Never Give Up

Keep it Clean

Never Give Up

Postby Turk » Tue Dec 22, 2015 1:03 am

" Never Give Up"

We thought the mission had failed. We had been tasked by the United States government agencies including the CIA, the Secret Service, and Homeland Security to prevent, then, recover and rescue - if necessary - one of THE most important American citizen: the eight year old son of the President of the United States. His son, Timmy, and his nurse-nanny, Matilda Maxwell, were visiting his great grandparents in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Through verified intelligence we had been notified that a Russian terrorist group, the Sabotage Battalion Oblast Khattab - that was being funded, trained, and armed by radical militant arms of the Russian, Iranian, and Chinese governments - to covertly infiltrate American interests on American soil, both commercial (private enterprises) and human, and dismantle and/or eradicate them. We were also informed that a rambo faction, handpicked by the commander of SBOK, had been plotting the kdnapping and extortion of the United States President's son in Chicago, where young Timmy and his traveling escort, Ms Maxwell, were going to stop over briefly to visit an historic landmark and, then, have lunch at a famous diner. It was only going to be a short three-hour detour and we three Marine Special Forces had been ordered by the American government brass to make sure this three-hour stop-over went pleasant and peaceful.

Miss Maxwell and Timmy first visited the historic University of Chicago football stadium, constructed to resemble a medieval castle-fortress. This massive athletic facility of granite and other stone was finished in 1913 and was honorarily named after a famous football player and coach, Amos Alonzo Stagg. While only eight years old, Timmy was already reading Sir Walter Scott's Ivanho and James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales about colonial and Indian lives before the American Revolution. Timmy loved to imagine he was a knight of chivalry or a daring pathfinder in the old American forests of the Adirondack Mountains - stories of sterling silver armour, long swords crafts by mysterious silversmiths from Scotland and Sweden, and long bows made by the Mohicans and the Iroquois who lived amidst the pastoral Finger Lakes and fought courageously beside American frontiersman like Natty Bumpo and Simon Kenton - weapons thrust so swiftly they sang like sirens in mid-air and flashed lightning bolts beaming near-electricity upon impact against the dragons of death and the evil ones of darkness to save the princess and the townspeople from horrible misery and destruction.

To young Timmy's credit true, the Alonzo Stagg Football Stadium was, and still is, a work of Art. In those early years in the 1900's the university of Chicago had a great football tradition and, even, was a member of the Big Ten Athletic Conference with other outstanding and much larger colleges such as Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio State. After this mission it was, and still is, my intent to visit, too, this historic fortress-like football stadium and pretend to hear the strong and heroic voices of Alonzo Stagg, Red Grange, Knute Rockne, and the Four Horsemen echoing off these hallowed walls, built like a Middle Age citadel, for a different kind of warrior-knight who played simply and innocently on a gridiron of only 100 yards.

After visiting this fabled place, Miss Maxwell and Timmy were planning to have a quick-but-memorable lunch at THE most famous hot dog and hamburger diner in the entire midwestern USA - "Bill's Burgers 'n Brats." The three of us commissioned soldiers were detached from our regional marine base, known simply as "Gunnery No. 1." Our Apache helicopter had landed, unknown to the two innocent diners we were assigned to protect, in an abandoned area of old warehouses and forgotten factories where we thought we would be cloaked from the terrorist SBOK's vision and discovery. Also, logistically this worn and torn area of two square blocks - in a part of downtown Chicago in disrepair and neglect - was only three blocks away from Bill's diner. As the three of us modern-day musketeers were moving silently into position to observe and protect Timmy and his traveling guardian, we heard the missile fired. The powerful weapon hit with emphatic precision into an empty building on the same side of the street as the diner and only some 90 feet away from where the two diners were sitting at a small sidewalk table. Attached to the vacant and, now, nearly destroyed building's storefront was a paint-peeled, weathered old sign which read in tall, block, black letters: "Benjamin's Tobacco & Confectioners - 10cent cigars and penny candy." The missile shot a huge, gaping hole through the store's brick wall, right below the sign, now teetering limply and torn into pieces of shattered wood with the word "penny" now completely missing and the "Benja" also obliterated from the propreitary namesake. The explosion was ear-shattering, even where we were hidden across the street in another vacant building. But the wood and debris were launched in all directions, like shards of sharp, catapulted darts and stone flying at a very high velocity. The tiny tables set upon the sidewalk in front of "Bill's Diner" were tossed and tumbled about as if a hurricane had just passed through. A broken wedge of wood from old Benjamin's place had speared the upper left chest of Miss Maxwell. Bill had run from inside his diner the moment the explosion resounded off the old adjacent walls of the stores and he was pressing his white apron against Miss Maxwell's gashing wound to stop her bleeding wound. Young Timmy was laying unconscious on the concrete sidewalk, riddled with broken stone and wood, with a visible, bleeding cut upon his little forehead. Without hesitation, the three of us ran across the street to rescue the two severely wounded civilians but we were too late to reach Timmy.

