#39 Bake the EnemiesEditRED, RED, RED, an endless ocean tidal wave of red, as far as the eye could see.
Burning hot barrels spat out death at an unbelievable rates of fire. Within the cockpits, retinal HUD displays showed nothing but an endless stream of red warnings before them, as BETA Tank classes died in the thousands. Red and black blood splattered so high into the air that it seemed the very sky was raining blood on this desperate battlefield.
Having faced against the very image of hell, the pilots of this defense line were exhausted, and are kept going only by combat stimulants and adrenaline. They have seen so much blood been shed today that even when they breathed, they felt as if they are breathing in the smell of blood, despite being sealed inside their machines. And still the BETA onslaught did not seem to end.
“Holy Jesus! We in the shit now Boys!!”
Under the circumstance it was hard to tell whether the voice belonged to someone who was genuinely happy, excited, or someone who is really good at hiding his sarcasm.
At that moment, US Army 2nd Lt. James Clarke was holding down his trigger on full auto. His lips were filled with all manners of curses, and his eyes bore his intense hatred for the BETA. His ammo count remaining was far from being unlimited, resupplying had been of the bare minimal to say the least, operating on no sleep and having been engaged in combat for almost 12 hours now, and running purely on combat stimulants and adrenaline, the young man had every right to curse at the world.
“Master 9, this is Master 5, you are over lapping your arcs of fire, and we don’t got ammo to waste, boy!”
The voice was the same as the one from earlier, James only lost focus for a few seconds and fired into his wingman’s arcs. The entire squadron was spread thin across the line, and ammo was scarce, so he can understand why his boss is pissed off right now.
“Roger that sir, won’t happen again!”
Shaking out his tight and tired arms, and slapping his cheeks, James refocused his tired eyes and began refocusing his concentration before once again firing in cadence with his teammates.
“Master 5 to all Bravo flight, by the numbers boys and girls, crush'em, burn'em and kill'em all!”
Despite the incredible volume of fire the A-10s were pouring out, the fact that only 4 of them could be tasked to hold such an large area spoke volumes of how desperate the situation there was, and how effective the A-10 were at their jobs.
Finally, off in the horizon, a different kind of 'red' showed itself. The type of 'red' meant to give hope, as the sun rise could be seen now.
Fuck me, it’s the sun, yes, I can do it….. I must do it, it was a promise after all……. Yes, with this thing’s help I can do it, no, WE CAN do it!
Cheering himself on with his own private thoughts, the will to fight on reignited within his tired eyes.
His confidence comes from many things, the mighty guns on his own indomitable iron giant, the faith and love for the Stars and Stripes of his national flag, and finally and most importantly, his own very small, but special in its own way, promise he made that day. With these thoughts in mind, his guns roared in righteous fury.
The A-10s are the pride and joy of the US Army's heavy armor TSAs. Named the A-10 Thunderbolt II, they are the premier 'Tank busters' of the US Army. The A-10s on this battlefield belonged to the US Army 54th Attack Squadron Pit Masters. The squadron jokingly and lovingly referred to as the Masters of making a fine dish of ”BETA BBQ and Roasted Tanks”, on call.
In the vicinity of Hamburg, West Germany, in the region referred to by the locals as Alte Salzstraße, the West German army and their US allies began construction of a hasty assembled defense line, and prepped the local civilian population, and those of Hamburg, for immediate evacuation.
As part of the US Army working with the West Germans, the 54th choose deliberately to not park their A-10s inside the local army base hangars during the weeks before the BETA's estimated arrival. Instead, they choose to stay out in the open at the Hamburg port dockyards, in plain view of the city’s refugee camps, as the civilians waited to be shipped out to safety.
The reason for such actions was simple. The people in the city needed reassurance and peace of mind. Nothing quite like the presence of some big guns to help the city keep its peace and order, not descending into total chaos as some other cities in the country already had.
Earlier this year, with the collapse of the East Germany’s defense at the Oder-Neisse Line, and the fall of Berlin shortly after, West Germany had opened its doors to the fleeing refugees of East Germany, and began to dedicate its own military force to a full evacuation of the entire West German populace. However, due to the chaotic nature of the whole situation, and the lack of readily available ships to move millions of people and everything else the German government decided that had to be preserved at all cost, the entire evacuation was a slow but necessary process.
