“Gather round,” the Sergeant commanded. He pulled out a map and a red colour pencil. A marine standing in front squatted down, offering to use his back as a table. Sergeant spread the map over on the marine’s back and looked intensely at the map.
He drew 2 large red circles with his colour pencil on a map and placed a marked it with a cross. “These 2 areas are Ramzon’s strongholds. From our scouts report, these areas are supported with heavy artillery shells and tanks. Approaching it will be difficult, but not as difficult if we take out the bunkers in front.” He sticked his head out of the trench and pointed towards a little cement building. “That bunker,” he said, “is currently hindering our progress.”
We knew that well. For the last 3 days that bunker has been spitting out 20mm bullets from their gunners. The turrets are made to spit rounds and rounds of bullets non-stop for 20 hours straight without overheating. The fact was that we were at a disadvantage. The enemies were uphill and we were stuck in our trench downhill. To make matters worse, they are backed by bombers that sweep so low that we could see the pilots from the ground.
“Corporal.” My day dreaming was cut short. I shook myself up and looked at the Sergeant.
“Do you hear someone shouting?”
From the bombing and the gunfires, a faint voice from a distance not too far away was heard. A plea. A cry for help.
“Somebody help me!”
The platoon looked out from the trench we were bunked in. Further up from our trench, at the stretch of slope leading to the enemy’s bunker, was a marine crawling on the ground. Both his legs were bleeding profusely, and he was struggling to crawl with his wounded legs and heavy gear.
Sergeant shoved the map away and pushed everyone aside. He started to climb out of the trench.
“Everyone stay put,” he replied and scrambled to the ground.
In a second he was dashing towards the wounded marine. For the next few moments, the only thing we saw was him running towards the wounded marine. Then the enemy’s from the bunker spotted him and the gunners loaded their machine guns. It was our platoon that realised the gunners were going to start firing their machine guns again.
I had to do something. “Cover the sarge people!” and we started firing away at the bunkers. The gunners ducked for cover from their bunker hole and stayed down for quite some time. Just enough time for the sergeant to grab the marine onto his back, lifted him off and slid back into the safety of the trench.
“No time to waste,” he murmured under his breath. “Colonel, give me a hand here.”
We cleared a table and laid him on the table. Swiftly I took out my knife and slit open his bloodied pants. Grabbing a sterile cloth and wiping away the blood that literally painted his whole leg red, beneath the layer of dried up blood we could clearly see the burnt wounds on his legs. It was a mortar round that exploded near his legs, blowing away a generous portion of his flesh, exposing the bones.
“Radio HQ, tell them that we have a severely wounded marine that has to be transported back for treatment. In the mean time, let’s work on him and do whatever we could.”
I just looked at the sergeant intently and thought of the great sacrifice that he made for our platoon. He was never originally our platoon chief. He was from the Central Command Post and he was the chief strategist behind the assault against Ramzon’s troops.
The sergeant is a well known and respected man in the army. Not just because he is the president’s son, but because he is the Man in the army. He’s a chief medic, he’s a strategist and military analyst. A brave leader, and a tough soldier who was brought up in the ways of the army. He fought with every breath he had left, he’d run and rescue every man that’s wounded in the battlefield and his courage sometimes leave us all in awe.
“Leave no man behind,” he’d always say.
He was posted to our platoon because our platoon was struggling with the Northern rebel troops. The president knew very well that we could not handle them on our own, we needed help from the Central Command. At that time, we were lacking ammos, rations and supplies. My men were ill and sick, but worse of all? Demotivated. They saw no purpose in suppressing the Northern troops and were at the verge of giving up.
That was, of course, before the sergeant came in.
He restored our troop’s morale. Coming in to take command, he led our troops and restore our dignity and pride that we once had.
“You are soldiers not of the President but the People, the chosen guardians of the nation, the strongest men of all!”
With his control over our platoon, he brought in the supplies and ammos that we desperately needed to continue fighting this battle. He was more than just a leader, he was a friend when we needed him the most.
“Sergeant?” the wounded marine whispered. “Thank you for saving me..”
Sergeant took his hands. Bending over to his ears, softly but surely he said, “Leave no man behind. Not you.”
“Rest and get well soon, marine,” Sergeant said. “Thank you for serving the people faithfully.”
Soon enough an army jeep took the wounded marine away and it was back to the strategies. “Someone has to take down the bunkers if our platoon is going to advance,” I pointed out. “At the rate we’re going, there’s little chance we can move an inch up that mountain.”
Everyone knew how dangerous that mission was. No one could do it. For that kind of mission, it required physical and mental determination, courage to get close to the bunkers and face probably 8 heavily armed enemies there, throw in the C4 explosives and blow that bunker up.
No one in our platoon could do that. Our platoon’s made up of a bunch of scrap troops. Half of my men were trained a century ago and only called back recently when the war broke out. Other than a week’s crash course training, we had no advanced training that could possibly take us on such a mission.
All eyes were fixed on the sergeant. It took us a while to digest what was going on, and as soon as that happened we protested. “But who would take over from there?”
“Sergeant, listen,” I reasoned. “My men need you here. It’s too dangerous.”
We were literally begging him. He was our everything, our leader, our guide... Sending him to that bunker would probably be no different from sending him to his grave.
“Colonel, you know what to do when I’m gone.”
But I’m not ready for this sarge.. you are everything to us..
He grabbed the bag containing C4s and checked his rifles. He looked at all of us one more time before running out. “People, fight with pride. Take care of each other and always watch each other’s back. Most of all, the president, my father, will never leave you.” Upon saying that, he dashed out from the trench and ran towards the bunkers.
“Cover him people! Don’t let him fall!” I shouted.
Explosion, tonnes of soil and dust coupled with some explosions flew into the trench, covering our view and reactively throwing us back into the trench. That bomber caught all of us by surprise. None of us saw it coming. Coughing, we shook the soil away from our uniform.
“Sergeant! Sergeant!” I commanded. “Cover the sergeant!”
We were too late. Through the thick smoke and fire, we could barely see a lone figure running into the bunker. Gunshots were head, shouts and screams. A brief silence for probably 20 seconds when we finally saw the sergeant scrambling out of the bunkers.
“Stay down people! Stay down!”
In a split second the bunker that was still standing firmly on higher ground was blown away. The explosion was so great that the sergeant was sent flying in the air and came crashing to the ground not too far away from us. Our platoon rose up and ran towards him.
“Sarge!!” we got to him and lifted him back to quarters.
We radioed HQ to send another jeep to take him back. We were broken to see him in that position. He was coughing blood and was in pain, but through it all he took it in like a man, and didn’t complain.
It took one man to stand in our gap to change the whole assault. In the wee hours of the next morning, our platoon advanced into the higher grounds and seized control of the base camps that they had. Following what happened prior to that, our troops were highly motivated and were all out to avenge the injury of our sergeant.
He lead, not by words, but by examples of actions.
He was, the soldier and the Man of Zanotopia.