Six highly-trained commandos of the SBOK terrorist militia had already rushed in from the other side of "Bill's Diners." We had made the unforgivable mistake not first checking all these empty stores for any thing or any body not supposed to be there. One of the on-rushing SBOK had shot the right knee of Bill, the diner, exposing his ligaments, bone, and blood. My fellow soldier, Hank Worthington, a Master Sargeant and veteran, too, of Afganistan, Sudan, and Turkey mortally wounded the lead attacker with one shot to the head. The sound of .45's and AK shellfires were crisscrossing the sidewalk like a storm of rain pushing everywhere. My other marine brother-in-arms, James Coldwater, had also been hit - once in the side of his neck and, though luckily a glancing bullet, he was down and bleeding, too. We had always joked that Coldwater's neck was as thick as a buffalo and as tough as its hide drying in the Badlands of South Dakota. A second bullet had pierced his left ankle but not before this valiant marine had permanently deposited upon the debris-filled street the rear commando of the SBOK six-team force who were successfully - and much to my chagrin and anger - kidnapping the eight-year old son of the President of the United States of America. I aimed my .45 at one of the four remaining kidnappers and emptied a clip into his ninja-styled body armor. He fell to the broken, weed-entwined concrete like a tree just felled for timberwood.

One of the three who was carrying away the still-unconscious President's eight year old son turned to break off to the side and behind a parked pick-up truck. he fired his AK and hit me twice - once in my left thigh and once in my left arm. The wound to my arm burned like it had gotten too close to ol' Mr. Collins' old-fashioned boiler furnace at old Northern Heights Elementary School where I spent more time learning how and what keeps a school warm and safe than in the classroom where I erroneously thought that reading and writing were a waste of my time, as if I were growing up somehow too fast. I moved behind an overturned table near where the diner-owner and cook, Bill, and Miss Maxwell were laying nearly forgotten. I re-loaded my .45 and called in a hoarse whisper to the brave rescuer of the lady chaperone, "Are you OK? Is the lady alive?"

Bill answered painfully, gritting his teeth from the anguish of the gunshot pain, groping for air, and grimaced, "Yes, but her heartbeat is weak."

I called back, "Here! Call 911!" as I slid my cellphone across the sidewalk to where Bill's prone body was sheltering Miss Maxwell's. He leaned up against the back of a large planter that once had been a water-trough for horses and grabbed the cellphone. The Russian kidnappers were disappearing down the street and towards our own parked and hidden Apache chopper.

