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The Lost and Found
It was the day before my brother Tyler shipped off to ROTC and we were at a bar having a couple drinks. David said something about Tyler but I can’t remember what he said. Anyway it made Ty mad. The last night all four of us spent together was filled with fist fights. But the worst thing is none of us can remember what David said and now Ty is dead. We never got to see him again. The last time we saw him was when he was fuming mad swinging at Davy.
My name is John Anderson. I am a First Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. I am currently stationed in Bagdad. My platoon runs mostly top secret night ops. I’m scheduled to run a mission in a little town called Tai’an located south of Bagdad. My brother David is my commanding officer. My other brother Timothy was killed in combat with my brother Tyler. You’d think I would be scared after my brothers died but war is the only thing I know. It’s the only thing my family has ever known.
My brothers died in captivity. I didn’t even know they were dead until two months after they went missing. I was part of the recon team sent in to free the POW’s. I wish I hadn’t because all that did for me is give me the chance to see my brothers mangled bodies and lose the hope that they were alive. I was granted a one month leave to go home and comfort my mother but she barely talked the whole time. She is still in shock and it’s been almost two years since their deaths. The only reason I stay in the military is for revenge.
“You won’t be going on the op tonight or any other night ops.”
“You’ve been reassigned. You and your brother are going to be running covert operations now. Now get over there before they change their minds.”
“Sir yes sir.” My mind is racing. I have never heard of a special ops Lieutenant being called up to covert ops. What covert op would they need us to run? All I can think of is that they want us to run a mission concerning our brothers.
My suspicions are confirmed when I get to covert command. As soon as I walk through the door I see big posters hanging on the wall. Each one is a blown-up picture of my brothers. The General calls David and I over. “We think your brothers could still be alive.”
“Yes the bodies were not actually looked at by anyone who knew what they looked like. The faces on the bodies we found were so torn up also. They just went by dog tags due to the amount of casualties we received on that op.”
My heart skipped a beat. All at once I was filled with excitement and anger. Excitement at the hope that my brothers are still alive, and anger at the military for not taking the time to be sure they were my brothers before they told my family.
“We just received word from a special agent planted in the enemy base that they have a large amount of American POW’s. He sent us pictures and we were pretty sure we saw your brothers. Their faces were pretty obscured from the beatings they are receiving but that’s just another reason for us to get them out as fast as possible.”
“When do we get them out?”
“Next Monday at 1300 hours.”
“Why not sooner?”
“We can’t just walk in there and get them out. We need a plan.”
“Well then let’s get started.”
The next couple of days are filled with intense training, long meetings, late nights, and a lot of target shooting. By the Friday before the recon mission we have an elaborate plan to get them out. First we have a team come from the north as a diversion while my team comes from the south setting up C4 as we go. We will blow a hole in the back of the prison and get the POW’s. Once we are a safe distance away we are going to blow the whole base. My brother is in my team as well. We will have a team come from the east and west also so we are attacking from all sides. But my team will lay low so we have little resistance as we get the prisoners.
D-day comes and we all load up in the tanks. It’s about a four hour tank ride to the base. I can’t stop thinking about my brothers. What if they aren’t alive? What if this is a trap? I don’t know. All I know is that there is a chance my brothers are still alive, and if they are alive I am going to find them.
The sergeant’s yelling brings me out of my thoughts. “Come on ladies we got ourselves a battle to fight.”
The tank’s rear door opens and we rush in to the gunfire. As soon as we are out the guy next to me goes down. He is still alive but not by much. I start dragging him to cover and just before I get to the car I have my eye on the guy who catches another bullet right in his forehead. That’s when I notice that these guys aren’t the usual skinnies. Normal skinnies wouldn’t have the training let alone skill to make a precision shot like that. They are obviously protecting something the question is what? My brothers and the other POW’s or something more important? I don’t know and I don’t have time to think about it.
I pop out of cover and take down two skinnies in about five seconds. The plan originally had my team lay low but that’s not happening. I make a run for my first objective, the barrels of fuel. I set up my C4 taking out two more skinnies in the process. I take cover under the car and take out about five more tangos. I run to the back of the prison and set up my charges. Then I notice something; we have five men down and three men left. The three of us duck behind cover and blow the wall.
