rider several other riders either fell or swerved to avoid the wreckage. The Battle of Gettysburg had begun.
Thomas, with gun in hand, should have waited. He should have reported what he was doing, and if he had been in had been in his right mind then he probably would have too. He stomped through the jungle, blinded by his rage. He marched to a Vietnamese camp and took out his mandatory M16 machine gun. He went down to one knee and fired all throughout the tents. He then walked into each tent and shot any one left. He could have spared them, he could have left them or taken them prisoner, but no, he should've, but he didn't. While steaming with rage, Thomas found and empty tent and spent the night in it as his dreams were filled with images of Edgar dead body lying there like a ghost with the dozen bloody holes in his back that took his life. His dreams, horrible and crushing, refueled his rage the next day as he marched through the woods hunting and mercilessly killing Vietnamese whether they were soldiers of not. One day he came across a village, small and quiet, and pondered whether to kill everyone in it, but his rage was suddenly dampened when he saw a young child emerge from a clump of bushes. The child, a boy, was small, and skinny and had a look on his face like he hadn't ever smiled, like all the joy of life had been taken from this small, defenseless child. Samson suddenly had an image of his littlest brother, Matthew. Giggling, drooling, and babbling, Matthew was toddling around the yard with a big grin on his face, his chubby little thighs jiggling with each step. To keep back the sorrow, Thomas snapped back to the present imagining a little boy Matthew age, who was living care free back in America, was living like this. With recognition opening his eyes, Thomas then realized when he saw the little boy cry in fear that the Vietnamese weren't fighting because they hated Americans, they didn't even want to fight at all, they were fighting in fear, fighting to protect their already struggling families. He should have realized this sooner. The men that Thomas had been going around killing, were the fathers of these little boys and the husbands of these terrified, miserable women, women who are trying to keep their families going and children safe even when they know their beloved husband is probably dead. He could have seen this. Thomas, head reeling and heart bursting, realized that he was being the evil person who is killing the innocent. But he didn't see this sooner. He should have let those fathers live, he should have, he could have, but he didn't.
A hundred years ago, a different man was realizing somewhat of the same thing. Leroy was realizing, as the first soldiers fell, that he wasn't fighting for the southern way of life. In fact, he didn't even like the southern way of life. He knew that the south would be able to still keep an economy if in stead on enslaving the blacks, they paid them to work. He hated slavery, so why wasn't he fighting with the Union? He then remembered his first reason for joining the army. He had joined because of his dad, but he then also realized that it wasn't the Union that he should be mad at for his fathers death, it was the Confederacy. Leroy's father had been a store clerk and then he had been drafted for the army. He wouldn't be dead it the south hadn't started this silly war. But little did he know that it was too late to change it.
Leroy, galloping, remembering, and realizing, kept charging at the Union troops. He finally worked up the courage to do something that he knew he would never regret. He whispered to himself, "I love you Lucey." Then he let out a huge battle cry and said his last words, "For my Dad!" Then he pulled the reins, teeth chattering, to the left hard and he took his sword and galloped along in front of the army and he put his sword out to his left and started to cut the legs of the horses making them fall and taking out most of the right flank, then, as Leroy knew would happen, he rammed into the side of a horse, head jostling, and was thrown into the mass of horse hooves. He never felt the pain. It was all over a split second after he touched the ground. Hundreds of horse hooves, legs stamping, crushing and breaking his body. No one could hear the gut wrenching cracks and crunches of the hooves breaking his bones. Leroy Davidson was no more, and Lucey would never know how he died, and sadly, neither would history.
Longing. Longing is always left out from legacy. No one remembered the unbearable longing that Lucey felt. The year was up. It had been up for three months, and she knew she had to accept the truth. Leroy was gone, he wasn't coming back for her. Just the thought of it made her burst into miserable tears. She got whipped often since she didn't work well. She didn't mind the lashes anymore. Her longing her much more than the rough raw hide slashing cuts into her back and legs. She couldn't feel physical pain anymore, she was so wrapped around her emotion and pain. She felt like a cold hand had reached into her chest and squeezed all the life out of her heart. She committed suicide a year later. So the story of Leroy and Lucey ended in tragedy, and maybe the worst part is that neither of them are will be remembered.
Emotion is the key factor to a legacy. Emotion causes actions, and actions cause emotion. Action always needs emotion and emotion always need action. When emotion arises it always causes something to happen and then emotion happens all over again because of that action. Emotion causes action which causes emotion which again causes action, over and over this happens but each emotion and action are forgotten over and over on only a few thousand of those actions become legacies. Emotion drove both Leroy and Lucey to death. They both were filled with either grief or love, two opposite emotions that brought the same result, death.
