All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
The Unsung War
15 years ago, there was a war. Well, war has broken out here plenty of time before. The Balkans would lash out time and time again, but every time, they would be forced back by their opposition. However, 15 years ago, the most memorable of those defeats occurred. The Balkans built up their industrial strength to unprecedented heights, and used it to wage one final battle against the world. They fought valiantly, but were utterly defeated. As a cry of desperation the Balkans committed the unthinkable. They used nuclear weapons on their own soil. This forced the victorious countries to throw down their weapons and begin a time of peace. So now, on a small island far away from civilization, the protectors of the peace reside.
This man-made island has been used as an airbase for the last 10 years. They decided to put it here after the Balkan air scare in July of the year before. This island is home to some of the world’s most elite pilots. These pilots in fact are so elite that they’ve been given the nickname “Ace squadron” and from what they tell me… they’ve earned it. So now, I’m being transferred in for a chance to train with them. Maybe I’ll get to do some real flying.
“It’s an honor to fly with you sir,” I said to my squadron leader as he led me to my F-18 fighter jet.
“Yeah, yeah kid, cut the crap; get your gear and ready up so we can get you and the rest of these novices of the ground.” He said this with a stern tone, a sort of “I own you” attitude, but it was a respectable tone.
“Sir, I don’t believe I ever got your name,” I asked him.
“Captain Bales lieutenant, now get set up, and remember it’s heartbreak1 over the Com. System.”
20 clicks east of the island
“Incoming!!! I can’t see him he’s right…” screamed one of our trainees as his jet was engulfed in a ball of fire.
“This is Heartbreak1, engage, I repeat engage!
We whirled through the air at the speed of sound. I was twisting and turning and my co-pilot was howling at the earth below. As the sky turned upside down, my stomach turned inside out.
“Bogey left side…” My co-pilot had only caught a glimpse of him before he was shredded from the enemy gunfire.
I continued to see men being shot out of the sky by these hostile pilots. I rolled and turned the best I could with my damaged aircraft.
“Sir, get us out of here,” I screamed as I caught with a missile lock.
“Kid just hit the afterburners and ride’em all the way home!”
That is what we did… We simply just turned and ran.
“Sorry about this…”
The Captains apology seemed misplaced. It wasn’t his fault the enemy patrol was sent over their border. Nor was it his fault that they got almost all of our trainees. 9 of us went out and only 4 came back. Of those 4 were me, Cpt. Bales, 1st Lt. Nagasai, and Chopper. Now Chopper… He was the most redneck country hick on the island. A Texan is what he seemed to be.
“You seemed a little scared up there boy,” Taunted Chopper.
“Come on Chopper, he nearly got killed for Christ sake, give him a break,” Nagasai said in a very defensive tone.
Now Nagasai, was the only woman pilot we have on the island, and she is also one of the very best.
“Ok boys, let’s get inside and get something to eat,” she said.
“Lieutenant… Uh… What’s your name… Garden! In my office now,” Yelled Captain Bales
“Yes sir, and actually the name is Gardener.”
“Looks like someone’s in trouble,” said Chopper in a long, drawn out and childish tone.
“Have a seat son…” Cpt. Told me in a tone that made me wonder if I REALLY was in trouble.
“Why are you here son… Why did you want to transfer from your post in California just for this small town life.”
“I love to fly sir, and if I’m going to fly I want to be with the best sir.”
“Oh come on, you have a bigger story behind it than that, tell me.”
“No sir… Nothing more than that…” I lied.
15 years ago
At the start of the last Balkan war, I was a young boy. I lived out in the country side, on my Parents farm. We had a small, cottage like house which my father, who was a well-known for working with his hands, built himself. One early morning my mother sent me off with some fresh eggs to deliver to our neighbor which we traded our goods for her fantastic sewing work. As I started off down the road, I heard a thunder-like rumbling coming from the sky. I assumed it was coming from the dark clouds off in the distance and started walking faster so I could get home before it started to storm. However something caught my eye. There was a wispy tangled cloud like stream that looked like a 5 year old trying to tie his shoes. As I started to look forward again a jet, rocketed over me as it was running from what followed. The force of the jet knocked me off my feet and into the cold, wet grass. I couldn’t see what just happened, but I heard a bang. It was so loud I thought it would make me deaf. I lifted myself to my knees as fast as I could, only to see what was left of the jet, plummeting to earth in a flying inferno. The only thing was where it was going, it was heading for my home. It plummeted into my families cottage, and exploded out with a louder bang than what I heard before, and the blast swept me off my feet. I stood back up, and looked at what was left in the fire ball that was once my home. I could only hear the high pitch ringing of my ears as I slowly stumbled toward it. As I continued on, a small, but building sound like a teapot on a stove started in my ears. It built and built until it reached its enormously loud peak, and stopped completely.
