The hill action continues:
Alan noticed YD’s minimi go silent and looked on as the final tracer rounds seemed to zap off into oblivion, the next call he made was purely on instinct,
“ 1 section, this is 2, gun line silenced by Sierra 1, assaulting forward to gun line out!”, with that I stood fully erect , looking left to right I could see the rest of the section members all looking at me, tensed awaiting the go order.
“ Bedak, leave Flinthart, we’ll come back or have 1 section collect him, All members of 2 section will assault forward to the gun line….NOW! MOVE”.
With that, the three physically capable team members launched out of their respective positions, no rifle or machine gun fire was being laid down with this advance, just a headlong dash down the slope and into the thinning smoke screen, all the while I fully expected some additional contact at any moment.
Leaping over the log in front I snapped the bolt forward having just loaded a fresh mag, and contacted Murph over the net,
“ 1 this is 2, we’ve left Flinthart at left end of line, he’s alive, collect him on your way through Murph”,
I was panting from the exertion, the call was really more a strained grunting series of messages as we all but ran down the slope……..into the gun smoke…possibly into Hell!.
Murph came up on the net as another series of long bursts came from his section, still trying to delay the assaulting Indonesian force on their flank,
“ 2, Copy your last Alan, pulling back in 60 seconds, be advised the assault force is still well over 50% strength”, Murphs message was back grounded with his sections gunfire and Murphs own barking M16 as well.
Alan was relieved, so far 1 section had not taken any casualties, the longer they stayed though, the greater the odds somebody would get hit….training or not the odds were still well and truly against them if they remained in contact with such a large force.
2 section as they started the slight climb back up out of the small gully towards the still silent Indonesian gun line, started to see through the rapidly clearing smoke, the damage their return fire and the outgoing fire the Indonesians had inflicted on the surrounding landscape. Whole trees now stood 2 feet tall, rounds having shredded them off, jagged splinters protruding from the tops of the small stumps, testament to the sheer brutality of the rounds successive impacts and the sustained volumes of fire that had been directed at Section 2..
I could see the extreme left of the now silent gun positions and watched as YD entered the first pit or shallow depression, stopping just long enough to check what turned out to be two Indonesian soldiers, YD quickly gave me the thumbs up, signaling all clear before proceeding on another few yards and going to ground in defense. Not being as quick as the rest of the team members I arrived nearly halfway between the third and fourth guns, sufficiently awestruck that I unconsciously came to a complete halt as I stared at the dead Indonesian troopers scattered around the right hand gun, spent link rounds were intermingled with empty brass 7.62 shell casings….there were 5 of them, Plus Havock and Joll’s.
Years of military service now carefully surveyed the scene before him as Alan looked across to where YD was on his left and Bedak who had now cleared position number two and three then shifting right some 20 yards to the position of the five dead troopers he now stood in front of. Alan on auto pilot checked each successive trooper to ensure they were dead, and then ran over to Havock and Joll’s at the edge of the small clearing
Stopping beside H, I slowly knelt down onto one knee, and placing a hand on H’s shoulder, “ Bedak, YD, on me and form a perimeter, move!, 1 Murph this is two, we have a man down, I say again, man down and one wounded, right end of Indonesian gun line out”.
Two short Rodgers filtered back to me from Bedak and YD as they charged towards mine and H’s position, now fully aware thanks to the call that one of our team members was down and one wounded……….It meant also meant that one had been killed.
I could see that H was in shock as he cradled Joll’s upper body in his lap, his face was streaked from sweat and exertion, but the tears were clearly evident, as was the exposed blood soaked torso of his closest friend, field dressings stuffed into his shirt hung out, as H now cradled his lifeless body in a gentle rocking motion.
“H you look hit, we need to check it out fast, you have to put Joll’s down mate” I spoke quietly, giving H a slight squeeze on the shoulder at the same time. Slowly Havock looked up at me, eyes rimmed red and blood shot, the horror and sense of loss clearly evident on his young handsome face, stammering somewhat, Havock finally spoke.
“ Hee he got to this last position ahead of me, I got clipped In the arm by one of these guys, but he got four of the fuckers……then the gunner got him”, H looked back down at Joll’s , his facial features calm, as if he was having a simple sleep, slowly with extraordinarily gentleness, I watched as H placed his closets friends, body gently on the ground.
