by Lynda Miller
A young soldiers' locket is found in the sand.
|The locket dangled from his fingers. The sun had hit the metal just right, and that's when Sergeant Weems noticed it. He thought back to when Private Pete Wilson opened it and showed him the pictures inside. "This is my wife and newborn baby daughter," he had said with pride. " I'm going home next month. No more tours for me. I've never seen my little girl."
Sergeant Weems had looked at the young soldier and thought," son, don't get your hopes up right now. A month is a long time out here and you never know what's around the next corner." Yet, he couldn't bring himself to say that to the weary soldier. Any hopes this young man had might keep him alive.
He had sent Wilson scouting the front and when he didn't come back he thought he was dead. Especially after finding the locket. Well, he would make sure his widow got it back. He slipped it into his pocket.
As they entered the mortar-wrecked town, they were met with resistance. There were two snipers shooting at them. He wasn't sure any of them would walk out of there alive. Too many soldiers lost and for what? Stop it Sergeant, he thought to himself.You haven't the time to waste on melancholy thoughts. You have a squad, or what's left of it, to get out of here. Several of his men had been killed when they got there. He sent two of his very best men to find and kill the rogue infantrymen .
When the bullets stopped, Sergeant Weems shouted, "Everybody listen up! Collect the dog tags of our dead and put them in my pack over there. Private Cory, get Company C on the radio. Tell them we need help now. We need air power to hit those fields and outer buildings. Now soldier, go!"
"Yes Sir, Sergeant! Company C, Company C, do you read me, over. Sergeant, I'm not getting anything but static."
"Keep at it, you'll get through," the Sergeant said.
"Jim, get someone to help dig holes. Our men need a place to rest."
"Yes Sir, Sergeant."
"Private Martin, take a man and scout those buildings. Find those dam Fuckers and kill them"
"Yes Sir. Sergeant Brady, come with me," Martin said.
Martin was a sharpshooter who never missed his mark, he was the best.
"The rest of you check weapons, and ammunition. We'll take turns standing watch and sleeping. Looks like we're in for a long night."
"Sergeant! Company C is trying to get firepower over here, but they said they didn't know when they could send it."
"Okay son, I guess we'll just have to wait it out." The chatter of an AK-47 fired close to them.
"Head for the building and take cover!" the Sergeant shouted.
Mortar shells thudded and the guns continued to fire. In the distance, black smoke curled upward and they heard the war raging. They waited.
"Sergeant, here comes Martin and Brady. It looks like Brady's been hit."
"We found the bastards, Sergeant," Martin said. "They're dead, but not before Brady took a shot through the shoulder. It's pretty messed up."
"Medic! We have a man shot over here!" the Sergeant shouted. "Get him into the building over there. The medic will take care of him."
The sun was setting and the Sergeant wanted to have them all together. He sent three men out to stand watch while the others slept. Every two hours he woke three more and they exchanged places. They heard occasional shots fired in the night, but nothing they couldn't handle. Sergeant Weems couldn't rest. His mind kept drifting off to Private Wilson. Damn't , he thought to himself, I shouldn't have sent a rookie to begin with. I should have sent Jim. He's been over here three times now and says he is taking another tour when this one is over. Then there's Brady. His wife left him while he was on his first tour and he vowed he wouldn't go home again. He said if he left the service he would become a mercenary. Weems understood, because his wife took off with someone else while he was on his second tour. He made the service his life. I've only been shot twice, so I'm doing pretty good for an old man.
"Martin take over for me. I am going to try to get a little shut eye."
"Sure, Sergeant," Martin said.
Just before morning they heard the sound of a tank.
"Everybody up! It looks like they might rush us and they have a tank in their favor." The sound was undeniable, it was a tank alright, and it was headed straight for them.
"Private Brady, get that missile set up!"
"Take the shot when you see it."
The pink and orange of the sun peaked just above the horizon, showing the silhouette of the tank. Brady got ready to fire, he wanted to give it time. He wanted to cripple it. He knew the men would swarm over it and get rid of those inside.
The tank was slowly moving towards them.
"Any time now!" the Sergeant shouted.
Brady looked through the telescope and took a deep breath, then slowly let it out.
"Private! what are you waiting for?" Sergeant shouted.
Brady took his eye off the telescope.
"Something's not right, Sergeant."
"What do you mean? Take the shot!"
Once again Brady placed his eye on the scope, took another deep breath, and then let it out slowly.
Lifting his head once more, he said, "Well I be dogged."
"Soldier, do I have to fire that missile myself?" Sergeant asked.
"No sir, we don't need to shoot this one down Sir. It''s ours! Come see Sergeant," Brady said with excitement.
The Sergeant ran to the scope and peered out. The tank had advanced far enough where he could see the United States flag waving in the air. Before he could say another word the tank stopped. Everyone held their breath. You could have heard a pin drop it was so quiet. They watched as the top opened.
"Well I'll be damned," the Sergeant replied. "It's Pete!"
The men cheered while some of them ran to greet him. Pete and the others walked back to the Sergeant.
"We have planes coming Sergeant. They should be here soon," Pete said.
The Sergeant looked at the weary, young soldier. "Son, I thought you were a goner. When you didn't show up I thought those bastards had killed you. Come on men, let's celebrate and have some rations to eat."
As they sat in the building used for cover, the men teased and chatted with each other. It sounded so good to hear them happy. This war had taken a toll on them all.
"I have something for you Pete. On our way here I found it half buried in the ground." The Sergeant reached into his pocket and pulled out the necklace with the heart-shaped charm. "I believe this is yours."
"Yes sir. It is sir! I thought I had lost it forever," the young soldier said, as he lovingly looked at the pictures. "Thank you Sergeant, thank you!"
"Don't thank me, you're the one we should be thanking. You got through and you're bringing back help," the Sergeant said. "Put that on your neck soldier, you don't want to lose it again."