Now with the US contributing to the evacuation efforts, and fighting on the German frontlines to delay the BETA advance, the A-10s have made quite a name for themselves among not just the German soldiers, but also the civilian populace as well.
Days before the BETA’s imminent arrival, the pilots of the Pit Masters were approached by large numbers of refugee children that spoke some forms of English.
“Hey mister, do you drive an A-10?”
“Sure I do.”
“Wow, your cool! 'Kanonenvogel' are so awesome! I hear they are so much stronger than a TSF, is that true? Everyone says things will be alright since you guys are protecting us!”
Just like that, since the kids found out they were A-10 pilots, James and his squad mates had been surrounded by children, happy and eager to hear their stories of America, and the war with the BETA. Although it seemed that the locals had taken on a liking to calling the A-10 as the 'Kanonenvogel', a nickname meaning 'cannon bird', which was used to be used describing the JU-87, a WWII era dive bomber.
“My dad says not to trust foreigners, he says that they will all abandon Germany when the time comes….”
History had not been kind to Germany in the last 40 or so years, so James could not bring himself to blame the kid's parents for thinking that way, and despite being raised in a poor family in the countryside of Oklahoma, James and the other American pilots could only begin to grasp at the mental mindset of the German refugees. Still, the situation was getting grimmer; the living conditions of the refugees, and the city in general, had been deteriorating rapidly, and the shortage of power, food, water, and combined with the animosity that still existed between the citizens of West Germany and East Germany, things only seem to be rolling down hill.
As Americans soldiers, they had seen Hamburg in its darkest times in history from the sidelines, they had witnessed the people of city committing unspeakable horrors and atrocities to secure an earlier 'ticket' to secure passage for themselves and their families. Cases where women would sell their own bodies just to get by and secure a pass to safety were quite common.
Even witnessing all this, James himself still wished nothing more than to see the children be saved from this hellish existence, and thus he promised and swore on his pride as an A-10 pilot to see to it that the children would be safe.
“Yes, I promise you…..”
Not as an American, not as a soldier, but as a pilot of an A-10 of the Pit masters. And he does this not for the EU-US Alliance, not for the refugees, but for the kids standing before him right now. With this in mind 2nd Lt. James Clarke made his promise.
“Yes, I swear to you on the honor of a US Army A-10 pilot, that we will never abandon you!”
Saying those words, James wondered if he was simply a coward for making a promise he would very likely not be able to keep, and was doing it simply to boost his own confidence, and to act tough in front of his admirers. He quickly dismissed that train of thought. As A-10 pilots, they have far more firepower than a conventional TSF, but their maneuverability and speed is absolutely terrible, and if surrounded by BETA, they would not survive. Thus, protecting others from such a fate was in essence the very meaning of being an A-10 pilot. Defending others to save yourself was how most A-10 units operated, even if in this case, James was using his promise to the children to protect them and support himself spiritually and mentally.
The loud booms of explosions from artillery fire brought him back to the present. Once again he focused on the enemy. Into the sea of red he poured the might of his dual shoulder mounted 36mm GAU-8 Avenger Gatling Cannons. His hand held assault cannons also spat out metallic death, and the BETA died in droves. Still, they closed in on him. If any BETA made it in close to melee with him, James planned to take quite a few of them with him, by using his A-10's Javelin CIDS spikes.
As the entire 54th poured their collective fire into the BETA horde, the sun had finally risen above the horizon, and the sky once again took on its azure blue form.
“We are not done yet!!! HOLD THE LINE!!!”
With the sun up, it became easier to see off into the distance. Behind them, they could see the refugee ships leaving the port, one by one. Every ship safely sailing away was one step closer to completing their objective for the Pit Masters.
Every hour and every minute gained by the Pit Masters delaying the BETA advance was more time and hope for the future for the refugee children. Until they are all safe, only then will 2nd Lt. James Clarke's promise be fulfilled…..
Late 1983. The defense and evacuation of the city of Hamburg and its surrounding districts was completed. By the end of the operation, 50% of all the A-10s committed by the US Army were confirmed KIA. It was said in the after action report that many A-10 units that held the spread out defense lines fought and died to the last man, while still holding their ground, guns blazing to the end. The actions of the US Expeditionary Forces that day forever solidified their positions in the hearts of many German citizens.