Mature/Graphic. The story of the daughter of Elvira James, a Zeppelin pilot.
I hate writing war stories. I truly do. As a writer I have to not only focus on the art but on the business aspects of it. This is a problem as what I can write about war won't sell. Well, not sell easily. You see, there are two books out there that accurately relate the experience that are best sellers. Both are worth reading, one being Chickenhawk by Robert Mason another Goodbye Darkness; Memoirs of the Pacific War by the late William Manchester. I have been working on my memoirs for about six years. I don't want to be a self-serving fool when I write it, I don't want to convey any notions of anything other than this is what happened, and it can happen to you too. Because it happened to me. That's a hard sell to an audience that expect salaciousness, that expects a tour of a lustful descent into violence.
I hate writing war stories. I truly do. Most of my short war stories are about the female soldier that is the real killer. Women kill different than men. My 'big' sister though, does kill like a man, her code name among certain circles was 'Satan's Whore'. My other sister, the 'Bavarian Fox', well 'little' sister doesn't miss when she shoots, though she still kills like a woman. My cousins 'The Mortician', 'The Sorceress' or 'Atomic Blonde' and 'Animal Mother' are mentioned along with their siblings 'Big Brother' and 'Little Brother'. They are different women, and different men, they are in the top 1% of their demographic. They are not like normal by no means, and these were their actual code names. I had many code names, and after Poland I became 'Cerberus' the lap dog of 'Satan's Whore'. Then, 'John Wayne Stone', 'Josey', 'Satan' to my friends and 'Mr. Satan' from the Soviets. The coolest name I got, according to CID was when I worked inside the United States, 'The Ghost and the Darkness', first you see the ghost and then you meet the darkness, that from my friends in the Secret Service and FBI. At this time, I was called 'Grace'.
I hate writing war stories. I truly do. It makes me examine part of my life I would like to forget but can't. It puts me in a position of explaining the truly ugly aspects of the human condition to people who cannot or will not grasp that. Why? Because that ugly is in them also. It puts me in a position of being called a liar by a man who wasn't there, didn't do it or so self-centered, he assumes his experience is universal. Or even worse, by a man who is jealous and needs to compensate. I don't like to be called a liar by buffoons or contemptuous snivelers.
I hate writing war stories. I truly do.
I write war stories because of why warriors kill and die. We do it for love. I want to tell you about one of my soldier sisters who loved her brothers enough to die. I want to tell you about the only daughter of Elvira James. Her name is Annandale Jolfre.
I don't know how to start this story so I'll start at the beginning with an explanation of the principle political units and an overview. I do this for clarity. See, I don't know what you know or don't know. Hopefully you'll walk away with a better understanding of the Cold War and the sorry bastards that played it out. I like to quote other people, because they said it better, and it makes me look smart. Truth is I just read books and learn from them. According to my own standards if I had any brains in my thick hunkey skull I wouldn't be able to tell these injustices of the animal called man because I would've avoided it. Oh, assuming you're not from the southwestern end of a travesty called Pennsylvania 'hunkey' is a corruption of Hungarian and refers to people of Slavic origin and their propensity to be stubborn. I'm a stubborn hunkey from the Old School. I like it like that. My problem with the job is and I'm quoting von Richthovfen; 'It may be war, but it's still murder.' He said it first and said it better than I could. Learn from it.
First of all, my rank was whatever it needed to be at the time. I was assigned to whatever unit needed my skill set; Military Intelligence, Army Intelligence, SAD-SOG- and if you never heard of SAD-SOG very good for you, consider that lack of knowledge a blessing from whatever God you have or don't- and a few times for groups who wouldn't or couldn't be identified. I got associated with these assumed people by accident a few months before this story takes place. It has to do with my cousins, Animal Mother and The Mortician, directly, however that will have to wait. I have a tendency to go off on these exceptionally inane tangents to avoid me. Needless to say, after that I became the Government's fair-haired boy and shit rolls downhill.
Now the Polish Gun Clubs are a part of the Polish Military, they are truly a 'militia' force. In Poland they have a small formal army supported by citizen soldiers, which is supposed to be trained and supplied by their government. When Poland gets invaded you have to fight all those dumb hunkey son of a bitches. They're also introverts, perfectionists, smarter than average or at least light years far from stupid. And they use horses.
During 1987 the Army was trying to find a cheaper comparable replacement to the aging Huey helicopter. Subsequently, they decided to go with a prototype zeppelin. New and improved little things that almost duplicated the performance of the aging Huey but skullduggery and paid off politicians canceled the program and they bought more expensive helicopters and they had to keep the Huey. Spec.4 Annandale Jolfre was a zeppelin pilot.
Now a bit about me. My rank was whatever it needed to be at the time and I was still part of the U.S. Army. I get called into Capt. Echo's office and told I'm basically going east of the Iron Curtain and a permanent promotion is in the works. I only see Echo every so often...A year later she almost ended up being one of my many ex-wives but leave that for another day. For this moment in time she's Bonnie Parker's stand in.
She's the one that gave me my mission briefing. I'm going to Poland, and shoot up Soviet Mechanized infantry. Literally. Now she also told me I'd have to take the slack up for somebody I knew but wouldn't tell me who. That turned out to be my little sister. For the time being she told me we were using horses to move about and that was that.