“Hector! Hector, get away from there!” I turned to see my neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Landen in their old ford pick-up truck. “Hector, get in the truck we’ve gotta go get help,” Yelled Mr. Landen.
“Gardener! Gardener snap out of it!” I jumped as Chopper snapped me awake. “What did you learn to sleep with your eyes open boy?” Chopper said with a smug look on his face.
“Good one Chopper,” I said sarcastically.”
“Well get up! The Captain has a job for us.
I followed chopper into the Captains office to see him and Nagasai already waiting.
“Well, where were you fly boy?” Nagasai gave me a “you’re late” look as she said this.
“Ok we need to hurry this along,” said Captain Bales. “We’ve gotten word that there are some unknown enemy drones flying in our direction, blah, blah, blah, bottom line is we need to go take a look at them, make sure they’re not hostile. Ok, now gear up.
I had just gotten my harness on and was about to jump in the cockpit of my F-18 as Chopper came running in.
“Whoo! Maybe we’ll see some action again! What do you think Hec?”
“I’ve had enough crap flying at me for one day Chopper,” I said with a smug tone.
“Well knowing those Balkan drones, they’ll fling plenty of crap,” He said as he grabbed his harness. “Things will take your wings off in a heartbeat”
“Ok Chopper, get going.”
Almost 10 clicks from the Balkan Peninsula
The horizon was clear, and the air was calm. The drones that were said to be here seemed nonexistent. “Uhh… Heartbreak1… I think our radars on the fritz ‘cause there’s nothing here.” Said Chopper
“Keep looking Chopper. I’m sure they’re here somewhere.”
We continued on for another several minutes seeing nothing but a few commercial airliners. It seemed that whatever was here, had left or was just never there in the first place.
“Uhh… Ok guys let’s just head back, there’s nothing here,” Said Cpt. Bales.
About the time we banked to turn around, a fiery missile blazes through the middle of us.
“Christ, what was that!?” Screamed Chopper as we rolled back around to face the direction the missile came from.
We gazed in the direction of the smoke stream left by the missile, just waiting for another one to blaze through. The red light of my cockpit blazed as the loud alarm of the missile warning came on.
“One of them has a lock on me! Breaking!” I yelled into my radio as I swerved, and rolled in attempt to break the lock-on. I twisted and rolled through the air desperately to avoid being incinerated by one of the Balkan rockets. Then silence… all I heard was the air rushing through my F-18’s engine. I broke the lock.
“Damn son, I thought he had you there, haha!” said Cpt. Bales. You could tell from that sentence that he came from a southern town. Possibly near where I used to live. “Alright boys, let’s find these drones.” We continued forward, periodically getting missile locks on our aircraft, but no one was hurt. That was when it showed itself. The Balkan drone exploded by faster than sound as he rolled through our formation. “Whoa! Ok girls, let’s get to flying like real pilots,” yelled Cpt. Bales. It almost seemed that he got a kick out of being shot at while 15000ft. in the air. It was a strange reaction compared to the rest of us who stay petrified and white knuckled on our joysticks in a dog fight. At that moment 2 more drones flew by, and they were battle ready.
“Engaging!” Chopper yelled through his com system as he leveled himself behind one of the drones. “I got a lock on ‘em! Fox 2!” There was a glowing fireball that left a trail of smoke from his aircraft as it bolted toward the drone. At that moment several balls of light ejected out of the rear of the drone directing the missile at them. “Flares! Jesus Christ this won’t be as much fun as I thought.” Yelled Chopper in anger. “I’ll try again!” Chopper locked on once again and fired. “BANG!” The drone disappeared in a cloud of smoke and flames. “Whoo! I got ‘em boys.” Chopper screamed in excitement at his accomplishment.
There was an alarm I Heard through my headset. “Christ one of ‘ems got a lock on me! Breaking!” Yelled Chopper frantically as he rolled right in an attempt to avoid the rocket. The ball of light came quickly and burst through the wing of Choppers F-18. “Mayday! Mayday! I’m going down. I’m ejecting now!” His c***-pit Exploded of and he rocketed out of his aircraft.