We rush in to find empty cells and a lot of hostile soldiers. I duck behind an empty barrel and open fire. Thanks to our intensive training it is not long before the hostiles that remain are retreating. We go through half the prison searching the cells but still nothing. Then we hit heavy resistance. It takes us about three hours to clear the rest of the prison but still nothing. Then I see the hatch. It’s a little hatch about a meter wide hidden behind some barrels. It is obvious that it wasn’t ment to be seen. We clear the rest of the room and take a better look at the hatch. There is a ladder going way underground through a tunnel about three feet around. We don’t know what’s down there and none of us are sure we want to. But we start climbing down anyway.
We have to go at least five hundred feet into the ground before we started hearing screams. They kept on getting louder and louder as we went down. Then we saw a light and the end of the tunnel. We all brace ourselves for what’s to come and jump down.
The cavern erupts with gunfire. It’s not long before another man goes down and it is just me and my brother. We clear the cavern and head down a long hallway. The screams get louder and louder and then we see them. My brothers and two other POW’s strapped to a chair with a car battery hooked to them. They’re sopping wet with sweat and water. I hear some skinnies talking and the POW’s are soaked with another bucket of water. Rage over takes me within seconds I am through the door and both of the skinnies are dead. I rush to my brothers but they are unresponsive. We decide to hang out and try to let the POW’s come to their senses. It takes fifteen minutes for them to be able to walk. We decide we can’t wait any longer so David and I carry two POW’s on our backs and let Tyler and Alex walk. We barely make it to the ladder before they need a rest. We rest for five minutes and give them some food and water before we start climbing. We make it to the top and everything is quiet. The only explanation I have is that we killed them all on the way in. We make our way out to where the convoy is supposed to pick us up but it is not there. I radio to the other squads and get nothing. Maybe that is why there was no resistance. They were all focused on the other squads. My heart sinks. We can’t blow the base until I am sure that the others are dead or that they are out of the base. That leaves only one thing to do.
“David” I say. “You stay here and keep these guys alive. I’m going to find the other squads,” I finish.
“Okay, but make sure you do one thing for me,” he said.
“What is that?” I ask.
“Stay alive,” he replies.
Then I run back into the base. Once again there is no resistance. I run as fast as I can towards any noise I hear. Then when I enter a hallway I start to hear gun shots. I run as fast as I can and almost fall of a cliff. I scurry back. I peak over the cliff and see the other two squads on their knees with bags over their heads getting shot one by one. I have no time to think in seconds I am falling from the ledge straight into a water-filled ravine.
When my head pokes out of the water everything around me is destroyed by the enemies’ murderous fire. I get behind a rock and climb out of the water. I pop out and pick off my first target. Then my second and my third. There are only two men left and they are trying to take out the other squads. But it’s too late the men have already taken cover. One of the two men left pops out and I open fire. That was the last thing he saw. There is only one left and he gives up and runs. I come out from my cover and untie the other men. They took their weapons so we go looking for an armory. It’s not long before we find one. Then once we are all loaded up we head back to the room I just cleared. I can’t figure out a way to get back up to the cliff so we find a way around. When we reach the cliff we head back to the pick-up sight. We hit heavy resistance in the first five minutes. When we get to the pick-up sight my heart sinks. No one is there.
Something’s not right. Why is no one here? I know that my brothers wouldn’t just pack up and leave me. I have to find them. “Listen up.”
“The convoy should be here any minute. Stall them for as long as you can. I’m going back out to find my brothers.”
Then I ran off into the rubble. I start to hear gun shots again. It’s not long before I jog out into a clearing and am almost blown up by a grenade. I jump to cover and take out two tangos. I can see my brothers holding out behind and old blown up car. I run over to them and find that David has been hit. I know we have to get out of here but I can’t see any exit points except the one I just came from. But that would require running through the open. I have to do it. I through a smoke grenade and we make a run for it. Just before we hit the opening I am thrown to the left and my hand automatically clamps on the hole in my side.
I am knocked out for the next two minutes and all I remember is my brother’s pulling me through the base. Tyler getting hit in leg and arriving at the convoy. When I wake up I am in a hospital bed with all kinds of machines hooked up to me. David comes in on crutches and Alex walks in. “Where’s Ty,” I ask.
Alex shakes his head. “The bullet hit a main artery and he bleed to death,” he says.
I do everything I can to keep from screaming but it slips out. I went with one brother, had three brothers, and I could only get two of them back. I guess it’s a success but I can help but wish it was me that died and not Tyler. I kind of wish none of us had joined the military in the first place.