Philippines

image Day crept over the horizon pulling back the blanket that Madame Night laid over Terra Firma.  Today began like any other but would end anything but. Perched atop the port sponson and peering out into the morning I stood in full view of gods greatness. Like a sentry looking for approaching troops, I watched as we slowly glided along and carefully aligned ourselves to pass through the straits with a minimum of fuss.  Like the Tip of the Sword penetrating a knights armor we navigated true and steady.  As Sol rose in the East, Pacifica Oceanus proffered us a glimmer into her realm. Exhausted and spent from whipping up angry crests a west wind finally succumbed and died.  Ruffled crests grew calm and disappeared. The endless ocean before us resembled a pane of the smoothest glass. It was as if we were gliding across a sea of crystal blue ice.

The stuff of legend, Creatures big and small,  joined our journey. It was as if Oceanus was providing an escort, a guide, as we gently caressed her skin. First up were the flying fish running port and starboard. Simulating runway lights, they guided our way, gently crossing from one medium to another showcasing their ability to be at home in the sea or air. In an effort to not be outdone, Dolphins, the race cars of the deep, playfully crossed our path like shots across our bow. Never breaking stride as they jumped from right to left then left to right. Rising out of the depths like rockets and then crashing back to earth, two whales, the titans of the deep made their presence known. Providing thunderous applause as If acknowledging that we were not alone in threading the strait.

As land encroached on the left, filled with lush vegetation, I could only wonder about what creatures lurked behind the green veil. Sol began his slow accent into the heavens. The warming rays of light, bathing the land below, flickered and danced off Oceanus’ skin like Stars twinkling in the night sky. The shimmering light was mesmerizing and almost melodic and seemed captive in the water. It made even the hardest of souls relaxed and at ease.

We began our entrance into the welcoming arms of Subic bay and the ringing of bells assaulted our ears like the screams of harpies before the attack. Men raced about and began transforming the ship from one state to another. No longer was she rigged for silent running through potentially hostile waters. She was a warship and war was what she was being prepared for. The flight deck erupted in a flurry of activity. Aircraft engines roared as plane captains awoke their slumbering craft. They would soon take to the skies like birds of prey hunting their unsuspecting victims. We turn into the wind as our escorts, long distant in the night, turn their screws to full and close the gap with us. They are about to form a tight circle of protection around what can only be described as a floating city. The capital ships of the American military are home to a post office, hospital, and a mobile airport amongst other things. We have all the compliments that you would find in a typical city in any country in the world. Bakery, Dry Cleaners, Laundry mat, Restaurant and Movie Theatre are all encompassed inside a million pounds of hardened steel sailing the oceans of the world like the tentacles the Kraken.

I begin my approach back to the weapons locker to gear up. There are people needing saving and we are the Calvary.  First off the deck are the E2C Hawkeyes, the eye in the sky. They are the extended flight control of the fleet, Next up are EA6-B’s they Jam and Scram all enemy systems so that we operate in complete silence. Then the birds of prey take flight, F/A 18’s launch off the deck like falcons released from captivity to hunt field mice followed closely by the F-14’s, the preverbal Hawks of the skies. Aircraft so deadly that other nations complain about the U.S having an unfair advantage in warfare. Last up are the choppers delivering the ground troops and evac teams. Sovereign American soil is threatened by hostile troops and its our duty to repel the advancing forces knocking at our gates.

As we begin our approach from the West, running fast and hard across the belly of the ocean. The support aircraft begin taking up station with the angels ensuring our entry and exit. We approach land, raise altitude to just above tree top level, as the door gunners ready their weapons. This is a daylight operation, we are outside of our desired element. As the intensity builds we hear over the radio that enemy armor is creeping up the boulevard towards “Our House.” We set lines and ready weapons for a hot entry. The falcons descend and begin runs on the enemy. Radio’s come to life as marines on the ground relay targeting info and extraction orders. We are the fodder being breach loaded into the cannon, our hearts thrust upon the advancing forces with a fury rivaled only by the gods of Olympus.

We are SBU’s, Special Battle Units of the combined warfare world, unconventional warfare is our motto. The distinctive thump thump thump of the SH-60 skyhawk rotors entices spectators to seek cover. We slow our advance ejecting teams of two under sporadic cover of fire. 10 second hovers, crisscrossing routes, descending fixed wing aircraft, missiles, rockets, sonic booms all work to hide the placement of troops on the ground. This is what we trained for, we are in our element and we revel in it. As we begin to shadow advancing enemy troops, word that Airforce Pavelow helicopters are 10 minutes out. The Marines on the ground brace for the sudden onslaught expected during the evacuation of non-combatants. Five miles away tanks take aim at the presidential palace and President Marco’s hold on the Philippine nation erodes in an instant.

Desperate calls for help crackle across the airwaves as fearful foreigners seek refuge from unstable elements seeking control of this vital gateway to the orient. We ignore their frantic pleas. Our mission is clear stop advancing armor at all cost. 120 seconds out and the Blackhawks at angels 6 begin a dangerous descent straight down. We react, striking fast and hard, surprise is our key weapon. With satchel bags primed and at the ready, we deploy them at the most vulnerable spots on enemy armor, the underbelly. Secondary teams launch shoulder propelled rockets at the tanks tracks, effectively stopping them. We press our bodies up against the armor awaiting the soldiers inside to eject.