Thomas sat down at the base of a large tropical tree. "Why am I here?" he asked himself. He stood up and scanned the small bamboo huts, they looked fragile and calm, and he knew that he never would be able to fire another bullet at these people again. He wandered into the town and came across the small child that he had seen. The child backed away slowly with a look of absolute terror on his face. Thomas went down to one knee and said calmly to the child, "I won't hurt you." The child stopped moving and said, "Hi." Thomas grinned at the boy. He tried to make a smile, but the expression was new to him and so it looked wonky, with half him mouth still in the miserable frown that he had always worn. The child took a step forward and cautiously reached out and touched Thomas's face. Thomas let him feel the scrawny beard that Thomas had grown because he hadn't been able to shave. The child stared in wonder at the golden thread sewn into the right sleeve of his jacket, that marked him as a Major. Thomas held up his hand, signaling the child to back away. Thomas then removed his pocket knife. The child's eye's grew wide with fear, but Thomas reassured him by again calmly saying, "I won't hurt you." Thomas then took the pocket knife over to his shoulder and cut away the square of fabric that had his ranking stitched into it. He then put his knife away and handed the cloth with the gold thread to the boy. He took it carefully and then plopped his body down and stared at the gold thread glittering in the sun. Then the boy smiled at Thomas, and this time, it look just right.
Thomas felt something in the pit of his stomach at him gnawing away him, but he couldn't figure out what it was. He racked his brain trying to figure it out, and then it finally washed over him, leaving his drenched with helplessness. He realized that the rest of the U.S. Army would still be attacking these people. He knew it was hopeless and that there was no way he could stop them, but he knew that he would die trying. The child hugged him and then left to show his mother the thread. Thomas knew he had to protect these small children that the U.S. where mercilessly killing with napalm. He cried for a little while at the thought of this and he realized what he had been doing this whole time. He cried to the children and mothers that he had unknowingly killed during the previous gunfights. The little children suddenly orphaned and left to fend for themselves. It was too much for him. He let loose gut wrenching sobs and he knew the only way he would ever feel better was if he stopped all this now. He left the town and set his course for the largest U.S. Army base, base Agnes. He knew it would be a long march, but if he didn't try something, he would never be happy again. As he walked through the dark jungle, images of shot mothers, lying across the ground and crying children screaming for their mom filled his head. He cried the whole time he walked that night. The images were relentless. Mother holding the broken bodies of their babies, crying is absolute misery. He saw how the U.S. Army had brought sadness upon these people, so terrible, their weren't words for it. He knew he would never be able to undo the times he killed the fathers, miss fired and his mothers and children, and he now saw that Edgar had done even worse damage. The napalm and agent orange dropped by the air crafts killed away whole families. Fathers would survive, and go back to their homes to find their families dead bodies lying their, their wives, their kids, unbelievable misery that rips the heart and destroys the mind. Helplessness, was all Thomas felt, he knew he would die a million deaths to stop this massacre, but he knew even if he died protecting the Vietnamese he knew that it wasn't going to even make the U.S. falter, but he would do it none the less.
"Step, step, step, step, step." That was all that would run through his head. The pain and hunger, the ache and thirst all became too much for his brain to process so it just stopped processing anything, "At least the horrid images have stopped," he thought. "The base can't be too far away now," he reassured himself, yet he was only half-way there. "Close, close, close, close, close…" he thought, the he fell to the ground, and once again, everything went black.
Sometimes legacies are assured by awards. Others assured by lack of recognition. It is odd how even when some one is not recognized for his actions, it helps to further a legacy. When people get awards, every knows about it, but people also know this person had a happy ending. Those who don't receive awards have a bitter ending that seems to continue through the ages. Stories that make a person cry are remembered better than stories that bring a smile to a face for those who have a sad ending you know have no doubt in your mind this person fought for his cause.
Thomas awoke in a tent with a man tending some of his wounds. Thomas realized he was in a U.S. tent because of U.S. marks on the equipment. Thomas thought as the man dabbed at his cuts and gashes. He thought at first that he should be mad at these people for what they had been doing, but the more he thought, the more he saw that none of these soldiers were fighting for their countries cause. They might think that a first, but he realized that when these men choose to make that ultimate sacrifice, they weren't doing it for their country, they were doing it for the men on their left and on their right. He realized he had to get help getting to the base, and maybe on the way he could show these soldiers why they should stop the fighting.