Looking up, I could see that the Indonesian gunner was slumped across the tripod legs of his mag 58 with half his skull missing, there just beside him on the ground was Havocks machete covered in hair and brain tissue….he’d ran out of ammo fighting through the position at some point.
Alan was still absorbing the loss of Joll’s and Havocks final attack on the last trooper with his machete, when Bedak came up on the net. “ In position Al, we have two KIA at gun one, 6 more at gun number two and 4 at number three Al…all confirmed dead”.
‘Jesus.’ Alan thought, plus the 5 at the fourth gun position….Sierra one had taken out 17 TNI regulars between the two of them….’I wouldn’t trade one of mine for a thousand of these fuckers’ Alan quietly thought to himself.
More gun fire sounds rattled back to my ears , the volume had increased as Section 1 attempted to break contact, a succession of grenade explosions rattled around the gully to Alan’s position, dragging him back to matters at hand.
“YD, check the guns here, lets, see what’s serviceable and what ammo is about, make it fast, BEDAK.. keep over watch to their rear”
Alan looked down at Havock and the body of Joll’s, knowing full well what he needed to do, the question was ‘ How will H take it”, Alan thought?. They already had one wounded member which they were going to have to walk out with to the RV point, carrying a dead comrade was simply out of the question at this point in time.
Slowly standing back up and looking down at the two diggers at his feet, Alan extracted his water bottle and took a quick swig before speaking, as he closed the canteen pouch cover over the bottle. “ H”, Havock raised his head and looked up at the Section commander, his eyes were full of anger Alan thought, ‘ This might go badly’…..’ , “H, we need to scavenge what we can an be ready to move out as soon as 1 section breaks contact with those Indonesian troopers on the other side of the hill, we can’t take Joll’s with us”. Having delivered the truth and what he suspected was precisely what Havock didn’t want to hear, Alan braced himself for a verbal onslaught……but none came. Sensing an opening Alan pushed on “ H, you’ve got a GPS, I want you to lock in the position, I’ll have Bedak do the same and we will get the grid ref through to HQ ASAP, we have to come back and pickup Joll’s later, for now though, I want him concealed”, Pointing his arm out Alan indicated where he thought the dead trooper should be temporarily laid to rest, “ Over there beside that tree, its good cover, you have a hotchie on you, use that to wrap up his body….but make it fast, we ain’t got much time”. More bursts and gun fire was coming in from the hill, Alan figured any minute now that Murphs team would start puling back.
Reaching down Alan grabbed one side of Joll’s body “ come on H get fucking cracking”, Alan’s comment had the desired effect, it seemed to shake Havock loose from the funk he had descended into, “ Rodger that boss”, Havock stood upright and seemed to reanimate himself again, “ I’ve got him Al “, with that Havock grabbed Joll’s and with some help from Alan slung him over his left shoulder in a fireman’s carry the headed off into the bush….towards some cover and a temporary resting place for his mate.
‘ well that went better than I thought it would’, “ Right, Bedak, YD status?”, time to get back to business now Alan thought, they had mere minutes before more trouble could descent upon them. and the last thing he wanted was it coming in from their rear., ‘ we’re to exposed here’, Alan grumbled to no one in particular.
“ All clear Al, I’ve picked up some link for the mini as well” YD replied, “ Copy that YD, Simon what’s your status over”. Alan surveyed the surrounding ground, the ambient light levels was starting to grow, it wouldn’t be much longer and night vis gear would not be required at all.
2 Sections commander started surveying the surrounds, Alan had the map for this area, at least for the RV area, it was already fully committed to memory, just that he was now trying to figure out which way would be best, given the route the Indonesian patrol had come from and the proximity of the attacking force that 2 Section was now engaged with…they really had little alternative. North east it would be, “let’s hope we don’t catch any stragglers from that assault force’ Alan thought. The North easterly route would almost take them over terrain that the Attacking TNI troopers had covered to hit the hills flank, once out of this area Alan planned to continue hooking right some further 600 odd meters, ‘should be a straight shot to the RV point where the chopper had gone down I reckon from there’.
“ 2 this is one”, it was Murph on the radio, “ Breaking contact now, no casualties, heading back over the hill to the trail in the gully Al”. ‘right’ Alan thought, Murphs team were on the move..and they would be sprinting as well..” YD, watch your left flank down the trail, Section one will be coming in from there, ETA 5 minutes max I suspect, stay loose people”.