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Air Warriors This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   It was a crisp cool day at Williams Air Force base. The warmth of summer had left and the biting wind of fall chilled Johnny's body as he left the barracks. The front page of a crumpled up newspaper that read "Iran declares war on U.S." blew past Johnny as he headed for the mess hall. He entered the dirty half-crowded mess hall and plunked himself at an empty table. A rowdy helicopter pilot came in and sat down next to him. He punched Johnny in the arm and started to brag about the dog fight he had with a Mig the day before. Derek was the most obnoxious egotistical person Johnny had ever had the displeasure of meeting. The worst thing was that the cocky 21-year-old thought Johnny was his friend.

As Johnny looked out the window onto the barren fields of the small island, he wished he was back in America pursuing his dream of being an architect. But instead he was on some secret island Air Force base in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Johnny was 19 years old. His father, an Air Force General, never understood his dream of being an architect. Ever since Johnny was born, his father had dreamed of his son becoming a pilot in the Air Force. When Johnny graduated from high school, he went straight into the Air Force and became an "Apache attack copter" pilot.

Just three weeks ago an on-going dispute between Iran and the United States had finally snapped and war had broken out. Johnny was scared, scared he wouldn't see his family again, scared he'd never see his girlfriend again, scared he would die. Most of the other pilots were trigger-happy, cocky, shoot 'em up guys, but Johnny just wanted to go home.

Johnny was staring out at the runways when suddenly someone tapped him on the shoulder. It was Derek. Oh brother, just what I need, thought Johnny.

"Johnny, did ya hear there's a big Iranian aircraft carrier 50 miles off the northern coast of the island. You, me, Dwayne (another helicopter pilot), Josh (a Harrier pilot), Bill (the squadron leader) and fifteen other guys are attacking at 0: 15 hundred hours today," Derek informed him.

Memories flooded Johnny's mind of the last attack. Johnny had seen his friend's copter hit by a missile and explode before his eyes. Fifteen aircraft had left for that mission; only five returned.

Before the squadron left, Johnny had a chance to talk to his only true friend, Josh. They wished each other luck. Josh piloted a Harrier, one of the most advanced assault jet planes around.

On that cold October day, Johnny climbed into the cockpit of his armed to the teeth Apache attack copter with dismayed anticipation of being blown to pieces over the Indian Ocean.

"Whirrrrrrrr," went the copter as Johnny pulled off the ground. In addition to Johnny, there were eight other Apaches, six Harriers, and six F-16s. They left the island and headed north towards the big Iranian aircraft carrier, prepared to do what they needed to survive.

"Sir! There seems to be something on the ship radar coming from the south. It appears to be a squadron of aircraft! And they aren't ours ...they are Americans," the Iranian informed his captain.

"Battle stations. Battle stations! Code Red! boomed the captain's voice throughout the ship.

"Ready the missile systems! Man the Mig aircrafts! Man the cannons! I repeat, this is a code red!" The Iranian naval officers, pilots, and crew scrambled to prepare for the attack.

"Sir, they are closing in: Four miles, three miles, two miles, firing distance!

"Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh," went three heat-seeker missiles launched by the ship. "Look out," screamed Bill, "Evasive action!"

"Boom," went the first missile as Johnny shot it down with his chain machine gun. "Boom," went the second missile. "Kaboom," went the third missile as it collided head-on with one of the F-16s which tumbled into the ocean "We're closing in on the ship, It's one and a half miles away."

"Hurry up! Attack the runway before the Migs can take off." But it was too late. Four Migs took off. "Stop the others, attack the runway. Open fire," came the command. One more Mig was trying to take off, but it was stopped quite abruptly as it was hit on both sides with two sidewinder missiles and blown to pieces.

Johnny and Dwayne flew over the ship with their machine guns pointing down, and tore up the runway to prevent any more Migs from taking off. Then they launched two sidewinders each and totaled six Mig Fulcrams. Johnny and Dwayne were rejoicing when suddenly Johnny heard a loud "Kaboom." They had completely forgotten about the other four Migs! One of the Migs had released a heat-seeker and tore Dwayne's Apache to pieces. It was about to shoot down Johnny when Josh came in his Harrier and shot it down.

"Thanks, I owe you one," said Johnny.

"Forget it, but try to keep your mind on the job or you won't last one more minute out here," Josh replied.

