Union of War

by Michael Hutchinson

The unmistakable cries, the cries of pain, the cries of suffering. Running down the embankment, amidst the confusion and terror, the cries still followed him, he could not escape, scrambling for his medical kit, he stopped, something in his head told him, a rip roaring scream had told him 'STOP'.

The commander of fourteen platoon, stood, checking his equipment, making sure that every pouch on his webbing was sealed, his ammunition was loaded, his rifle was clean, and he looked so calm, why did he look so calm? we were thirty minutes away from going out on a fighting patrol, the Taliban were hard fighters, and this was the main stronghold for them, we were going to take out there ammunition bunkers, and I very much doubt that they would give that up in a hurry.

I had a respect for them, a respect, I did not understand, they were brutal believers of a strict version of Sunni Islam but even though they were the enemy, they had a belief and they fought for there belief.

Looking over my shoulder towards the fierce warrior tank, sitting beneath the RARDEN cannon, Corporal Lint sat, Linty, as known by his mates.

He was a strong jawed muscular man, with a fierce temper and a slight sarcastic tone, he never directly spoke to your face, he spoke down to you, and with me he always spoke down.

Ever since joining the platoon 3 years ago, we have never got along, always referring to the medics as 'REMFS' (rear echelon mother fuckers) which none of the medics liked.

In the corporals mess back in Germany, Linty, smugly walked across to our table and decided to start an argument over which regiment was the best regiment in the British army.

The infantry regiments were renowned for the pride they have in there regiments and over the cap badge they wear, which is understandable and well justified, but in my eyes not worth arguing about.

After stating to him the Royal Medical Corps was a CORPS and not a regiment, he decided to throw a punch in my direction, which in his drunken state, did not serve well in his favour, landing several blows to his very well defined chin, and ending in, linty, landing on a table flat on his back unconscious.

As a well known saying in the Army goes, 'what happens in the corporals mess stays in the mess', Nothing was said, so neither of us suffered any reprisals from our commanding officers, yet me and linty never really spoke again, except for the odd sarcastic remark.

I was lucky being the same rank as him, I really felt sorry for the young lads who served at a lower rank than him, be it private soldier or lance corporal, they all got it on the neck.

Turning around I seen the men coming out of the old war torn hotel we had taken over as our command post, not looking excessively excited about going off on another fighting patrol, the men still had a great deal of moral, laughing and joking, but with a sense of professionalism I don't think I had ever witnessed in the 3 years I have known them.

'Get on parade' the platoon sergeant shouts, and every man, including myself jumps into life and stands in 3 rows in front of the platoon sergeant and platoon commander.

The platoon commander starts briefing everyone on our objective, and mission, splitting everyone into 3 sections and assigning a medic to each section.

As always I am on Linty's team in 2 Section, however the good news for me is I am on the second warrior tank, so I do not have to sit in the same vehicle as him for two hours.

The ride to the drop off point, whichever patrol you are going on, always leaves you with mixed feelings, on the first hand its a time of reflection, and in the army its not often you get time to reflect, furthermore its a time to get your head down, if this is the last sleep you get it will be a good one.

On the road, an hour and a half into the ride the warrior comes to a halt, the sound of the engines dying, a lot of noise outside, BOOM, shock, and Another BOOM, what the fuck is happening, Hearing a loud scream, MEDIC, Jumping out the warrior, running out and to the left hearing again, BOOM, Shit, trying to find my bearings, a large chunk of warrior track lands inches away from me, dust everywhere, cant see a foot in front of my 'MEDIC' face.

Turning 'MEDIC' and running towards the sound, I hear it again 'MEDIC', round and down into the wadi, seeing, Private Longward, lying there, the blood, the flesh, torn from his body, the screams of agony, but not dead, Linty standing there, 'where the fuck have you been, he has took an RPG to his leg, fix it' 'what is his name, his first name what is it' linty looks at me bemused, he doesn't know this soldiers name, not his first name. Soldiers are only really known by there nickname, I am known as 'spud,' a nickname given to me in basic training for having the ability to fit a decent size potato in my mouth.

'WHAT IS HIS NAME' a young soldier, stops firing his gun, 'Spud, his name is Dave, he is from Newcastle' 'Dave, Dave, listen to me mate, we are going to get you on the wagon and get you to the field hospital OK, Don't worry about a thing, you will be back at camp in no time, I am going to give you morphine, this will stop the Pain'.

Stemming the bleeding with bandages and tourniquets, I gave him a shot of morphine in the thigh, Myself and linty got him on to the back of the quad bike, which had been dispatched from an RV point about one mile away.