Thomas decided to start with the medic. He asked him what he was fighting for, why he was here. The medic automatically said he was fighting for his country. Then a look of uncertainty crossed his face and he finally said, "I am here for my friends, for the people here who need me, I really don't know why we even went to war in the first place." Thomas nodded. Then he told the medic about the child in the town and what the U.S. had done to these people. As he told the story tears started flowing from both men's eye's, and Thomas knew then that he wasn't the only soldier here who wasn't fighting for the same reasons as their country.
Thomas told the medic to spread the idea that we shouldn't be here. He left the tent hopefully, to do what Thomas had said. Thomas had bee lying there waiting for at least twenty minutes. The medic finally returned and told him that a few other soldiers had agreed and see what they meant. Thomas's spirits lifted with those words, but he hoped that he might be able to convince the whole camp, and hopefully many others.
Thomas slowly got up and hobbled out the tent flap. He walked over to the first soldier he saw and asked him why he here fighting. He said that he didn't really know why, he had been drafted and only wanted to be back home with his wife. Thomas thought that maybe people like this would help his cause because it might get them out of fighting. Thomas would take anything he got so he explained his cause and hoped the man would agree.
Thomas spread the story and more and more soldiers were starting to agree. Then the Sergeant that was leading this platoon said that they were moving out towards Ha Long to provide reinforcement. Thomas knew that a lot of men were station at Ha Long and so he would have lots of people to try to convince. He decided to set out with them even in his injured state. He started a plan in his head as to the best way to spread the story, and he though again, if only Witt were here to help, he would know just what to do.
They trekked through the murky jungle the heat stuck to Thomas's skin, but even that couldn't dampen his mood. The men agreed with him and the Ha Long base was coming into view, it would be soon, soon.
Before they went into Ha Long, Thomas stopped the men and told them his plan. He said "Spread the word that we are planning to stop fighting this war and why. There have been too many needless deaths and these men will surely see that too."
And they did in two days time all the camp was buzzing with the talk of stopping the war so Thomas told every one it was time to march, right to the General's base, and pick up any men along the way that wanted to join them.
Thomas led the march, the first day everyone spirits were up, but after a few hours everyone was ready to quit, but then the found a group of battle wear soldiers who were happy t join there cause and everyone cheered up knowing that there were more people who wanted to help.
They reached the base two days later and during that time Thomas had planned out a perfect speech. All his men would surely make the General, stop this war.
The General stared at Thomas as he walked through the door. Thomas was so nervous that he though his legs were shaking. The General glared at Thomas with hatred. Thomas at first could only say, "Please stop the war." The General growled no so fiercely Thomas thought he might be surrounded by a pack of dogs. Thomas now felt like he might have faild, everything he had done was over, he was too scared of the General, he was just going to let him win with one word. No, no he wouldn't, he yelled at the General "No!" He said, "This war is over!" The general was paying attention to Thomas now and Thomas knew this was his chance. He started to talk, he said "I have over three thousand men here would have join me on strike. We will not let you keep taking helpless lives. I've watched children die. Mothers shot down while crying over they babies. I've seen the look on a families face when there husband and dad don't come home. We attacked them. They just fought to protect themselves. If I was to be surrounded by Vietnamese soldiers right now I would happily let them kill me to help pay for the families we have killed, most of those soldier don't have a family to go back to anymore, imagine it you came back from a war only to find the your house bombed, the family slaughtered, your wife shot, your children laying dead over her body. It is the most terrible thing that can happen to a person, and that is what we have done to them." THe General looked stunned he just sat there thinking for a few minutes, then a glistening tear ran down his face. He stood up and looked at Thomas and said, "I'm sorry, you're right, this war is over." Then he sat back on his desk and cried, cried for the soldiers, cried for the women and children that lay dead now, and then he stopped to listen to Thomas. All Thomas's men stared at him wondering what the verdict was then Thomas, with tears in his eyes, roared, "The Vietnam War is over!"
As Thomas stepped onto the helicopter that would take him home he remembered thinking, "If only you were here Edgar, if only you were here." Thomas cried as they took off, he cried because Edgar wasn't coming home with him, but he also shed tears of happiness because the fighting was over he was going home to his family. So goodbye Edgar, hello family, The Vietnam War is over.
