Training Day 20 - Field Exercise
Amphibious Assault Landing Zone 1 - Camp Pendleton CA
Assault Boat 3 - Platoon 2165
"Ughhhh humans used to attack places in these? No wonder they don't get space sick"
Jaelenius was ill, sicker than he had been in a long time. He'd seen blood and guts, watched civilians get caught behind an enemy advance and be torn apart by reaper troops, even stomached the chow on a Turian warship without complaint, but this was turning his stomach in directions he didn't know had existed until recently. The assault craft was certainly much older in it's design than anything in this century had a right to be. The platoon comm lines lit up as Gunnery Sergeant Slane began to address them.
"Gentlemen we're currently reenacting an amphibious assault as staged in the Terran year 1945. On February 19th in the midst of our second global war, men of the 3rd, 4th and 5th Marine Divisions landed en masse on the black sand beaches of a small volcanic island named Iwo Jima. While they were only opposing some twenty two thousand defending soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army the entire Island was a fortress, pockmarked with fortified bunkers, artillery sites and tunnels. It was some of the bloodiest fighting the Marine Corps has ever faced in it's several centuries of service, first to the United States of America and after unification to the Systems Alliance and now to the Sol Alliance. The Corps existed before these three great powers and with our blood, courage and honor she will continue after on the merit of our heritage, our history and our traditions. This assault aboard these replica attack craft called "Higgens boats" after the man who designed them will show you some of what that fighting on that island was like, some of what our, what your heritage is like. Follow your squad leaders, keep an eye on your battle buddy. I'll talk to you all at the after action meeting. 2165 Control out."
Then it was back to the rocking of the waves as the special navy crew navigated them to their designated beach head. Jaelenius bowed his head and tried to focus on anything else but the rocking waves, he thought of the vids and documentation they'd read in class the other day. About the humans who were sitting where he was over the gulf of time, were they praying? How did they feel about the mission they were going into, a fight that sounded as harrowing as anything he'd seen or anything he'd ever read from Turian history. How did they feel about the men beside them? Jaelenius remembered that humans had once been divided by pigmentation but that men of all shades had taken this place, were they as alien to each other as the Turians, Quarians and humans were to each other?
The call from the chief of boat was clear even over the splash of the surf and the roar of the engine. Kar'Heshen reached over and slapped him on the back with a reassuring nod. This was the first big op they'd done even in training since the end of the war, everyone was getting nervous at the thought of being plunged back into the fight, a fight of any kind. Each individual was fighting his own ghosts from the war even as he prepared himself to fight the opposition before them on the section of California beach that had been turned into a war zone.
"Five seconds! Stand by!"
The platoon stood as one, the tension vanishing away into determination, there was a hard slam as the boat ran aground and the ramp dropped with a heavy metallic thump.
"Ramp down! Clear the boat! Go go go!"
They tore onto the beach from the assault boat, the waves lapping at their heels as entrenched machine gun positions began to open fire on them, a Quarian next to Jaelenius pitched forward, obviously brought down by a hit from the simunitions being fired at them, Jaels and Heshen grabbed him as one and dragged him into the bunker they'd been racing towards and quickly began to apply first aid.
"Corpsman up! Quarian down at 3-7!"
"Gonna have to patch him yourself Private, Doc went down not a minute off the boat."
'Translation they didn't give us corpsmen for this training operation and that's the line for why he's not here.' Jaelenius grumbled to himself.
"Copy we'll get him back on his feet!"
The stricken Quarian's battle buddy hit the bunker not two seconds later with a suit patch in his hands and started setting the training patch. Jaelenius noticed he had set the suit patch up with a sterile and nonactive packet of medigel, but wired it in so the same energy that would get the patch working would also activate the medigel. The turian noticed he was watching and have him a nod.
"Apparently it's a trick from the migrant fleet, one motion, one power activation minimizes the time a Quarian's exposed to open air which can be just as lethal as a taking a round for them."
