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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

CampNaNo novel teaser

Just thought I'd share some of the work-in-progress on With Honor, and with Courage, the novel I'm working on for CampNaNoWriMo. Just keep in mind this is a work in progress!

“Nut-to-butt, guys, make your buddy happy,” First Sergeant Farmer barked at us. It’s too early in the morning for this crap was all I could muster, since we’d been roused at 04:45 and sunrise wouldn’t be for almost another hour yet. Fortunately, there was a temporary mess hall set up in a nearby building, which was cranking out A Rations today—thank God. For some reason, Assassin troop wasn’t in front of us today. We were standing at the head of the Squadron column on the concrete apron in front of last night’s temporary barracks, facing toward the building with the kitchen facilities, but I could turn my head and see Chaos guys right behind us. Assassin was nowhere to be seen, however. I mentally shrugged. Finally, the doors opened up and we started moving through the chow line.
Scrambled eggs, hash browns, assorted fruit, a sausage patty, a cup of OJ and a mug of coffee decorated my tray as I sat down with Dock and Mac. It took less than five minutes for the three of us to wolf breakfast down. I looked around to see who from our troop was still around, and I could see Top and the CO were still in line waiting to get their food. We had at least five more minutes, so I went to grab another mug of coffee.

“Sar’nt Mac, I’m getting more coffee, you need?”

“Nawp, I’m aight.”

“Dock?” Dock shook his head as he finished up his OJ, so I went over and refilled just my mug. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught the Hummer pulling up to the front of the building, and saw the Squadron CO hop out like his pants were on fire. He headed straight for the CO in the mess line and whispered in his ear. The CO leaned over and appeared to reply back. The LTC then nodded and flew back out to his Hummer, which took off like a shot.

At that exchange, I figured that we only had a few minutes to get our shit together, so I headed back to the table. Mac appeared to witness it as well.

“Y’awn should hur-on up, we gon’ get moved out rightchawn quick,” he said as I approached.

I grabbed my paper tray, swallowed the mug of coffee in about two gulps while Dock and Mac both stood up and cleared out. The rest of the troop was not blind either, and everyone kinda picked up their pace or cleaned up right away. I noticed sergeant Furniss having a chat with the TCs.

As we were dumping our trash, SSG Beach walked up. “Guys, head back and grab your duffels. It looks like the timetable’s been moved up. We’ll be REDCON 1 in about fifteen minutes, got a truck coming for our gear, should be here in about twenty.”

“Yes, sar’nt” we replied almost in unison, then moved out to clear out our stuff.

It only took a couple of minutes, since nobody really unpacked anything. We bolted back out, carrying two duffels, a tactical bag, and a CVC helmet bag each. We knew roughly where we’d form up, so we laid down our stuff about where we’d be standing in formation.

Mac looked around for a second, then drawled “Lip, y’awn sit ti’ht. Dock, com’wi’me.” Mac and Dock then headed back into the building, leaving me to guard our stuff. A couple of minutes later they emerged with SSG Beach’s bags and headed back inside—presumably to offer help to any of the other crews.


Finally. Formation time. Wait, did I actually just breathe a sigh of relief about a formation? The company formed up, and the CO gave a last few words of a briefing: we are picking the vehicles up from the nearby port, where the Roll-on/roll-off ship has docked. Once they are off the ship, we drive them down to a nearby lot, where HETs are being staged. Load up onto the HETs, then follow the HETs in busses to an offload point near Vilnius.


I stand on the top of the HET cab, carefully giving Dock the hand signals to back off the HET—a job I hate, I just know one of these days the driver’s going to make a mistake, or I am, and the damned thing’s going to flip over on me—and he backs down like the carefree professional he is. We get the rest of the tanks offloaded, and assemble in the field just off the 5212 Highway a little west of Vilnius proper when I happen to catch the CO being yelled at by what appears to be a local, maybe a farmer? As he’s politely nodding his head our liaison officer makes a beeline for their conversation. I’m too far away to hear anything, but I’ll bet it’s the landowner all PO’ed about us driving our extremely heavy tanks and Strykers all over his freshly-mown lawn.

“LIP get over here!”

SSG Beach has noticed I’m not paying attention to him anymore, and so I haven’t noticed that the whole platoon is staring at me as I stare at the liaison and the CO try to calm the farmer down. I sheepishly dismount and speed walk over to the rest of the platoon, where LT Mashinter briefs us.
“Alright, now that Lipscomb has deigned to grace us with his presence, here’s the plan for the next couple of days. Squadron has a TOC set up near Musninkai, up the 116 Highway from Vilnius. We’re going to road march in standard column formation from here, along the 5212 until the 116. SOP road march order. There will be a joint MP/local police post set up to make sure we can negotiate the transition without losing any stragglers or running over any locals. Black 5 will be in the lead Humvee, and will call out the checkpoints as he passes them, and Black 7 will be in the trail Humvee and will do the same when he clears them. Radio is per SOP and digi-keys. Disabled vehicles will pull to the right shoulder as far off the road as practical, and radio their position to Black 8 who will meet up with the vehicle and evaluate recovery options as needed. REDCON 1 in ten minutes. Fuel HEMTT will be here in about twenty minutes to top off, with start of movement in thirty. CO wants Black 5 crossing the LD in less than 45 minutes.

“After the road march, we will be forming a troop coil formation here,” he pointed at a spot on the map just North of Musninkai, and continued “and wait for the Mustang 5. When he arrives he will lead us in a road march to our AA for the evening, here about one and a half clicks Southeast of Liukonys. There we will form a troop coil, set security, and do a modified tailgate LOGPAC, sergeant Furniss will provide details upon arrival. We will stay overnight in the AA, and sergeant Furniss has a guard/sleep plan set up, with details upon arrival.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got. Any questions?”

No speaking, just the shaking of a few heads, answered the LT.

“Alright. Sergeant Furniss, they’re all yours.” With that, the LT nodded to the platoon sergeant and took off for the CO’s location.

“A’aight, take a knee chuckleheads. Let’s make this quick. Standard order with White 1, 2, 3, 4. Alternate gun tubes just like normal. Keep your distance, at least 50 meters between vehicles. I want to see your air guards up, and scan your lanes. Refuel will be a hot refuel. Red then White on the left HEMTT, Blue then Green on the right. 1 & 2 will fuel first followed by 3 & 4, 1 & 3 on the left side with 2 & 4 on the right. Be ready to pull up when it’s your turn in the line. Pull through after, you’ll see the Red elements stacked up near the road surface. Once we get the blitz order, Hush 2 on the radios except for bent units, unusual situations, or checkpoint clearance. Black 7 has set us up a good LOGPAC at the AA, but we’ll cover details on arrival. Any questions? Speak now or forever hold your peace!”

None of us are that stupid, really. Nobody had any questions, we’ve done this a bunch of times. Heck, the NTC rotation just before our deployment. I think sergeant Furniss gave this exact same speech there, too.

“A’aight. Let’s go. REDCON 1 in five.”

We broke up, and Dock and I started walking toward Bodacious. On the way, Dock started humming an old classic rock tune, “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers. I started singing, Dock joined me, and Cooke joined in. We all three locked arms and started singing the chorus at the tops of our lungs, skipping all the way back to our tanks.

“By the hand (hand) take me by the hand (pretty mama)/Come ’n’ dance with ya daddy all night long/I’d like to hear some funky dixieland, pretty mama come & take me by the hand.”

I could almost hear the rest of the platoon rolling their eyes at us. We didn’t care, we were damned if being deployed would crush our spirits.

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