The firing had eased of and, we started to regroup, 'I think the Rag heads are scared' linty said in a presumptuous sort of way.

Shocked and overwhelmed at what has just happened, but yet, not being able to digest it, the Platoon commander is shouting at everyone to get on the wagons, we still have thirty minutes of driving ahead.

In the warrior, contemplation kicks in, a welling in my eyes that, for some reason I find it hard to control, 'don't cry' a tear drips down my cheek, the thought of that poor lad, in pain, I could almost feel his pain, with the shivers which were making there way down my spine.

Could I have helped him more? 'How old is Dave' 'eighteen I think, or nineteen, he will be chuffed that he will be going to the field hospital, there is a nurse there he was trying to shag' the boys in the back of the warrior all burst into laughter. British Army Moral, it has to be the best way of dealing with a bad situation, I was struggling seeing the funny side of this, but this was the way these lads dealt with it, and I had the highest respect for them, for it.

Twenty minutes had past and no-one was sleeping, there was an air of vigilance, an air of authority in the back of the tank, eighteen year old boys at home, eighteen year old men in the back of the tank.

Sitting in a daze, am I asleep, 'I wonder if Dave is ok', the warrior lifted up at the front slightly, people seemed to be speaking in a muffled tone, the look on there face seemed that of confusion, I think I have drifted off, fell asleep for just one-second. The warrior doors opened, looking up the boys where jumping out the back, why was I still sitting there, what was the panic about, then nothing.

Looking up I felt a crushing pain in my chest, I looked up and seen Linty, 'sort yourself out medic' kneeling up I seen the warrior I was in, fire blazing out of the back, doors.

In the wadi, there was a lot of shouting, and gun fire, 'Covering fire', at one point I heard 'Fix bayonets', but I think that was just the boys having a laugh.

Trying to fight though the enemy position was going to be harder than we first thought, the Taliban seemed to be getting stronger by the minute, looking over the wadi, only to fire my weapon, I could see, what seemed like hundreds of them, 'them, they are people to' running in and out of cover, firing the AK47 weapon straight at us, it seemed like we were pinned down, we could not move.

Linty screaming orders at everyone, his second in command, running round like a headless chicken, Medics getting called from every angle, we were in serious trouble.

The Taliban had planned this attack viciously, and with amazing procession, they had us pinned from every angle, not knowing were to aim next, they knew where to aim, they knew 'we were scared'.

'Hello zero, this is two, one, charlie over'

'Zero send over'

'Two one charlie request FAST AIR, grid, six, three, one, four - two, three, one, three confirm my last over'

'Zero roger FAST AIR grid six, three, one, four - two, three, one, three over'

' Two one charlie roger out'

Linty was starting to panic, you could see in his face that the panic was there, strange to see such a cloak and dagger man, showing feelings, this unnerved me

'Hello two one charlie this is zero over'

'Two one charlie send over'

'Zero roger fast air at you location figures 3 over'

'Two one charlie roger out'

Fast air was called by in by the forward air controller, situated in the fire support platoon out of the grid square which we were in.

'Lets go, lets go'

Using the wadi as cover, we started sprinting to the other side of the road. Are we pulling out?

'Lets go, lets go, move it'

Linty, know screaming at us to get moving, '2 minutes', 2 minutes for what I wondered, but I kept moving anyway, just run.

The rush of the jets flying by, the whistling of the Bombs, the thunder, as they hit the earth with such force, it made you bones feel like they were crushing inside you, body after body, flying in the air, a mixture of British and Iraq, lay around, deafening explosions, limp bodies, bodies on fire. 'MEDIC'

Running back into the Wadi, I started grabbing the charred remains of the soldiers who were, seconds ago running for there lives, over the road, were sanctuary lay.

Out of the grid square we would have been safe, just one hundred meters more and they would have been safe, My god, emotion has overcome, confused, sitting down on the bank of the wadi, my head in my hands, all I could hear were, cries, cries for help, 'please save me, I don't want to die' gut wrenching cries.

'Sort yourself out Medic' thats all I could here.

Down the embankment, into the wadi, blocking out the cries of pain, 'STOP' I keep running, 'MEDIC' I grab a man by his collar and start dragging him.

'STOP' only 50 meters to go, 'STOP' he seems to be lighter, we are moving quicker.

'I told you to stop Spud', linty grabs his legs, we move into safe ground, 'cheers Linty', 'its Steve, my first name', linty said with a small grin.

'Hello zero, this is two one charlie, we request casavac at our location fig 10 over '

'Zero, en route, roger out'

Corporal Steve Lint Died from a gun shot wound to his head, 2 minutes after helping his men out of the wadi.

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