The Road to Harrisburg Nineteen – A Final Days based tale

For the next hour, we were a very busy bunch of Stryker Grunts.

First and Second Platoon sent out LP/OP’s so we’d have some warning. All four cardinal points, the teams went about a hundred yards or so out. Not far but enough to give us a bit of time to ready up in case the push came from that direction.  Considering most of the known assets were north of us, the attack when it came was expected to be from the north and northeast.  I mean, Carlisle Barracks and the Heritage center were that way, as was the county EMA… all semi good locations to base troops at.  Other than the Storage Units… but those would be mighty cold in the winter.

 All our little baby drones were being charged or rotated up to recon- the night vision setting on their cameras ate a battery charge like no one’s biz and we were going to need them in the worst way. The Gun System Strykers were stashed by the houses in the wood line and the platoon was assigned a squad from Second as security. They needed to stay out of sight as much as possible- the guns were our ace in the hole against anything armored.

 All our non-walking wounded was set up in a mini-Aid Station back in a house whose door was kicked in.  It was the best we could do under the circumstances. Clarke and Jones were both still alive, doc having done wonders for the latter once he was removed from his pile of rubble mess. Everyone else who was capable was engaged with shoring up fighting positions in and around the hangars (taking care to ensure our *guests* were secure still) and over in the houses.

 A detail was out in the field making sure all possible weapons were policed up along with ammo; if we were going to hold against a horde, we didn’t have enough ammo for our regular weapons to do so. So, orders went out to the platoons- anyone who knew how to use an AK was to take one along with a bunch of mags and hand off half of their M4 ammo to others.  Best use of resources- and the dead in the field don’t need their weapons anymore.

 Fisk was smart here… and while a practice that’s frowned on for normal line troops, in a pinch its allowed. Granted, it was kinda stretching the rules… but right now, there was a need for the additional firepower. Also meant that there was nothing laying around if the POWs broke out. As it was, I took an AK- having used them before in training way back and actual ops, I knew the weapon almost as well as an M4. Don’t let anyone fool you, it’s a good weapon and for this mess, it would serve. Its not like I’m trying to shoot across a damn valley or something.

  The RPK’s that had been liberated from the former owners were now in the hands of perimeter squads. A little extra firepower for each group and it might confuse some folks on the other side. Instructions were to open up with them first before anything American.  The other command that went out was no automatic fire from the M4’s. Semi Auto only- we had to make it to daylight and who knew how long afterward. Ammo conservation was a thing… and even though Fisk had brought extra rounds and we had the extra from the start of this jaunt, only a fool thought it would be enough.

I never expected to be sitting in a modern Alamo or even a Jadotville… but life always has its own ideas, eh?  At least we had Air Support if we needed it.

The overall set up was First and Second Platoons were the Perimeter forces and my Third was the Reserve/Reaction element. Not that we had far to go to react to a line break but in a pinch, we could maneuver and hit from a side.  If need be- I had my doubts on pulling that off if we were hit as expected but it was a good option to have. Josias’s squad would function as security for the Aid station and command post (CP) building; Fisk had some security but more really was necessary.

When the Northern LP sent word of movement at the highway edge then the Eastern post said there was signs of movement coming from the direction of the Microtel we passed on the way in.  The two teams were told to pull back- No one gets caught out if it could be helped. The southern LP shifted east some.  Not that they expected to get in the fight but it wouldn’t hurt.

  Western end would remain at their spot at the corner of Robin and South Spring Garden; it was a good location to watch for anything coming in the west side and made slow them down; they had two of our AT4 launchers… here was hoping they were not needed.  I thought they were a bit far out but given the terrain, it was the best spot.

As the two teams ran back to the defensive positions, spot reports came in from the various fighting positions on what was coming.  No one saw armor yet… but we knew it was out there.  Also out there likely was more mortar teams.  Parsons and his fellow FO’s all said same thing to Fisk when it was mentioned- they would find them and if Air was available, it would be tasked with whacking them.

So our defensive plans were going to be tested… and judging what the first drones showed, this was going to be bad.  At least I got to watch things develop from the CP

Coming across Rt 81 was a pair of BMPs, infantry moving with them and just ahead.  There was nothing we could do to stop the crossing but once the MGS boys saw them, it would be a different story.  From the direction of the Micro, about two platoons of troops moved forward, backed by another pair of BMPs and one of the MRAPS reported on earlier.  This was a concern- the MRAP was a tough machine…  What was slightly disturbing was that both advances appeared to be moving in sync.  Which meant this likely was some pros.

Great.

The first shots were fired as the eastern enemy cleared the corner, the defensive squad cutting loose with the aforementioned RPK. Via the feed, the initial shots struck true… cutting down a few of the advancing men as if they had been poleaxed.  The rest sought cover as a few M4s also fired. An MGS shifted some and got its main gun into play as the MRAP showed itself.