I shot two rapid rounds into the truck where the Russian was hidden, then, quickly, adeptly, silently moved into a better position to put my eyes on the attacker. I emptied the rest of my clip into this terrorist before he could spot me only 30 feet to his side - a guerilla move I had learned in southern Turkey while fighting in the dirt streets of the ancient ruins of Karatepe. My Marine alpha platoon known as "Map 80" for knowing the locations of everything everywhere in that part of the Middle East, had been dropped into south Turkey just across the border from Syria by NATO command in Italy when the violent and radical Islamic State militia had invaded NATO-ally Turkey, having already violently and maliciously taken Damascus, Beirut, Aleppo, Tripoli, and had crossed into Turkey, slaughtering hundreds of innocent Turkish civilians of Antioch and desecrating several old historic landmarks dating back to Biblical days. We were the lucky ones chosen to draw the line in the dirt and, painfully and truthfully, the line was neither yellow nor white - it was red, blood red.

The Russian now lay in his own blood as I carefully ran back to my Apache helicopter inside the abandoned warehouse- neighborhood. The two Russian SBOK had run far too ahead of me and carrying the President's young son, I dared not try to fire my weapon at them. They were running toward their own hidden Russian-made Mi-28H helicopter. All I could do was try to chase them in my Apache, think of a plan to intercept, and pray not to fail. As I started the engine of the Apache and its powerful blades surged into their circular motion, as I rose swiftly into the Chicago sky, I could see the escaping kidnappers' "Night Hunter" flying into the eastern skyline heading towards Indiana building altitude above the rural countryside and snow-covered farmlands of the Hoosier state I knew far better in basketball than its topography.

On my way to the awaiting Apache, I had grabbed the fallen AK from the fourth terrorist-kidnapper we had killed. As I flew in followed chase, I thought of a plan that just might work, with a little luck and the good graces of the setting sun behind my path. My Apache's fuel tank was at 50%, which meant my flight length was about 400 miles and I had no idea how much fuel they were now holding nor did I know where they were going. From the beginning my orders were to keep all communication silent but now I believed Army command needed to know so it could also track the SBOK flight if I were unsuccessful rescuing the President's son, Timmy. My plan was something I had learned while fighting in South Sudan in 2018. There, the enemy was using a modified version of this same Russian-made Mi-28. The modifications were in the weapons systems but not in the basic aerodynamics of its engineering. The back wing, much like the rudder of a boat, when damaged enough, would cause the chopper not only to lose its navigation but also its altitude, fast enough to descend but still agile enough not to crash on impact. For me, the difficulty was how to pilot my Apache close enough to fire multiple rounds from my AK rifle to cripple their chopper's back wing-blade without being hit by their guns. However, the Russian "Night Hunter" had a blind spot - directly beneath it; but getting there would not be easy. The kidnappers were now flying east-southeast and the setting sun (it was now mid-December in the Midwest US) was dropping directly behind me and in an almost direct straight line with their flight path. I was hoping the sunbeams would blind their vision of me and my chopper as I moved closer beneath them.

We were nearly in Ohio. I could see the Ohio River bending westward at my 4 o'clock and my fuel tank now read 25%. I was running out of time. I saw the reflection of the bright sun against the metal of their "Night Hunter" like some huge pumpkin from a Charlie Brown Peanuts Halloween patch so I pushed the Apache's throttle full-bore and plunged low and directly underneath the belly of the Russian helicopter. One of the two terrorists began firing his AK rifle at my charging chopper but I must have thought I was Hans Solo or Buck Rogers as bullets strafed all around me, missing me by the grace of my earlier humble prayer. When I could hear the whir of their helicopter's circulating blades, I shut off the power to my Apache and emptied an entire magazine from my rifle into the back rudder-wing of the Russian kidnappers. I heard it instantly lose its navigation, as if disoriented in movement, and its altitude, too, as my chopper was now above it and momentarily suspended in mid-air some 70 meters behind it. I pressed the ignition switch back on and, thankfully, the Apache's blades began to turn reliably again. Their chopper was nearly in free-fall, injured and maimed, dropping somewhere into the snow-covered, now-empty cornfields of west-central Ohio.

