Elan R.

Desperate Measures

The morning dew was as cold as the ground as Captain Aaron Parker brushed up against the wet bramble. The lack of frost told him that winter was finally leaving. His Thompson’s strap was itchy against his shoulder. He raised his hand to indicate a stop.

“Sir, what are our orders?” asked Lt. Jones. Aaron looked at their target, a barren mound of dirt with patches of grass sticking out from it. Aaron cursed under his breath as he saw the glitter of machine guns and the tan of the bunker fortification. “Captain?” Jones asked again, the sound of his voice startling Aaron back into existence.

“Our orders lieutenant, are to make safe this area of country.” Aaron once again surveyed the scene. “We need to make this area safe for a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.”

“Permission to speak freely, sir?”

“Granted”

“How the hell are we supposed to clear that hill? The Germs have, by my count, three MGs that’ll cut down anyone that comes close,” Jones finished. Aaron thought for a little while.

“Ok, listen close and listen fast. I want four snipers in a firing position; when they get into position we rip that hill a new one with covering fire, understand?” Lt. Jones’ eyes lit up with a candle of hope.

“I’ll deliver the orders to the troops myself,” Jones said as he silently moved off to tell the rest of the men. This gave Aaron time to himself. He took a swig from his water canteen and got into position. Twenty dreadful minutes passed and Aaron mobilized the troops.

“Get ready, men. On the count of three, one…two…THREE!”

The quiet forest exploded with noise and fire. The German troops responded to the covering fire just as planned and barraged the Fourth Rangers Division with loud cracks. Suddenly, a flash of gunfire from the brush, then another, then another, and then another. The MGs fell silent and other soldiers fell to the line to fire upon the Allies.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for!” Aaron yelled. “Push forward squad!”

Running from cover to cover, the Fourth ran and shot. The snipers constantly took out officers to throw the troops into disarray. The last of the Axis soldiers fell or were captured. Aaron looked at his watch and saw that it had only been twenty minutes. There was so much death, in twenty minutes? How was such a thing possible?

“Body count, lieutenant.” Aaron’s voice was almost a whisper.

“We have five dead, sir, ten wounded, and five of those ten won’t make it to the M.A.S.H. don’t worry sir, you did the right thing,” Jones reported.

“The names, Jones, if you please,” Aaron answered, “Dismissed.”

“Yes sir, thank you, sir.”

“Sir!” shouted Sergeant Gusten, “we have an enemy officer!”

“Good, do you know German?” asked Aaron.

“Yes sir. Enough at least.”

“Ask him if there are any forts around the area”

“Gibt es irgendwelche anderen Forts nahe vorbei?” asked Gusten.

“Ich sage nichts, Hitler zu entehren,” the officer responded.

“He says that he won’t say anything to disgrace Hitler.”

Ripping out the chain around his neck, Aaron showed his Star of David. “Tell that shumck that he just got beaten by a Jew, and that he’s already disgraced Hitler, and that if he doesn’t tell us where the nearest camp is,” Aaron paused, drew his side-arm, and cocked it, “I’ll kill him.”

“Sir, you can’t be serious!” Gusten was panicking, “The rules of-”

“The rules of war say nothing about a soldier dying in combat. Follow orders, soldier!”

“Yes sir.” Gusten was furious. “Sie erhielten gerade durch einen Juden geschlagen, haben Sie bereits Hitler entehrt, und wenn Sie mir, wo erklären daß nicht das nächste Lager ist, töten mich er Sie.”

The officer’s eyes widened and started taking out pictures and letters from his wallet and hat. “Fein fein! Es gibt ein Konzentration Lager nahe hier, 4 Meilen West! Bitte jetzt töten mich nicht, den ich einen Sohn und eine Frau habe!”

“Sir, he says there’s a…concentration camp? Near here. I’m not sure what that is- maybe a forward position for soldiers to train? He also says he is a father and a husband,”

Time stood still for a moment; Aaron lowered his pistol and lit a cigarette. “Give him a cigarette and tell him that he is to march south until he gets to the nearest allied encampment.”

“Yes sir.” A wave of relief filled Gusten’s voice. He started to speak in German and Aaron walked away, holstering his side arm and breathed in deeply on his cigarette. He had a deep-rooted feeling of foreboding in the pit of his stomach. Hoping to get rid of this feeling he drank a little water and went to discuss the next day’s march. Four days passed, and in the horizon the scouts reported a fort nearby.

The Rangers circled the fort and got as close as they could without being spotted. The deep feeling of foreboding returned to Aaron’s stomach. He got close to the fence. “Please, please kill me!” a skeletal figure yelled out and then fell to the ground. Aaron saw the Star of David sewn to the figure’s jacket. He saw hundreds of figures that looked exactly the same and all of them begged and prayed for death. “Men, enough scouting for the day. Let’s go back to camp.”

The anguish of the prisoners tormented Aaron all through planning the assault. It was the heavy weight on his mind as he heard all the men report what they saw and heard. In that evening he gathered the men.

“Men, I have heard all of your reports, we are out numbered, and this calls for desperate measures…” The discussion of what the unit should do lasted long into the night. Every man in the company swore on their lives that they wouldn’t say exactly what those “desperate measures” were. To this day, Captain Aaron Parker remembers every name from the camp log.




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