  Not even a second after the MGS moved, it fired.  The one hundred- and five-millimeter gun on the MGS used was similar to the main gun on the Brit Challenger and early M-1 Abrams tanks… and it showed its power off here.  The round slammed into the front of the MRAP and in a sick bang of impact, tore through the target’s engine compartment. That shot killed the vehicle, but it also gave the enemy knowledge of where OUR armor was.

 Five second after the MRAP ate it, a fusillade of RPGs came back after our MGS.  Thankfully, he had pulled back after the shot but man….  I counted six rockets sent back toward it- not a fun number but at least they missed. But it did stop them for a time….

 The attacking forces in the northern sector finally cleared the far wood line, waltzing into the line of sight of our machine guns and an AT4, which hit a BMP that had just nosed through the trees. The explosion lit up the area around it, enabling the squads on that front to target some of the attacking DCP men, blunting their advance. A Mk 19 from one of 2nd Platoon’s Strykers added its firepower to the mix and blunted things even further. It turned into a stalemate as the DCP didn’t seem to have Night Vision gear and we did. It also meant the command to semi auto only was a benefit- less flash to aim at.

While things were working out on the north and east, I knew it wasn’t going to last.  It was just after one in the morning… and Sunrise was still a long time away.

Just then, reports from the Western OP came in- they were under some fire from the underpass and the berm as DCP troops came into their fire sectors.  And it was quite a few coming through the pass.

“Ganic- take a squad that way and bolster them.” Fisk called to me. “They need some extra guns over there.”

“Ayeaye…” I called out and looked at the squads I had available. “Reed, you and yours with me….”

Reed, who had also been hanging in the CP, immediately scurried out to roust her squad. “On your feet…” The MA2 called. “West end- the Rebs are hitting over there too.”  Her troops all got up, guns and mag-bags only.  Two of her squad also had -203’s and that was going to be a help.

Meeting them outside, we began to beat feet down the road, taking care to bound between buildings as we made our way through the development.  Strykers watching the trees north of the strip kept a wary eyeball with their thermal sights in the CROWS mounts making the night a non-factor.  If the DCP got by the West, the guns on our IFVs would make it difficult for them…

Within four minutes, we got close to the OP, stopping between our western defensive line and the OP, right at the corner of Meals and Spring Garden Estates, and began to see tracers of the small firefight the OP was in. Within seconds of seeing them, some of Reed’s people started to engage, stopping to aim and snipe.  A matter of moments after initial engagement, we had a right harsh firefight… Our ten versus about four times that.

  Going to ground, I sighted in with my commandeered AK.  Through my night vision gear, I could see plenty of targets…. And the occasional glow of the DCP troops with their own gear.  Thankfully, it looked like only a few had them.  “Reed!” I called over her squad net. “Look for vision guys!”  At that, I took a shot and was rewarded with one such dropping, the round hitting center mass.
[Noted boss] was her snap reply as several of our better shots began to really pick out the opfor tech troops.

It made a difference here, that’s for sure. Measured fire in the dark took its toll and the attackers fell back some.  Then I heard the guns on the Strykers start shooting.  Shit… that meant that big stretch in the middle was now active.  And no crunchies like us to plug it… Western line was ok but not perfect or suited to proper block a North and West attack.  Well, at least not for a few more seconds; another squad was a help but who knew if we would be enough.  It’s like these guys just shat a fucking battalion….

I got up and moved to reposition for a stab at that DCP mob.  “MA2…  back in the bare center; bolster West Line.”
Reed, who I had come up on, answered right away as she changed mags. “We knew that was going to be a problem…”

“Yep,” was my retort. “Not like we had enough troops…”

“At least we got the carriers.”

“They might not be enough on this side…”

As we bounded back to plug the gap, I called the OP and told them to pull back before they got cut off.  After getting acknowledgement, I followed along behind Reed and half her brood while the other half collected the OP troops.

I then heard the sound of jet engines…  It would seem we had our overhead help again and I passed word for everyone to not get ahead of ourselves.  Last thing I wanted to be was a statistic as a result of a friendly fire incident.  After Reed’s radio man materialized near her and I, she listened to the company net then advised Fisk we were near.  When Reed indicated he wanted me on the line, I held out a hand.

  Taking over, I caught him up to speed on what was going on and our repositioning. He told me to expect danger close gun runs… and that he advised the flight leader of our sitrep too.  Asking me to handle the Air troops, he was going to check on availability of Arty of all things.

Switching to the proper channel for the air, I called up to them as Reed and company began to engage targets.  “Pitbull Flight, Delta 3 Callsign Archer.”

[Archer, Pitbull Lead,] It was that pilot from three hours ago.  [I understand you and Kingpin have business for us…]

“Pitbull, Archer.  Yes I do.  All targets NORTH of the strip and WEST of the hangars….  Friendlies are among the hangars and south of the strip.  Whatever Kingpin has is likely as much”

[Outstanding.  Pitbull Three and Four will be assisting Kingpin.  Your issue is second in the cue.] The business tones of the pilot were a comfort and that I had her again was rather nice.  Of all the times I did this before, I never got the same pilot twice.  I’d gotten same flight names before but never the same pilot.