Thomas sat on the couch watching his little brother toddle around the room. He remembered the child he had men in the town and smiled. He was supposed to report to the local military station in a month, little did he know that he would be leaving for another war, and this time, he might not be so lucky.
Read: The Invasion of The Dominican Republic
Book #2 in the thrilling, Tale of Two Wars, series!
The Invasion of The Dominican Republic
By Kieran Hawson
Hot and stuffy. That was the way that Thomas remembered his tent. There were four other soldiers, and the whole tent smelled like armpits. Thomas decided to take a walk outside to try to clear his nose of the stench. It was a cool night with crisp, sweet air, and a hint of sea spray. The moon was full and Thomas could hardly believe that he was at war, because everything was so peaceful, but just as he thought that, he was shocked by the sound of a bullet, and the scream of a dying man. Thomas ran into the tent to wake his comrades, but there was no need. The gunshot woke all of them up and they were all grabbing their guns preparing for battle.
Thomas crept through the woods, his eye's peeled for the slightest movement. Something rustled behind him, months of training automatically made him drop the ground. That training saved his life. A bullet whizzed over his head, he had just enough time to turn around and stab with his army knife. He felt the wickedly sharp blade bite into flesh. A sickening moan escaped the man's mouth before he fell to the ground face first, dead.
Images. Terrible images flashed across Thomas' mind. He saw Edgar being machine gunned to death, the houses burning, the dead men lying broken in unnatural ways. He yell, crying for it to stop. After what seemed like hours the images went black and he had a thought. He realized he had done this all before, it may be a different place and different people, but it was still war, and Thomas knew first hand, war wasn't pretty.
Thomas crept through the woods creaks and groans emanated from the trees. Footsteps went unnoticed by Thomas as they got closer and closer. Thomas then heard a twig crack, and he whirled around, but it was two late. Something hit is head hard, and the dark jungle went completely black.
Thomas looked at the gun in his hands. He felt the heavy lead bullet belt around his waist. Bullets and guns, the things that bring pain and death. Terrible things. He threw the gun on the ground and unclasped the bullet belt. They both fell to the floor with a muffled thunk. Those weapons, and deadly as Adolf Hitler's words, as devastating as the black plague, but as inviting as a warm bed, the protection brought along with them so perfect, but Thomas had see what they can do and turned his back on it without another thought.
Richard Pike, U.S. Marine. He was thinking the same thing as Thomas, but he wouldn't be as lucky, he had survived the whole Vietnam War on the front line, but the next day, a small skirmish of five on five people, but Richard died, by his own comrades friendly fire. This is a war were the best fall. Remember, only half the battle is skill, the rest is luck.
Thomas had a odd dream that night, in the pitch darkness. He dreamt he was stuck in a world. A world where things weren't right, free slaves, wealthy homeless, powerless rulers. His mind was spinning with odd ideas, somehow he felt he was in them. Like they were real.
Sleep. Sleep. He was stuck in this thick, warm sleep. Every time he tried to wake up another wave of drowsiness struck him. Pushing him farther into his dreams. He dreamed there was fire, and screams, he dreamed of soft cotton and goose down mattresses. It felt like two forces were colliding. One thing was trying to wake him up, but something else was trying to keep him in his sleep. He felt that the side trying to rouse him was showing images that he had seen somewhere, sometime. They were telling the truth! This must be what had happened at the camp! But he was so tired, the pain and sorrow could wait. Sleep. Sleep.
Thomas woke up. He felt something moist beneath his head. "My canteen must have leaked out," he thought. The world was in a pale light, everything was dreamy still. Thomas was caught in that moment between sleep and awareness. Everything was fuzzy, and something was nagging at the back of his brain. Something had happened, but he couldn't remember what it was, "Just like when Edgar had broken him out of jail" he thought. A smile cam to his lips, and then it clicked. The images popped into his head suddenly. The camp had been obliterated, it had been burned to the ground, and he remembered blacking out and seeing things while in a daze. Then he felt the back of his head and saw that it wasn't water on his head, it was blood. His own blood. He had been shot and lightly grazed on the back of his head, but the impact had caused him to black out. "That must be why I'm not imprisoned," he said to himself, "They thought I was dead."
Thomas stumbled through the thick foliage back to his camp. He prayed that the terrible images in his broken dream had been lies, figments of his imagination. He was wrong. When the camp came into view all that was left was a hundred charred tents and a terrible stench that could only be the smell of burned flesh. Thomas allowed the reality to sink in. His men were all dead and he was alone, again, just like Vietnam.