A couple of hours later she caught up with me at the livery stables as I rode a rented mare around the paddock shooting holes in crates and refrigerator boxes labeled armored personnel carrier or grunt, with a pellet gun. Then, I got into it with the runt outside the livery stable. Echo walked over and got on me for this that and the other thing and kept calling me 'Grace'. Finally, I told her if she ever called me that again she's going to have more problems with me that she knew what to do with and it was a physical threat. She assumed I had a problem accepting myself and hence the appellation 'Grace'. See, that's a contraction for 'grey asexual'. Hell, I didn't even know what asexuality was until I got drafted by these fools. Apparently, I was surrounded by perverts and didn't know it. A physical revealed an under active thyroid, or so they say, my lack of a girlfriend or a steady fuck outside a whorehouse and the lack of desire to put a liability in my life like a wife, they figured I was an 'ace'. Believing that a soldier needs to be single and unattached and citing Erwin Rommel didn't get it.
Another problem was the stable hands heard the conversation and did what most people would normally do. Equate asexuality with being a hermaphrodite. Not even close. The next day I got into it with the livery hand as he tried to bully me over it. Couldn't talk my way out of it, it ends with him being knocked off his feet in one shot and getting a broken nose. My lawyer put an end to the UCMJ shenanigans in less than five minutes. Shit like that follows you around. That's also what a few people in power talked to me about. They didn't buy into the 'ace' thing and neither did I, thing is they figured I might be a bit light in the loafers. It was highly suggested I have an affair and learn more about sports. 'Be more masculine, do guy things...' they suggested. As if going behind enemy lines and killing people was for sissy boys. As a side note, a couple of days later I took The Sorceress for a ride. She's a female body builder. Fourteen-inch biceps attached to a tiny frame. It shook up the stable hands.
It was why I went toward Annandale. She was supposed to be a notch on my lonely gun belt. If it wasn't for this garbage, I would've never have met her. Many things in Army life are a contradiction in terms. I got to the forward operating base in Poland, it was in the rear of the area of operations, a vast expanse of flat nothing. When I got there, they had a tent city set up, latrines dug and a water tower built for the showers. The water came from a drilled well. The communications circus tent had a direct link to Ronnie Reagan, literally. Pick up a phone, get the President of the United States. Not only that they had zeppelins.
From observations Army girls are generally pigs like men. I talked Annandale into giving me a ride on her zeppelin named after her mother, Elvira James. Well I took a pass at her and got slapped senseless. She explained life to me, from her five foot nothing brown haired blue-eyed Alabama girl perspective.
I was impressed.
So, I drove on and that stunned her. That and my rank helped much.
Got to know her.
She was the only child of a single mother. Her father was missing in action since birth and was rumored to have been killed in South Dakota, once released from the penitentiary. She wanted adventure and wanted to do something with her life. After promising to take her to Paris after things wrapped up we parted ways and I went to the front.
Two weeks or so later a shooting war happened.
After the first ambush performed with my sister The Bavarian Fox, the next day or so I received reinforcements and the artillery piece. During the second ambush I watched the zeppelins buzz about dropping off supplies and retrieving wounded.
When I fired the artillery piece on the third ambush the blast from the shell knocked down one zeppelin and nearly took out Annandale's. It didn't deter her. As The Mortician road into the blast area and brought back two dead, one wounded from the first zeppelin the U.S.S. Elvira James laid on the 'Stuka siren' and strafed the Soviets left on the ground with her forward fifty-calibers. Even though she had four critically wounded on board. She might have saved my life and the life of my team.
She made several more trips and on the last she took ground fire which punctured her helium bladder and took out an engine. While the crew put out the flaming starboard motor the cover for the helium bladder ignited.
She ordered all unnecessary equipment to be dumped including the two thirty-caliber machine guns. Called it in and then dumped the radio and the ballast bags as she lost altitude. Eventually she ordered her crew over the side at minimum altitude and one broke his leg on landing. They hobbled back to the forward base in the rear.
The fire got into the gondola and burned Annandale's left side leaving 45% of her body charred, deaf in the left ear and blind in one eye. Despite that, she used a fire extinguisher to safe the gondola and continued on. When she hit the landing zone hard the gas bag was completely engulfed.
As the ground crew pulled the wounded off, she stayed at her post screaming 'Save my babies! Save my babies!'. On the outside another woman saw what was happening and rushed the gondola with a mechanics sledge hammer and got to the gondola as the superstructure collapsed trapping Annandale.
She, a tall beanpole blonde with the face of a lioness broke the ballistic glass out with the sledge. After pulling Annandale out both ran as the entire machine burned to the ground amidst popping fifty-caliber rounds. The Elvira James was reduced to a small mound of melted aluminum and ashes within minutes.
Six days later I got back to West Germany, five days behind everyone else. Annandale spent the next three months in and out of the psychiatric ward as she couldn't accept her injuries. Eventually it got the best of her and she died by her own hand.
Now after thirty plus years you know the story of the only child of Elvira James, Annandale Jolfre. I think what my soldier sister did was amazingly courageous. I think everyone should know her name and understand exactly what she did and the price paid for it. I hate writing war stories, I truly do.