Then again, there was more assets back then.

“Pitbull, Archer…  number two in the cue.  No known Anti-Air but I wouldn’t count on that being truth.”

[I never do, Archer.  Pitbull Two beginning run in forty seconds.  Do you have strobe?]

“Negative…  didn’t think we would need it,” I was truthful.  “Will deploy Blue Lenses…  I’ll be making a circle…”  At that, I pulled my flashlight and performed a wicked fast lens change.

[Receive, blue lens.]

After the fastest change in history, I called them back.  “Pitbull, Archer.  Blue Lens operational.  All fire north of us….” I said and tossed the light to one of the squad, who promptly shined it up.  “Deployed…”

The first runs were done in the area east of the strip and this time, the shots had more targets.  Both Pitbull pilots came screaming in staggered and shredded the attackers.  Even though they knew we had air, it seemed they weren’t ready.  Or they were biding time… as events proved in a minute.

Pitbull Two made its run on the north side, going east to west just after the South to North run of the other two fighters.  He did a good job hammering the DCP grunts and popping something armored over there.  It was when Lead came in that the DCP got its SAMS into play.

  Pitbull Lead came in low, almost daring them to shoot her down.  And the enemy took up the challenge.  Just as she started her run, a pair of SAMS rose in defiance as well as a wall of lead.  Lead jinked and popped flares as her run took her a hundred feet off the deck above their heads…. But it wasn’t enough.   As Pitbull Lead accelerated away, popping more flares, two more SAMS joined in and one managed to explode right under her engines.

And it was a good hit too, but not crippling.  She wasn’t making an airfield though- not trailing flames.

“PITBULL, ARCHER” I said a bit louder than I wanted.  “EJECT DAMNIT”

[It’s in the updated flight plan] came her response.

I watched the Eagle make a wide turn and come back this way, angling down towards the north side of the strip.  Aw jeeze….

[Archer, I hope someone is available to fetch me… Punching…]  AS that came across the coms, Lead ejected.  Her bird wavered some but not enough to matter even as another SAM streaked at it.

Reed and I looked at each other then at the falling fighter….  And ducked down when it crashed into the northwestern attackers like the flying bomb it was.  The fireball and flying debris carved through the DCP troops caught in it like a scythe thru wheat.  It was a mini-apocalypse over there… and added to by what looked like an arty fire mission.  Christ on a crutch, Fisk wasn’t kidding about getting Arty.  But I had another concern….

“Archer to any Pitbull element”

[Pitbull Two here…  Lead has positive chute and drifting west your position.  Appears to be landing near the middle school northwest of the field.]

“Understood, Two.  We’ll get her…”

[Archer, Pitbull Two.  We will let her know.  She should have a handheld operational shortly and looks like DCP is falling back.]

“Good to know.  Archer clear- returning control to Kingpin.”

The gun runs and the subsequent crash into their lines took the fight right out of the DCP attack.  The mortars we feared had not come into play as of yet but without someone to attack us, they were harassment.  Harassment that could kill us, of course… but right now, they weren’t in use.

Meanwhile Reed got with the squad from 2nd Platoon who was manning the Western side of our defenses to check on them while I contacted Fisk about going after the pilot right away.

[Ganic, you trying to be a hero?] He asked when I requested to go across the company net.

“Hero some kind of sub, right?” was my retort.  “She’s not far and there is a shitton of Indians between her and here. We don’t get her, they will.”

[I’m not saying no, Senior…  I just can’t spare more than a squad- DCP might be beat down after that thumping but I count on nothing.  You taught me that back in Harrisburg.]

“Captain, I can do it with a squad and a Stryker.” I said, knowing it was a dicey undertaking.  If we ran in to trouble, no one was coming for us…. But I wasn’t letting that pilot swing in the breeze.  “This is something I trained for, and my crew is pretty fast on the uptick.  We got this.”

A long pause. [Ok.  Do it.  I’ll let Pitbull flight know you are on your way.  If you need them call them.  I’m putting your other two squads on the line.  Gunny is in charge of them till you get back.]

“Ayeaye,” was my reply.

Turning to Reed and her squad- now two short because of light wounds (they’d live)- I asked the MA2 if she was ready to maybe get shot.

A snort.  “I’m here, Senior.  What more can I say?”

“Then let’s do this…”  I said as the Weapons Team Stryker rolled up.  We piled in and rolled out, hatches open.

  This was fucking crazy… but everything this night was so what was one more thing?

Author: John T

Warrior-Sage and full time healer. Gamer and Arm Chair Analyst (who isn't these days?) who isn't afraid to read up on what I don't know.

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