Since I had turned my Apache engine off and, then, back on, I used more fuel than I had initially intended using and my fuel gauge read only 5%. It was time to land anyway so I chose a thick treeline, hopeful, to place me and them on either side of the black and white, leafless trees. Again, I prayed that Timmy was unhurt by the Russian helicopter's forced-landing but it was my only chance to rescue him. I had heard nothing from Army HQ. It was up to me. As I was descending, I pictured their probable location. If I lost them now I would have failed the mission, my other two brother soldiers, Worthington and Coldwater, and young Timmy. The terrain in Ohio is fairly flat with scattered trees, subtle valleys and hills, and in the rural areas lots of farmlands, some fallow, some harvested and now the crops of corn and beans stored in silos spotting the countryside landscape like lighthouse towers. There were narrow lines of old mill run creeks and drainage ditches and railway lines crossing the checkerboard land as tiny paths from another time. Blackbirds and snowbird geese were everywhere searching the half-frozen farmlands for left-over seed. It is a place I won't forget as if framed in a dream to remember the reason, the purpose of this place: the snow, the running, the hopeless feeling, then, that instant moment when all seemed lost, when with a shout to move, to defy my own fear and doubt and those killing odds and change fate to faith, instead - to "adapt, improvise, and overcome" as one of the greatest marines ever voiced with conviction, honor, and valor.

When the Russian-made "Night Hunter" crash-landed but safely, the snow-covered landscape of intermittent trees, skeletal and forlorn-looking, little knobs of hills and shallow vales all undulating nearly unnoticed like waves in a gray sea, yet, unmoving like a pause in a picture show, young Timmy, the son of the President of the Unired States of America, awakened, startled and frightened. His mouth was taped closed with the same kind of tape his dad would use to temporarily mend a leaky hose, whether inside their old '84 Ford Fairlane or the often-used garden hose for their patch of tomatoes and carrots, potatoes and lettuce, lima beans and peas and their three fruit trees: cherry, pear, and apple. Timmy's little head hurt horribly still from the thrown debris by the shot missile back at Bill's diner, as if he were laying next to bowling pins being knocked about by a constant barrage of bowling balls rolling, careening nightmarishly headlong into the bowling pins and little Timmy at the Stardust Bowling Alley where he and his dad would often go to compete in its friendly confines of cigarette smoke and the smoky grill of bacon and eggs that was the specialty at the Stardust. Carrying rifles, the two Russian kidnappers were talking in low voices in a foreign language, glaring sideways at him, then, back again at each other, then, out into the snowy, unknown landscape in which their helicopter had untimely fallen. Timmy couldn't hear any normal city sounds and even the birds seemed quiet, as if silently waiting for something to happen. Then, suddenly one of the two men left the downed chopper and began running towards a line of trees behind the maimed "Night Hunter" that was now pointing lifeless towards a gradual hill where the ridge of a knoll set about 50 yards away and upon it a signpost which now was unreadable. The kidnapper still standing inside the helicopter, while still cradling his rifle in his burly arms and camouflage-style coat, took from it a cellphone, pressed some numbers, and began talking fiercely and quickly in that same foreign language to someone at the other end. It sounded, however, like one of the foreign languages that his dad would often listen in his study in the family floor of the White House. Timmy's dad called it: "learning the lie of the lawless," certain words that seemed common to all those opposed to laws and rights and liberties and democratic constitutions written by people of wisdom and compassion and faith not only in a Higher Power but in humanity, itself. When his studying was finished and he closed his last book, Timmy's courageous and forthright father would draw his young son close to his steadfast posture, near the ever-present fireplace ablaze with warmth and light to remind Timmy, "listening is always your best teacher. Then, when you know for sure, react without hesitation because it will be the right thing to do." Within a few minutes Timmy heard the short, rapid fire of a machine gun a short distance from where he stood inside the helicopter. Then, somewhat fainter, an echo of another rifle.