Meanwhile the rest of the squadron was having trouble with the three Mig Fulcrams and the ship's missiles and cannons. The squadron had begun with twenty-one, now only fifteen remained, including Johnny. They couldn't seem to lock onto the speedy Mig Fulcrams.While some Americans were going after the Migs, they were distracted and would get down near the ship. The Americans were in chaos. It looked hopeless.

"Kaboom!"

"I got another one," screamed Derek. "I'm going in on the control tower," he continued.

"No, don't! It's too dangerous!" exclaimed Johnny. "You'll be shot down!"

"I'm going in," repeated the cocky pilot. Derek swooped down at full speed.

"Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh," went four heat-seekers at Derek.

"Derek, no!"screamed Johnny.

The last thing Derek saw was the missile headed at his cockpit. He opened his mouth to scream, but it was too late. Pieces of the copter skidded along the enemy runway and hit the remains of the Migs that Johnny and Dwayne had destroyed.

Things were not looking good for the Americans. There were only eight aircraft left: three Apaches, three Harriers, and two F-16s. There was one Mig left that they couldn't seem to shoot down. The deadly heat-seeker missile system kept the Americans from getting close enough to damage the control tower. Bill Parsons in his F-16 said, "Alright, if we are going to do something, it's going to be now." Bill went towards the tower with the other F-16 and a Harrier. They released all their missiles and the F-16 was shot down over the ocean. The Harrier had its wing blown off by a high power cannon and it crashed into the tower. For a second it looked like the tower was about to tip over, but then it bounced back and remained upright. The tower was now vulnerable. One missile would knock it over.

Everyone in the Iranian control room was shaken by the collision. "Everyone get up," the captain screamed.The captain knew that if he was to win this battle, he had to do it now.

The six remaining American pilots were in despair. They were low on ammunition and fuel. They couldn't get close enough to the tower to fire that last fatal missile that would win this battle for them.

"How much ammo do you have left kid?" Bill asked Johnny.

"Ten rounds in the chain machine gun, two heat-seekers, and four sidewinders." Suddenly he heard Josh exclaim, "Look out!" The ship had fired seven of its last fifteen missiles at the Americans. "Evasive action!" yelled Bill.

The confused rookie in the Harrier didn't know what to do. He scrambled with his controls, but it was too late. Two of the highly explosive missiles had already honed in on him. Pieces of his attack plane came shooting through the sky. One large flaming fragment came straight towards Johnny's cockpit. He froze, not knowing what to do. He saw a glint of metal out of the corner of his eye. Bill pulled in front of the fragment and saved Johnny's life. Johnny was temporarily blinded by the bright explosion when the speeding fragment crashed into Bill's fuel tank. When Johnny regained his sight seconds later he could see pieces of metal floating on the ocean and an ominous black cloud of smoke rolling across the sky. The third Apache was no longer in the sky. Now all that remained were Johnny, Josh and the other Apache.

Johnny felt like someone had torn out his stomach and left a huge empty space. He felt great loss, an incredibly overwhelming feeling that he couldn't win, and most powerfully, an irrepressible urge and need for revenge.

Johnny's head was spinning. He swallowed and turned on his speaker, "Josh, I'm going in. Are you coming?" There was a long pause.

" ...yes ...yes, I'll go with you, Johnny."

Johnny grabbed the throttle with a vice-like grip. His thumb hovered over the button that would release the deadly heat-seeker missiles. Inside Johnny's head there was a little voice that said, Bill didn't die for nothing.

"Josh ...let's get even," said Johnny.

The captain of the ship realized that there were only three aircraft left, one of which was leaving.

"Look," The captain exclaimed, "those fools are still trying to win. They are rushing in on the tower. This should be easy: fire away!"

Three highly explosive heat-seekers came towards Josh and Johnny. Johnny shot all three down before they got close. He was determined to get revenge.

Three more missiles were fired; Johnny shot them down. "Shoot them down," screamed the Iranian captain. But no one heard him. They were all staring at the three sidewinders Johnny had just launched directly at the tower. There was a loud "Kaboom" as the tower crumbled into the ocean. Johnny and Josh finally flew towards the side of the ship and fired their remaining missiles at the ship's hull. The missiles tore a huge hole in its side. Water gushed into the hole, dragging it into the ocean. Moments later all Johnny could see were pieces of metal floating on the ocean, black smoke, and memories of the friends he had left behind. n




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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BloglessBlogger said...
Oct. 3, 2012 at 6:13 pm
Amazing! It is extremely well written and beautiful in such a tradgic way...
 
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