Not rain, not snow, not even the Soviet Union could stop the U.S. Postal Service.
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 two of my brothers whose names I don't remember. They were postal clerks who had a zeppelin. They gave a whole new meaning to delivering the mail. If there's a happy ending here is they lived and because of them others did too.
'I think its wild! When I was a kid I wanted to be a postman and look at this' and he holds up a 'diploma' stating he was a 'Honorary Post Master'. The other soldier next to him had the same paperwork, both were Spec.4's and they were a year out of basic training. Combat camera videoed them sitting a distance from the airship sitting on fold out chairs. Both were filled with giggly exuberance.
They then gave a tour of the zeppelin's gondola. I didn't know this until I saw the video, but the bucket had a droppable rear ramp and the inside is modular. The ground crew was pushing in a cubbyhole desk with a scale and a paper wrapping roll mounted on top. The 'Pilot' explained operations and pointed out a hand crank davit crane attached to the overhead for lowering a wire basket to drop off or pick up packages. Across the pilot's wheel is a blue vest with the logo of the U.S. Postal Service.
It truly is an airmobile post office.
With machineguns on the side.
As I said they were happy, tittering like school girls as they explained the operations. Now what wasn't on the video was my personal encounter. A few days later I witnessed their operations, as far as I know, there was only one airmobile post office. I was standing under a tree talking to 'The Mortician' about matters concerning delivery of classified equipment. What, I didn't know at the time. We'd had just finished up working over a large formation of Soviet mechanized infantry, orders were to hold the area, await further orders. My 'big' sister, 'Satan's Whore' took over command a few hours earlier. She raked them, and in another installment, I'll tell you exactly how she smacked the Russian Bear stupid. My LBE and rifle were laying against a tree as I like most there were completely out of ammunition. As a side note of interest I carried an Ak-47 provided by the Polish insurgency cadre.
Any way The Mortician asked me what a thought about the zeppelins. We both agreed they were a great idea but I knew the Army wouldn't go for it. In the middle of the conversation I said I heard one and she reminded me she heard better than I. She didn't hear anything. A minute or so later overhead is a zeppelin. It sputtered to a halt and one of the two on the video stuck his head over the side. He asked who we were and if we knew who other soldiers were.
After we said yes, he pitched a case of MRE's over the side as they floated with tree branches brushing against the keel hall. The second of the two busied himself with operations and then a dozen envelopes or so, held together with brown twine came over the side attached to a small parachute. His aim excellent. The MRE's hit the ground a foot in front of me and I caught the envelopes. I then delivered the mail and thought I'd have to shoot 'Little Brother' for calling me 'Grace'. He thought it was funny...It nearly got four other soldiers arrested for mutiny because they weren't following orders from a man called Grace. That's another story too. So, I delivered the mail and they flew off.
Then the videoed showed them making another drop off and using the basket to pick up mail. All the while being happy at work wearing their blue postal clerk vests. Then hell spoke over the radio. They lowered to tree top level, dropped into the trees and shut down and just hung there. After a few seconds the pilot realizes what he's doing and orders the cameraman and the other guy to don gas masks. At that point several kilometers away, I launched a shell from the artillery piece we had. Not just any artillery piece but 'THE ARTILLERY PIECE'. The blast knocks the gondola around, and the reverse blast is just as bad, but doesn't damage anything. They turned the radio on after dust settled and waited for the all clear.
Undaunted they continue to deliver the mail looking for another unit in the general vicinity. Half way to another point the Pilot decides to let the second guy fly for the experience and takes up a position by the starboard M-60. Looking over the side blandly his eyes widen and orders a stop. He takes his gasmask off and continues looking the ground over. He shoulders the machinegun as the cameraman asks what he sees.
He says he can see a six-man squad of Soviet soldiers. After a second of deliberation, he shoots. He then looked up from the gun and said bluntly, 'I killed them...' His face changed from happy to a stone. He then took control of the zeppelin and continued on toward the next point.
At the next point the video showed him throwing a bundle of envelopes over the side and apologizing for not having a parachute. He asked if there was any mail to pick up. The camera then showed just one confused soldier looking back up saying he didn't know half the guys around him. At that point seven or eight men came out of the brush. One is being carried on a stretcher another is being helped along as he limped. All were wounded.
The Pilot then forced the zeppelin to the ground, dropped the back ramp and the crew pulled out the modular postal equipment and dumped the ballast bags and everything they could. He made seven wounded fit and couldn't get the airship higher than a few feet above the trees. According to the video, that left the soldier with the envelopes by himself. He read the mail figuring he'd get to know the men around him that way. His original unit suffered near annihilation at the hands of the Soviets, and the unit he fell into suffered the same fate. On the video he said it was the worst mistake he ever made, as it made the nameless and faceless real people. Now both his units were nearly wiped out and he was untouched.
Talk about survivor's guilt.
I wouldn't wish that on anyone.
Once the video ended Capt. Echo gave me a moment alone in my office to mull it over. After thinking about that I got up and left lost in my own thoughts.