After half-a-dozen rounds of enemy fire from the narrow treeline, I could see one of the kidnapper's location as he slowly moved inside the bramble-brush of tall, tulle-like reeds signalling the treeline must be near or in a drainage ditch or dried-up, frozen creekbed that were always much-needed hiding places for deer as they crossed the open, bare farm fields looking for shelter and food. I fired two rounds at the target, then, hunched down low, ran forward to a fallen log about 30 yards closer to the treeline. A long minute elapsed without a sound except for the scattering blackbirds and snowgeese overhead, flapping their wings in harried flight from the sudden, unexplainable gunfire. I saw another sudden, slight movement in the treebrush and fired two more rounds from my AK. There was no return fire. I changed weapons from the Russian AK to my trusty, true .45, making sure the cartridge was full. I decided to move in closer still. There was a broken-down tractor standing frozen in the snow-covered field about another 30 yards from the leafless, black trees. I could see the outline of the Russian-made Mi-28 I had shot down, setting on the other side of the treeline, its rotary blades now motionless, its rudder backwing like shards of shrapnel hanging limply.

If there were life inside it, I couldn't tell from where I was. Crawling on my elbows and knees and stomach, my bullet wounds piercing hot and painfully, I made my way through the snow and tall weeds growing up and out from the trackless, white snow like flagpoles leaning in a mightier wind. I was thankful for their cover and that mysterioyus strength of character so true and common of nature. Four more rounds whizzed over my head. One knicked my right ear, turning it numb. I saw a drop of blood brush upon one of the tall tulle reeds then slide down its hollow staff like a raindrop upon a window pane in quieter, more peaceful times. I reached the old, rusty tractor, covered in vines and clinging weeds and moss and remnants of discarded stalks of corn, missed by the thresher and left for the crows and the possum. I thought myself an interloper at this nest and burrow for the chipmunk or squirrel. Underneath the old Landmark-made tractor I could see bare, hardened dirt with scattered cornseed and half-shells of walnuts, acorns, chestnuts, hazelnuts, and a litter of red and black wild berries.

When I was fighting the Taliban in the northeastern provinces of Afganistan - actually the barren mountainous range of the Hindu Kush, back in 2014, I learned to anticipate the worst, so, I always carried a grenade with me. I called it my "rat killer." Once again the enemy was silent as if waiting for me to first respond but I knew where he was hiding. Blackbirds were perched in all the trees except for the few black, leafless trees where he was crouched in darkness. I silently voiced, "Time's up, squatter-head" and launched the grenade with an accuracy that would have made ol' Peyton Manning envious of my throw. It was definitely a touchdown, of another kind. I heard one short, painful, half-muffled cry from the next-to-last remaining kidnapper and, then, the sudden rush of blackbirds filled the gray sky again that seemed at that moment like one of my fireworks celebrations atop the old orchard of our back yard on one of many, memorable Fourths of July.

When the last-remaining Russian terrorist heard the grenade blast, he locked young Timmy inside the helicopter and ran toward the treeline and his fallen comrade. Then, Timmy took his chance. He broke the door window of the helicopter with his thick-coated elbow, unlocked the outside door-handle, and began running up the slope of the hill that was snow-filled, silent, and long. Timmy tore the duct tape from his mouth but he knew not to yell for help that was probably too far away for his little, 8 year old voice to be heard, nor did he want to alert his captor. The now-lone Russian SBOK found his fellow revolutionary rebel dead, his lifeless body mangled in tree roots and bramble bush, blood and snow ominous and cold. He turned back around just in time to see Timmy running out of sight overtop the snow-capped, gray ridge, maybe 70 yards from where he stood stunned and shocked and angry. In the meantime, I had hoofed it through the thin, black and brown treeline and jumped down into a shallow ravine deep enough for me not to be seen by the lone assailant who was now running up the hill towards the fleeing young , and very brave, son of the President of the United States. The frozen, dried-up ditch ran perpendicular to the treeline and parallel with the valley and hill beyond where Timmy had disappeared in his flight over a ridge and the Russian kidnapper was beating his own path up the hill, too. Only he was trying to run in very deep snow, as his boot-driven prints were making his climb slow and arduous.