“Christ, Chopper!” yelled Nagasai frantically. She swung around behind the Balkan drone, and locked on. “Firing!” Yelled Nagasai as loud as she could Once more flares altered the missiles direction. “Damn! These flares are going to kill me!” She yelled as she continued to twist and turn, trying to stay behind the enemy drone.
“I got him Nagasai, just keep his eyes on you,” Captain Bales said. I assumed he had some elaborate and heroic plan like you would see in the movies. I was wrong. He simply blew the thing out of the sky as if it were a fly on a windshield. “There we go, that’s the last of them. Let’s head back to base and see about finding Chopper.”
3 weeks later
Chopper was never found. They searched day and night for 4 whole days. We had assumed he was either dead, or captured by the enemy. That day was the start of many more dog fights. The Balkans, were out to get us. So once again, after 15 years of peace, they will wage yet another war, one that held even more potential than the last, and could destroy the world. I heard from our intelligence officer that the Balkans have scavenged nuclear weapons, and unlike their last fight, they’re pointing them at us.
Colonel Hathe’s office
Me, and Captain Bales had been called into the base commander’s office so he could talk to us. About what, we aren’t very sure though.
“Alright boys, don’t worry you’re not in any kind of trouble,” said the Colonel as he gave us a grin. His smile was beginning to wrinkle from his years of service and stress. He had been a 40 year veteran. “I wanted to give you two, something, stand up.” Me and Cpt. Bales both stood to await our gift. Colonel Hathe reached into his desk drawer and pulled out 2 small black cases. He opened 1, looked inside and walked over to Captain Bales. “Congratulations…” He opened the box and pulled out a set golden oak leaves. “…Major. You’ll be transferred out of your squad and into the Battalion staff.” He gave him a grin, and shook his hand. Then he came over to me. “He opened the box and pulled out a set of Captains bars. “Congratulations Captain Gardener. You’ll be leading the squad from now on.”
“Thank you sir…”I said nervously.
Nights that light up the sky
He didn’t want the promotion. You could see it in his eyes as he wandered the base. It seemed as though he didn’t know what to with himself. He wanted to be with his squad at all times. They even gave his F-18 away. They gave it to me…
“I’ll take care of it sir, I promise,” I said excitedly.
“If I see one scratch…” He said as he grinned at me.
Lt. Colonel Grant rushed in sweating. “We may have a situation here, follow me.”
He rushed us to the intel and radar station to show us, what looked like dozens of red dots on a green screen. “I believe it’s the Balkans. They’re less than 40 clicks out. Captain, get your men into their jets immediately.” I bolted out of the station and sprinted to the Rec. room where Nagasai and the rest of the squad were at.
“Get your gear; we’ve got to get in the air now!” I demanded them with obvious panic in my voice.
“What’s happening sir,” asked Nagasai.
“Something big, the Balkan’s have something big”
My squad and I bolted toward our hangars in hopes to make it before the Balkans.
“Just get up in the air as fast as you can!”
You could hear the panic of pilots, and the rumble of jets as they scattered into the air. I jumped into my F-18 and Taxied on to the runway. I quickly prepared my jet for take- off, listening to the panic on my headset.
“Alright Captain, you’re ready for take-off,” Said the flight tower commander.
I punched the throttle in an attempt to get in the air as fast as possible. I looked up as I was accelerating only to see a swarm of Balkan bombers.
“Everyone get your head down!” I screamed through my headset as I put my head almost between my legs. There was a massive explosion destroying almost all the hangars on the base. I looked up at the runway to see a crater the size of a house in front of me. I pulled up as hard as I could and just got over it. But it stalled… I came crashing back to the ground and burying my nose in the dirt. I had slammed my head into the control panel and was knocked unconscious.
“*Scratch* Captian! Captain are you okay!”
I awakened to hear Nagasai screaming this through her headset.
“Captain! I’m coming to get you now!”
I looked around the cockpit of my jet through my fuzzy vision. I noticed some blood on the Computer Panel. It was mine… I looked down and saw my legs were pinned under the panel where my crashed pushed in the nose of my jet.
“Great…” I thought. “What a hell of a way to die.” I passed back out.
“Captain, wake up. We’ve got you! Wake up!” *Bang*
I woke up to see yet another bomb hit a hangar across the runway. Nagasai and our base medic were pulling me away from my jet.
“Jesus Christ! Come on Doc lift him up, we got to get him out of here!” Nagasai yelled at our medic as he grabbed my legs, and she grabbed under my arms. I looked up at Nagasai to see the expression on her face.