He sunk to the ground. Images flashed across his mind. Images of Edgar shooting away the Vietnamese guards. Bashing apart the cell door and free in Thomas. In Thomas' head Edgar always looked like a super hero. Ripped arms, a gun in his hand always ready, and so strong. Thomas didn't know why he saw him like this. He had never been stronger that Thomas, he hadn't always been ready with a gun, but he was secure, and gone. He was gone. Thomas stood up with rage coursing through his veins. He decided it was his turn to be his own Edgar.
He walked thirty miles to the U.S. Marine base. He strode into his room, threw on a white muscle shirt, camo pants, and tall combat boots. Then he walked to the weight room. He went the the bench and benched 100lbs. The next day he benched 150lbs. Then 200lbs. By the end of the month he was benching 500lbs. He also was practicing on the tread mill. He could run and almost thirty miles per hour, for twenty minutes. Then he went to the shooting range. He started with the M-12. Then the M-16. The M-4. The Barrett 36. The Q-4. He eventually was able to fire them all easily without throwing himself backward, and he was deadly accurate. To deadly.
Thomas had always been 6' 2", but had only weighed about 190lbs. After three months of intense training, he weighed in at 260lbs. He had only a 3% body fat percentage, and could bench press 550lbs. He looked at himself in the mirror without a shirt, and he look ripped. He was finally his own Edgar. He was strong. Too strong.
The base had a boxing tournament. Thomas went and won it by storm. He took out competitors with only a few punches. He was also too fast. No one could catch him long enough the hit him. There was a wrestling tournament. Thomas grabbed people and was like a vice. Once he had someone in his grip they couldn't escape. He squeezed the air out of them until they taped out. Football was the same. He hit hard enough to break bones, and was so fast the running back couldn't get anywhere before Thomas was already tackling him. The only problem was that Thomas couldn't control himself, it all happened out of anger, and now he was strong enough that his rage could kill. He fought skirmishes almost constantly. He armed himself with a Q-4, a grenade launcher, and was a monster. He blew away the Dominican soldiers with ease. Occasionally he charged, stabbing with his foot long, wickedly sharp knife that he kept at his belt. He also punched and threw soldiers out of the way, or bashed their heads with his gun. He had taken several bullets, but his new body could take it. He was covered with gashes, bullet wounds, bruises, cuts, and scars. But power was all he felt. He felt like a super hero. Like superman with the bulletproof chest, like spider man with the amazing speed. He was invincible. Too strong. To sure. To confident.
Thomas was ordered to lead a frontal assault on the already diminishing Dominican forces. 2,000 men strong, started their march across the jungle. Tomas marched in the front, and once in awhile would dart ahead and scout the area. After three hours of walking, they finally reached the base. A ten foot high wall with guarded turrets stood before them. They had been warned of this, and were told that this wall was going to be their greatest adversary. Thomas pulled the Barrett out of the holster on his back. This seventy pound monster of a sniper rifle was one of Thomas best weapons. Thomas quickly took out the guards before the alarm could be sounded. He and ten other men slowly creep out of the foliage. And checked the wall. It was solid concrete, not a foot hold to be seen. They saw that the wall went all the way around, Thomas realized that there must be a hidden gate. He could see that the wall was about three feet thick. He pulled ten pounds of dynamite from his pack as well as a plunger. He placed the dynamite, and stationed half of his men on one side, the other half on the opposite side. He made sure they were well away from the dynamite. Thomas gently eased down the plunger and then and ear splitting crack rang throughout the air. The wall was decimated and his men surged in. He readied he M-4 and charged. There was chaos. Troops clashed, bullets flew, Thomas could see that plenty of the fighting was hand to had combat, which he loved. He charged right in, bashing away soldiers, stabbing with his knife. He was a ball of fury and strength. Indestructible. The troop won the battle easily. The war already was practically over, but Thomas didn't want it to. Ever since his transformation, a huge blood lust had over come him. He didn't want to stop killing this time. This was different from Vietnam. He liked the death. It was wrong. So wrong. Yet, it was right. So right.
Thomas took the rest of his men with him. He gave the order to keep attacking. His men pushed through miles of hostile territory. Destroying Dominican forces as they went. Thomas was loosing men at an alarming rate, but he didn't care. All he could think about was still attacking. Pressing on. Only a few hundred men remained, when they met the huge Dominican invasion force. Thomas ordered his men to attack. In his rage he couldn't even see that they were out numbered 100 to 1. There were thousands of them. They couldn't win, but still Thomas tried.