Now, out of breath, Timmy hid inside an old, abandoned pig hut, like a lean-to built up against the side of the ridge overgrown with weaving, entwining berry vines and broken limestone. Timmy's head hurt like lashing of thunder and lightning against the side of his great-grandfather's old barn in Cheyenne, Wyoming, rattling the wood boards like drums from the legends of the pounding hoofbeats of the Dakota horsewarriors and the metal roof sounding shrill and tragic like the high-pitched wail of the Santee Sioux songs of lament and sorrow. Timmy's tiny fingers trembled red and numb in the cold snow, his face shivered in the winter wind of that special time in Midwestern America between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and his whole body quivered and shook but Timmy remained alert, steadfast, and he listened like his dad taught him to listen.

I had worked my way swiftly, invisibly up the narrow ravine, past some wayward, little pig hut, then, half-circled around a pile of rocks that seemed to be left over from a small, short fence that had once-upon-a-time been constructed for some purpose for which I did not know. It connected nothing but was only about 30 feet long and 3 feet high. But it was there anyway. I saw the Russian terrorist trudging awkwardly up the hill and could hear his muffled grunts of hard-breathing effort he was using. He was maybe 20 yards from that tiny, old hog hut but I had looped around and behind it to the seemingly purposeless stone fence where I knelt in cover waiting. Quietly, I lay the barrel of my .45 on the top edge of the stone pile, took careful, cautious, true aim and fired three rounds into the climbing Russian terrorist and never-to-be-kidnapper. I saw him fall to the ground, into the deepening snow and the tall, scraggle-weed growing tenaciously up out of the snow and the hard, cold dirt. Carefully, I moved to where he was laying, blood already flowing from his open, shocked mouth and the three bullet holes where my .45 hit their marks perfectly - one in the forehead, one in the throat, and one in his heart. His eyes were still open, aghast, perhaps at what horror he was now seeing rather than this place of silent snow and simple Ohio countryside. I left him there untouched, unmoved, unremembered. The blackbirds hovered and circled overhead and some perched in the skeletal trees lacing the hills and vales of this unknown landscape, far from Chicago, far from Cheyenne, far from Washington D.C.

Timmy had heard the gunfire from my .45 and peeked from out of the hog-hut. He saw me and I calmly, reassuringly voiced, "You are safe now, Timmy. Your dad sent me here to take you back home to the White House. It's Christmas in three days." Timmy laughed and cried and ran into my open and warm arms as I knelt exhausted but overjoyed to see him safe and OK. We walked quietly, gladly away from the two helicopters now stranded like the old Trupointe tractor, and into the hearty and peaceful sounds of a nearby city to find a telephone and food, good and hot. At a gas station I phoned a direct line to my Marine base headquarters who were involved in the mission and they patched me through to the White House and to the President who was beyond thankful tears of gladness to hear his son's voice at the other end. Later that same day, I was told that my two Marine buddies, Hank Worthington and James Coldwater, Miss Maxwell, and Bill, the owner and cook of the brat 'n burger diner, were all recovering from their wounds. Needless to say, I would make it a point to visit Bill's diner and the old Amos Alonzo Stagg Football Stadium and I would never forget this mission. I thought I had failed but I learned to never give up, to remember and learn from all of life's experiences and mysteries, from all that life gives freely to us, like an old tractor in a snow-covered cornfield, like an old stone fence seemingly built for no reason at all, until one day in December 2019, when whoever built that pile of stone helped save the life of THE most important person in the world: young Timmy, the eight-year old son of the President of the United States of America. Hoo-ah!!! And MERRRY CHRISTMAS!!
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Re: Never Give Up

Postby Dirt » Sat Dec 26, 2015 7:44 pm

And Merry Christmas (belatedly) to you, Turk, and to everybody a joyous and peaceful New Year, 2016

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