“You’re gonna be ok Captain. Just keep looking at me.” She said as she placed a hand on my face to wipe away the blood.
“Keep looking at me,” She told me. That’s what we’re supposed to tell wounded pilots when we thought we were going to lose them. My heart sank. I looked around to see parachutes on the ground. I looked to my right and saw Balkan troops breaking through our buildings and hangars. We exploded through the door into the Rec. room and I was dropped onto the sofa. “You’re going to be ok Captain,” she continued to tell me. At that moment Balkan troops burst through the door and Nagasai whipped out her side-arm in an attempt to defend us. She wasn’t quick enough… The Balkans fired round after round into her. Her Crimson red blood spewed across the walls as she fell to the floor. I looked around frantically for someone. Maybe they could save us. The enemy officer looked directly in to my eyes. I could see the thirst for blood in him. He drew his side arm, and walked over to me. He grabbed me by my flight harness and held me up off my feet.
“Damn American scum!” He screamed this through his thick accent and through me back onto the couch. He cocked his weapon, and pointed it at me. At that moment I closed my eyes and heard the gunshot… The only problem was I wasn’t dead. I opened them again only to see the Balkan was no longer standing there. In fact, he was dead on the floor. Chopper was behind me, his weapon drawn and smoking. He killed him, and the rest fled.
“You alright Captain,” he asked me. “I mean, aside from your head.”
I finally gathered the strength to speak, “I think so… but… w-where.”
“Don’t worry about it Captain, let’s just take back our base.”
He stood me up and handed me a rifle, and pushed me forward to walk out the door. On our side of the door, the noise was minimal, but once you crossed the barrier, you were hit with decibels like a freight train. I stumbled down the stairs, and over to the jeep that Sgt. Reagan was taking cover behind. “Captain, are you alright sir,” he yelled at me as if I was a zombie.
“Yeah… I’m fine, Chopper fixed me up,” I told him.
“Sir, Chopper’s…” In mid-sentence, a blast from an aircraft fuel tank exploded above us, and sprayed Reagan with lethal shrapnel, while only peppering me. The explosion took me off my feet and onto my back.
“Jesus Christ,” I thought. It seemed as if the whole world was ending. It was a fiery mass of Armageddon. My men lye dead everywhere I turned. Everything was like a dream. Sounds were muffled, and sight was foggy. I stood up, and looked across the runway, at our pilots, cowering behind a HUMV. I walked toward them slowly. It felt as if bricks were tied to my feet. I kept my eyes locked on those men, determined to get to them. I saw a flashing ball of light rocket toward them, and they were gone in a flaming Hell-ball. I followed the smoke trail that led to one Balkan soldier. He looked at me, and ran off into what was left of Hangar 6. That was my hangar, Chopper’s hangar, and we won’t let them ruin it. I felt a hand on my shoulder and I turned my head to see Chopper, with an M-16.
“Here… Let’s go sir,” He said as he looked at me with a murderous grin, as he handed me the weapon. We ran across the runway and into the supply building attached to the hangar. We broke down the door, and destroyed every soldier in our way. I ran past the desk and was tackled onto the ground. An enemy had forced me down and we wrestled as he tried to hit me with his knife. We rolled to where his weight was on me, and his knife was drawing closer to my chest. He suddenly splattered, and blood spray went all over my face and a gear. I looked over to see Chopper… or who I thought was Chopper. He came closer and the shadows left his face. Bales… “Major Bales sir! Th…” I was cut off.
“Alright kid, don’t get all lovey now,” He said with a smug grin on his face. “Alright get up.”
He pulled me up to my feet and handed me my rifle. He checked the windows of the office and glanced back at me.
“What are you doing over here Gardener,” he asked.
“To clear out the hangar sir,” I responded quickly.
“Don’t bother with that. Follow me and we can hold these Bastards back.”
He forced open the door to the runway, and bolted behind the wreckage of an F-18. He motioned me over to him with a sneaky type motion.
“Ok kid, here’s the plan…” He was unable to finish when a mortar round landed just on the other side of our cover. I felt another sharp pain in my head, and I faded into darkness.