As the first civilians dart out upon the roof, the first Pavelow lands spitting troops and replacing them with embassy workers. They reinforce the ground troops with fresh eyes and ammo. Tanks, immobilized but otherwise operational, begin to take aim. We race to place our heads into the jaws of the lion. Staring straight down the barrel of a 155 MM gun we plant our satchel charges, set timers and run like hell. With Apollo’s approval, we shall be victorious. The shells are loaded, coordinates locked in and weapons go hot as the first of the charges explodes mere seconds prior to the tanks lobbing shells towards the unprotected helicopters. Mere seconds are all that is needed to create a chain reaction that completely destroys the the lead tank and the crew inside. It is a horrible death, fret with the pain and agony of hellfire.

We’ve been in and over the target zone for thirty minutes, air cover begins to peel off for refueling operations as a secondary line of armor we didn’t detect advances from the south and starts to shell our positions. They strike the first Pavelow lifting off and reduce 15 people to burning embers. We begin to redeploy and destroy those we once sought to leave alive.  We are ill prepared to fight on two fronts against armored troops and remain undetected.

As we race across town, six Pavelow’s fully loaded with precious cargo spin up and prepare to lift off. We see the enemy wheels lockup suggesting that  trajectories are being plotted. As their barrels lift skyward it only reinforces our fears that they are taking aim at the unsuspecting helicopters. As we open the commandeered transport throttles wide, dumping every ounce of gas feasible into the engines, we increase speed to maximum. Getting clear targeting is a must, but we are outside our effective range. Needing to close the gap and fast, we seek higher ground. Shoulder fired missiles from higher elevation offer us greater range as gravity plays an unsuspecting accessory.

Team 3 arrives first using a makeshift construction ramp as a road map into the enemy heart. Brian, a corn fed, Nebraskan, standing six feet at the shoulders with dark blonde hair dives off his borrowed motor cycle. At 29 years old, he is the poster child for the American mid-west. The third generation son of famers, he joined the Navy to experience the adventure. David, his counter agent and spotter, is seated behind him and launches himself to the left. David is Puerto Rican by birth Bronx native by the grace of God. Short but stocky, he is a perfect compliment to Brian. As he hits the concrete roof and rolls, his five foot eight inch frame absorbs the impact. Both operatives rise and run to the edge to witness the motor cycle land between the first and second advancing tank. David is already readying his shoulder fired Hellfire missile as Brian begins to descend from the roof with his satchel charge. He has just moments to get in place before the column targets their position. Teams one, two and four burst onto the scene in similar fashion. Turrets whirl and gunners emerge to engage the mosquitoes irritating their formation. This is the desired effect the SBU teams wanted. But only half of the tanks respond to the threat. The rest are still preparing to engage the formation of helicopters on the embassy roof about to ascend into the clouds.

Commander Elliott has but one option left to him. Squawking orders over the secure line he advises the squads to begin operation D.R.A.K.E. DRAKE, another of those colorful Naval acronyms, stands for Do-it Right And Kill Everything. Direct assault on armored troops has never been successful in the history of warfare. Six teams of the most highly trained operatives in any military begin a death charge. Any resulting delay gives the pavelows precious extra seconds needed to evade enemy fire. As the turrets realign to engage the enemy threat from the rooftops, David depresses the trigger and the aptly named hellfire missile streaks forth and explodes on the rear of the lead tank. The ensuing explosion lifts the tanks rear off the ground. The extended range external fuel tanks ignite, secondary explosions rush through the fuel system destroying the engine and detonating the internal tanks. Only the heavy armor keeps the tank from exploding in all directions. It burps and spits black smoke. The tank crew inside is roasted alive as if they were baked chicken.

Brian rushes towards tank four and is about to slide under its belly when the top opens and a fresh faced sergeant takes aim at him. The soldiers head jerks to the right as a full metal jacketed round exits taking with it most of his cranium infrastructure. Team two, providing cover fire, tries to keep the soldiers inside. By now the tank commanders begin to frantically fire on all surrounding buildings trying to reduce potential hostile positions to rubbish. Their error was in not targeting. It shall be the last mistake they ever make. Tank four explodes upward as if launched by rockets.  Brian, thrown to the ground from the resulting explosion, is dazed and disorientated. Two of the six tanks have successfully been retired from action. The rest begin a full assault on the surrounding buildings unsuccessfully trying to engage the knats reducing their numbers systematically. The teams, beleaguered by the explosions, don’t notice the distinct chopping of air from incoming rotors. The Philippine Army, responding to the destruction of its armored column sends in a wing of UH-60’s. The door gunners belch fifty-caliber ammo like dragons spitting forth fire. Eight of the most elite soldiers in the world find themselves knocking on deaths door and unwilling to enter.

Trapped between the remaining tanks and their air support, commander Elliott  squawks his radio twice. This lets the teams know to disengage and enact evade and escape tactics. Team one, the youngest in experience, is decimated on the rooftop of a local convenience store. The door gunners spot them trying to descend and open up while the turret from the last tank finds it mark. Their death is swift and climatic. Team three is cut down on the ground while darting in between buildings. Elliott, a full commander, decides to face death head on and yells “Retreat Hell, Engage.” As the UH-60’s begin a finishing run, the remaining teams prepare to receive incoming fire and complete their task. The destruction of the column.

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