Jaelenius nodded and popped up over the barrier sending a few rounds down range at a nearby bunker, looking for a solid way to move up safely and destroy it. The bunker's fire was fierce pinning the entire platoon down on the beach at the first slightly protective terrain they could reach. Heshen punched his shoulder to get his attention "We have to get past this bunker!" The Quarian hefted the flamethrower he'd be assigned for the mission. "If you guys can lay down covering fire, I can get up there and get us off this forsaken hell hole of a beach!"
Jaelenius nods and gets the other two recruits attention "one grenade each on three, then we lay down covering fire till Hesh roasts that bunker with the flamethrower, copy?"
Terse acknowledgements followed by a quick fumbling of pouches for the indicated grenades are all the response needed. Jaelenius waits for a lull in the fire from the bunker, possibly reloading and does a quick count down.
"One, two... three! Grenade out!"
The three recruits staying the in the blast crater hunker down hard as their explosives fly, but Heshen hits the sand like a bat out of hell, running clear of the bunker's line of fire, barely making it to cover before the grenades detonate with a roar of pyrotechnic fury.
The recruits popped up as one, spraying fire at the bunker, Heshen sprinted out of his own cover like lightning, gamely hauling the heavy flamethrower up the beach before finally coming to a rest next to the bunker, shoving the incinerator's muzzle into the firing slit and pulling the trigger. Flames simulated by a wide angle light source bathing the bunker's interior and "killing" the occupants.
2165's designated recruit platoon sergeant popped up from a hole to the left of Jaelenius's and waved his arm "Bunker clear! Move up! Get off the beach and move on objective charlie!" Jaelenius could only stop and stare for a moment as the recruits of platoon 2165 surged out of their various pieces of cover and stormed towards the interior of the island. It was going to be a good day.
Well, maybe good had been a slightly optimistic assessment. It had been a brutal day. 2165 wasn't part of the push towards Suribachi Junior, they'd been tasked the rest of the company to capture the major airfield that was an important feature on the original Iwo Jima. The teams who recreated it had been detailed that was for sure, these old aircraft, a human had told them they were called "Zeroes" for some unfathomable reason looked ready to fly but were certainly less safe then even the cursed higgens boats. His gaze drifts towards Suribachi Junior, the occasional burst of weapons fire even from this range. As he watches he swears he can see a brief flutter of blue cloth and yells to the rest of his squadmates.
"Look! At the summit!"
A flag slowly starts to come up on the artificial mountain in the distance, one of the other teams had made their objective on Suribachi Junior, and the blue and gold of the new Sol Alliance banner fluttered proudly in the sunset breeze. And in that moment as the exercise concluded, messages popped up on everyone's HUDs and their weapons locked out, General Kilpatrick decided it would be a good time to let his new Marines know exactly what they'd done.
"All hands, this is General Kilpatrick, the first time the colors were raised over Mount Suribachi by Marines, James Forrestal the Secretary of the Navy of the United States of America said "The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years." It's been two hundred and forty two years since he said that so we have at the very least another two and a half centuries to go. No matter what planet you're from or what species you are, from now till the day you pass to your eternal rest the Corps claims you as her own and so shall you claim the Corps as yours. We are Gung Ho, all together, brothers in blood and fire, no matter what color your blood was you bleed green now, you're halfway there gentlebeings, keep in the fight!"
The response didn't even need a radio to transmit it, two hundred tired and ragged voices giving rise to the Marine Corp's ancient battle cry. A resonating "Oohrah!" in the morning light. From his orbiting command shuttle Kilpatrick grinned and punched his adjutant in the shoulder with a smile on his face, looking for all the world like a father whose son has just started walking.
"I'll be damned Captain, this just might work."
Down on the airfield Jaelenius took his helmet off and shook the perspiration from his head, taking a deep breath of fresh sea air and looking up at the waving flag on top of the hunk of rock they'd been sent to capture. He felt a sense of pride that was familiar from his academy days, at accomplishing something... and being a part of something more.
"Maybe we are home after all."