I opened my eyes only to see blurry figures, waving in the cold morning breeze. I was still outside, laying on the cold asphalt. I looked to the side to see Major Bales was still there. He was motionless… lifeless… I moved my hands to wipe my eyes, only to see they were covered in dried blood, and only made my sight worse. I took the shredded cloth from my flight suit, and wiped my dry eyes. I could see finally, what was left of our airbase. Buildings lay crumbled, aircraft flaming, and men… so many men, lay dead on the ground. I heard an engine. It sounded like one of ours. It drove past me, and over to one, dying pilot, crawling to his buddy. They stopped, and two Balkan soldiers got out. My heart sank as the man pulled his side-arm, and shot him. I felt my hand on something metal and cold. I looked down to see my M-16 was still next to me. I slowly moved toward it, and picked it up. The clip had 4 rounds left, and it seemed I had been looted for the rest of my ammunition. I set myself up against the wreckage of the F-18 behind me, and took aim at the soldier patrolling the runway. I had him perfectly in my sights, and my finger started to put pressure on the trigger, and a hand grabbed my rifle, and pointed it down. I jumped and turned to see Chopper. He was untouched… Not a single cut, burn, or bruise on him. He put his finger to his mouth, “Shh…” He hissed. “Come with me.”
He picked me up and put my arm over his shoulder to carry me along. We snuck into one of the Rec. rooms. I stumbled with him through the door and fell onto the floor. “Get up,” He whispered inn a rushed tone. He grabbed the back of my shirt and pulled me to my feet and pushed me forward toward the backdoor of the building. “The main fuel lines are back here. Let’s light these guys up,” Chopper said vengefully. Chopper kicked through the door leading to the industrial yard. There, on the other side of the power plant, was the gas line. These pipes ran through every building on the base.
“I’ve got an idea,” I said. I pulled 3 incendiary grenades from my belt and tied them together with what was left of my boot laces. I then wrapped them around the gas line and attached my other lace to the pins on the grenades. “Ok, this is the fall back point. We get out into the courtyard, then attack and lure them all back here.” I was suddenly interrupted by the door to the rec room being kicked out and the scream that was far too familiar.
“Get down!” The voice in fact was Major Bales. He kicked me down into the dirt and put his foot on my back. I felt the warm barrel of his rifle on my neck.
“Sir, it’s me, Gardener!” I yelled loudly. He stepped off of me and dragged me off the ground.
“Sorry about that,” He apologized. “I got a bit on edge.” He patted my shoulders and handed me his .45 pistol. I holstered the weapon and looked over to Chopper. The only problem was that he wasn’t there. He had vanished into thin air. I searched quickly with my eyes to see if I could find where he had gone. Nothing…. “What’re you staring at boy. Let’s get going,” Bales exclaimed. I took one last look, and then followed Bales out.
“Sir,” I said. “I have an idea to really fry these guys. Bales stopped and faced me.
“Well by all means share it,” He said with a grin. I proceeded to explain the same idea with the fuel pipes as I did with Chopper. I gathered more grenades from him and some of the other dead Balkans.
“We’ll need to run like hell,” said Bales.
“Well sir, that’s the point,” I responded with a grin. “Now let’s go get ‘em.”
We snuck through the mess hall and into the kitchen. We needed a distraction to track the Balkans closer to our trap.
“We could use the oven,” Said Bales. “Light something up inside of it then turn it on. It should get their attention.” I grabbed a cook book and ripped out at many pages as I could, then put them to the burner and tossed them in the oven.
I looked at Major Bales, “Run…”
A few seconds went by then bang… blackness.
When I first started my career here the sounds of explosions excited me. Now, it only terrifies me. It shows me that death is near. That I may be next… That I could end up just like one of those poor bastards with his guts on the runway screaming for his mother!
I opened my eyes to see the flaming mass of the mess hall in front of me. I was being dragged by someone away from the inferno. I looked up expecting Major Bales, but instead found Chopper. “Let’s go Captain, we’ve gotta get outta here,” he yelled. I noticed Balkan soldiers running out of the flaming building in engulfed in fire. They were screaming and crying as they ran looking for water. Some rolled in the dirt to put out the flames, other panicked as they ran until they burned to death.
Chopper and I stopped at the fuel line where we set up the explosives. The only problem is that Chopper once again had disappeared. Major Bales stood with me by the fuel line. “There’s no way we can get outta this blast zone in time,” He Panicked. I looked down to see my torn legs, broken and bleeding.
“Run Major,” I said. He gave me a look that showed he was truly scared. “Run!” I pushed him in the outward direction of the base and he sprinted away. I waited for him to reach the water before pulling the pins on the grenades. The slowest seconds of my life went by. I heard my father’s voice, “You’ve done good son.” I started to cry just before I heard a loud click.
Everything went white… Nothing but a high pitch squeak remained. Then suddenly I was home, in my small little cottage with my parents. Everything was quiet as I hugged them. Death… was a beautiful thing.